West Reading Avenues Summer 2014

Page 1

Greater Reading’s hub for arts, shopping and entertainment Summer 2014

What’s HOT

On The Avenues?

shopping, dining, & other hidden gems!

Summer Events

Find out what’s happening in West Reading this summer!

Walking West Reading The Mayor’s View

Garden Party... June 3 and 4*

An Annual Reading Hospital Tradition Join us for The Friends of Reading Hospital Annual Garden Party on June 3 and 4*, from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. at the 6th Avenue Clock Tower entrance of Reading Hospital. Experience what families and friends have enjoyed for decades. Where children of all ages will enjoy great food, activities and games, plants and flowers, live entertainment, and so much more! To learn more about this year’s event, visit www.readinghealth.org/gardenparty, or call 484-628-8477.

Proceeds benefit hospital and community projects of The Friends of Reading Hospital, including Partnership for a Healthier Berks County and HeartSAFE Berks County.

*Rain date: Thursday, June 5

FREE parking is available at Vanity Fair on Park Road with FREE shuttle services to the Garden Party.

WELCOME //// from the editor


To Summer on the Avenues

Andréa D. Much, Editor Avenues Magazine andrea@hoffpubs.com

EDITOR’S TIP: Bring an empty picnic basket and load it up with fresh fruit from the West Reading Farmers’ Market (open Sundays only). Find additional pairings of cheese, jams and crackers from Say Cheese! and head down to the Reading Public Museum, just over a half mile south through the beautiful neighborhoods of the borough. Make it a picture-perfect afternoon with your children, friends, grandparents or significant other and enjoy a locally fresh picnic in the meadows of the Arboretum!


t’s a fabulous season to visit the borough of West Reading! During the summer sun’s heights, there are pockets of shade around these corner cafes and restaurants, artsy alleyways and eclectic shops that are packed with very cool, creative experiences that all ages will appreciate. For the summer issue of Avenues, we explore the retailer’s delight that animates Penn Avenue. In this issue, tour through some of the shops and unique finds that were discovered right here in this charming neighborhood. There’s always more to discover in this strolling community between the City of Reading and the borough of Wyomissing. This aesthetic neighborhood becomes a playground of exclusive activities during the 2ⁿd Friday of each month (read more on page 6). Few community street fairs top West Reading’s own Art on the Ave. Here, the first day of summer is celebrated by a community wide street fair showcasing hundreds of juried artists from all over the region. See for yourself why this day-long, family-friendly event is worth the trip into the borough. For more about this spectacular celebration of the arts and summer block party, complete with street performers, children’s entertainment and live music, flip to page 26. Even if you miss Art on the Ave, you’ll discover that art breathes creation all over this borough. A very exclusive tour by the mayor guides readers on his very own walking tour of the borough this issue and points out just a few public art displays

that are completed—and West Reading Elm Street has plans for more to come! Plus, it’s the perfect time of year for a stroll through the Arboretum at the Reading Public Museum. So don’t just read about the historical roots of the plant life, explore this garden wonderland for yourself.

It’s Time to Celebrate Summer on the Avenues!



hub for art s, shopp ing Summer 201 4

and entert ain


What’s HOT On T he Avenu

shopping , din & other hid ing, den gems !


Summer Ev ents

Find out whats hap pening in West Rea ding this summe r!

Walking Wes Th t e Mayor’s





Book your stay now! CandlewoodSuites.com/Readingpa

Helpful Arts, Culture & Business Links Art Plus Gallery artplusgallery.org Berks Arts Council berksarts.org

s U r e d Consi RECEIVE


*Subject to availability. Must be 21 or older. Some restrictions apply. Must present coupon at check-in

55 S. 3rd Avenue, West Reading, PA 19611

The Gallery Above Penn Square galleryabovepennsquare.com GoggleWorks Center for the Arts goggleworks.org Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry greaterreadingchamber.org

Book your room at Candlewood Suites in West Reading, PA, and get 10% off our current room rates. Good thru August 30, 2014.



e m Ho

Berks Jazz Fest berksjazzfest.com


Proud .

Delivering Fast Forward Document Solutions in the office technology industry has been our mission and commitment for the last 60 years. Everyone of our 162 team members is committed to delivering the best in technology, service and innovation to our clients. As we celebrate our 60th Anniversary, we are proud to serve the Berks County market and beyond. You have helped us grow, prosper and be a contributing member of the community.

Thank you.

Greater Reading Convention & Visitors Bureau gogreaterreading.com Greater Reading Economic Partnership greaterreading.com RACC - Miller Center for the Arts racc.edu/MillerCenter R/C Reading Movies 11 & IMAX rctheatres.com/loc_reading.asp Reading Downtown Improvement District downtownreading.com Reading Public Museum readingpublicmuseum.org Reading Symphony Orchestra readingsymphony.org Santander Arena (Previously Sovereign Center) santander-arena.com Santander Performing Arts Center (Previously Sovereign Performing Arts Center) santander-arena.com Schuylkill River National & State Heritage Area schuylkillriver.org West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation wrcrf.org West Reading Main Street lovewestreading.org

Fast Forward Document Solutions 524 Penn Avenue • 610-372-8414

www.edwardsbusiness.com 4

Avenues Summer 2014

Wyomissing Borough co.berks.pa.us/wyomissing The Yocum Institute for Arts Education institute-of-arts.org

CONTENTS //// summer 2014


CONTACT INFORMATION Publisher, Tracy Hoffmann Hoffmann Publishing Group, Inc.


2nd Fridays’ Summer Fun Nights


New & Improved On the Avenues

10 Walking West Reading The Mayor’s View

Design, Brittany Fry 2921 Windmill Road Reading, PA 19608 HoffmannPublishing.com 610.685.0914 Avenues@HoffPubs.com

ADVERTISING 610.685.0914 ext. 1 Sales@HoffPubs.com

BOROUGH BUSINESS West Reading Borough 500 Chestnut Street West Reading, PA 19611 WestReadingBorough.com 610.374.8273

WEST READING MAINSTREET PROGRAM West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation 500 Chestnut Street West Reading, PA 19611 WRCRF.org 610.685.8854 View the Digital Version of West Reading Avenues online at lovewestreading.org The opinions expressed in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

SHOP TIL YOU DROP 15 What’s Hot on the Avenues

WEST READING ELM STREET 20 Façade Improvement Grant Program

WEST READING FARMERS’ MARKET 24 Creating a Sense of Community in West Reading


All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced electronically or in print without the express written permission of the publisher.

26 20th Annual Art on the Avenue

West Reading Avenues is published quarterly {Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter}.

32 Art Plus Gallery Features;

ON THE COVER Justin Bortz Jewelers COVER PHOTO Shawn Rutkowski Photography

30 Time for a Summer Saunter

in the Museum’s Arboretum Crystal Domino

IN EVERY ISSUE 3 From the Editor 13 Events lovewestreading.org



2nd Fridays’

Summer Fun Nights!

Monthly Main Street Happenings • Live Music • Store Specials 5-8pm • The Penn Corridor • West Reading

No Longer First Thursdays… West Reading has previously been known to host First Thursdays—a community-wide concept that stretched Thursday afternoons into evenings and offered visitors and residents the invitation to stroll the Avenues for special offers and events. In order to have more people enjoy the glowing tree lights on the sidewalk and nightlife of this vibrant borough, the WRCRF recreated the monthly main street event, switching from First Thursdays to Second Fridays. Circle these dates and celebrate the weekend in our neighborhood!

place on the corner of 6th & Penn, between Say Cheese! and Café Bold. For a great night out in the borough—bring a lawn chair and enjoy the show! During 2ⁿd Fridays, dozens of restaurants and storefronts open their front doors and extend business hours—welcoming shoppers with sidewalk signs or ribbon decorations hanging from the trees planted by the community’s West Reading Elm Street Project. If you’re looking for a great Friday night, the Penn Corridor is the place to meet an exhibiting artist on their opening night, receive a special shopping discount at participating boutiques, enjoy a gourmet barbecue duck sandwich at the neighborhood tavern and pair it perfectly with a Bourdeaux at the wine café—all in one evening—and all along one fantastic avenue. Presented by the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation, 2ⁿd Fridays are the brand new version of First Thursdays—only better. From 5pm–8pm on the second Friday of each month, rain or shine, look for the 2ⁿd Friday logo in merchants’ storefront windows to find participating small businesses offering something special and unique. It’s a prime opportunity to visit your favorite shops, cafés and galleries, and enjoy a delicious meal while you’re here!

Summer Fun Nights

This summer, the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation, or WRCRF, is shaking things up by unveiling themes 2nd Friday Fun… for Summer Fun Nights on Penn Avenue. Along with street perFrom May–September, 2ⁿd Fridays become an outdoor celebration formances by local musicians, a projection screen will be set up at of “Summer Fun” nights. Always offering family-oriented themes, this 6th & Penn Streets between Café Bold and Say Cheese! for the summer’s ticket is free admission to the local film fest that will take borough’s first own family film fest. Catch a classic movie outdoors


Avenues Summer 2014

this summer and consider this your free admission to the best family night out in town.

Summer 2014

Art Gallery Happenings

On Friday, July 11th the Art Plus Gallery will welcome guest artist Peg Reisch, whose abstract acrylic paintings will be displayed in the Guest Gallery. Stop by again on Friday, August 8th to meet the summer featured member artist, Alice Gerhart.

What about the other Fridays? …For a Date Night: A fabulous night out sometimes includes a few necessary extras, and heading out for these can be included in a fun evening on the Penn Corridor. Take your sweetheart to the Penn Corridor and you’ll be able to make an adventure out of craft brews and appetizers, fabulous entrees and dessert—not necessarily in that order! First, start with dessert. There are half a dozen dessert boutiques, cafes and eateries that offer award-winning cupcakes, homemade Italian desserts and signature chocolates. Stop in and make your selection early, or take a treat along for a sweet fix later! Next, see what’s on tap at the Barley Mow Craft Brew House at 719 Penn Avenue. This beer bottle shop will offer more than 500 choices of craft beers from over 100 craft breweries and will provide a relaxing atmosphere while important BYOB decisions are made.

...Special Occasion...sportswear


700 Penn Ave., West Reading bellajulesboutique.com 610.208.0600

A community bank. Funding community projects.

Sounds like a good formula to us. Offering a wide variety of business banking services.

Then—onto dinner reservations! Time to pair your craft beer selection with one of the BYOB restaurant cuisines—and there are plenty to choose from! Authentic wood-oven baked pizza, contemporary French cuisine, comforting American food or Lebanese-Mediterranean—the food possibilities are endless, and there are still many places that offer fine signature cocktails, too! See what’s happening downtown!

1-888-238-3330 | www.VISTBank.com Member FDIC




New & Improved on

t he Avenues

New places are a chance for new, small business and restaurant owners to showcase their creativity and innovation in service to the area. We’ve selected a few that you may wish to explore.

Full Wine-Tasting Experience Now in West Reading


ee what all the wine-ing is about! The neighborhood’s own wine bar & café, known locally as “the winedown,” celebrates its recent expansion that brings the full wine-tasting experience to West Reading. The new space, which occupies 600 sq. ft., is an expansion to its existing location at 624 Penn Avenue. This chic, new event room allows more space for wine-tasting classes and private events. Winedown Café & Wine Bar opened its doors to wine-lovers in July 2008. This upscale, urban setting, known locally as “the winedown,” offers a selection of various wines, spirits, beers and small plated food. A well-trained staff, passionate about wine and food, help customers learn about the wines they taste, offering new suggestions and appropriate pairings. With many great BYOB restaurant choices on the Avenues, how does one develop their wine-tasting buds and savvy pairing skills? Sip with the experts—visit www.winedowncafe.net for upcoming events and information for private bookings!

winedown café & wine bar 624 Penn Avenue, West Reading 610.373.4907 • winedowncafe.net Hours: Open Mondays! Monday–Thursday: 4pm–11pm Friday & Saturday: 4pm–12am Closed Sundays 8

Avenues Summer 2014

Pop-Up Shop Finds New Home in West Reading


he plan was to just set up shop for the month of December, the prime retail time of year—and then Allison Shannon of Allison Clothing Co. would close up and move on. This is the philosophy behind a Pop-Up shop: a temporary space to sell merchandise with no long-term lease. But that’s not how things ended for Allison Clothing Co. Holiday Boutique. The only thing that dropped was the “holiday” part of the sign. The boutique at 522 Penn Avenue offers a creative array of local, hand crafted items from Betula’s Botanicals natural soaps to colorful mosaics by local artist Nancy Seghetti. Linda Henry’s whimsical notecards and art by Claudia McGill keep Allison’s customers coming back for more. “I love the mix of returning customers with brand new customers who have never heard of me,” says Allison Shannon. “The best part of being on the Avenue in West Reading is that I never know who will come through my door.” In addition to the front retail space, Allison runs art classes and workshops out of the rear studio room. Classes range from kid and adult art workshops to art therapy sessions, healthy eating and spirituality classes for adults. Supplies are typically included with the cost for each workshop. Look out for floral workshops with fellow new business, Buttonwood Blooms, at 510 Penn Avenue. Allison Clothing Co. 522 Penn Avenue, West Reading 484.794.8679 allisonscreativetextiles.com Hours: Tuesday–Saturday: 10am –5pm Sundays 9am – 2pm (During the West Reading Farmers’ Market)

Buttonwood Blooms in West Reading


here’s a reason why Monica Delch, owner of Buttonwood Blooms, has an IGA grocery store sign hanging proudly at her floral shop at 510 Penn Avenue. “My father owned the IGA on Buttonwood Street,” Monica explains. In acquiring a business of her own, she felt it was time to change the name of Flowers by Audrey, which she had purchased in 2013. So, what’s in a name? For Monica, it’s a family legacy living on right in the proximity of West Reading. A floral shop specializing in events and party work, Buttonwood Blooms is a one-of-a-kind floral boutique that boasts unique accessories for special occasions, including weddings, anniversaries and showers. Customized options are available in unique box designs created by the artistic talents of owner Monica Delch. When Monica purchased the location in August of 2013, with it she purchased Flowers by Audrey Ann. Now Monica is unveiling the new identity of the business, including the name change and redesign. What was formerly known on Penn Avenue as Flowers by Audrey is now the blossoming floral gift shop, Buttonwood Blooms! Buttonwood Blooms will be open Sundays during the West Reading Farmers’ Market. Also check Facebook for updates on

Stop by for Summer Specials...

floral workshops by Buttonwood Blooms held at the backroom studio at Allison Clothing Co.! Did you know: Buttonwood Blooms is on local display: the large sidewalk planters in front of many merchant storefronts, including Baldwin Brass and Avanti On the Fringe. Did You Know? There are two bridges leading out of  West Reading and into the City of Reading. The Buttonwood Street Bridge stretches from the southeast corner of West Reading, over the Schuylkill River and into the City of Reading—not to be confused with the Penn Street Bridge, which also crosses the Schuylkill and is an extension of the Penn Corridor.

Buttonwood Blooms 510 Penn Ave., West Reading Call for Store Hours 610.374.3322

“Y O F D S”


Mud Pie Totes


HOURS: Tues, Wed & Fri: 10am–6pm Thurs: 11am–7pm Sat: 10am–5pm


715 Penn Ave, West Reading

Selected Gift Items Mon–Fri: 8am–10pm Sat: 8am–6pm Sun: 8am–1pm

538 Penn Ave., West Reading Delivery: 610.375.4366 westreadingdrug.com




Walking West Reading The Mayor’s View by Valentin Rodriguez, Jr. Mayor, Borough of West Reading

G Photography by Dean Rohrbach


Avenues Summer 2014

rowing up in West Reading I took it for granted you could walk just about anywhere you needed to go. Now I appreciate more deeply being able to walk the borough’s thriving pleasant main street commercial area and quiet older neighborhoods. What I’ve found is there are many other people out walking the community too. West Reading is a favorite place for active people and integrates physical activity into daily routines. Sometimes I think West Reading was designed with the idea of feet in mind; but in reality, walking the borough is a complete sensory experience. It’s a great place to explore and serendipitously discover all the little details we have to offer. Look up; see the historically painted dormers pointing to the sky? Look down; see the thoughtful artistic design in the walkways? Take a sniff; smell all the delicious foods wafting in the air? Listen carefully; hear the relaxing tranquil babbling of Wyomissing Creek?

West Reading has a certain romance about it. Our streets are pedestrian-friendly, punctuated by enclaves of public art such as various corridors featuring a number of murals and mosaics such as on the 100 block of Kline or 600 block of Cherry. Many homes are brightly painted and flower pots predominate. A majestic overarching canopy of mature sycamore trees line many streets providing shade and connecting residents to nature. Additionally, our walkability helps improve resource responsibility, safety, physical fitness and social interaction. Within a fifteen minute walk of Penn Avenue you have a wonderful number of destinations including our award-winning Community Garden & Social

Area and a vibrant museum with world-class sculpture garden, art gallery, planetarium, and arboretum. We have a quality open space network including the riparian ecosystem along the Wyomissing Creek with its swimming holes and trout fishing. There is also the Schuylkill River’s Thun Trail, for biking and hiking; eventually the trail will follow the river all the way to Philadelphia. We also have a number of recreational activities for residents such as a community swimming pool, athletic fields, playgrounds and a handicapped accessible fishing dock. We have over 144 unique shopping opportunities to suit every budget and we’re a distinctive dining destination with over 20 restaurants including Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Italian, French, Chinese, vegetarian, and tavern cuisines. We have a diverse population with one thing in common: they love their community and they’re willing to work together to make it better. Neighbors know one another and talk with each other. If you’re looking for a place to live here you can leave your car behind. Our housing is affordable and our schools are top notch. If you’re retired, professional and want to lessen your dependence on the auto, you’ll like it here. If you’re young, educated and culturally-minded, we’re the coolest place around.

Buying or Selling? Welcome to the premier resource for all commercial or residential real estate information and services in the area. If you're planning to sell your home in the next few months, nothing is more important than knowing a fair asking price. We would love to help you with a FREE Market Analysis. We will use comparable sold listings to help you determine the accurate market value of your home.

ReadingRealtygroup.com 610.898.1441 • 546 Penn Ave Suite 2R West Reading, PA 19611 lovewestreading.org


From Allentown




















From Philadelphia







US 422











Be Inspired! Providing display and sales of various media by 25 local artists and artisans. Art Plus Gallery 604 Penn Ave., West Reading, PA 19604 | 610.375.9122 www.artplusgallery.weebly.com


Avenues Summer 2014

Take I-78 West to 222 South towards Reading. Continue on 222 South towards Lebanon/Lancaster. Take 422 East towards Pottstown. Take the Penn Avenue, West Reading, or Penn Street, Reading exit.

Guest artist for July–August

Peggy Reisch paintings

Take I-76 West to the PA Turnpike (toll road 76W). Take 76 West to the Morgantown exit 298. Proceed through the tollbooth to I-176. Continue for approximately 10 miles and take the 422 West exit. Take 422 West to the Penn Street, Reading, or Penn Avenue, West Reading exit.

From Baltimore Take I-95 to Baltimore Beltway (I-695W), then to I-83 North to York, PA. From there take Route 30 East, to Lancaster, then 222 North to Reading. Merge on to 422 East towards Pottstown. Take the Penn Street, Reading, or Penn Avenue, West Reading exit.

From Harrisburg

Take the PA Turnpike East to Reading exit 286. Continue on 222 North to Reading. Merge on to 422 East towards Pottstown. Take the Penn Street Reading, or Penn Avenue, West Reading exit.

IN THE KNOW & ON THE GO //// events

West Reading Farmers’ Market Open Sundays

The Friends of Reading Hospital “Garden Party”

600 Block of Penn Avenue

10 am – 9 pm June 3rd & 4th Rain Date: June 5th

2nd Fridays

One of the borough’s charming traditions—The Friends of Reading Hospital Annual Garden Party—is an event that families and friends have enjoyed for decades! Stroll the grounds of Reading Hospital and enjoy activities by the 6th Avenue Clock Tower entrance, located at 6th Avenue and Spruce Street, West Reading. Free admission and fun for all ages, including food, activities, games, plant and flower sale and live entertainment. Shuttle service is provided.

June 13th, July 11th & August 8th

Artsy outdoor strolling experience that welcomes you to enjoy a walk through West Reading and tour some of the new and old favorite shopping destinations and you can always stop for a savory bite or signature cocktail after dancing to live music in the street! This summer, 2ⁿd Fridays turn into Summer Fun Fridays and create the borough’s first-ever Family Film Fest series! Bring a lawn chair and catch a classic movie during sunset on Penn Avenue. For updates on film showings and times, along with more 2ⁿd Friday information, visit www.lovewestreading.com.

Happy Birthday to A Running Start June 7th

A Running Start is celebrating its 10 year anniversary in business on Penn Avenue!


Your Success Because Your Success is Important to Us

BUSINESS INSURANCE Property and Equipment Liability Insurance

West Reading’s Wine Walk Typically Wednesdays Sample wines from 10 amazing stops along West Reading’s Penn Corridor! Begin at one end and discover selected stops along the way during this self-guided tour through the borough—with complimentary wine and live music along the way! Pre-registration for all Wine Walks is encouraged. Find out more info by emailing westreadingwine@aol.com.

Automobile and Truck Fleets Workers Compensation Professional Liability

Group Medical, Disability, and Life

610.376.3959 • Fax: 610.376.2610 1150 Berkshire Boulevard, Wyomissing




IN THE KNOW & ON THE GO //// events

WE_QtrPage_FINAL_AVE_Layout 1 2/19/14 7:58 AM Page 1

4th of July Celebration The West Reading Pool will be celebrating the nation’s birthday by hosting games, music and fun throughout the day. Produced by the parks and rec department at the West Reading Borough Hall, the event kicks off at noon. For more information, call 610-374-8273.

SAVE THE DATE: West Reading Elm Street’s Let’s Paint the Town September 4th “Let’s Paint the Town” coincides with the United Way Day of Caring on Thursday, September 4th. Of all community programs by West Reading Elm Street, Let’s Paint the Town takes an entire city block to another level of community rehabilitation by targeting a row of homes in the borough and painting them in complementary, historic three-color schemes. While Elm Street hires professionals to paint upper floors, volunteers paint and labor to recreate the old into something new during this party-like atmosphere. Hot lunch and complimentary massages are catered to the hard-working volunteers who help reinforce the beauty of first impressions and safe neighborhoods, allowing visitors to retreat to West Reading from everyday stress. To get involved with “Let’s Paint the Town,” visit www.wrcrf. org/elmstreet or West Reading Elm Street’s Facebook page.

Fall Fest on the Avenue

September 20th (Rain or shine) 12pm–9pm Enjoy a day of live music along Penn Avenue and browse local merchant sales, art and craft displays and children’s activities. Stop by the children’s activities or sample wonderful specialty foods and beers in the beer garden. It’s time you fell for Fall in West Reading. Admission is free. For more information, call 610-685-8854.


Avenues Summer 2014

• Sweets and specialty foods • Pet supplies & treats •

June 21st

720 Penn Avenue, West Reading, PA 19611 | 610-373-0960 Tues., Wed., Fri., Sat. 10-6, Thurs. 10-7, Closed Sun. & Mon.

Hostess gifts • Pottery • Pillows • Glassware

20th Annual Art on the Avenue

It’s A Gift! is stocked with high-quality items perfect for special occasions or a bit of self-indulgence. Many of our items are unique, one of a kind and artisan made. We have an incredible selection of infant, children’s, women’s and home decor items. Thanks to the efforts of more than 60 dedicated volunteers, our nonprofit shop has been able to contribute the proceeds from our sales to local charities—many of which benefit women and children. A gift from the Woman’s Exchange is definitely a gift that gives twice!

Christening gowns • Toys • Baby & toddler clothing •

Jewelry • Home décor • Wedding gifts •


Designer & Custom Fit Bras Lilibea’s

What’s Hot on the Avenues


uthentic eateries and in-store pantries, expert jewelry designers, distinctive fashion boutiques and chocolate cafes…it’s hard to pick just one reason to pause here in West Reading. Start with the over two hundred shops and small businesses that line the blocks intersecting the Penn Corridor. Add a very active main street district that promotes cleanliness and a stress-free shopping atmosphere. Finish with an extensive range of products and services, from conservative to alternative, in shops filled with unusually wonderful collections, boutiques boasting exclusive brands, and merchants providing opportunities to buy directly from artists and designers. You’ll find it all along Greater Reading’s Penn Corridor and West Reading. The Penn Corridor is essentially a shopper’s delight. Community revitalization strategies, like removing “utility clutter” on the walkways, allow visitors a broad view of each unique store sign and window front. Among the eclectic mix of historic and brightly colored buildings, the sidewalks offer bike racks and bench seating between the curbscape cut-outs and trees. A neighborhood mix of storefronts and friendly merchants are among the main reasons to frequent this vibrant community.

Fig & Will

Fashion Accessories SHE

Collectibles One-up Collectibles

Artisanal Purse It’s a Gift–The Woman’s Exchange




Custom Design Jewelry Justin Bortz Jewelers

Leather Jacket Pollock Furs

Bon-Bon Rings Charles Hutcheson Fine Jewelry

Designer Wear, Bella Jules

Designer Purse, Tina’s Salon

find your perfect fit complimentary bra fittings call us today for an appointment

Olukai Hawaiian Sandals A Running Start 613 Penn Ave. West Reading PA /// 610.685.6685 /// lilibeas.com


Avenues Summer 2014

CAFE HOURS: Mon-Sat: 7:30am-6pm Sun: 7:30am-4pm

Café Harmony is more than just a place to get a cup of coffee. We pride ourselves in our comfortable and intimate atmosphere, friendly staff, and close relationships with our community of supporters.

610.378.9001 616 Penn Ave., West Reading cafe-harmony.com

Not All That Glitters is Gold

Philadelphia Designer Wear MIXX Inc.

Our jewelry shop merchants carry an extensive array of precious metal and stone items for your individual tastes. You’ll find one-of-a-kind, custom designed pieces, estate jewelry, brand name designer lines, silverware pieces, higher-end gift items and a bit of the eclectic along the avenues. Justin Bortz Jewelers celebrates 25 years on the Avenue June 1, 2014. Charles Hutcheson Fine Jewelry has been family-owned for more than 50 years and has had its home on the Avenue for more than 25 years. London Blue recently celebrated 18 years in West Reading, and Wm. H. Diller Jewelers was established in 1914. All are well-known, respected vendors with great followings. That’s history!

Home Decor Buttonwood Blooms

Skin Suit T-1 Swim Shop




Home, Family & Timeless Gifts West Reading is an ideal place to find gifts for home and growing families. The incredible selection of artisan-made gifts for infants, children and adults is right in the pockets of adorable boutiques like Fig & Will, and It’s a Gift—The Woman’s Exchange. From christening gowns to vintage rocking horses and unique finds, you’ll discover a great selection of adorable items. Look no further than The Compleat Baldwin Brass Center, Buttonwood Blooms and Picturesque to find charming home décor items for any room in your house. Need a clever idea or that perfect gift? Chances are you’ll find it here. Of course, everyone needs a great place to find fashionable and functional apparel. West Reading hosts a huge range of savvy and smart shopping options, from one-of-a-kind fabrics to runway looks. Find great footwear and ath-

Hostess Gift/Home Decor The Compleat Baldwin Brass Center

Fine Jewelry London Blue Jewelers

s e i r t s a P & s e k a Specialty C for all occasions! Our custom cakes & desserts are always made from scratch with the freshest local ingredients!

Seasonal Accessories West Reading Drug Store

Buttonwood Blooms • Holiday Decorating • Everyday Floral Arrangements • Events & Weddings

The Well Dressed Cake

610.374.3322 510 Penn Avenue West Reading



713 Penn Ave., West Reading, PA 19611 Open Tuesday–Saturday 10am–5pm


Avenues Summer 2014

Monday–Friday: 9am–5pm Saturday: 9am–2pm Closed Sundays

Macaroons, The Well Dressed Cake

letic apparel and accessories at A Running Start and T-1 Swim Shop. For great ladies’ apparel and accessories, from casual to elegant, and intimates to outer wear, visit Bella Jules, She Boutique, Mixx Boutique, Allison Clothing Co., Earth Rhythms, Lilabea’s Intimate Apparel, Jan Rae Ladies Fine Fashions, Pollack Furs and Leathers, and Tina’s Salon & Day Spa. If you’re searching for mainstream or eclectic, you’ll find a full selection of Apple products at Double Click Computers. You can also find one of the largest collectibles stores in the greater southeastern PA region in West Reading, in 1-Up Collectibles. Or, pick up some health and beauty products at Aurum Holistic Skin Care, United Artists Salon & Spa or the West Reading Drug Store.

Artisanal Jewelry Earth Rhythms

Home Decor Picturesque Frames

Treats & Eats Finally, no visit to West Reading would be complete without food and drink. Pick a spot to sample some delicious treats like you’ll find at The Well Dressed Cake, Café Harmony or Haute Chocolate Café. If it’s time for lunch, dinner or happy hour, don’t miss a chance to savor some time at Papillon Brasserie, West Reading Tavern and Winedown Café & Winebar. We hope you’ll find some inspiration on new ideas and old favorites with some of our hot finds to whet your shopping appetite. Enjoy!

15" Macbook Pro Retina Display laptop Double Click





GRANT PROGRAM by Dean L. Rohrbach West Reading Elm Street Manager


Avenues Summer 2014

ne program in West Reading Elm Street’s community development toolbox is the Façade Improvement Grant (FIG) program. The purpose of FIG is to create a more attractive and inviting neighborhood by providing grants to help property owners cover the cost of improvements to the front of their properties facing the street to increase curb appeal and enhance the community. Over 90% of the housing stock in West Reading Elm Street’s target area were built before 1930 and are in need of simple façade repairs due to their age and deferred maintenance over the years. Left unchecked, visible physical deterioration will snowball and undercut residents’ efforts in maintaining their properties and controlling their neighborhoods. Put another way—little things left unchecked can lead to a neighborhood’s demise. Our Façade Improvement Program provides up to $2,500 which can be used for any exterior improvement seen from the street. Grants require an owner match depending on family size and income. Fam-

ilies earning below 105% of Area Median Income (ex. AMI is $68,800 for family of four in Berks) must pay at least 10% of the total project cost. Families earning over 110%, as well as businesses and investors, must pay 50%. For example, a family needing $2,750 in home improvements and earning below 110% AMI can get a $2,500 grant if they put up $250 out-of-pocket. For higher-income families and investors to get the full $2,500 they must put up an equal amount of $2,500. Grants do not have to be paid back and no lien is placed on the property. Grant awards are determined by the CRF Design Committee following program guidelines and based on available resources. Only properties located in a West Reading Elm Street designated target neighborhood are eligible. Roughly, this area extends eastwest from South 2â żd to 7th Avenues and north-south from Cherry to Spruce Streets. Our Design Committee evaluates applications and makes awards based on best use of our limited funds. continued on page 23







Let’s Paint the Town Event The Let’s Paint the Town event moves an entire block to another state. It targets a row of homes and paints them in complementary historic three-color schemes using volunteer labor. This year the event is scheduled for Thursday, September 4th and coincides with United Way Day of Caring. Of all our programs, this has the most dramatic impact. What appeared old and dull now looks new. Elm Street hires a professional to paint upper floors to keep volunteers safe. A party-like atmosphere prevails with hot lunch and even free massage tables available for older volunteers not used to manual labor. We want to greet visitors with beauty and romance them with color. Beauty reinforces the impression of a safe neighborhood where people are friendly and care and color makes our target area a retreat from stress.

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Some Examples of Eligible Improvements Include: • Repair of exterior deterioration such as replacing porch decks and railings, concrete stairs, gutters/ downspouts, mansard roofs, etc. • Cosmetic improvements—exterior painting, brick cleaning, brass accessories, landscaping, fencing, ornamental iron work, removing perma-stone or vinyl • Exterior structural improvements—replacing rotted wood or masonry repairs. • Improvements to increase safety such as new doors, locksets, exterior lighting, security camera systems, etc. • Weatherization upgrades: energy efficient windows, insulated doors, etc.

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In the past two years the Elm Street program improved 71 properties in our target area. In 2014, we hope to invest $80,000 more in façade improvements. Improving private properties shapes perceptions of a neighborhood attracting additional investment and home ownership as other owners are inspired to repair their properties. These projects preserve property values and strengthen the tax base. A neighborhood with tastefully decorated and well-maintained properties clearly reflects the confidence of property owners in the future of their community. We hope our improvements “raise the bar” on how people view their own property’s maintenance and investment.

Allison Clothing Co. offers an eclectic mix of artisan hand dyed clothing for women and men, jewelry, natural foods and bath products, art, note cards and more. Everything is locally made. HOURS: (during Farmer’s Market months.) Tues–Sat: 10am–5pm Sundays: 9–1




Creating a Sense of Community in West Reading Every Sunday May18th–November 23rd, 9am–1pm


Market’s Mission

To educate the public on the benefits of supporting local agriculture and continuing preservation of farmland in the surrounding community thereby strengthening the diversity of the community in general. 24

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ne of the jewels of this community-conscious borough is the West Reading Farmers’ Market. From May through November, every Sunday from 9am–1pm, the heart of West Reading is flourishing with a walkable, producer-only market available to visitors and the local community. Just walking distance from hotel accommodations and other area attractions, including the Courtyard Marriot and Candlewood Suites, the Reading Health System and the Reading Public Museum, complete your weekend stay here

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by discovering a sampling of the finest produce and products from the Greater Berks County region. At the outdoor farmers’ market on the 600 block of Penn Avenue, a diverse community of vendors provide and educate the public on their locally grown, raised and produced items which satisfy the most discerning of shoppers. None of the vendors buy-in and resell products, so an authentic feeling of community is born since customers not only purchase fresh, local, healthy food but also have the opportunity to interact directly with their friendly local farmers. Presented by the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation, this outside market offers fresh, locally grown products, featuring 100% grass fed beef, organic pork, poultry and eggs, chemical and spray-free produce, goat’s milk cheeses, artisanal breads and preservative-free granolas. The upcoming farmers’ market season began its 8th annual year on Sunday, May 18th. The West Reading Farmers’ Market is a great place to meet friends before or after

brunch and an even better place to learn more about what you eat! Vendors look forward to meeting their customers and building off of those customer experiences. “The best part of the market and the reason I keep coming back is the people,” says the owner of Benchwarmers Coffee Company, a micro roaster of specialty coffee that brews drip coffee by the cup for market goers.



Save the date! ARTS & CULTURE ////

Saturday, June 21, 2014


n Saturday, June 21st, the heart of West Reading becomes Art on the Avenue: a sidewalk showcase of more than seventy juried artisans, two stages featuring live local music, dance performances and streetside entertainment. It’s the area’s best known way to celebrate the first day of summer—an interactive, walkable street fair celebrating ART—in all its entirety. Rain or shine, West Reading’s signature street fair welcomes thousands of visitors seeking the summer’s best all-ages outdoor event. Three full city blocks of the neighborhood’s main street shopping district are shut down for this avenue-of-art experience. Street performances by jugglers, magicians and local theatre actors engage visitors among the artist tents while live bands play all afternoon. And if that weren’t enough, there are many art activity areas set up along the way for children and the inner-artist in everyone!

Come see what Art on the Ave is all about… Art on the Avenue is the ultimate outdoor community street fest in southeastern PA. Ride your bike, take the bus, or load up the family car (dogs can come too!) and find plenty of free parking in walking distance to 26

Avenues Summer 2014

HoffmannPublishing.com heather@hoffmannpublishing.com 610.685.0914 x 203 I Reading, PA

COME GET “FIT” AT this hub of activity! Countless attractions along the Penn Corridor, combined with juried art, the best of Berks County’s specialty foods, and live music with ample seating areas allow for a day filled with endless family-friendly activities for everyone. Presented by the West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation, the 20th annual Art on the Ave boasts sidewalk boutiques, craft tents and performance entertainment from 11am–6pm.

20 Years of Art on the Ave

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Twenty years ago, West Reading’s Art on the Ave began as a collaboration between two local artists with shops a few store fronts apart on the 600 block of Penn Ave. After the “long funky winter” that hit Berks County back in 1994, the merchants decided to shake things up with a big street party in the heart of West Reading. Nancy Seghetti, a mosaics artist who at the time owned The Back 610.372.9711 Room, a fabric dying and design shop on the 500 block of Penn shapesmartwellness.com Avenue—along with Mark pilates@dejazzd.com Seaman, founder of Earth 88 Commerce Dr. Rhythms, a shop specialWyomissing, PA izing in hand percussion, collaborated with friends, musicians and sponsors to host a public sidewalk showcase celebrating art in all forms. The result? Thousands of visitors traveled to Art on the Ave, even in its earliest years. Back then, the main street looked much different, with only a few eclectic boutiques and small businesses. In the early days—the city blocks weren’t shut down, so traffic continued down the Penn Corridor, and paused on Penn Street to park and discover the sidewalk happenings. Seghetti recalls the borough, along with the fire and police departments, being cooperative with early Art on the Ave efforts and maintaining street safety. Of course, these departments also proudly helped to hang banners across the main avenue. Art on the Ave was an organic blend of music and arts celebration long before the business district was improved with the help of West Reading Main Street and outstanding community revitalization projects like West Reading Elm Street. With the help of such foundations, and the like-minded people in the greater regional community, Art on the Ave is earning its qualifications as a reason to visit this vibrant borough’s signature art fest.

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Juried Artisans Imaginations run wild through the boundless, outdoor exhibits lining the Penn Corridor. Experience a wide variety of juried artists within a few city blocks—including silversmiths, woodworkers, pottery makers, glass and ceramic artists, sculptors and painters, fabric artists and soap makers—all in Berks County’s most sophisticated of urban settings. Like most fine arts and crafts festivals, the display of unique arts and handmade goods cannot be matched for miles around. Artisans are generally from the local region, although Art on the Ave is widely growing, attracting East Coast artisans from as far north as Maine and down to the Carolinas. The crafts sold along the Penn Corridor during Art on the Ave appeal to both novice buyers and seasoned art patrons. Among the eighty artisan vendors are more than a dozen non-profits, including Berks Women in Crisis, the Animal Rescue League and Walk a

Mile in Her Shoes that will be on-site, building relationships within the community. Performance theatre plays a big part in Art on the Ave since Berks County is home to several theatre venues and art institutes within just five miles of the borough. Local actors from the Genesius Theatre and improv skit performers from Yocum Institute for the Arts will be showcasing sidewalk skits. Plus, you won’t want to miss specially featured street dance performances by various artists including the Berks Ballet Theatre.

Activities for All… If you’ve been to Art on the Ave before, you already know that each year the event grows in both population and diversity. In its twenty years, this vivacious street fair promises something new to discover and unique treasures to take home. With a diverse selection of art, food, activities and entertainment for all ages to enjoy, it’s no wonder why so many visitors choose to spend the official start of summer with a selection of activities that take place throughout the day: magic performances and face-painting for children, a beer tent for adults, live music with space to dance safely in the streets—not to mention painting stations, silk-dying demonstrations and other creative interactive activities like creating take-home succulent gardens and more!

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Paint your own sun-catcher! Participants can purchase silk medallions and paint them with special permanent waterproof, non-fading silk paints. It dries in minutes and can be strung on a loop with beads as a take-home ornament. Anyone who loves color can do it; there are no requirements for age or experience. Create your own miniature masterpiece! Miniature canvas board and brush markers invite you to paint your design. You can even purchase a miniature easel to display your work at home...or make it a gift. Make your own succulent garden! Play in the dirt on the 600 block and find that you can bring home a beautiful miniature garden creation with easy-to-maintain ornamental plants.


Main Street Specials West Reading is an artistic playground for artisans, merchants and visitors alike. Since Art on the Ave is the area’s largest street celebration of the arts in all kinds, small businesses offer their creative part, too. While restaurants showcase specialty foods and offer visitors a break from the summer sun, main street merchants extend their storefronts onto the sidewalk for one-timeonly special offers. Often the busiest day of the year for merchants, it’s here you’ll discover the most imaginable ways merchants create to bring their shops alive into the most artistic, outdoor version of itself. Mix in artisans of all kinds from all over the local region and you have an avenue of colors, laughter, music and movement. As Art on the Ave continues to grow, thousands of visitors are drawn and return to Penn Avenue in West Reading. An inclusive event for multiple generations and art and music lovers alike, this firstday-of-summer festival is not only for art shopping and viewing, but creating and experiencing! With music stages to keep entertainment grooving throughout the day, it’s one long block party at Greater Reading’s hub for shopping, dining, arts and culture. Art on the Ave is quickly becoming southeastern PA’s premiere arts-in-the-community event. A blend of funky blues and soul music with New Orleans roots, melodic folk melodies and original rock rhythms from eight local bands take stage and reverberate live music from 1pm–6pm. For exact band times, stay tuned to lovewestreading.com and Like the Art on the Ave Facebook page.

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Come Back for Fall Fest The West Reading Community Revitalization Foundation invites all Art on the Avenue applicants to participate in West Reading’s 7th Annual Fall Festival on the Avenue held Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 12pm-9pm (Rain or Shine.) The event will feature a fall theme with live music, seasonal foods, children’s activities, sidewalk sales, and a beer garden. All interested exhibitors can sign up at www.wrcrf.org.




Time for a

in The Museum’s Arboretum

Summer Saunter


ummertime is an extra special time to journey through parts or all of the 25 acres that is the Arboretum at the Reading Public Museum. Though every season brings a beautiful change to the scenery to this historical landmark and garden wonderland, now is the time to discover the different species of plant and animal life that come alive this time of year. At the Arboretum, nature is complemented by illuminated and paved pathways, benches, and “photo-op” red bridges among various gardens and meadows along the gently winding Wyomissing Creek.


Avenues Summer 2014

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In 1927, prominent Massachusetts-based town planner John Nolen issued a plan for the Wyomissing Development Company that included a generalized plan for the Museum’s Arboretum, as well as a plan for the residential Wyomissing Park. Nolen was a landscape adviser for The Museum, and Elmer A. Muhs was named as the Arboretum’s landscape architect. Many specimens were donated by pioneer nurseryman Bertrand Farr from his superb botanical collec-

606 Penn Ave., West Reading Mon–Wed: 4–9pm

tion of trees, shrubs and flowering plants, gathered from all over the world, and many of the distinctive specimens you see today are from the original planting. At the Arboretum, labeled trees are identified by both scientific and common names. Large exotic trees are interspersed with indigenous trees and shrubs, serving as an ambulatory laboratory for anyone wishing to observe the natural world — or simply enjoy a walk in the park! During the spring and summer months, the Arboretum is maintained with the help of the Arboretum Assistants program, giving volunteers the opportunity to train in gardening techniques while donating their time to help prep, plant and polish this community jewel. The result? A picture-perfect summertime place to learn, relax and celebrate life!

Thurs–Sat: 11:30am–9pm

Sun: 12:30–8pm

AT THE ARBORETUM: 102 volunteers are expected to put in over 4000 volunteer hours this year. 16 species numbering 8000 plants are being grown in the greenhouse to be planted this year. About 200 species of trees and shrubs have been identified. There are over 1000 individual trees and shrubs. Five of the Arboretum trees are considered Champion Trees on the Pennsylvania Forestry Association website.





oil paintings by Judy Ballinger


eet the Artist, oil painter Crystal Domino, at the 2ⁿd Friday Reception, June 13, at Art Plus Gallery. Crystal considers herself a relatively new member of this Berks county artists cooperative, having joined in 2010. She also modestly claims to be a “new” painter, only deciding to take up the brush and pursue her passion seven years ago. Crystal grew up in Alaska, where she credits her schools with helping promote her interest in art, especially photography. At college in Idaho, she pursued health–related studies, taking art classes on the side. When she married, she moved to Berks County, raised her three children, and dabbled in arts and crafts on the side. In 2007, with children grown and prompting from her mother, she decided to get serious about art. She began oil painting lessons and knew immediately that she loves this medium. She continues painting as a member of Bruce Becker’s Warehouse Studio, as well as in her own spacious home studio near Shillington. Crystal is passionate about the dramatic effects of light on color in objects and through space in landscapes. She has an eye for interesting images, using her camera to capture unusual aspects, unlikely angles, or quirky, humorous juxtapositions. Back in her studio, she makes a light sketch of the composition onto canvas, then paints quickly, directly applying color next to color. As for subject matter, her depictions of objects, people, animals, and places (rural landscapes, woods, beaches), gener-


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ally remain true to the vision she captured in her photograph. Sometimes she will fiddle with the image on the computer, adjusting color variations. Sometimes she is inspired to add texture, as in a recent series of dresses. Besides showing at Art Plus Gallery, Crystal’s paintings have been displayed down the Penn Corridor at the Goggleworks, Studio B, and in various venues in Berks. As a co-op member, Crystal coordinates the regular exhibits of community art, mostly from local schools and senior organizations, which are hung in the Outreach Gallery within Art Plus. Currently, works by Exeter High School students are featured; in July and August art from Wernersville State Hospital will be shown. It is a wonderful opportunity for these local groups to meet the public through art. Art Plus Gallery’s Opening on 2ⁿd Friday, July 11 is honoring guest artist Peg Reisch. On 2ⁿd Friday, August 8, meet the summer featured member artist, Alice Gerhart. All Art Plus 2ⁿd Friday Openings and other receptions welcome the public. Come browse, nibble, meet the artists, and maybe even buy a special something. Art Plus Gallery

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The West Reading Tavern



ake a step through the big red door at 606 Penn Avenue and see why the West Reading Tavern has been the charm of the neighborhood for more than 35 years. A place where you’re welcomed as family and guaranteed great food in this cozy pub and dining atmosphere. An unparalleled beer selection of sixteen draft beers with a carefully-chosen variety of German and light lagers, red and imperial IPAs, pale ales, pilsners and stouts ensures there is a beer for each taste palette. The rotating selection, in addition to a variety of 90 bottled beers, keeps the neighborhood tavern atmosphere fresh and intriguing. Sample the taps with a flight of four beers served in Belgian-style flight glasses, or stop by during Flight Night from 5pm – 7:30pm Sunday–Wednesday and choose any four beers on draft for only $6. A refreshing twist to the Tavern’s draft selection is two rotating drafts of crisp ciders that are full of fresh rustic, gluten-free flavor. While the West Reading Tavern supports local breweries, including the Lancaster Brewing Company’s Dun Wurkyn Lager, the selection of beers come from a variety of places. Fantastic pairings of beverage, appetizers and entrees is what makes this small-town setting so high on the food scale. Come in on the weekend and enjoy one-of-a-kind special events or while you’re in town, sample some of the weekly specials that you won’t want to miss:

ARTISAN FLATBREAD & BEER SPECIAL FOR $8 Sundays,1 p.m. – 5 p.m. The dough is handcrafted in-house and allows you to enjoy 5 different artisan flatbreads with any draft beer for just $1 more. MUSSEL MONDAY Mondays, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Nearly a pound of Fresh Prince Edward Island mussels in various styles, including the Tavern house special, Thai, White Wine Dijon and a brand new style each week are Buy One Get One Free on Monday nights! SANDWICH & BEER SPECIAL Tuesdays from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Stop in on Tuesday nights for the ultimate combination of tavern-style sandwiches and draft beers. Pulled pork in a bold BBQ sauce topped with provolone with a farmhouse ale or Tavern Burger paired with an Imperial IPA — the sandwich, burger and draft beer options for $10.95 are countless!

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