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Striking While the Iron’s Hot The evolution of Artesano, from retail space to event venue.

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MA N AY U N K Now serving Brunch everyday until 3pm!




APRIL 15 - 11AM-5PM







Great wines • Craft beers on tap • Seasonal cocktails Artisan Catering breads • Full catering • Outdoor - Gift Cardsmenu - Take Out dining Market menu • Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner - every day Award-winning 4266 MainSunday StreetBrunch


Philadelphia, PA 19127 4266 Main Street, Manayunk, PA 19127 | 215.487.2663 | 215.487.2663 Catering

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MANAYUNK magazine


contents SUMMER 2018

Mark Your Calendar

 What’s happening this summer in Manayunk.



A recap of our spring events.


Cover Profile

SHOP. 24

Business Savvy

A perfect fit.

26  Things We Love Did someone say, “Treat?!’

 How Artesano has evolved throughout the years.



Conversation With the Chef


A family affair.


Taste This

Rollin’ with the changes.

Now Open

 Step inside Manayunk’s newest businesses.


10  Around Town


Meet your neighbors.


Get Physical


Expert Advice

Heat things up.

From renderings to handing off the keys.

Editorial + Production

Manayunk Magazine

is published by the Editors Manayunk Development Corp. Jane Lipton, Meg Douress, Leo Dillinger, Manayunk Development Corporation Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba, 4312 Main Street and Leksey Maltzman. Philadelphia, PA 19127 Design 215.482.9565 | Cantor Design, Sales M7 Media • 610.417.9261; Photography JPG Photography ( COVER Alexa Nahas Photography ( Photographed by Susan Beard Melissa Kelly Photography ( 4

Photography by JPG Photography (

06 | Summer 2018

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Photography by JPG Photography (

4324 Main Street • Manayunk, PA 19127 215.483.7387

4330 Main Street, Manayunk, PA 19127 | 920 Montgomery Ave. Narberth, PA 19072 WWW.THEJUICEMERCHANT.COM 4330 Main Street Manayunk, PA 19127 | 920 Montgomery Ave. Narberth, Pa. 19072 WWW.T HEJ U IC E M ERC H A N T.C O M MNYK_Spring2018_FNL.indd MNYK.Summer2018_Full.indd 75

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thurs evenings june 7-aug 23 Stroll the Street

Every Thursday night throughout the summer, Manayunk will host local food trucks, vendors, and live music as visitors and residents walk, shop, and eat their way down Main Street! Each week will be a different theme including Game Night, Pet Night, Christmas in July, and more! Select Manayunk restaurants will also be featuring $5 cocktail and appetizer specials, while retailers will hold discounts, trunk shows, and other promotions. We encourage you to bring your entire family and enjoy a night out in Manayunk!

sunday aug 26 - 11am - 4pm Dog Day of Summer saturday / sunday june 23 / 24 Manayunk Arts Festival Walk down historic Main Street for the 29th annual Manayunk Arts Festival! The best variety of fine arts and crafts from all over the country are presented at the largest outdoor, juried arts festival in the region. Over 300 artists will be showcasing their original work including fiber, glass & ceramics, jewelry, mixed media, painting & drawing, photography, and wood & sculpture. The art festival will also feature an emerging artist tent on Grape Street to showcase young, local talent.


Photography by JPG Photography (

This event has gone to the dogs! is pleased to bring the first ever Dog Day of Summer event this August. While the location is to be determined, the event will consist of all of your favorite local pet vendors and hourly activities, such as an agility demonstration. Visit for the latest! | Summer 2018

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Photography by JPG Photography (


Wake up to shimmering water views of the Schuylkill River and Manayunk Canal just outside your windows. Then, stroll across the bridge to Main Street’s specialty shops and delicious array of restaurants and bars. Take in a music festival or art gallery before inviting friends back to your rooftop terrace to watch the sun set over the river. The Locks offers one-of-a-kind townhomes for a new lifestyle in Manayunk.

RIVERFRONT TOWNHOMES IN MANAYUNK COMING SOON Rendering is for illustrative purposes only. Subject to change without notice. See a Sales Manager for details.

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Best of Manayunk Cocktail Party Business owners, employees, and guests made their way down to Bourbon Blue on March 15th to celebrate the best of the best in Manayunk! After counting thousands of votes from the public, 55 awards were given out to businesses in the live, shop, dine, play, readers’ choice, and editors’ choice categories. Before heading into the annual cocktail party, business owners got their time to shine on the red carpet with interviews and photos. This year’s Best Of Manayunk edition of Manayunk Magazine made its debut the evening of the event before hitting newsstands on Main Street.

Manayunk StrEAT Food Festival Some of the tri-state area’s best smells filled the air on April 15th as over 50 of Philadelphia’s finest food trucks and gourmet food vendors hit the streets! The rain held out as hundreds of people made their way up and down Main Street to fill their bellies. Items ranging from barbecue to cannolis, to dumplings and popcorn where sold, guaranteeing that every palate was satisfied!

8 | Summer 2018

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Carefree Living Around Manayunk

• Garden Style Apartments

• 24 Hour Fitness Center

• Private Entrances

• 1 mile to SEPTA train

• Patios/Balconies

• 2 miles to Main Street

• Free Off-Street Parking

• Across from Umbria

• Dog Park & Canine Trail

Golf Range | 215.482.4889

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People of M By Leksey Maltzman Photos by Alexa Nahas Photography (

From new home buyers to those who have spent their whole lives here, the Manayunk residential community is nothing short of vibrant. We asked a few local residents why they love calling Manayunk home. Meet your neighbors! Meet Yenssy, Alexander, Brayden & Beau Roxborough Avenue Residents Moved In: 2014 On a rainy Saturday morning in 2014, Yenssy and Alex fell in love with a historic row home on Roxborough Avenue. In just four years, their family has become a party of four with the additions of sons Brayden and Beau. Yenssy and Alex have since done some renovations to their home in order to accommodate their growing family. With their house just steps away from Pretzel Park, new mom Yenssy wanted to find her place in the community. She joined a mommy group and found Manayunk to be a community full of growth and potential for young families. “There are a lot of different things that developed since we first moved in here,” Yenssy said. “I remember when the Halloween parade was just a few people and now it’s the entire block full of kids! There’s a lot of progress and the old tale of it not being a family community is just not true at all.” Alex loves the accessibility of Manayunk and the surrounding areas. “You’re pretty much sitting in the center of everything,” Alex shared. “Whether you need to get out to King of Prussia or down to Center City, everything is within a short distance — and the public transportation is great.” When asked what their favorite thing about living in Manayunk is, Alex did not hesitate to exclaim, “Taqueria Feliz!” Yenssy agreed and elaborated, “We have the opportunity to still be very vibrant as a married couple, go on date nights, and shop locally, which is really important to us.” Yenssy, Alex, and their boys love being a part of the Manayunk community and working with other families to make Manayunk the best it can be. “What’s made me happiest,” Yenssy said, “is the community and how much we’ve come together for things like cleaning Pretzel Park and building a new playground.”

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f Manayunk Meet Nina and George Terrace Street Residents Moved In: 2014 After their kids left for college, Nina and George decided they wanted a change. They took the opportunity as empty nesters to downsize from their home in Bryn Mawr to a house in Manayunk. “We had been in the suburbs for a number of years and wanted a change,” George said. “We wanted more of a community and to be in the city.” “All of the things we like to do seemed very accessible in Manayunk,” Nina added. They enjoy taking advantage of the numerous trails, fitness classes, as well as dining and shopping on Main Street. They both chose to show their favorite things about Manayunk in their photo; George loves going to yoga at JTOWN Hot Yoga, and Nina is wearing her favorite gown from Nicole Miller. Besides the many activities in Manayunk, they also enjoy the diversity of people they’ve come to know since they moved here. “We’ve met several other couples sort of just like us and that’s been fun,” Nina explained, “but we’ve also met a lot of different people.” George is an avid bird lover and has several bird feeders he enjoys taking care of. Moving from Bryn Mawr has given him an additional perk when it comes to bird watching — the endangered Peregrine Falcons that live in the top of St. John the Baptist. “My extra bonus is that I get to wake up to Peregrine Falcons outside our bedroom window!” he shared. When it came to shopping for their home in Manayunk, having a great view of the neighborhood was high on their list. “I haven’t seen anywhere in the city or the suburbs that has the views we have in Manayunk,” George said. “I don’t know how you could put a price tag on views.”

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LIVE Meet Brian and Katie Fountain Street Residents Moved In: 2018 Though Brian and Katie are recently engaged and bought their first home this year, they are no strangers to the area. Brian grew up in Manayunk, and his parents are his new neighbors. “My family lives around the corner from us,” Brian said. “I grew up here and I have no desire to really go anywhere else.” Besides having family close by, Brian appreciates the overall environment Manayunk has to offer. “I like how it dances the line between city and ‘burbs,” he said. “It’s not really either completely, but it’s a nice mix of the two.” “There is usually somewhere to see live music most nights of the week, too,” Katie added. Not only do Brian and Katie live in Manayunk, they also work here. Brian bartends at Lucky’s Last Chance, and Katie sings with her band, Stella Ruze, and as a solo act at The Grape Room, Dawson Street Pub, and Lucky’s Last Chance. You are also likely to catch Katie performing at many Manayunk festivals and events. When Katie isn’t performing, she babysits the daughter of Brandy Deieso, the owner of The Little Apple, and takes advantage of spending time on Main Street visiting with shop owners. “I like being down on Main Street more often because I’m starting to meet all of the different shop owners,” she said. “There are a lot of women shop owners in Manayunk, which is pretty cool.” Manayunk has been a part of Brian and Katie’s relationship from the very beginning. “We met here, we dated here, we got engaged up at Gorgas Park,” Katie shared. “Almost everything we’ve done has been in Manayunk.”

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4417 Main Street • Manayunk •

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LIVE Meet Mark and Neal Gay Street Residents Moved In: 1999 You may recognize the entrance to Mark and Neal’s home, and that’s because their home is also the Manayunk Chambers Guest House. Just off of Main Street is a beautiful Victorian house that’s been in Neal’s family for well over a century. Over the years, it was home to several ventures including a hair salon, a church parsonage, and apartments. In 2007, Mark and Neal decided to make it into a bed and breakfast, and they restored the interior to reflect the historic charm and character of the building. Neal spent his whole life living in Manayunk and has seen it evolve and grow since he was a little boy. “It used to be a working class family neighborhood, and then more and more students were coming in, and businesses opened,” Neal explained. “Now, it’s going back to a family neighborhood, but with new vibrancy and culture. You can really see the growth from season to season.” Even though Mark has not lived in Manayunk for as long as Neal has, he created his own family here. “I like the tight-knit group — my adopted family, so to speak — with the business community,” Mark shared. “When we finished renovating, I decided to reach out to the business community and work towards the same common goal to bring more business to Manayunk.” Mark and Neal are avid users of the public transportation available in Manayunk. In fact, Neal doesn’t even have a driver’s license. “There is always a way to get somewhere.” Neal said, “It’s so easy to branch out from this spot, and yet, if you don’t branch out and you stay here, it’s terrific!”

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weekdays from 5:30-7:30pm



draft beer



house wine



specialty cocktails



select snacks


The Canal Lounge is Manayunk’s premier event space. Perfect for groups up to 125 people, for any and every event. Contact our event coordinator, Melissa at for more information. 2 Rector Street

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LIVE Meet Ali and Seth Saint Davids Street Residents Moved In: 2014 Ali and Seth initially moved to Manayunk because they found it to be the perfect in between point for their work commutes. While renting for three years, Ali and Seth established roots in Manayunk by joining gyms, getting to know small business owners, and taking advantage of the trails. Ali even bought her wedding dress in Manayunk. “I bought my wedding dress at Nicole Miller and carried it home right down Main Street,” she said. “Couldn’t have been closer.” When it came time to purchase their first home together, they considered moving to other areas of the city, but couldn’t bear to leave all of the amenities they had discovered in Manayunk. “There is just so much to offer here that it kept us,” Ali said. “The other key was housing prices,” Seth added. “We were able to get so much more for our money than we would have in any of the other neighborhoods we were looking at.” They ended up moving into a house on Saint Davids Street — just a few seconds’ walk to their favorite shops and restaurants on Main Street, not to mention the train station. “Any further and we are likely to miss the train,” Seth joked. Seth and Ali are always looking for new ways to get involved in the community and take advantage of everything Manayunk has to offer. “We tried stand-up paddle boarding on the Schuylkill River right behind the brewery,” Ali said. “It was awesome. Who knew you could do that in Manayunk?”

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Paving The Way For A Better Build Environment How a group of college friends living in Manayunk paved the way by combining different design disciplines to create a better build environment. By Caitlin Maloney Kuchemba Photography By Melissa Kelly Photography (


very day, hundreds of cars drive past an old mill building at 4001 Main Street seemingly unaware of the work that is happening behind the building’s facade. The studio and office spaces inside are home to many creative businesses including one in particular that is changing the building and real estate industry in Philadelphia and beyond — Designblendz. “The easiest way to break it down and understand is that we are an architecture firm, a 3D visualization and marketing company, and a construction firm in one,” CEO Brian Corcodilos explained. What does that mean exactly? Designblendz helps their clients understand what a project could be with the use of architectural design and 3D renderings all the way through handing off keys at the end of construction. Bringing architecture, design visualization, and construction together under one roof seems logical, but it’s a fairly new concept in the real estate industry that was paved by Designblendz. 18

“Back in our early roots, we had the idea of blending together different disciplines of design to create a better build environment,” Brian said. “There’s no reason you should hire an architect and then hire a construction manager — we are bringing it back to the Renaissance times where the architect was also the builder, it’s a one-stop solution.” Designblendz has broken down the entire real estate process into a menu of services for their clients. A client may use Designblendz just for their 3D rendering services or they want the firm to do it all — architectural design, 3D renderings, and construction. “If you’re building in the City of Philadelphia and you don’t have a conversation with us at some point, you’re missing out on new technology you could use to enhance your real estate process,” Brian said. As for the type of projects Designblendz takes on, it depends on the department. The architecture department works on projects in the tristate area, the construction team builds throughout the Philadelphia region, while the 3D rendering and marketing team can handle anything from a single family home to much larger projects anywhere in the world. As I interviewed Brian, he noticed Tony Hopkins, director of 3D experience, working with another design team member on a 3D rendering project for a resort in the Bahamas. “They found us online and wanted help pre-selling and pre-leasing their condos, so we are helping to create the marketing content they can use to sell the condos before construction,” he explained. “They might send us a spec sheet with the finishes and how they want the rendering to look. In the end, it looks real to the common eye and you can’t tell it’s a staged image.” | Summer 2018

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It takes a team comprised of architects, industrial designers, graphic designers, software developers, and construction managers to make this magic happen. “It’s a really cool collective of people that are just trying to create a better build environment and building process to save time and money for our clients,” Brian said. Before starting a project, the first question Designblendz asks their clients is about their budget, so they can take that into account when doing the architecture and design, Brian explained. “During the architecture and schematics phase, Mike Andrew, our director of construction, will work hand-in-hand with Scott Woodruff, our director of architecture, to give our clients an estimated construction budget based off of the schematic drawings. This gives our clients a very accurate budget for their project and we are able to help the client make better financial decisions,” he said.

Like most successful companies, Designblendz comes from humble beginnings. It was 2011 when three architecture students Brian, Scott, and Tony first came up with the idea to “blend” design disciplines to create a more efficient building environment. They started a blog called Designblendz — yes the name has stuck — to discuss the idea of joining disciplines together. Fast forward two years later when the three graduated from Philadelphia University with bachelor’s degrees in architecture and went on to take the workforce by storm. After graduation, Brian, Scott, and another college friend, Mike, were living in a small Manayunk row home on Ripka Street. At the time, they were all working at firms from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then coming home to work a night shift from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.. “We would eat dinner then gather and discuss what we had to get done that night for our clients,” Brian recalled.

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4255 Main St, Philadelphia, PA 19127 (267) 297-8151

‘You can’t dip your toe in, you have to jump in,’ so that’s what we did.” The business started growing and by February of 2014, the firm Brian was working for gave him an ultimatum — let us buy out Designblendz or leave. Brian had to choose between receiving a comfy payout and having job security or retaining full ownership of the company and taking the leap to launch Designblendz full-time. “I ended up respectfully declining the offer and from that day forward it was sink or swim. I was officially on my own,” Brian said. “It was the best decision I made in my life.” Just a few months later in July of 2014, their old college friend, Tony, showed up in picture. Brian was finding more clients and he knew he needed help, so he offered Tony a position. “That’s when it really turned up higher because we could be doing work during the day and then Scott was still working on projects at night,” Brian remembered. “We kept thinking it would be fun to get Scott working with us full-time by the next year, but it ended up happening within a month.” By that time, Brian, Scott, Tony, and Matt were working out of a 120-square-foot room in a Manayunk row home. “The office had four desks back to back and our conference table was an upside down stop sign on a trash can, if you can imagine,” Brian laughed. Working in tight corners certainly takes it toll, and the team knew they had to get an office space. Brian recalls his hands shaking back in November of 2014 as he signed a $778/month lease for their first office space. “It was actually more than I was even paying for my room in the row house,” Brian said. “The owner of the property, who is now my mentor, Scott Gressen, said, ‘You can’t dip your toe in, you have to jump in,’ so that’s what we did.” 20

Little by little, they kept growing and hiring more full-time employees until they eventually outgrew their 600-square-foot office space and moved one floor up. “We essentially just kept growing the departments out and kept adding to the menu of services in these overlapping disciplines that go together,” Brian said. As for the future of Designblendz, Brian envisions becoming a publicly traded company in five to 10 years. Though Philadelphia is their only office, Brian and the team see Designblendz expanding in multiple cities across the country since they already work with clients throughout the United States. Looking at the work Designblendz creates, one might not guess that more than half of the team, including the company leadership hasn’t turned 30 yet. Though they have clout now, before the hundreds of clients and fancy office, four recent graduates had to rely heavily on the technology they were using to prove their experience. “It was a lot of trial and error,” Brian recalled. “Trust me, we still don’t know everything and when we figured out that architects don’t know everything either — because codes are always changing — you just have to learn to read and learn to be resourceful.” Some of Designblendz’s more notable local work includes the new Santucci’s on Ridge Avenue along with the Broad Street location, the Jason’s Toridasu Sushi headquarters on City Avenue, and the architecturals and marketing for nine homes being built on Hermitage Street. “When we work with someone, we want to make sure that we are the right fit and that we provide more value than we take from them,” Brian said. “That’s the secret.” | Summer 2018

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ReMax Eastern, Inc.

Trusted local specialist for all your real estate needs. Sellers, contact me for a free comparative market analysis on the sale of your property. Buyers, contact me for a free meeting on the home buying process.

Office: 215-961-6005 Cell: 215-266-4549 Email:


22 | Winter 2016

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A Perfect Fit Armen Meliksetyan knows men’s suits inside and out. By Brian Anderson Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (


e sizes you up the minute you walk into his small shop. His trained eye looks you up and down to size up your height and weight. He considers what style — Classic? Modern? Slim? — fits your body type best. He calculates the classic table of the proportions and thinks, “If it’s a 30’ waist, it’s a 34R chest, or maybe a 36”. He tallies a list of suits at different price points. He might ask you a few pointed questions about your style. After he pulls a jacket off the rack and instructs you to try it on, he asks how it sits on the shoulder. His intention? To find you a suit that fits just right. “I’m going to try to do my best to find something that fits you close to your body and fits you well,” said Armen Meliksetyan of Manayunk’s own Armen’s Custom Tailor Studio. A tailor with 32 years of experience, Armen knows men’s suits inside and out. His small shop at 104 Levering Street is filled with jackets and pants from designers around the world. Armen has an intimate knowledge of the cuts and styles of the brands he carries such as Baroni, Mantoni, Galante, and Enzo. But don’t discount his expertise. As a designer and top-notch tailor, he can work with most any garment you bring into his shop. “My goal is to find something for you that fits your body with little tailoring,” he said. The best tailors leave no trace. In other words, an expert tailor returns a garment looking like it just came from the designer. It’s impossible to tell from the seams and stitches that it was altered in any way. So when Armen looks at you when you upon entering his shop, he


focuses on the alternations your slacks and jacket need. After all, if a suit doesn’t fit or is altered incorrectly, you won’t wear it. “And that’s why people look for good tailors,” Armen said. So, where did it all begin? When he was 16 years old, Armen began working in an atelier. He never imagined becoming a tailor — it was his sister that convinced him to come work with her. A much younger Armen was hesitant to enter the world of fashion and design. “Big mistake,” she told him. Just think of some of the most famous fashion houses in the world — Versace, Gucci, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana — all founded by men. “This is fashion. This is art,” Armen said. “She told me, ‘Even if you’re not going to do it full time, come and learn it. Maybe it’ll become a hobby.’ And when I tried it, I loved it.” He worked under an Italian master for a year — a real professional, Armen said. Simultaneously, he attended school for fashion design. But it was the experience he got while doing alterations and modifications at the atelier where he learned the most. Over that first year, he learned every hem and seam. He made hundreds and hundreds of pockets, he said. Then he made the inside of a suit — hundreds of them. And then the linings. Rinse and repeat for every part of a suit jacket and before long, it became second nature. His studies and hard work culminated in designing a suit. Like any true masterpiece, a men’s jacket is simultaneously intricate yet commonplace. The untrained eye sees a jacket, but a knowledgeable one sees the ingenuity and the craftsmanship in the sleeves, the pockets, and the buttons. | Summer 2018

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“If you see a suit and it fits you, buy it,” Armen said.

“The best tailor comes from education and experience,” Armen said. “Once you learn how to do a men’s jacket, you can do anything.” “If you know how to make a suit from scratch, you can make an alteration like this,” he added with a snap of his fingers. But being a tailor is an invisible job. Red carpet watchers might muse, “Who are you wearing?” but they never ask, “And who was your tailor?” For Armen, his customers range from young college graduates to politicians, athletes and civil servants from across the region. He won’t talk about many of his clients, but a slip of the tongue reveals he’s worked with former Phillies Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, and former boxer Bernard Hopkins. Now, some advice. Armen preaches a few simple rules. First, find a suit that requires minimal tailoring. You might find it at a department store, but that means knowing your size and being fitted by an expert. Try on a few brands and embrace different fits. Second, buy a few affordable suits. Don’t buy just one suit — you’ll over use it and spend a fortune on dry cleaning. Third, it’s important to know what’s in style, but wear what you like. A young man out of college probably wears a slim fit, but his father probably wants a classic fit. And skinny ties may be in style, but portly men might prefer the classic 3”. “The most important thing I tell to customers is, ‘It’s a look, so get a good fit,’ ” he said. “Most guys are looking for something very affordable.” Last, don’t be fooled by online stores that promise a custom suit while offering a 25 percent discount. They’re selling you off-the-rack jackets

with an hour’s worth of custom work. Having a suit created just for you is expensive and time consuming. It’s too high a price tag for most men who walk into Armen’s shop. “Nobody is going to make you a custom made suit for $399,” he said. Black, blue, or grey; patterned or pinstriped; single or double breasted; classic or slim fit — the look depends on you. And that’s the beauty of Armen’s shop: There’s a suit at every price point for every man in the neighborhood. “If you see a suit and it fits you, buy it,” Armen said. Summer 2018 | 25

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Did Someone Say,“Treat?!” Manayunk’s newest business has tails wagging. By Megan Douress Photography by Alexa Nahas Photography (


n any given summer day, you’re greeted by a procession of sun-soaking dogs as you walk down the sidewalks of Main Street. Our four-legged friends join us while we dine outside, and many of them are able to shop inside some of our stores. These days, it’s us that are doing the shopping with our canine companions, thanks to Main Street’s newest specialty shop, Pet Friendly Dog Bakery. While Manayunk is one of the most dog-friendly neighborhoods in Philadelphia, the district has always been missing something that’s just for our furry friends. Teresa and Lenny Bazemore realized this after seeing pet bakeries in cities around the country and thought it would be a good fit for Manayunk. On January 13, the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery opened its doors at 4324 Main Street. “We opened Pet Friendly Dog Bakery because we wanted to provide a place to the Manayunk community where our doggy children are welcome to come and enjoy themselves,” said Teresa Bazemore, co-owner of Pet Friendly Dog Bakery. “They bring joy to our lives everyday and deserve a place where they are celebrated and pampered.” In order to best run this new business, Teresa and Lenny put a call out for a general manager with very unique experience. “I saw the job listing on and thought, ‘That’s silly, a dog bakery? I don’t see how that could pay my bills!’” said General Manager, Steph Johnson. “I met with Teresa and we hit it off. We started going back and forth with ideas.” Steph had a background in the restaurant industry and even worked


as a pet retailer for years, but even she didn’t see a job where the two would combine for the perfect next step in her career. “I just, out of nowhere, got a job at Petco when I was 18, and it fueled me,” she said. “I grew up with dogs and cats, and had bunnies and other animals. They’re super fun and loving — unconditionally. Who doesn’t want that?” It’s safe to say Steph and her experienced staff get plenty of unconditional love while they’re at work. It’s not uncommon for them to see dogs dragging their owners through the door of the bakery on a daily basis, and there’s a good reason for it. The case at the front counter is filled with fresh, locally baked goods. You can find your classic boneshaped cookies, to donuts with sprinkles, hamburgers and french fries, and even cookies with your favorite Philadelphia sports logos perfectly lined in icing. “We’ve had people from around the country come in and buy Philadelphia-themed cookies to bring home with them,” Steph explained. “One time, we had a customer who grew up here but now lives in Hawaii. She came in the day before she flew back home to pick up a bunch of Philadelphia-themed cookies to bring home to her dog!” Hungry canine customers can also find seasonal flavors and designs each week, thought up by the staff and their local baker, who’s located right here in Manayunk. “We’re trying to incorporate the community as far as the shapes and themes we’ll be doing,” Steph said. “We did a strawberry for the StrEAT | Summer 2018

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Food Festival, and we have some fun ideas to sync up with the Stroll the Street themes in the works.” In addition to fun and flavorful cookies, the bakery also carries meat treats, which are made of local ingredients right outside of Harrisburg. “I went in one day to visit the baker of our meat treats, and he literally had a fresh cow liver out in front of him,” Steph remembered. “We stand behind everything that has our name on it. There’s nothing foreign or weird in our treats that you have to worry about.” The bakery certainly has fresh and locally made baked goods – for both dogs and cats – but there’s so much more to it than that. The walls are lined with overflowing shelves of everything from leashes to collars, sweater vests and bowties, to dog-friendly ice cream and beer, to stuffed look-alike toys and, of course, balls — all hand-selected by Steph and her team. “All of our products — toys, treats, collars, leashes, you name it — are products that our staff really, really loves and are passionate about,” Steph said. “It’s all stuff you won’t find in a big box pet store. That’s big for me — to be different and make our products unique and fun.” Steph also does extensive research on all of the products the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery brings into their store. “For instance, the CBD oil treats that we carry weren’t just something I found. I read the reviews and did research on the companies that sell it,” she explained. “I want to support companies that are ethical — toys that aren’t just going to fall apart and treats that have some kind of health benefit.” And while pets and pet owners alike will love shopping for new toys and products, perhaps the best part is that a lot of their new inventory can be played with before you even purchase it. “We always have samples of our toys in our play areas so we can say, ‘That one really lasts a long time.’ Plus, they’re fun!” Steph said. The Pet Friendly Dog Bakery has three areas where dogs can hang out or interact with their canine companions. Downstairs is the Dog Lounge,

“It’s all stuff you won’t find in a big box pet store. That’s big for me — to be different and make our products unique and fun.”

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complete with beanbag chairs and DogTV — perfect for lounging on extra hot or rainy days. “Most dogs don’t really watch it but I like watching it — it’s cute!” Steph laughed. Dogs who are a little shy or need a break from playtime can head up to the Doggy Deck. On weekends, shoppers can grab a coffee and relax on the patio furniture. Dogs looking to run around can do so on the Puppy Patio, which is completely fenced in and paved over — ideal for owners who don’t want to give their dogs a bath after playtime. And for the pups who like to party, you can rent out the Dog Lounge for birthday parties — complete with decorations and a customized carrot and peanut butter cake, along with pizza for the party people. In addition, Steph and her staff are known for coming up with unique events for their customers to attend. “That’s my favorite thing to do, to think of the wildest, weirdest event you can have with your dog, and then do it!” Steph laughed. “We had a doggy disco where we had disco balls and disco music playing. The events bring people out, and they love it. It gets kind of hectic at times where there are a lot of people here, but I just want to show people what we do and that’s the best way to do it — to do these events.” And while summer break is in full swing, class is in session at the Pet Friendly Dog Bakery. The Main Street business is teaming up with Philly Unleashed to offer basic obedience classes and workshops, such as lessons in dining with your dog. “They do a phenomenal job and everyone who’s trained with them has been happy,” Steph said of the new partnership. “They’ll be pretty small classes so you can get that personalized experience.” Steph and her caring staff keep busy on a daily basis, from scouring the internet for fun new toys, to brainstorming the next big event. But the thing they love most about coming to work every day are their loyal canine customers. “I feel like each one of us who works here has a spirit animal that comes in,” Steph said. “I love meeting new dogs, but it’s fun when they come back and their owners tell you how much they loved a toy or treat.” 28 | Summer 2018

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Striking While The Iron Is Hot By Leo Dillinger Photography by Susan Beard Design (

As you cross over the Green Lane Bridge into Manayunk, you’ll notice a collection of unique iron and bronze sculptures displayed underneath the arches of the Manayunk Bridge. Behind them stands Artesano Iron Works & Gallery, an enormous property wrapping around the entire corner that serves two primary roles: an elegant showroom for one-ofa-kind home décor and a breathtaking, multi-purpose event space. 30

The Evolution of Artesano Since 2000, Artesano has resided in the neighborhood in some capacity. But in the last ten years, owners Jaime and Mildred Kaplan along with partner Ivan Roa have operated out of their current space at the block of Green Lane between Main Street and Cresson Street. Ivan has been instrumental in the evolution of the business since the Kaplans first opened Artesano on Gay Street 18 years ago. “I find it fascinating how when you have an ambition or purpose in your life, you want to keep moving it forward. You start to see how to connect the dots.” Ivan said. That is one of the things that has made me feel so comfortable in this company.” Jaime and Mildred Kaplan moved to America from Venezuela in 2000 to pursue their very own business. They heard about the “designing district” known as Manayunk and seized the opportunity to bring their Latin roots to the community. After finding the right location, they opened a retail space filled with custom wood furniture and sculptures. At that time, Ivan (who is also from Venezuela) had been living in the Philadelphia area for nearly 13 years operating his own flower shop in Blue Bell. As fate would have it, Mildred and Ivan’s mothers happened | Summer 2018

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to be in the same social circle back in Venezuela when they learned both of their children were operating businesses in the Philadelphia region. Mildred’s mother instantly called Ivan to ask for help on floral arrangements for Artesano’s grand opening. Ivan visited Manayunk for the first time to meet the Kaplans and go over what sort of arrangements they were looking for. Upon arrival, he immediately became intrigued by their operation. “When I got there, the Kaplans were really lovely,” Ivan said. “I fell in love with the concept of what they were trying to do. The furniture was reminiscent of my life. These Latin culture, Spanish-style things were packed all over the space.” Ivan was so enamored with the couple and their space that he left his flower shop to become a partner in the Artesano company. By that point, the Kaplans had received such a positive response from their clientele in the area that Jaime was ready to expand the business. Originally from Colombia, Jaime had a lot of knowledge in the craftsmanship of iron and bronze. Within a few years, the business phased out of the custom woodworking to focus on designing unique iron and bronze pieces for clients. By 2007, Artesano had expanded beyond the partners’ wildest dreams. They established a design and production headquarters in Bogota, Colombia to forge the custom orders, an assembly and storage center in North Philadelphia, and brand new showrooms in New York City and at 4446 Cresson Street in Manayunk. The following year, the Kaplans decided to host their son’s bar mitzvah party inside their Manayunk showroom. As they looked around their beautiful space, the couple realized there was an opportunity to branch the company out into uncharted territory. “Since I had first met them, the idea for an event space was always in the back of my head,” Ivan said. “After we hosted the bar mitzvah, they asked me ‘Can you help us with this?’” Summer 2018 | 31

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Without hesitation, Ivan rose to the challenge of transforming Artesano from a décor showroom and office space by day to a sophisticated event venue by night. In the time since that bar mitzvah, Artesano slowly acquired their neighboring properties, effectively claiming the majority of the block for their very own. By 2015, the space was completely remodeled with hallways and lobbies connecting all sections of the property, making it a very complex 20,000 square foot, one-of-a-kind venue decorated with one-of-a-kind Artesano iron pieces.

Forging the Future The Artesano name comes from the Spanish word for “artisan” or “craftsman” reflecting the idea that if you commission a piece through Artesano for your home or commercial space, you will never find another one like it in the world. From inception to delivery, Ivan said the entire iron-working process could take from 10 months up to a year. It starts with a visit to one of their showrooms, where the back-and-forth dialogue begins. “We’re never in a rush because these pieces will last a lifetime in our clients’ homes,” Ivan said. “They take the pieces with them when they move. They’ll even pass them down for generations. Iron is something that lasts for generations so we have to make sure that we are precise.” Once the idea is conceptualized, the graphic designers in Bogota begin sketching the blueprint for the piece. From there, they mock up 3D renderings on computers to give the buyer a sense of what the final outcome will look like. The iron, bronze, and other metals used for their projects are then forged into multiple pieces before they are shipped from Bogota to North Philadelphia for assembly and finally delivered to the client. Artesano also performs restoration work on historic pieces for architects who are looking to refurbish an old piece or building structure that has gone through wear and tear over many years. These projects are usually more demanding, making Artesano one of very few businesses within the United States that can compete in the industry. “Today, Artesano is one of the leaders in design of hand-forged iron works and bronzes,” Ivan said. “We have worked very hard for this since day one.” 32 | Summer 2018

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A Hidden Gem In Manayunk Ivan’s primary role within the company is to oversee every aspect of events within the gallery. From the moment you request a walkthrough of the venue up until your big occasion, Ivan assures every client they will be taken care of and have the convenience of strictly dealing with him alone. Though they’ve hosted many different types of events, their primary use is for weddings. What makes Artesano different from other wedding venues is that they can accommodate up to 300 guests while hosting the entire wedding within different wings of their building. There is an on-site bridal suite, a room for the ceremony, another room for the cocktail hour, and a spacious upstairs reception area for

We like the idea of being the gatekeepers of Manayunk,” Ivan said. “We really love the town and we’re constantly investing and believing that Manayunk will be the place.

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dining and dancing. This natural event flow from room to room lets the Artesano team showcase their stunning and diverse décor, giving couples the unique wedding experience that so many crave. “Working with brides and selling a wedding is very difficult because girls grow up with an idea in their head; a dream,” Ivan said. “When they walk in here for the first time, what you are selling is a dream for them. You hear a little bit of their conversation and ask a couple of key questions, and from that moment, you only have one opportunity to sell them their dream. To me, it’s the toughest work you can get: to sell a dream and deliver it.” Ivan notes that in addition to ambiance and music, a memorable event also needs memorable food. Artesano’s internationally trained chef Kelly Cook can accommodate virtually any ethnic and dietary needs, but her specialties embody the character of the venue: Latin flavors with an American twist. Ivan attributes 90% of Artesano’s online reviews to Kelly’s consistent and exquisite cuisine. One glance inside the space and you’ll realize this is Manayunk at its finest. The Artesano team meticulously designed every aspect of the building (from the lighting to the flooring to their pieces covering the walls) to give the space an aura unlike any other. “Sometimes when I stay here for a wedding, I’m so amazed when people come to me to complement the venue,” Ivan said. “They had no idea we even existed. We call this place the Hidden Gem of Manayunk.”

Manayunk’s Gatekeepers

gateway into Manayunk. As neighborhood stakeholders, they’ve strived to keep their space looking fresh both inside and out. Many times, their clients have held rehearsals in the space followed by dinner in one of the local restaurants. In some cases, local clients have even held Manayunk-themed weddings with practically every aspect of the wedding having a tie to the community. Now, the Artesano team has their eyes set on a brand new project right across the street at 114 Green Lane: The Manayunk Substation. After recently settling on the space earlier this spring, Ivan says the company is planning a second event venue. If all goes according to plan, the new space will feature a roof deck overlooking the neighborhood and even an outdoor elevator with access from Main Street to the top of the Manayunk Bridge. You can expect to see some of these plans unfold sometime this summer. Once this project is complete, it will be nearly impossible to avoid Artesano’s impact on the Manayunk community. “We like the idea of being the gatekeepers of Manayunk,” Ivan said. “We really love the town and we’re constantly investing and believing that Manayunk will be the place. We’ve been through all those ups and downs, but we’ve stuck to our guts and beliefs that Manayunk will be the place to go. The more I get involved with the community, the more I really start to feel it. Right now, Manayunk has that momentum. We can start to see the results.”


For Jaime, Mildred, and Ivan, Artesano has effectively become the primary

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Meet Your Neighbor Night June 7 Dinner & A Movie Night: Zootopia

June 14 Game Night June 21 Art En Plein Air Night June 28 Pet Night

Dinner & A Movie Night: Secret Life of Pets

July 5 Fitness Night July 12 Bingo Night July 19 Superhero Night

Dinner & A Movie Night: Wonder Woman

July 26 Christmas in July Night Dinner & A Movie Night: Elf

August 2 Nature Night August 9 Open Mic Night August 16 Camppre & S’mores Night August 23 Throwback Thursday Night

Dinner & A Movie Night: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off


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A Family Affair

Brothers go back to their roots for the ultimate fusion cuisine. By Megan Douress Photography by JPG Photography (


or brothers Jason and Jimmy Mills, food has always been a big part of their lives. Growing up with a Korean mom and a Jamaican dad, their house always smelled “like a wonderful surprise.” “We spent a lot of family time in the kitchen,” said Jimmy Mills, co-owner and chef at The Spicy Belly. “When my brother and I were younger, I was always fascinated by the fact that Mom is cooking this food that nobody else is making.’” Jason and Jimmy spent most of their childhood watching their mom cook flavorful concoctions, and picked up a thing or two in the kitchen. Twenty or so years later, the unique fusion of cultures lead the brothers to open their own restaurant, The Spicy Belly, at 3847 Terrace Street in January 2017. While the two didn’t always work in the food industry, their roots were something they always looked back on. Jason spent four years at Lafayette College in Easton, PA to study engineering. He called Wilmington, DE home after college and made the move to Manayunk six years ago after spending some time with friends who lived in the neighborhood. Jimmy was a self-proclaimed “jack of all trades” after studying business and psychology in Vermont and at Syracuse University. Upon graduating, he spent some time working in the kitchens of New York City.

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“I would come home for holidays and be so beat,” Jimmy remembered. “I would tell my brother, ‘If I’m ever going to cook again, it’s going to be in my own kitchen.’” The brothers came up with the perfect recipe for a business plan based on what they learned in school and throughout their lives — a pinch of management skills, a dash of professional culinary experience, and a whole lot of culture. “First and foremost, we wanted to create our fan favorites — the things we loved growing up,” Jimmy said. “We wanted to make them with a more personal touch.” “Personal” is the key here. Jason and Jimmy took notes from their mom’s recipes as the base for a lot of the dishes you can enjoy at The Spicy Belly today. The curry shrimp? That’s their mom’s traditional recipe. “We’ve tweaked it — put our spin on it and made it less traditional,” Jason said. “It’s more vibrant. We took familiar things and gave them different kinds of flavors. We would make it and see how it turns out — a lot of trial and error.” The brothers ultimately came up with a menu of 60 Korean-Jamaican fusion dishes to start. What they narrowed it down to have become fast fan favorites, such as the mo-bay bimbap, a traditional Korean dish that becomes Jamaican with your choice of protein; the jerk chicken cheesesteak, topped with Korean kimchi; and jerk mondu, a perfectly fried fusion dumpling. “All the things you can’t get anywhere else, people tend to navigate to,” Jimmy said. “We make sure the quality is maintained so everything is capable of being someone’s favorite. As we see dishes going out and clean plates coming back, we know we’re doing something right.” The menu items are just one part of their recipe, though. Get a refreshSummer 2018 | 39

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F “We want our customers to have a great experience when they come here.” ing taste of Korea with the Soju Lemonade, or dive into the Caribbean with the Elder-Mon cocktail. Pair your drink with a great plate and the perfectly curated fusion vibe of the restaurant, and you have a recipe for success. For those who haven’t made it to the restaurant, there’s an opportunity to still get a taste of what The Spicy Belly has to offer. The brothers have vended at Firefly Music Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, and even filled the bellies of those at the Democratic National Convention two summers ago. “We were right there on Vine Street in 99 degree heat — dreadful — as our first event,” Jimmy laughed. “We had no idea what to expect. They told us to prepare for 10,000 people, so here we are not knowing that 10,000 is the entire day, not just people stopping by our tent. We had coolers full of chicken!” They’ve also embraced the community they now live and work in. Recently, they’ve been in talks other new businesses, such as Scallywags Dog Daycare and Tubby Robot Ice Cream Factory, who has a hand in some of the ice cream on The Spicy Belly’s menu. They’ve also held fundraisers for local schools and North Light Community Center. “We’re very community-driven because that’s how we grew up,” Jimmy remembered. “We want to be a part of the success here.” A big part of that is taking care of their customers. They’re extremely conscious of food allergies and restrictions. “A lot of curry is made in batches, but ours is made to order,” Jimmy said. “If you want our curry but can’t have garlic, we’ll just leave the garlic out.” “We have a lot of people who have gluten allergies, so we use rice flour for a lot of our menu items,” Jason added. “It gives our fried chicken a different crunch. I never thought I would have a better wing than a jerk wing, but Seoul wings are everything you want in a wing. They’re crispy, spicy, and sweet. They’re so good — I eat them every 40

other day!” When asked what Jimmy’s favorite menu item is, he lists a few items before his brother mocks him laughing, “I like everything — it’s hard to remember what I don’t like of mine.” And while “spicy” is the name of the game, they are considerate of guests who can’t handle the heat. “We want our customers to have a great experience when they come here,” Jimmy said. “A lot of our first-timers have questions — ‘What is jerk sauce?’ ‘Do you have anything that isn’t spicy?’ We put our staff through rigorous training so they can answer those questions and give options. If you don’t want jerk shrimp on your tacos, try the grilled shrimp. It’s those little subtleties that lets people know that we’re in it for them as well.” The care they have for their customers comes through in the food they serve out of their kitchen. In fact, when guests of similar backgrounds come in and try their food, Jason and Jimmy take their feedback into consideration. “If the rice and peas isn’t the way they make it at home, they’re going to let us know about it — not to say they don’t finish the whole bowl!” Jimmy laughed. “They’ll always say, ‘I put this in mine,’ and I listen to them. I’m not done learning yet. Those little nuances gives me that Plan B and Plan C if I ever want to change things up.” This summer, you can expect to see some of those changes on their menu. Diners who stopped by during this past Spring Restaurant Week got a sneak peak at some new seasonal additions as many of those menu items made it onto the permanent menu. “They see our new additions and feel that their voice is being heard. That’s part of the dining experience at the end of the day,” Jimmy said. “We never say never — there’s never a can’t or a don’t or a won’t,” he added. “We want to work with people. That’s part of why we’re here, and we’re scratching that surface now. There isn’t a bite we can’t chew.” | Summer 2018

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Rollin’ With the Changes Now on wheels, Deke’s Food Truck is one of many recent evolutions of Deke’s Bar-B-Que.


By Ainsley Maloney Photography by JPG Photography (

hen Derek Denmead joined Teach for America in 1993 upon graduating from University of Pennsylvania, he didn’t expect to receive an education that would change the course of his life. After two years of teaching 7th graders in a small Georgia town, Derek went into his year of service with a Master’s in Early American History. He left with a Ph.D. in Cooking Collard Greens. “One of the other 7th grade teachers, Miss Brown — I can’t reveal too many secrets — but let’s just say she cleaned her collard greens in the washing machine. That’s how thoroughly you have to wash them,” Derek said with a laugh. “Unlike most cooks in the south who added a meat component, she added vinegar and ketchup, which gave them a sweet and sour tang,” he added. “That’s how we cook our greens to this day — without the washing machine part!” The owner of Deke’s Bar-B-Que (his grandfather’s name was Zeke, so Derek got the nickname Deke, and it stuck) always had a passion for cooking. Inspired by his grandma’s Sunday dinners, he remembers eating fresh vegetables from her garden in Newark, Ohio. Once in Georgia, Derek found himself drawn to cooking every free 42

moment he had, and his culinary passions reignited. He left teaching and spent the next five years cooking in restaurants in Columbus and Boston. He later moved back to Philadelphia in 1999 and entered the high-end event planning and catering business where he met his wife, Jackie. The couple married and moved to a house in Manayunk — complete with a little patio that would change everything. “The patio had enough space for a smoker, my first little barbecue pit where I cooked brisket, ribs, pork,” he said. “My techniques evolved from there. People would tell me, ‘Boy, these ribs are good.’ It was certainly a life-long dream to have something of my own.” One day, as the couple visited the Ugly Moose on 443 Shurs Lane, Derek noticed a vacant garage next door. A memory struck. “It reminded me of roadside rib joints I saw in rural Georgia while driving down two-lane, back-country highways,” he recalled. Derek pitched the idea for a barbeque-and-rib joint with open air and picnic tables, and in 2010, Derek launched Deke’s Bar-B-Que. With allyou-can-eat buffets attracting crowds, business quickly quadrupled. By 2012, Jackie, affectionately known as “Mrs. Deke,” was able to quit her job as an event and wedding planner in Atlantic City and joined the | Summer 2018

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family business full time. Just two years later, the couple bought the former Tommy Gunns location at 4901 Ridge Ave and steered all takeout and catering there, with Jackie taking over the reigns since 2014. “She’s an invaluable part of this operation,” Derek said. “My wife and I have a combined 50 years in the hospitality industry, and we are fortunate to have Khalief Durham who is my No. 1 kitchen manager,” Derek said. “They keep the ribs rolling down there.” Deke’s Bar-B-Que offers high quality take-out barbecue, with best sellers like ribs, pulled pork, brisket, mac and cheese, hand-cut potato wedges, and of course, Miss Brown’s collard greens. To get their signature smoked taste, the meats are slow cooked with hardwood coals. “I use woods from PA: oak, ash, and maple, as well as fruit woods like peach, apple, and one more, which I keep secret,” Derek said. “The smoke from the wood adds flavor and helps preserve the meat.” The cuts tend to be tougher joint cuts, like shoulders and hips, which are cooked over warm temperatures of 225 degrees “all day or overnight,” Derek said, adding, “The longer cooking time helps break down the collagens in the meat, which tenderizes and moisturizes as it gradually cooks.” Adding to the flavor are three signature sauces made from scratch. There’s the “Straight-Up Q Sauce,” a tangy Kansas City style; the “Carolina Red,” mixed with vinegar, ketchup, and a little cayenne; and the “Triple X” sauce, a spicy concoction using hot chilis. Summer 2018 | 43

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After seven successful years of creating inventive barbecue, the lease of their tiny garage off of Shurs Lane ended and the building was sold. What Derek saw wasn’t an ending, but an opportunity. “Our takeout orders immediately exploded by 20 percent,” he said. It was time to take Deke’s on the road. With his team of Jackie and niece, Caroline Bird, behind him, Derek bought a food truck and re-branded as Deke’s Food Truck, dropping the Bar-B-Que to make room for other southern comfort foods and vegan offerings. “We always offer our brisket cheesesteak, which was ranked No. 1 on’s ‘50 Things You Need to Eat in Philadelphia Before You Die,’” he said. “We also now have shrimp and grits, buttermilk battered chicken, and a vegan sloppy joe, which is really popular.” By August 2017, Deke’s Food Truck could be spotted at The Food Trust’s Night Markets and the Manayunk StrEAT Festival, as well as in rotation at 30th Street Station and Wissahickon Brewing Company. Catapulting Deke’s to success — in addition to its hearty, authentic southern barbecue, of course — is Derek’s ingenuity and adaptability. When LivingSocial approached Derek back in 2012, he wasn’t interested in the same-old 50 percent discount. Instead, he proposed an event: “A Bourbon Instructional & BarbeQue-and-A” to groups of 50 people, complete with barbeque buffets and bourbon flights. His classes attracted out-of-town visitors, who’d leave with T-shirts. “That really exploded the brand,” he said. He also frequently joins local business owners on unique collaborations. Derek partnered with Chris Barnes from Lucky’s Last Chance to put pulled pork on a beef patty, creating the Good Ol’ Burger, a permanent Lucky’s staple. Last February, Deke’s held a “kitchen takeover” at Lucky’s, serving a late-night Sunday brunch, complete with a brisket egg and cheese sandwich, Deke’s homemade smoked kielbasa on a burger, and chicken and waffles with Grand Marnier butter. “You would have thought it was Friday night,” Derek recalled. “It was packed!” This year, Derek spotted a white space in his catering business, which 44

spikes from April to October during graduation and wedding seasons. Why not offer an option to hire Derek himself to roll a pit to the party and barbeque ribs or even a whole pig on-site? Just one problem: he didn’t have a portable pit. Nothing if not resourceful, Derek bought a used dump-truck and convinced the owners of Philadelphia Woodworks on Umbria Street to create a “class” just for him. This allowed him to access the tools, machines, and instructors needed to turn his dump truck into Deke’s Mobile BBQ Unit, which launched this past April. Next up, Derek is embarking on Deke’s big“I guess you can say it’s a gest evolution yet. He recently signed a lease in Wayne Junction, and liberal-arts creative eye, plans to replicate Deke’s Bar-B-Que garage. meets entrepreneurial The space is an industrialized warehouse four spirit, meets a network times the size of the original Deke’s, comof local supporters.” plete with clear garage doors and indoor picnic tables “giving it a Route 66 feel,” Derek said. The place will look familiar to garage regulars, since he’ll be using the same decor and furniture. “And the buffet will be back!” he exclaimed. “People miss it.” Knowing Derek’s penchant for adapting, this Wayne Junction project is likely just the beginning of an ever-evolving chapter. “I’m always interested in spin-off concepts,” Derek said. “The way I see it, when one door closes, another always opens. We are fortunate — we have great relationships, a loyal customer base, and a committed team. “I guess you can say it’s a liberal-arts creative eye, meets entrepreneurial spirit, meets a network of local supporters.” And some damn good gather-round-the-table barbecue. | Summer 2018

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“You Come Once a Week, It’s a Stretch.” Manayunk’s newest yoga studio is heating things up. By Noel Bartocci Photography by Melissa Kelly Photography (

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here are few fitness classes or feats of physicality misunderstood more than hot yoga. For many who haven’t yet tried it or only have an impression of its practitioners from movies or TV, it’s easy to apply as many stereotypes as possible. Something along the lines of, “Crunchy hippies, practicing breathing and stretching in a hot room.” Personally speaking, I let my fear of the class inform my impressions of it. I allowed my own self-discomfort steer me from committing to yoga. I mean, I already hate being hot and I know I’m not flexible like those people on TV. I tried hot yoga once before and I didn’t walk away thinking it was time well spent. But I’m not one to back down from a challenge – especially one from Manayunk Magazine (ie, yoga, boxing, indoor cycling, boot camp, etc.). Still, I was haunted by my last mediocre-at-best melting on a mat. After speaking to Stephanie Weinstein, purveyor extraordinaire of JTown Hot Yoga, my fear was slightly assuaged. Nestled on Levering Street, JTown Hot Yoga is massive, open and clean, while simultaneously welcoming. Though the studio runs the length of the building behind Never Give Up, there is a warm, welcoming face as soon as you open the door. Stephanie and her crew have been in Manayunk for a year now. The decision to expand from Jenkintown to include our neighborhood was a fortuitous and simple one — the space presented itself and they jumped on it. “When we opened in Jenkintown, it was 2,000 sq. ft and we only did 26/2 style classes and had 12 teachers,” Stephanie said. “Within two years, we doubled in size in Jenkintown with 54 classes, five styles and 30 teachers, and we opened our second location here.” The Manayunk location boasts a newly remodeled hot room that’s 1,500 sq. ft, as well as fully functional showers and locker rooms. Stephanie is a whirling dervish of positive motivation, but not in the way that would make a pessimist recoil. She’s the kind of person that earns your trust with confidence and frank honesty. Her demeanor is earnest and altruistic in nature, and her words are always coming from a place of experience. She’s a persuasive woman, but not in a pushy way — talking with her for more than five minutes makes you believe you can do anything you put your mind to. Ultimately, it was the refreshing honesty about Stephanie’s journey with yoga that truly opened me up

to its benefits. “I cried in every class I took (when I first started). I had to hold myself down on the mat and wanted to leave the room so badly,” she confessed, continuing, “I believe the heat was my biggest battle in the room, it brought my anxiety to the surface — I couldn’t find my breath.” “I was super competitive, so I was trying really hard in the postures,” she continued. “I didn’t understand the concept of relaxing into it…you could’ve said it to me until you were blue in the face, but I didn’t get it. I was trying really hard, too hard. I wanted to beat it, but it was kicking my ass.” In hearing her vividly explain her early experiences, I couldn’t help but relate to the feeling — in and out of a yoga studio. I asked her how she overcame it. “I was struggling with anxiety at the time, and high blood pressure,” she said. “I would hold myself down on the mat and they would say, ‘Just breathe.’ There was something about that inner battle. I knew I just needed to stay, so I did the best I could. Sometimes, it was lay down and cry, because I wanted to give up. Sometimes, it was doing the postures, sometimes just being pissed.” She continued, “However, there was something in the way that a 26/2 class taught that kept me coming back, as much as I may have struggled. I had never felt better in my life than at the end of that class, not just because it was over either. My body and mind were shifting in all the right ways.” The 26/2 class quite literally stands for 26 postures and two breathing exercises. According to Stephanie, there are many types of yoga and a lot of times it’s yogis’ choice — do what feels good. With 26/2, it’s not to say that you don’t do what feels good, but it’s also saying that it’s OK to be uncomfortable as you work through therapeutic postures, but learning to find comfort in your discomfort becomes a priceless life skill. “You have to find a place of peace within your discomfort. It was in my own search for the peace in my discomfort that laid me out when I first started this practice — whether it was the heat, the postures, or my breath, or I didn’t like the voice of the yoga teacher or whatever,” she explained. “The way that it is taught is to stay in the room and try to find your breath, even in your discomfort — breath and stillness. Once you Summer 2018 | 49

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can control that, nothing, no one, can take that away from you. That is freedom, that is magic.” Yes, I took the 26/2 class. My yoga teacher, the fantastic Fi Garsed, asked me to move within at least eye shot of other practitioners so I can see and mimic if need be. And yes, I think I liked it. I say that because this first time I had practiced hot yoga years ago, it was hard and stressful for me. As a results-oriented person, it was difficult for me to truly let go. However, towards the end of this class, found myself enjoying the slow process and could see what Stephanie was referring to in the distance. If I, or anyone, were to truly commit to finding peace in discomfort, in a consistent way, you can begin to feel how it may benefit everything else in your life. It was a wild feeling that’s quite difficult to describe fully. Stephanie understands that there is a magnitude of needs for her clients, and that’s why she offers so many different class styles. To her and her staff, 26/2 is the medicinal backbone whereas the other classes extrapolate from that and scratch other fitness itches, such as Core & Cardio, Yin Yoga, Kettlebell Kundalini, and Fusion: Dynamic Hot Yoga. “Fusion is really amazing because we pull from Yin, Ashtanga, which in turn includes Vinyasa, and hatha yoga as well,” Stephanie explained. “We take the best of all worlds and pull them together.” She described the classes with the humility and pride that stems from having helped create a holistic experience for her Philadelphia clients who sometimes lead stressful, overscheduled lives. “I was looking for magic,” Stephanie revealed to me about the start of her journey. “Within six months of my yoga practice, I was off all of my meds. My blood 50

“Consistency is key — the more you do it, the more benefits you get, and the longer they last.” pressure, which was 220/110 at the age of 30, has been controlled ever since then. While I’m still high energy — that’s my personality — I was able to practice this yoga in order to cope with my anxiety.” It just clicked for her, which prompted me to ask if she believes this practice is prescriptive, a fix all, and/or does one maybe lose what they’ve gained if their frequency of practice decreases. “I believe it has a lasting, cumulative effect,” she said. “Consistency is key — the more you do it, the more benefits you get, and the longer they last. If you’re sporadic, it’s always your first time, and that’s with most things in life. We’ll start a little bit up a ladder, but then we get down. Instead of conquering one rung at a time, and keep climbing up.” The magic has and continues to happen for Stephanie, her staff, and her already loyal customers. During our conversation, we were pleasantly interrupted by people coming in and out of class, with warm, unsolicited candor about their experiences at JTown and the encouragement to join. I’ve been conducting interviews like this for a while, and it was a first for me — people excitedly inserting their positivity into a recorder on the slight chance it’ll make its way into the article. If not a quote, then at least an impression. Well, mission accomplished. | Summer 2018

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By Daniel Glackin

Expect Lace (4403 Main Street) Bra shopping is often a huge pain, especially for larger busted ladies. Now it doesn’t have to be! Stop into Expect Lace for a custom bra fitting that will help you feel confident and comfortable. Expect Lace will also feature beautiful lingerie for brides of all shapes and sizes.

Ilumine Gallery (4386 Main Street) Ilumine Gallery is excited to be on Main Street selling affordable fine jewelry for everyday wear. Stop in to check out the beautiful selection of earrings, rings, necklaces, and more! They are sure to bring your outfit to the next level without breaking the bank.

COMING SOON Liberty and Lace Bridal There’s a new bridal shop coming to town this fall! Liberty and Lace Bridal is the exclusive Philly stockist for designer Kelly Faetanini, offering beautiful gowns and day-of accessories for brides and bridal party members alike.


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4:08 PM






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Manayunk Magazine | Summer 2018 Edition  
Manayunk Magazine | Summer 2018 Edition