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SUMMER 2021

Tales From the Towpath

Take a trip through time on Manayunk’s signature trail

Self-Care Staples | Labor of Love Making Fitness Fun


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magazine

contents SUMMER 2021

06

Strollin’ Through Summer

What to expect during summer’s favorite event.

08

Self-Care Staples

29  Taste Tour Exploring the diverse Asian dishes of Main Street.

38

Making Fitness Fun

Treat yourself to neighborhood indulgences.

Keeping clients motivated indoors, outdoors, and everything in between.

14  Labor of Love

44

“Staycation” Mode

A bright spot throughout the pandemic.

Two Saturdays spent in Manayunk.

20

Cover Profile

52  Now Open

Take a trip through time on Manayunk’s favorite trail.

Step inside Manayunk’s newest businesses.

Editorial + Production Editors

Megan Douress, Leo Dillinger, Meghan Sack, and Jessica Jewel Tyler. Design Cantor Design, cantordesign.com

Photography Melissa Kelly Photography melissakellyphotography.com Alexa Nahas Photography - alexanahas.com JPG Photo & Video - jpgphotography.com 4

manayunk.com | Summer 2021

Manayunk Magazine is published by the Manayunk Development Corp.

Manayunk Development Corporation 4312 Main Street Philadelphia, PA 19127 215.482.9565 | info@manayunk.org Cover Photographed by JPG Photo & Video jpgphotography.com


o t n I ’ n i l l Stro

r e m Sum

ature n g i s s ’ nk k Manayur event is bac ’s e summexth year. Her i for its s t to expect! wha

By Megan Douress Photography by JPG Photo & Video (jpgphotography.com)

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or the last five summers, al fresco dining, shopping deals, art vendors, and live music were always on the menu every Thursday night in Manayunk. Since 2016, Manayunk has invited residents and guests to come to Main Street for a night of family-friendly fun during Stroll the Street. The weekly series has certainly seen its changes throughout the years – starting with discounted deals in restaurants and shops and growing into a streetclosed block party some nights. This May will mark six years of Stroll the Street, and we’re celebrating with a trip down memory lane!

Back in 2003, Philadelphia’s Center City District implemented a summer happy hour program called Center City Sips as a way to keep its commuters in town for a night out with colleagues. The concept was simple – offer extra discounted drinks and appetizers during happy hour in the middle of the week and customers will stay for dinner. Flash forward to 2016. Center City Sips was booming, and residents of Manayunk were now taking their weeknight plans downtown. A group of Manayunk’s restaurateurs were inspired by the weeknight program and got together to brainstorm a way of doing their own local version of Sips – one that would encourage Manayunk’s demographic of young families to come to Main Street for a night out during the week. With the help of Manayunk Development Corporation (MDC) staff and a liquor sponsor, Stroll the Street was born. 6

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At first, Stroll the Street was a much simpler concept. It was happy hour, but the best happy hour deals of the week. On top of that, Manayunk’s shops and boutiques would also offer discounts during the 5-8 p.m. hours, including sidewalk sales to encourage perusing and end of season shopping. To expand the excitement of Thursday nights even further, MDC added another layer – art vendors and food trucks that would line Main Street’s sidewalks. The summer of 2016 was filled with families spending their Thursday nights on Main Street. Towards the end of the summer, select theme nights were added, most notably Pokémon Go Night and S’mores Night. The themed nights were wildly popular and by the end of the summer, MDC staff had already started planning for the next year – a year that would consist of themed vendors and activities. In an effort to encourage more of Manayunk’s local families to continue staying in town and get to know their neighbors, Stroll the Street became much more than a weekly happy hour and a handful of vendors. The 100 block of Cotton Street was shut down to host theme nights like Pet Night, Fitness Night, and of course, Movie Nights. Both vendors from throughout the Philadelphia region and our very own local merchants would set up shop for the night to sell products and promote their services while guests interacted with adoptable dogs, played games, and participated in free fitness classes. Stroll the Street only continued to grow from there. In 2018, Canal View Park became a second activation site to encourage guests to truly stroll the street every Thursday. Vendors who didn’t fit the weekly theme tended to set up shop there – those who sold handmade plant holders, candles, and more, in addition to a tented food vendor. In 2019, Main and Pensdale Streets became yet another activation site for food, activities, and live music. Stroll the Street had gradually gained momentum over the first four years, but 2020 brought its challenges for what once was a way for people to gather in the summer. Stroll the Street reverted to its 2016 model – happy hour deals, sidewalk sales, and art vendors set up on the sidewalks along Main Street. This year will look similar with weekly deals at bars and restaurants, seasonal sales at shops and boutiques, vendors set up at several areas along Main Street, and a weekly music lineup in Canal View Park. In addition, live art will be on the street most Thursday nights with artists lined up to do a crochet installation, ribbon cuttings of new public art, and the return of the rainbow umbrellas on Gay Street. So grab your family (and your mask!) and come stroll the street with us this summer every Thursday night May through September from 5-8 p.m. in Manayunk! Summer 2021 | manayunk.com

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Artesano

Self-Care Staples Treat yourself to beauty treatments, wellness options, fun fitness, and other indulgences in Manayunk. By Meghan Sack Photos by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)

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elf-care has shifted from a perceived indulgence to a daily activity in people’s lives in recent trends. Self-care is the practice of staying fit and maintaining good physical and mental health to meet social and psychological needs. Thankfully, Main Street Manayunk has plenty of outlets for self-care that can be taken advantage of by anyone interested! Whether you are looking for retail therapy, a new workout routine, sweet treats, or meeting new people to change up your routine, Manayunk merchants are here to offer the best experience you might choose. Explore the different ways you can pursue a self-care regimen and where to get started in the following categories: Indulge, Beauty, Splash Out on Wellness, and Go to Town on Fitness. Indulge The typical image of self-care in our minds is indulging in sweet treats, seasonal beverages, and relaxing. Artesano Cafe, located at 109 Green Lane, offers exactly that image with a welcoming atmosphere, drink specials like the maple cinnamon latte, savory treats like the veggie strata, and beautiful potted plants as a reminder of your enjoyment. In the name of self-care, having a morning or afternoon routine can bring you peace and enjoyment. At the start of the pandemic, Artesano Iron Works was operating as a gallery and event space, mostly hosting weddings. Due to a lack of events, they transitioned to add the cafe and bistro in mid-July of 2020. “It was not in our plans,” said owners and operators, Jamie and Mildred Kaplan, from Colombia and Venezuela respectively. “The cafe was a way to reinvent our business because the events and weddings were not possible to host. We have our own catering team, our own chef, kitchen staff, and office staff. We said to ourselves, ‘We have this beautiful space. We can use it in another way to transform and invent another business.’ ” Upon entering Artesano Cafe, you are transported to a warm, green space

with plants of all kinds potted in terracotta pots surrounding you. “The cafe offers an opportunity to bring where we come from to the community here,” Mildred said. “It is not a nursery, so when you come and shop here, there are plants already in the terracotta pottery that come from Colombia and more homemade items like furniture that is showcased in the lower gallery.” The novelty of Artesano’s offerings are truly layered with different elements brought to Philadelphia from other countries like Colombia. The terracotta planters are made of the earth from the Andes Mountains and come directly from Colombian artisans in a small city called Ráquira, Colombia. Both Mildred and Jaime take pride in all elements of their business and recognize the way their small business is helping those small communities of artisans in Colombia. Though their terracotta pots are undervalued there where it is common here, they are appreciated for the beautiful piece they are. “People come here to get what they can’t find anywhere else,” said Shane Davis, barista at the cafe. “Artesano Cafe is like an oasis in Manayunk. People come here for the green wall, the patio, and enjoying the fresh air and the sun, rather than a typical coffee shop where people are on their computers and working. It’s more like you come with your friends, and you bring them here to have a relaxing experience.” The most unique feature about Artesano Cafe and Bistro, aside from the carefully curated atmosphere provided by the plants and staff, is the vertical, living green wall. “It is a very relaxed place inside and outside as well,” said Mildred. “There is a gorgeous green wall, which is a piece of sanity in the city. Inside the cafe itself, you can breathe the wellness in with the greens and plants while enjoying the iron pieces on the walls. Artesano is like a secret garden, for you and your friends to come enjoy.” Furthermore, if not for the coffee, plants, or atmosphere, come to Artesano for the art. Artesano Iron Works has been a gallery for the iron-made art before Summer 2021 | manayunk.com

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Salon L the cafe was created. “We bought this building in 2007 in the hopes that we would present metal works as art in a showroom,” Jaime said. “We restored the building to give artisans and metal workers in Colombia a place to share their work and present it on the walls. Art expositions were working very well, but people started asking to host their weddings and other events here.” Their first event here was their son’s Bar Mitzvah and soon after, the weddings became a mainstay in their business. Artesano Iron Works provides an enchanting background as a wedding venue, not only indoors but outdoors as well. With the iconic Manayunk Bridge right outside the front door, couples can enjoy their nuptials in style when they choose Artesano to host and cater. “Every single art piece is for sale,” Mildred said. “At the same time, it works as a beautiful background decoration for corporate, bar and bat mitzvahs, and weddings.” This summer, indulge yourself at Artesano Cafe and enjoy their seasonal thyme lemonade while you peruse the terracotta greenery and relax. Beauty Annie Morris of Salon L Manayunk, located at 4120 Main Street, has been working on Main Street since 1996 and is the only resident esthetician in the salon. An esthetician exclusively provides services focused on skin care, including skin treatments, facials, makeup application, and hair removal. Annie knows the fundamental and advanced levels of the self-care staples. “Self-care, especially right now, is so important,” Annie said. “There has been a lot of trauma and this is just a safe place you can come to, listen to relaxing music, and take an hour for yourself and your face.” Annie is an integral part of the luxurious spa treatments available at Salon L. She administers facial and peel treatments in-house including (but not limited to) the Signature Facial, Clear Skin Facial, Men’s Facial, Microdermabrasion, and Back 10

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Treatment. All of these treatments are offered from $85-$125. Annie includes a specific, targeted approach for each client. “No one ever knows what to get with facials,” Annie said. “My motto is, I take each client individually and have a full consultation, and then I customize a treatment for you.” If you are looking for a more in-depth approach to self-care in this department, Salon L offers Glo Skin Beauty. These treatments cost between $90-$125 and, for the record, do not actually peel your face. The treatments exfoliate the top layer of skin to remove wrinkles, acne, scars, freckles, age spots and melasma. Annie will customize each client’s experience to their own unique skin needs. There are many options to choose from with GloTherapeutics Peels. With different multi-level needs, you can choose to purchase a “4 Peel Package” and get the fifth treatment for free. If you’re thinking to yourself, “Love to, but who has the time?” meet with Annie for a Target Facial for $50 and 30 minutes of me-time. You’ll get to experience the repair, cleanse, exfoliation, and moisturizing you and your skin deserve in a time frame that works for you. Although, facials are not the only self-care opportunity that Annie and Salon L offer. “Right now, the big deal, because we’re all in masks, is the eyes,” Annie said. “Brow lamination, lash lift, and lash tint are all treatments that make you look great when you are covering up everything else.” Whether you need hydration, a neck and shoulder massage, or a facial massage, Annie always incorporates relaxation into a result-oriented facial. Splash out on Wellness Heart Strong Chiropractic, located on 4368 Cresson Street in Studio B, is a major key to pain relief in Manayunk. Owner, Dr. Chelsea McLane, is best known for preventive care, athletes, and adjustments. One of the best ways to take care of yourself is to put your physical well-being first.


Healthy Bites Nutrition Counseling

Heart Strong Chiropractic “Whether you want more energy to play with your kids or want to participate in your favorite activities pain-free, chiropractic can help,” Dr. Chelsea stated. Wellness is an overall goal of health and well-being that is pursued as a continuous goal. Step by step, you can lead yourself in your own health goals and by doing so, create a life and body that you feel comfortable in each day. Consulting with Dr. Chelsea and taking the steps to help your own body recover is a selfcare activity to prioritize. “As a chiropractor, I work with the body to naturally restore nervous system function so the person is better able to live life and adapt to all of the stress with which we come in contact,” Dr. Chelsea said. “When the joints of the spine become misaligned, they can not only cause joint pain, stiffness, muscle tightness, but also affect the way the body works.” Dr. Chelsea is available for all sorts of purposes. Her patients seek treatment for feeling run down, fatigued, stressed out, having more colds and flu, having trouble sleeping, are dealing with allergies, or have other ailments. Heart Strong Chiropractic patients have reported better sleep, more energy, better workouts and recovery, and that doing the things that they love become easier to them. Chiropractic may help improve outcomes of other self-care activities we do, such as working out, eating healthy, massage, acupuncture, and sleep. “When we only focus on one of those things, we miss a huge part of the picture and that is the nervous system,” said Dr. Chelsea. “The nervous system controls every single process in our bodies and it is vital to make certain there is no interference to the nervous system.” Adding a chiropractic visit to your weekly or monthly to do list can aid your efforts in other self-care engagements. Healthy Bites Nutrition Counseling, located on the second floor of Cadence Cycling at 3740 Main Street, offers one-on-one nutritional counseling to help people reach their goals. Owner Kristen Kochenour, MS, RD, LDN, helps all of her clients incorporate healthy eating into their existing lifestyle by meeting them

where they are with their goals. “I see clients with different needs — everything from people who want to lose weight or have more energy, to GI issues and athletes,” Kristen said. “I see a variety of clients.” Using her Online Healthy Eating Program, Kristen continues to connect with her clients remotely. To get in touch with Kristen, visit her website, https://www. myhbnc.com and schedule a 15-minute consulting meeting. Insurance covers most of her clients’ visits and Kristen reports that most major insurance coverages continue to cover telehealth medicine during this time. “As far as packages, most of my clients are most comfortable with doing remote meetings right now,” Kristen said. “We can still accomplish the same we would in the office.” After a year of changes, many people have picked up new activities to become healthier. “People that are getting into cycling, running, or prepping for races — I see a lot more of that right now,” she added. “Boosting your immune system is always important. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we have to take care of ourselves. Put your health first.” When asked what the best nutrition advice is to achieve relaxation, Kristen said it’s simpler than you may think. “Don’t think too much about your nutrition,” she stated. “Make small realistic changes and do not feel like you have to do a specific program or cleanse. Avoid the ‘all or nothing’ approach.” She is frequently asked for exercises to accompany her wonderful nutritional advice. “Find something you love to do and do not dread,” she said. “It can be 20 minutes. People are working out for two hours a day and that is going to lead to burnout. Do something you enjoy and reach out to a professional to help you do it safely.” Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 11


Action Karate Eating healthy can be difficult. Meeting with Kristen to set you on a path that is better for you is an easy and fulfilling wellness trick to take care of oneself. Go to Town on Fitness Fitness opportunities are great for self-care practices. You could start by setting one day a week to try a new workout routine. On Main Street, we have a plethora of exercise classes anyone can think of being interested in trying out. From karate to spin classes, to running groups, rowing clubs and to biking cohorts, you name it and there is a group here ready to welcome you with open arms. Manayunk’s fitness studios have adapted with the pandemic and offer both virtual, in-person, and hybrid classes so you can participate in whatever appeals to you. Action Karate Manayunk, located at 4799 1/2 Silverwood St., offers a range of karate classes for all demographics. Go online to their website, actionkarate.net, and you’ll see their options for Kids’ Martial Arts, Adult Martial Arts, and Online Programs. With the purchase of your first three classes at $39.99, you get your uniform and belt for free. Action Karate Manayunk also offers Special Needs classes, Family Programs, and a class for Ninja Sharks Ages three to six. “Think of self-care like four legs of a table, or four legs of a horse,” said Action Karate Manayunk’s head instructor, John Cardinale. “Each leg stands for a needed component of fitness and health: exercise, eating, breathing, sleeping. If any one of these legs is missing, the table is not sturdy. The same is true for you.” The Ninja Shark Curriculum is for ages three to six and designed to meet kids where they are developmentally in physical, mental, emotional, and social senses. These classes offer a focus on the skills needed to succeed in kindergarten and first grade. This is the perfect opportunity to help your child dip their toes into the social world and learn how to take care of themselves in the future. Finding your physical outlet for self-care is a rewarding journey. Stepping out of your comfort zone to try something new can help you become a more 12

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well-rounded person. “One way to assess your self-care is to rate yourself on a scale of one to 10 on how well you think you’re doing in each of the four categories, and whichever category has the lowest score should get your most attention,” John explained. “You will often find that when one category improves, the others do as well. That’s the approach of the martial arts lifestyle.” Classes at Action Karate Manayunk include fitness, intentional breathing, and lessons on improving daily habits that all add up to a higher level of self-care. If you think martial arts would help your self-care, you can schedule a trial lesson for free now at actionkarate.net and mention SELF-CARE.


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LABOR OF LOVE

Taqueria Amor’s proven success throughout the years has remained a bright spot during the pandemic. By Megan Douress • Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (melissakellyphotography.com)

T

he storefront at 4410 Main Street has seen it all. During The Great Depression, it housed the North Light Boys Club, or what we now know as North Light Community Center. Towards the end of the 20th century, it was the spot to get the freshest pair of kicks. But since 2013, it’s housed perhaps its most popular — and resilient — tenant, Taqueria Amor. The story of Taqueria Amor’s owner, Tim Spinner, is one we’ve all heard before. Like anyone with an Italian mother, Tim’s love of food started in the kitchen of his childhood home. “As young as six-years-old, I remember saying to my mom, ‘I want to open up a restaurant someday,’ ” Tim explained. “This was in the 80’s. Restaurants weren’t

what they are today. It was more like, ‘grab a pizza on a Friday night.’ There wasn’t a plethora of restaurants.” While his parents strongly advised he go to “real college” instead of culinary school, that love of food led Tim to work numerous jobs in mom and pop restaurants — doing everything from cooking to bartending. Upon graduating from Shippensburg University in 2001, Tim lived in Manayunk and enrolled at The Restaurant School, where he later earned an associate’s degree. After a brief stint in the corporate world, Tim found himself in José Garces’ circle. As part of the opening team of Center City’s El Vez in 2003, he made salad and ceviche for $10/hour. Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 15


“At El Vez, I fell in love with the food, I fell in love with the cuisine, and I fell in love with the people I was working with,” Tim remembered. “In fact, some of the people who taught me how to cook Mexican food in the early to mid-2000s have worked at Taqueria since we opened.” A few years later, Tim followed José when he opened Amada, and then again when he opened Distrito in 2008. With years of experience under his belt, Tim and his then-business partner went off to open their own slew of Mexican restaurants. The Feliz Restaurants grew quickly and by 2013, the small franchise was looking for its newest location. “I had previously lived here for almost 10 years, so I was very familiar with Manayunk and the restaurant scene,” Tim said. “There was a need for a Mexican restaurant. We had actually looked in Manayunk as our original location. It’s so much more comforting down here. It fits my personality and my vibe. The community is great.” By the time Taqueria Feliz opened on Main Street later that year, The Feliz Restaurants had already gained a loyal following — and it’s no wonder why. Chefs Angelica Hernandez and Guillermo Pozos kept customers well-fed with authentic dishes while their front-of-house staff, led by managers Marty Rechenberg and Max Molseed, kept things fun and made customers feel welcome — something they still do today. “When everyone works well together and makes it through a busy shift, there really is a sense of comradery,” said Max Molseed, assistant manager at Taqueria Amor. “We all work hard to support each other and that’s allowed us to exceed and grow.” It’s that recipe for success that’s kept much of Tim’s original staff — both back of house and front of house — on the schedule since those early years. “You have to have thick skin to work in the service industry but I have a whole family I’ve found here who has my back,” said Shayna Karl, server and social media coordinator at Taqueria Amor. “I’ve learned a different culture from our chefs that I absolutely love, I am fluent in talking tequila, I’ve met my best friends, and I have a boss who I am proud of and who lets my creativity flow!” With a rockstar staff behind him, Tim was able to evolve Taqueria Feliz over the years. But in 2018, he and his wife welcomed their fifth child and Tim came to the realization that owning three restaurants was no longer feasible if he wanted to see all of his kids grow up. After speaking with his then-business partner, Tim stepped back from the franchise and fully took over Taqueria Feliz in early 2020. With its “new” sole owner came a new name — Taqueria Amor — and a new look. “I had all of these huge visions, but it was easier to concentrate on one of them instead of running around to three restaurants,” Tim said. “In 2020, we started this whole process of evolving Taqueria. A 16

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lot of the stuff we did was planned out. I knew I wanted to do a Christmas popup a year in advance. Although, I didn’t think I would take it to that extreme.” Shortly after officially taking over, the pandemic hit and Tim’s visions were somewhat halted. He was faced with a decision — shut down operations for a period of time or change up the business plan. The dining room may have shut down, but a takeout window was installed — or as they say, when one door closes, another one opens. “A good number of employees, including myself, wanted to keep working and that helped us through those uncertain times,” said Marty Rechenberg, manager at Taqueria Amor. “Takeout had always been a piece of our business, so the transition was not too hard. Our daily roles changed, but we were committed to serve the community throughout the pandemic.” “It was really rewarding to see so many people come up to the takeout window, wait in line, or sit out in freezing temps,” added Chelsea Herrmann, server at Taqueria Amor. “We felt that support. You will always feel the love at Taqueria Amor!” That love only continued to spread from there. Throughout the pandemic, Tim and his faithful staff executed his vision and more, from pop-up menus and events to hosting vendors — and of course, who could forget that holiday light display? “Did I think these investments would pan out?” Tim asked. “Yes and no. Ob-

viously for Christmas, it was a huge investment, but for me, it was more about providing something for the community to enjoy in such a crazy time — and also hopefully bringing a lot more people to the restaurant and to Main Street and provide a busy restaurant for our staff to make more tips.” While the constant stress and changes of the pandemic threw curveball after curveball for small businesses everywhere, Taqueria Amor thrived — and continues to do so. This summer, Tim and his staff have plans to do more pop-ups, similar to “Tikiria,” which featured Hawaiian-style food and drinks throughout the month of March. Tim also has big plans for Halloween and will once again bring holiday cheer to the 4400 block of Main Street during the holiday season. What’s his motivation throughout all of this? His loyal customers. “They’re everything to us and our staff,” Tim said. “Our staff has developed great relationships with our guests. We want to give them something new every time they come back.” As for what the future holds for Taqueria Amor, Tim hinted at a thing or two, but wouldn’t give away his secrets just yet. One thing he knows for sure though: pandemic or not, he’s not going anywhere. “Manayunk has so much to offer,” he said. “It’s only going to get bigger and better for us.” Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 17


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Tales From the Towpath 20

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Manayunk’s signature trail takes its tourists on a trip through time. By Leo Dillinger Photography by JPG Photo & Video (jpgphotography.com) and courtesy of Kay Sykora

O

ver the last year, neighborhood residents and visitors have found solace along the Manayunk Canal and Towpath as a vital source of recreation and escapism. It is a scenic oasis for runners, walkers, and bikers with its vast array of green space. It’s a fountain of inspiration for artists and creative minds with its variety of murals and artwork. And it’s a trip through time for history buffs, where remnants of our nation’s industrial past still stand embedded within a natural landscape. The Manayunk Canal and Towpath has become a defining feature that makes this neighborhood such a unique destination in the Greater Philadelphia area. What many visitors to the trail may not realize is the rich history that surrounds them as they trek along this two-and-a-half mile stretch of the Schuylkill River Trail. If you take a look back into the neighborhood’s past, you’ll find that the story of the canal and towpath is truly the story of Manayunk’s rise to prominence. EARLY HISTORY In 1815, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chartered the Schuylkill Navigation Company to create a 108-mile long waterway that would link the coal-rich areas of Schuylkill County to the emerging commercial center of Philadelphia. Because the roads and early infrastructure of the United States were in such poor conditions at the time, industry took to the waterways to not only transport goods and supplies, but to utilize waterpower as an additional source of energy for mills and factories. By 1818, the Manayunk segment of the canal was finished, but the entire system didn’t become fully operational until 1825 when the first boat of coal ventured down the waterway. This innovative system of canals, locks, channels, and dams that could drop boats as much as 25 feet spurred economic development

for the entire region. As a result, Manayunk became known as “The Manchester of America” for its reputation as an industrial powerhouse of textiles and other products. Sandy Sorlien, an Environmental Photographer and Educator at the Fairmount Water Works, has spent the last eight years studying the entire Schuylkill Navigation System and photographing the ruins of what is left for her upcoming book, “Inland: The Abandoned Canals of the Schuylkill Navigation,” which is set to be released in 2022. “This was a very transformative project and it completely changed the way the river looked, even the course of it to some extent,” Sandy said. “It changed the whole ecology of the Schuylkill River Valley. It drew industry to wherever there were canals and locks because not only could there be commerce between the various communities, but there was also a water power aspect so that mills could use the canals as a way to run their water wheels. Basically, the Industrial Revolution was supercharged by the navigation of the canals. Where there weren’t any communities, suddenly everyone wanted to be near a canal. And Manayunk was one of those. It was actually laid out by the Schuylkill Navigation Company as the community of ‘Flat Rock’ at the beginning.” As the presence of mills and factories grew along both embankments of the canal, so did the population of Manayunk. From the 1820s to the 1860s, the town’s landscape drastically changed from an area of farms and meadows to a manufacturing center at the base of a hillside surrounded by housing for immigrant millworkers and their families. “Manayunk is here because of the canal,” Sandy said. “Some communities like Reading were already gridded and there before this project grew. But I would say the canal is Manayunk’s reason for being.” Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 21


The Schuylkill Navigation Company practically monopolized the region’s transportation industry up until 1842, when the Reading Railroad Company and other railroad lines established themselves as a more suitable alternative to the waterways. Upon completion of these rail lines, local industries soon realized trains were better equipped for the elements all year long, whereas the canal became susceptible to freezing temperatures in the winter, droughts in the summer, and immense flooding during heavy rains. “Immediately competition started,” Sandy said. “The canal company had to start lowering its tolls to compete with the railroads. It was gradual but before that, they were able to realize greater profits.” The canal’s role as a nexus for commerce began to fade by the end of the 19th century. Continuous seasons of floods and drought ravaged the system’s infrastructure, leaving the Schuylkill Navigation Company with major profit losses and very few options to endure the technological advancement of the times. The last barge of coal eventually made its way down the navigation system in 1917 and the last commercial traffic just a few years afterward, officially marking the end of an era. Outside of its limited use for waterpower to the remaining mills and factories in the area, the Manayunk Canal remained largely neglected for the next 60 years, ultimately transforming it into an industrial wasteland. REVITALIZATION In 1945, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had taken ownership of segmented properties along the Schuylkill Navigation to begin the groundbreaking “Schuylkill River Desilting Project.” As one of the first government-sponsored environmental cleanups in the United States, this project’s end goal was to clear the river of more than a century of coal waste and industrial pollution. The long22

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term impact of this project allowed wildlife and greenery to flourish along the banks of the Schuylkill River once again. Despite its success and overall positive intentions, the desilting project resulted in the obliteration of numerous dams and locks, effectively erasing the entire history of the Schuylkill Navigation Company in many communities. Fortunately, the Commonwealth salvaged the two-mile section of canal in Manayunk. By 1969, a longstanding debate had ensued to determine the fate of this once prized community asset. Some suggested an expressway be built on top of the canal to bypass Main Street while others considered the notion of paving it over to become a parking lot. For Manayunk resident and longtime advocate of the canal, Harry Olson, this local landmark held much higher potential. As he sought to initiate a renewed interest in the canal area, Harry’s vision of Manayunk as a central connection for bicycling between Center City and Valley Forge began to materialize. With funding secured from Mayor Frank Rizzo’s administration, work officially commenced to revive the canal and establish a new bike path from Lock Street to Shawmont Station fixated between the canal and properties that lined Main Street. By 1978, the City of Philadelphia officially took ownership from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the inception of a new “Manayunk Towpath” had been established. (The historic Schuylkill Navigation mule towpath was actually on the river side, which was taken over by the rail line serving Venice Island industries). By that time, other Manayunk residents, like Kay Sykora, began to share this vision of a thriving neighborhood that once again utilized the canal area as its primary catalyst for economic development. “The thing that started becoming apparent was how valuable the trail and recreational system was,” Kay said. “I had been to Europe off and on and had seen


their biking, which is amazing. I could never understand why this country was so slow to that ballgame.” On March 18, 1983, Manayunk’s Main Street District was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places, citing the neighborhood’s vital role in the Industrial Revolution. In that same year, Kay and other neighborhood stakeholders initiated the first strategic planning for Manayunk. The plan contained conceptual renderings of what the future of the Manayunk Canal and Towpath area could look like. The exciting possibilities for the neighborhood paved the way for more financial investment into the community and by the end of the 1980s, a wave of retail shops and restaurants had blossomed in the vacant properties where manufacturing businesses once stood. Manayunk had finally become a thriving commercial corridor in the 1990s. As a frequent visitor to the neighborhood, Mayor Ed Rendell became another essential advocate for Manayunk. By the end of his administration, he had allocated an estimated $9 Million in funds to redevelop Main Street’s streetscape and another $6 Million to expand the work along the canal and towpath area. “We were lucky because we had people pushing this work forward,” Kay said. “What you didn’t see back then were small districts managed like Manayunk. We were probably the first small district in Philadelphia to create staffing and eventually put a BID [Business Improvement District] in place. Now the whole city does that. Because we were the only ones with people in place advocating for and positioning projects, we got funding. There was nobody competing with us.” From that point onward, the partnership between the newly formed Manayunk Development Corporation and the City of Philadelphia consistently built upon the idea of the towpath and canal area as the cornerstone to the financial success of the Manayunk commercial corridor. According to Kay, the towpath

has been redeveloped about four different times since it was first installed in 1978, with the most recent time being the addition of pedestrian lighting along the trail. The towpath’s revitalization process has seen the installation of several murals and art pieces, new plantings and greenery, and a number of other capital improvement projects stemming from the work along the trail including the Cotton Street Bridge, Venice Island Performing Arts and Recreation Center, and the iconic Manayunk Bridge Trail. Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 23


“One thing that I think helps with the message of the canal and towpath is that’s why people live here now. That didn’t used to be the case,” Kay said. “People lived here for jobs. But now, you have all these families moving in because of green space and it’s a safe neighborhood. That adds huge value in terms of feeding back onto Main Street and I think people are seeing the correlation between them now and the value these trails bring in enticing people to choose to live here. I’ve always realized that and it mystified me that other people didn’t at the time.” The Towpath: Today and Tomorrow As you travel along the Manayunk Canal and Towpath today, it’s hard not to recognize how much time, energy, and funding has been invested into the beautification of this community asset over the last 40 years. Despite all the progress made thus far, plenty of work remains to be done. Beginning this year, The Manayunk Towpath will see the start of a $600,000 project that aims to implement a 2015 design plan that addresses the trail section at the heart of Main Street’s business district. Beautification efforts will take place along the canal “boardwalk” area between Cotton Street and Canal View Park, where building facades will be renovated and “opened” to improve the trail’s connections to Main Street businesses. This area will also see the addition of amenities like new landscaping, banners, and comfort stations. Another significant project for the Manayunk Canal can be found further up the trail, where the Philadelphia Water Department aims to repair the Flat Rock Dam and revitalize Lock #68 and the sluice house. With the completion of this project, the canal will finally see river waters flowing into it for the first time in half a century. This fresh water at the top of the canal will not only improve its ecology, it will contribute to healthier source water at the city’s Queen Lane drinking water intake. The project will also create a slight current that has many community stakeholders considering the possibility of kayaks and other watercrafts floating down the canal in the foreseeable future. Rob Armstrong, the Program Manager for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability (OTIS), is currently leading two additional capital improvement projects for the area. The first one is the long-awaited installation of pedestrian lighting atop the Manayunk Bridge. Once complete, this project will allow the bridge trail to remain open for its users 24/7 and improve its role as a link to Montgomery County for recreation and commuting purposes. Rob is also managing a crucial preservation project at the lower locks of the canal (Lock #69 & #70) at Lock Street near the southern tip of Venice Island. The City of Philadelphia has secured a grant from Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) and the design phase is underway to rehabilitate the masonry wall bordering the inactive Norfolk Southern railroad line. “These funds are not typically spent on preservation projects, but the importance of that canal to Manayunk, the city, and the region is so significant that we received a transportation grant to do the project,” Rob said. “If the city, which owns the resource, did not address the wall and the wall were to collapse, the lower locks would collapse due to the weight of the wall and potentially puncture the clay lining of the canal, causing it to drain and there would be no more water in the canal.” The Manayunk Canal & Towpath is a neighborhood feature that can’t be replicated or found anywhere else. Sure, you can find other canal systems across this country that are intact (and in some cases even functional). However, Manayunk is the only canal in the entire Schuylkill Navigation that has intact lock chambers on both ends. This neighborhood’s portion of the Schuylkill River Trail offers its residents and visitors a unique experience. For some, it’s a way to escape from the bustle of city life. “Main Street is very busy from a traffic standpoint,” Rob Armstrong said. “Whenever I drive down or walk down, there are still a whole lot of people using the streetscape and going to the restaurants and what not. What’s really interesting to me is that the Towpath is the only place where you can be in a busy, 24

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vibrant urban environment with a lot of retail and restaurants and all you have to do is walk a few feet to be in a whole different landscape.” For others, the last vestiges of an industrial past surrounded in a natural setting evoke a sense of wonder and otherworldliness. “They are just wonderful ruins,” Sandy said. “Some of them are quite intact while others are mysteriously buried and you can only see the tops of them. Some of these places can still spark your imagination and care about the history of how economies change.” Manayunk became the neighborhood it is today thanks to the canal and towpath. From the early years as a rising industrial hotspot to the trailblazing revitalization efforts over the last 40 years, it’s impossible to ignore the correlation between activity along the canal and the commercial success of the Manayunk business district. If not for the constant investment of time, energy, and funding from government agencies, community partners, and a myriad of local advocates, volunteers, and stakeholders, we might very well be telling an entirely different story of Manayunk. “I’ve always thought it was an interesting story that the economics of Manayunk have always rested on the canal from the early days in one identity to today moving into another identity,” Kay said. “I think there are a wealth of choices that you have here when you talk about the wildlife and green space all within an urban area.” Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 25


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ANNUAL

MANAYUNK

ARTS

“Flores Sin Fronteras” by Colin Maher-Velasquez | colinmaher.org

MANAYUNK.COM

FESTIVAL June 26 & 27

2021

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A Taste Tour Through Asia, in Manayunk! Exploring the diverse (traditional and fusion-style) Asian food in our neighborhood. By Jessica Jewel Tyler Photos by JPG Photo & Video (jpgphotography.com)

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inger, garlic, sesame, and soy — these ingredients are synonymous with the distinctive (and delicious) Asian flavor profile. But, each region in Asia has its own long, rich history of food and unique flavor, making it the perfect foodie destination. Let’s take a tour through some of our favorites, but pack light because we won’t leave the city. Main Street Pho is revolutionizing Vietnamese food in Philadelphia and owner, Charles Dang, takes pride in sharing authentic flavors from his birthplace. Charles came to America at 14-years-old and started working as a server. He enjoyed Chinese and Vietnamese food and even ate a bowl of pho every week! But there was one issue. “I was a picky eater, so I started cooking for myself,” Charles stated. “It became my passion.” Charles turned his passion into a restaurant with a focus on Vietnamese light eating and bold Chinese stir-fry. Charles says the two go hand-in-hand because stir-fry in Vietnam is “heavily influenced by Chinese flavor.” A popular ingredient in Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisine, that sets it apart is lemongrass. This light, minty citrus herb has the tang of lemon without the bitterness. The biggest differentiator to Charles is raw vegetables and herbs that accompany your meal. “Bean sprouts, for instance, give a fresh flavor and different texture,” Charles said. “The combination brings it to a different level.” Charles also commented on the French influence seen in dishes like grape leaves, beef stew, and trendy favorite — Vietnamese coffee. “We took dark French coffee and blended it with sweet condensed milk into a new sensation,” Charles expressed. Vietnam is also known for its flavorful bánh mìs with crunchy vegetables and succulent grilled proteins on a french baguette. The owner of Mi ‘N Tea, Kim


Dieu, said the key is freshness. “In Vietnam, they go to the market to buy ingredients for one meal,” Kim stated. “It’s about cooking with care instead of getting food on the table. Time is saved for food because quality is important for flavor.” At this family restaurant, the philosophy remains. When Kim’s parents (Kiem Tran and Dan Dieu) came from Vietnam, they brought a passion for food. So, their children worked together to make their dreams come true. Kim tackles marketing, her brother, Troy, handles sales, and her parents cook. The sibling duo adds fun menu ideas, but “tries not to get in the way too much.” “Three-quarters of the sandwiches come from my parent’s authentic recipes,” Kim explained. “The other part incorporates modern fusion.” The secret to traditional Vietnamese recipes is replacing salt with fish sauce for a complex savory, sweet salt flavor. However, their fusion sandwiches use ingredients like Korean-style Bulgogi beef, Japanese-style deep-fried filet mignon, and crispy fried shrimp. The authenticity and forward-thinking of the menu makes the family proud. “We wanted to be trendy, but our customers also love our traditional grilled meats,” Kim expressed. “It’s amazing to see my parents praised for their cooking because everyone thinks their mom makes the best food — I actually get proof.” One popular option is lemongrass pork, which to Kim, “feels like home.” Kim also offers bubble tea inspired by the popularity of the sandwich and tea combination in California. Five hundred miles to the west, we reach Thailand, birthplace of the chef and owner of Chabaa Thai Bistro and Yanako, Moon Krapugthong. Originally trained as an economist, Moon had a benign cancer scare spark a photo documenting journey. Photography school then led to a lifelong love of art, and unexpectedly, cooking.

Chef Kiem Tran

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Moon Krapugthong

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“I loved seeing my colleagues spending time together because of my food,” Moon expressed. “When you add food, it becomes a party. So, I practiced and learned I enjoyed it.” Her restaurants now give Moon a stage for art and food. Growing up in Bangkok, Moon, helped her father prepare meals, so Thai food came naturally. Although, she’s taken many paths, cooking stuck. Thai food is about balance — salty, sweet, spicy, and sour come together to make something “creative, colorful, and light-hearted.” According to Moon, this balance also comes from centuries of multi-ethnic collaboration. “Thai people have incorporated flavors from India, Japan, China, and French desserts, and now, our cuisine is uniquely ours and it’s so rich,” affirmed Moon. “For example, Sukiyaki is influenced by Japanese shabu shabu.” The Japanese soup uses a fish stock, but the Thai version uses herbal pork or chicken broth with a spicy dipping sauce. Moon also spoke about curries. “Our curries use fundamental Indian ingredients like chili pepper and dried herbs, but we use shrimp paste, lemongrass, kakafi lime, and galangal and it becomes fresher,” Moon explained. Galangal is an important ingredient in Thai food. This turmeric and ginger relative adds sharp, spicy, peppery flavor that shines in dishes like tom yum soup. Tom yum is the “foundation of Thai cooking,” according to Moon, because you have to balance the distinct hot and sour flavors Thailand is known for. Moon also features Japanese food, like sushi, at Yanako. Next, we’ll head north to China. Hong Kong native and the chef/owner of New Leaf II, Terry Yeung, holds a deep appreciation for his nation’s food. “Hong Kong is a food fair,” Terry explained. “From roadside stalls to world-class restaurants, there’s a variety of choices.” Terry came to America at 17-years-old and couldn’t find flavors like those of


his home country. So, while working in a restaurant, he took up cooking. There are still differences between authentic Hong Kong cuisine and American fusion, but New Leaf II offers both. “Asian chefs saute noodle dishes in a dry style, but our audience likes complementing their meals with sauce,“ Terry stated. “So, we would add a savory soy sauce or for the wok-fried shrimp, a spicy mayo.” The wok-fried shrimp is a crowd favorite (and Terry’s). The combination of traditional sweet and smoky XO sauce and American spicy mayo is truly unique. New Leaf II does classic American takeout just right, like the top-selling, General Tso’s chicken. If you want something authentic, try the chef’s special menu — most customers come back for more once they try it! The secret is the seasonings in the house-made sauces. “Most of our seasonings are imported from China or Japan — you wouldn’t find them in your supermarket,” Terry laughed. “Our sushi soy sauce and vinegar are imported from Japan and the soy sauce for our fried rice is from Germany.” New Leaf II also features Japanese food, like awe-inspiring sushi boats and fusion-style sushi pizza. Eddie Huang, sushi chef at Manayunk Brewing Company, spoke more about Japanese food. Eddie was born in China and went to Japan in 1989. While working in a restaurant, he became passionate about food, especially sushi. “I love sushi because it’s natural,” Eddie said. “It’s straight from the water.” Eddie is a disciplined chef who focuses on fresh, quality ingredients. Manayunk Brewing Company sources high grades of fresh fish and pays the utmost attention to storing ingredients properly, which Eddie said is key. Eddie features a wide variety. The “regular rolls’’ are American favorites, like shrimp, yellowtail, and Eddie’s favorite, tuna. Here, diners will also find the Japanese-American shrimp tempura roll, known for its crispy texture, mouthwatering

Terry Yeung

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Eddie Huang

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shrimp, and kabayaki sauce (eel sauce made with sake and sugar). The “regular roll” menu also playfully tours how Americans have adapted sushi based on available ingredients. For example, the Philadelphia roll is made with smoked salmon and cream cheese, the Boston roll uses poached shrimp, the Alaska roll uses salmon, and the California is known for crab stick. The “special roll” menu, however, comes from experimentation. “I love trying new things and testing them on staff members,” Eddie added. “I mix things up every few months by finding new traditional ingredients and non-traditional ones, like mango and jalapeño.” This collaboration results in creative dishes like self-named, “Chef Eddie’s special roll,” made with spicy tuna and jalapeño, rolled in soybean paper, topped with white tuna and salmon. Last stop, Korea. Owner of Tsaocaa Manayunk, Andrew Chang, is Chinese-American but has had a big Korean influence because of his neighbors and friends from church. “I love the culture and it just tastes good at the end of the day,” stated Andrew.


Andrew’s mother owned a full-scale restaurant in Chinatown. Andrew, however, wanted to focus on something universal — chicken — bone-in, bone-out, and on a bun (and yes, Tsaocaa plans to dominate the “chicken sandwich wars.”) Korean fried chicken is the focus, but he doesn’t discriminate. “I grew up with football and wings,” Andrew asserted. “I love buffalo wings so much, I put them on the menu. They’re simple, relatable, and reminiscent.” Andrew relates to customers with local, quality ingredients most people can enjoy. He uses 100% halal chicken with fresh brioche buns and keeps sandwich toppings simple — mayo and pickles. The beauty is the simplicity of it. The secret is the technique. Andrew says marinated dark meat is most flavorful and the double-fry is key. “We bread three times — dry, wet, dry — fry it, lift it, and fry it again,” Andrew explained. “The cook time is a bit longer, but it’s worth it. Fried chicken is iconic. I’m taking it up a notch by adding a tasty crispy layering.” The “regular spicy” sandwich has a flavor between garlic and gochujang. This fundamental Korean ingredient is known for its spicy, sweet complex flavor. Its recent popularity makes Andrew proud of the advancements of Asian cuisine in America. Andrew’s appreciation for Korean, and other types of Asian food and culture, inspire him to always do better. He “respects the beautiful flavors” and simply does everything possible to make his customers “feel good about eating amazing quality fried chicken.” Tsaocaa also makes bubble tea and Japanese snacks like takoyaki and pan-fried gyoza. Once you check out Laxmi’s Indian Grille, our Manayunk Asian food tour is complete. For more international cuisine, try Middle Eastern at Smiley’s Cafe, Mediterranean at Zesty’s, Italian at Pizzeria L’Angolo, Spanish tapas at Artesano Cafe and Bistro, and Mexican at Taqueria Amor, La Roca, and Cactus Cantina.

Andrew Chang

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We could all use a little comfort food. Sidewalk Cafe / Takeout Curbside Pickup / Delivery Catering / Private Parties 4343 / 4345 Main St. • Manayunk Order online: chabaathai.com | theyanako.com Spring 2021 | manayunk.com

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Making Fitness Fun From outdoor boot camps, running programs, and Zoom workouts, Goals Fit knows how to keep clients motivated. By Megan Douress Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com)

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ecoming an entrepreneur wasn’t always part of the plan for Kasey Manwaring-Loos, owner of Goals Fit. It was the typical story of turning a passion into a profession after her first career choice didn’t quite work out. “I went to St. Joe’s and majored in Psychology with a plan of eventually becoming a therapist,” Kasey explained. “Over the years, however, I realized that my interest in becoming a therapist was about making people feel good.” Kasey, who originally hails from New York and has always been an avid sports fan, wasn’t quite good enough to play any sports in college. However, influenced by her older sister’s love of running, she decided to try it out herself. “I was known as the girl with the short red hair who ran all over the place!” Kasey laughed, reminiscing about her college days. “Running gave me a lot of confidence. I just felt like everything came into place.” Kasey credits running for improving her quality of life at college, and soon enough, she got her friends to realize this too. Upon graduation, Kasey took a job in medical sales. The flexibility of her day-to-day in sales allowed her to train clients and she became a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor. To grow her side business, Kasey rented a small studio inside a chiropractor’s office in Roxborough, owned by her now-husband, Ted. In 2009, Kasey was laid off but remained optimistic about the opportunities that were ahead. She weighed the pros and cons of getting another full-time job but when it came down to it, she realized this was her chance to go with a career she truly enjoyed. She decided to pursue her passion for fitness and rented her

own studio space off a side street in Roxborough to make it official – her own business she would call “Goals Fit.” Kasey found herself getting busier and busier – often working around the clock with personal training clients. The warm weather was coming and so were clients wanting to get in shape for summer. “I started ‘Quick Fix Boot Camp,’ ” Kasey said. “It was a five-week program that ran from Memorial Day to the Fourth of July. I put fliers all over the place and like 50 people signed up! I just thought to myself, ‘OK, this is how I can make a living.’ What I thought was just going to be a quick five-week boot camp really became my claim to fame in a way – outdoor boot camp.” If outdoor boot camp was going to be Kasey’s niche, Manayunk was going to be the place she did it. The treacherous hills, various staircases, proximity to the Wissahickon, and the many future clients she met at a former waitressing job made it the perfect location, so she moved her studio downhill to 4450 Main Street in 2013. After a few years, Kasey wanted to add more indoor class options but felt like she had outgrown her little studio space. In September 2019, she moved to a spacious, light-filled studio at 110 Levering Street. There, Kasey was able to use more traditional fitness equipment for her weight training classes like kettlebells, weights, ropes, bands, and more. “I had this nice big place and I was like, ‘I’m going to have all of these big classes,’ ” Kasey remembered thinking just months before the pandemic. “To tell you the truth, I was a little bit in limbo. Nothing was really gelling for me because it was Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 39


a little bit of a mish-mosh. I wanted to use my nice big gym but I’m more known for the outdoor boot camps.” Like many other local small fitness studio owners, Kasey had to think fast when the pandemic hit in March 2020. Luckily, outdoor fitness was always part of her business plan, so the transition was a natural one for her. “In a way, the pandemic really helped me focus on what I’m good at – and that’s outdoor stuff for the most part,” she added. “I’m so glad I moved when I did because I’ve spent so much time in my studio since the pandemic. Being in that little spot – I would’ve gone a little stir crazy! I still use the studio for small groups and personal training.” Today, Goals Fit, whose slogan has always been “making fitness fun,” offers a wide variety of classes in addition to boot camps, including Thursday Tabata: Butts & Guts, Super Small Group Personal Training, and Field Trippin Friday, which happens to be Kasey’s favorite class to teach. Every Friday at 5:45 a.m., Kasey takes her class to a different destination each week, such as the United Artists movie theater, the Wissahickon’s 100 steps, and “The Wall,” made famous by the former bike race that would come through the neighborhood. To keep her clients motivated, Kasey’s been getting creative by hosting themed runs to fun destinations, like wearing green the week of St. Patrick’s Day and running under the rainbow umbrellas on Gay Street. While there aren’t any official city races on the books yet for this year, Kasey is going back to her running roots with her clients. “I’ve been creating training programs, such as one called the Goals Street program,” Kasey explained. “It follows the Broad Street Run program so it’s 10 weeks.

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That’s usually a big part of my business, so I want to keep these people running even though there’s no Broad Street Run. The way it works is I give them a coaching program and it’s all virtual. They do it on their own but a lot of them will meet up. I’ll offer a few optional group runs where we run all over but it always ends with a race of some sort.” As everyone continues to recuperate from the pandemic, Goals Fit is still hosting Zoom classes for those who aren’t quite ready to jump back into a group setting just yet, with classes ranging from Kettlebell Strength to Arms + Abs + Bursts of HIIT. She’s also added more classes for kids to her schedule, including the spring program for girls ages four to six called Super Girl Striders. “It’s designed with three goals in mind: to teach girls that exercise is fun, they have to cheer on their teammates, and to never give up,” Kasey said. “It’s running, games, contests, and it always ends with a little fun run. They all finish with a medal. It’s super cute!” As for what the future holds for Goals Fit, Kasey plans on continuing her running programs and hopes to expand her outdoor boot camps to the suburbs to reach more clients in a time where “feeling good” is a basic necessity. “A lot of people don’t work out with us because they think it’s really hard,” Kasey said. “The thing is, I really love working with beginners. It’s hard for everyone at first but I don’t want to turn people away because of that. The mix of endorphins, plus the social aspect of the classes and the encouragement of setting and achieving goals seems to do the trick of making our clients really feel good about themselves!”


“The mix of endorphins, plus the social aspect of the classes and the encouragement of setting and achieving goals seems to do the trick of making our clients really feel good about themselves!”

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“Staycation” Mode How to make the most of your weekends in Manayunk this summer. By Noel V. Bartocci Photos by Alexa Nahas Photography (alexanahas.com), JPG Photo & Video (jpgphotography.com)

Manayunk has always straddled the fence of what kind of neighborhood it is— is it a neighborhood of indulgence: delicious food, craft cocktails, tempting sweets, happy hour specials, and top-notch boutique shops? Or is it a neighborhood of art, adventure, activity, and culture? Over the course of two Saturdays, I ventured to prove it can be both.

THE FIRST SATURDAY: TAKE IT ALL IN. I often find it difficult to get out of bed on Saturday mornings, but on this particular day, I had no issue. I knew the night before that there were a handful of things I wanted to accomplish and needed an early start. So, my wife, Sam, and I are out the door by 10 a.m. and ready to tackle the town. PARKING - I’ve heard the complaints about parking in town, even contributing to the chorus from time to time. I’ve evolved on that stance over the years, especially with the growing number of lots we have along Main Street – tucked under the Manayunk Bridge, on 4400 Main, next to Valerio Coffee Roasters on Levering Street, and on Venice Island with entry points at both Cotton and Lock Streets, which is where I’m parking for this trip. Any adventure I have usually begins with some caffeine. Call it a crutch, but there’s never a lack of quality coffee on Main Street. PILGRIM ROASTERS – Located auspiciously close to the Towpath Trail entrance, this cafe has some of the finest coffee and tea options this side of Center City. The pastries aren’t too shabby either. My wife and I started our morning with something fancy (I went with the Maple Cinnamon Latte and she had a Mixtape green tea) and something sweet to share — a blueberry lemon muffin. I may or may not have ate more than my fair share of the muffin. It’s her word against mine. Bright eyed and bushy tailed, we made our way to the… PRETZEL PARK FARMERS MARKET – This neighborhood perk has become a favorite Saturday destination. Philadelphia-area vendors set up along the pathway in the center of Pretzel Park to sell their wares and socialize with the community. Featured products range from fresh produce, roasted coffee, and homemade spreads to local art, pastries, crafts, and spirits, all found between the playground and dog park right above Main Street. We walked away with a restock of Fifth of a Farm Creations’ apple butter (and a new jam for good measure), as well as a new mask from The Fussy Cutting Quilt Shop, some sweets from Kou Klet Brazilian Bakery, and produce from Walnut Run Farm. I almost grabbed some beverages from Deer Creek Malthouse but decided on next time. I’m not even a fan of IPAs, but their PA Pride Hazy is fantastic. With our shopping complete, we headed back to the car to unload the goods, 44

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but not to end our day. A quick change into the right footwear (courtesy of sizing at Philadelphia Runner) and we take to the trail for a light run/hike. MANAYUNK TOWPATH – The Towpath has always been my go-to spot for pick up runs, random bike excursions, and light exploration hikes. As far as runs go, the terrain is level and ranges from paved to packed dirt, making it relatively safe regardless of weather conditions. On this Saturday, we’re feeling adventurous and take the trail about two miles out from the start at Lock Street. Canopied under growing foliage, the further out on the trail you go, the closer it moves towards the Schuylkill River. Right about when you come up to the old canal sluice house, you can hear the roaring of the water just in the distance. It’s amazing just how close the center of town is to the sights and sounds of nature. If biking is your thing, Trek or Cadence can hook you up with the right model, and you can take this fantastic trail all the way to Conshohocken and beyond. Not today, though, there are other things on the to-do list. On our way back, the hankering for a sweet treat sets in. It stands to reason that we’ve earned it. CRUST VEGAN BAKERY – Appearing on Main Street in the summer of 2020, Crust Vegan Bakery very quickly became a prime spot for sweets in Manayunk (and in our home). Offering a rotating menu of delicious treats, Crust never ceases to amaze with their creativity. Personal favorites include whatever homemade pop tart flavor available (lemon lavender is clutch) and the compost cookie. Nothing takes the sting out of indulging in pastries like knowing you’re supporting an amazing staff and a responsible, forward-thinking business. Despite walking back towards the car with a cookie, I wasn’t quite done with Manayunk — or imbibing for the day. Since the weather was beautiful, we decided to grab a drink outdoors. PHS POP UP GARDEN - Located on Jamestown Avenue, Manayunk’s PHS (Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) Pop Up Garden opened late last summer, when we were all in desperate need for a safe outdoor space to see different Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 45


faces. Since then, it has become a warm and welcome addition to Main Street’s more popular hangs. PHS is committed to using “horticulture to advance the health and well-being of the Greater Philadelphia region,” partly with their various beer gardens across the city. As we safely sip our beverages, surrounded by scenic plants, flowers, and art, I have to say— mission accomplished, PHS. While soaking up the last of the sun, the hankering for dinner creeps in, but we have to get home sooner rather than later to feed the cat. We whip out our phones to scroll through the to-go options and very quickly decide on Chabaa Thai Bistro.

CHABAA THAI BISTRO - Chabaa is that rare restaurant that facilitates any need— be it a beautiful date night or a comfort-fueled to-go, their menu checks every box. We put in an order for Tom Kha soup with chicken, fresh spring rolls, and spicy basil fried rice. The intention is to split it all, but I have a feeling that I might not get much of the soup (it’s a household favorite). Serves me right for hoarding the muffin earlier in the day. It’s not long before our food is ready and it’s time to head home. Take out bag in hand, we set out to the car and make mental note of all the things we weren’t able to hit until next time.

THE SECOND SATURDAY: TREAT YOURSELF Having spent the previous weekend seeing great faces and having a little adventure (with bites in between), I thought it best to spend this Saturday filling in what we missed - the top tier indulgences, for my stomach as well as my home. I’m talking food and shopping. Today, we treat ourselves! However, in order to reconcile the oncoming onslaught of beverages and meals, I decide to start the day off as right as possible… THE WALL CYCLING STUDIO - Taking its name from the eponymous Manayunk Wall, this cycling and fitness studio has become a second home for 46

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me. During the less than reliable reality of 2020, they kept their doors open, so to speak, by adding streaming options and outdoor classes when restrictions allowed. They kept their customers engaged all the way through, ingratiating me to their offerings even more than before. This morning, I am attempting to pre-earn the brunch I plan on having in just a few short hours. Five hundred calories less and a shower later, my wife and I put our names in at Winnie’s for brunch. We’re sure to get there at the start of brunch service in order to avoid a wait­— especially since outdoor seating is at a premium on days like this.


WINNIE’S MANAYUNK - Winnie’s is a foundational restaurant that some consider the standard bearer for friendly drinks and dining offerings in Manayunk. It’s a welcoming spot no matter what kind of experience you’re craving. We’ve had family meals here as well as just sitting at the bar for a few drinks and an app. The atmospheric versatility would be attractive enough, but they had to go make the food fantastic, to boot. Today, it’s their homemade Bloody Mary and Mimosa concoctions that I couldn’t wait to sample. The Chicken & Waffle Bennie didn’t hurt either. Cycling class in the a.m. or not, I refused to feel bad about this delicious spread. One of our favorite things to do after a meal like that is simply to walk it off a little. This neighborhood is so friendly to foot traffic, that it seems like a no-brainer to peruse the shops and storefronts on such a nice day. As new homeowners, we’re still figuring out what our interior aesthetic will be, but absolutely want the neighborhood’s history to be incorporated. So, we hit up a few spots that sell Philadelphia and Manayunk items. THE LITTLE APPLE - So many of my searches for presents have happened within the four walls of this boutique. Specializing in everything from the irreverent to the exclusive, it’s very easy to walk into The Little Apple to simply browse, but walk out with a full gift bag of necessities. Staying on the new home front, I found myself eyeing some fantastic candles and kitchen accessories, but opted to pace myself and only get the birthday card and gift for my brother-in-law that we needed. Some fantastic socks, novelty gummies, and a pencil set. JOHNNY DESTRUCTO’S HERO COMPLEX - A favorite spot on Main Street is this community-oriented comic book and hobby shop. What was intended as a quick visit to pick up the previous week’s books became extended Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 47


as we started chatting with the owner, JD. Fun fact: The shop happily pre-orders and sets aside books I let them know I want to read, which is a service that many hobby shops provide, and not enough casual readers know about. In my mind, you’re never allowed to be upset about missing out on something when you can have it (and good conversations) waiting for you instead. MAIN STREET MUSIC – A trip to Main Street isn’t complete without popping into my favorite record shop. In a year that we’ve been unable to experience live music, my wife and I have refocused that energy into supporting local and seeking new, different artists. The staff at Main Street Music are always down to dive into recommendations with you. So, go and discover something new. That way, you’ll be ready when those bands get back on tour later this year. Maybe... Having spent the entire afternoon dipping in and out of stores along Main Street, the dinnertime hour is rapidly approaching. It’s a leftover night, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting to class up the meal with a nice bottle. JAKE’S & COOPER’S WINE BAR & WINE SHOP - I’ve spent many evenings enjoying drinks and delicious food at the bar of Jake’s, but during the majority of last year, that kind of patronage was impossible. Luckily, they updated their offerings to include a wine shop, allowing us to continue supporting local restaurants and having access to a fantastic wine selection. We normally take part in a dry white but tonight we grabbed a red to pair with the homemade Italian waiting at home. The day is winding down and we’ve covered quite a bit of ground, but a playful day of indulgence couldn’t end quite yet. That’s right — today, we eat dessert first! 48

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TUBBY ROBOT ICE CREAM FACTORY – Look, there was no way we weren’t having an indulgent day without some homemade ice cream. Tubby is a premier ice cream spot, boasting a menu of staples as well as a rotatation of seasonal flavors. We walked in with nothing but hopes and stepped out with two scoops of dreams, Chocolate Coconut (dairy free) and Cinnamon Boast Bunch. Needless to say, the ice cream is basically gone by the time we make it back to the car.

As another wonderful day in Manayunk comes to a close, all I can think about, again, are the things we didn’t get to do, like furniture shopping at UrbanBurb Furniture, happy hour at Manayunk Brewing Company, a slice in the outdoor patio at Pizzeria L’Angolo, a growler to-go at Bald Birds Brewing Company, checking out the sunset atop the Manayunk Bridge, and even a visit to Clairvoyant Monica. The possibilities seem endless… we’re just going to have to just keep our Saturdays open for the foreseeable future. Summer 2021 | manayunk.com 49


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NOW OPEN

By Leo Dillinger

Pedego Electric Bikes (4303 Main Street) One of the largest brands of electric bikes has made its way down to Main Street! Offering a unique experience, Pedego bikes give its users the option to pedal or use the throttle for an extra boost. Their brand new shop on Main Street offers both sales and rental opportunities.

City of Paws Pet Care (4167 Main Street) Rapidly growing their business in the neighborhood over the last few years has led Danny Offenbacher and the crew at City of Paws to branch out into a much larger space. Featuring more products and services than ever before, this shop is the perfect place for all of your furry friends!

Valerio Coffee Roasters (4373 Main Street) This local coffee shop has become a Manayunk staple with a variety of regulars. As a result, the team at Valerio has moved into a brand new location just two blocks from their original location! Serving up a wide range of drinks and good eats, this cafe officially has a new place on Main Street to call home.

TruBeauty Concepts (4405 Main Street) Opening this summer on Main Street is TruBeauty Concepts. Specializing in distribution of beauty products and services for the salon and spa industry, the TRU team provides its clients with the most professional and creative assistance.

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Upcoming

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