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A Beautiful December, 2013

Grace Kelly was a “Philadelphia Classic” and the entire Kelly family had an amazing run in our great City. It’s hard to believe that had she survived that tragic automobile accident in Monaco, the beautiful lady would be 84 yearsold (and still beautiful). The folks at the Rittenhouse Hotel have not forgotten this talented actress and her ties to Philadelphia. During the entire month of December, they are presenting a tribute to Ms. Kelly in the form of a most appropriate cocktail called “Elegance and Grace” that’s available in their new Library Lounge just off the lobby.

The “artist” in question is their highly talented mixologist, Pablo “Papi” Hurtado. The bubbly cocktail ($16) “Elegance & Grace,” is a combination of rose water-infused vodka; rose petal nectar; Demi Sec champagne; and candied rose petals (all inspired by some of her favorite flavors). There will be a movie released this spring called “Grace of Monaco” and hopefully the good folks at the Rittenhouse will once again present Papi’s classic drink in honor of the legendary Philadelphia actress.

The Restaurant Report by Bob Bickell

Chef Douglas Rodriguez & Jose Garces; Chef Sal Speaks; Will BYOB; Noord; The Prime Rib; Serpico; Vernick; Spraga; & three notable suburban restaurants‌ Savona, Nectar, & Yangming.

I had an opportunity to ask an interesting question to the “Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine� - Chef Douglas Rodriguez. Q. I know that at one time you worked with Chef Jose Garces in Philadelphia. Are you at all surprised with his incredible success in Philadelphia and beyond? A: Chef Garces worked for me at Alma de Cuba. He was the chef de cuisine, but I knew from the moment I hired him in New York that he was going to be who he is today. I felt it from the beginning; I always knew he was going to be a star.

Chef Jose Garces, Philadelphia

Amada - 217-219 Chestnut Street Distrito - 3945 Chestnut Street Garces Trading Co. - 1111 Locust St. JG Domestic - 2929 Arch Street Rosa Blanca - 707 Chestnut Street Tinto - 114-116 S. 20th Street Village Whiskey - 118 South 20th Street


Chef Sal Speaks…

Chef Sal Montezinos BB: Sal… you are living the good life in Naples, Florida, and your 15 years at Deja-Vu in Philadelphia had to teach you something… Sal: Here is my advice to chefs and the public. It’s about the beginning (or end) of a great meal. It’s all about the bread and butter. The bread has to be warm and the butter has to be at room temperature. If that happens, you will have a great meal. If it doesn’t happen, forget about it. It might be a long night.

Will BYOB Chef Christopher Kearse

The good chef joined the movement to a new and fantastic restaurant destination on Passyunk Avenue in South Philadelphia. In short order, it became obvious that this extremely talented chef would be amongst Philadelphia’s finest. His BYOB is nothing short of Amazing! 1911 E. Passyunk

Noord – Chef Joncarl Lachman

Another one of the great new restaurants in Philadelphia. It’s a dinner-only BYOB that features Nordic, Scandinavian and contemporary American cuisine. (closed Monday and Tuesday). The talented Chef Lachman hails from New York and Chicago. 1046 Tasker St. (East Passyunk Ave)

The Prime Rib

This spot has been a major player in Philly for the past 16 years, and it’s consistently great. Having one of our best owners in Garth Weldon most certainly helps, and the classic supper- club atmosphere along with a super bar keeps the folks coming. The Prime Rib is more than just a steakhouse, and it has proven to be one of the top restaurants in this great City! 1701 Locust Street

Chef Peter Serpico – Serpico…

The man from Momofuko in New York teamed-up with Stephen Starr and this dinner only spot on South Street has become a local favorite. The good chef is a James Beard Award winner, and the big winner is South Street. Could it possibly become another “Hippist Street in town? (the Orlons) 604 South Street

Chef Greg Vernick is a native of Cherry Hill, and a CIA graduate, but his five years with one of New York’s best chefs (Jean-Georges Vongerichten) was all the preparation necessary to produce a concept in Philadelphia that has become an immediate winner. 2031 Walnut Street


Chef Kevin Spraga is one of the great chefs of Philadelphia, and his restaurant on South Broad Street has to be on any list that features the best restaurants of this City. It’s all about modern American cuisine presented by an amazing chef. Avenue of the Arts‌440 South Broad Street

Savona… Chef Andrew Masciangelo

One of our area’s Best Chefs in one of our area’s Best Restaurants. Simply superb Italian cuisine, and a wine cellar with over 1200 selections.

100 Old Gulph Road. Gulph Mills

Nectar – Chef Patrick Feury

Nectar might be the most popular of all our suburban restaurants. The ambiance is powerful, and the food is extraordinary. Chef Feury is the talent behind this incredible Asian fusion concept. The bar rocks, and the folks just keep coming back. 1091 Lancaster Ave. Berwyn


Year after year, Michael Wei keeps this happening suburban spot at the top when it comes to his always amazing Mandarin Continental cuisine. People come from allover for his rendition of his ever-popular Peking duck. 1051 Conestoga Rd. Bryn Mawr

It’s Taffer Time! The “BAR RESCUE” Man Speaks…

BB: Why do people frequent bars in the first place? Jon: Believe it or not, they don’t necessarily go to bars to drink. It’s a social thing. It’s getting out of the house and meeting and talking to people. It’s a “Cheer’s” thing… “Where everybody knows your name”. It’s about not being alone. Bars are part of the fabric of America. The first building on American soil was a church. The second one was a bar. The men that drafted the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution met in a bar. Big business is conducted in bars. People get engaged in bars. And yes, people watch sports events, and people do drink in bars. You don’t hang-out in restaurants; you hangout in bars. It’s a beautiful thing.

BB: Of course what is really beautiful is Jon Taffer doing what he does extremely well… Rescuing bars that desperately need to be rescued. Jon: There are owners who should not be owners. If you got into this business because you love to drink, you have to get out before it’s too late. On many occasions I meet an owner of a bar that we are going to feature, and I tell them that my immediate advice is to sell the bar while you’re getting the publicity. It might be your only chance. There are many times that I don’t even have to enter the bar to know we have problems. I can see it in the parking lot. I look at the cars, and I look at the signage, and I look at the windows and the front door. It tells you more than you have to know.

BB: Talk to me about the subject of wine in America. I just read a glowing review by Craig LaBan of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He awarded the restaurant a hearty Three Bells, but he did include a wine experience where the cost by the glass was $15.00. The cost of the whole bottle in a State store is $15.95. Jon: Our treatment of wine in America is ridiculous. 95% of our people have little or no knowledge regarding the subject of wine, which means only 5% actually, understand and appreciate it. 95% are intimidated by wine lists and the way wine is presented. The wine pricing is all over the place, and if we ever decided to remove the intimidation, wine sales would improve in a dramatic fashion.

BB: I am curious to ask you about a significant trend in Philadelphia which would be the growth of BYOB restaurants. The wine intimidation is absent, and what we have are talented chefs producing amazing food. People love the concept. Jon: I represent bars and restaurants, so my answer is not because I’m known for my support of the bars. I understand why people like it, but I personally find the BYOB thing to be unfair and possibly dangerous. Because they don’t sell the alcohol, they have no liability issues. Alcohol is present in their establishment and people are capable of having too much to drink, and therefore capable of having accidents. Bars have to pay significant dollars to protect themselves from

the possible liability issues. A BYOB is not prepared to address the problems inherent in an environment where alcohol is involved. Their people are not trained in this regard because there is no need to be. It’s an accident waiting to happen, and if it were up to me, I would prohibit BYOB establishments. BB: Your BYOB opinion is not going to get a standing ovation in Philadelphia, but allow me to ask you about the real bar problem and that would be theft. Jon: Theft is everywhere, but you don’t have to live with it. There are now systems available that make theft extremely difficult. One of my favorites is AccuBar. It’s a system that uses state-of-the-art technology to measure and track your entire beverage inventory. It’s getting easier and easier to

eliminate theft, and that is critically important to the survival of your business. BB: It’s a great show made for TV, and it looks as though you are having fun. Jon: I love what I do, and I am having fun. I am also helping a lot people, and hopefully improving their lives and their business.

The New Ben Franklin… “A Good Conscience is a Continual Christmas”

A Conversation with Sid Bernstein…

The Man who brought the Beatles to America... By Bob Bickell

I had an opportunity to interview one of the great promoters of all-time. He had an ear for music and a love for promoting musical talents that included some of the greatest names in musical history… The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, the Moody Blues, the Kinks, James Brown, Ray Charles, John Denver, Joan Baez, Miles Davis, the

Rascals, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Elvis Presley, Barbara Streisand, ABBA, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendricks, Eric Burton and the Animals, Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Dave Clark Five, Laura Branigan and more….. BB: You have enjoyed an amazing career and after all is said and done; the big moment had to be on Sunday, August 15th at 8PM in Shea Stadium when Ed Sullivan introduced the Beatles. Sid: Let’s not forget it was I who introduced Ed Sullivan and it was Murray the K who introduced me. Back in the day (the early 1960’s) I happened to be involved in what was to become the British Invasion, and out of the thirteen British Rock acts, I brought eleven of them to America. I will admit that the moment the fifth Beatle, Brian Epstein, agreed to allow me to introduce the Beatles at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City, my career changed forever.

BB: That concert was held on August 15, 1964 only a few days after the Beatles made their second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Sid: The timing was perfect because I knew it would result in an automatic sell-out. During those days, Ed Sullivan was the king of the world in terms of the entertainment business. If you wanted to be successful, you had to be on the Ed Sullivan Show. At that time the Beatles were gigantic in England, but somewhat unknown in the United States. BB: But the big one was to be one year later in Shea Stadium with some 55,000 screaming fans. Sid: I met with Brian Epstein and suggested a concert idea that had never been done. I wanted to place the Beatles in Shea Stadium and Brian actually agreed to it. The problem was that he wanted a deposit of $50,000 up front and without knowing where I could get such a sum, I agreed to it. I was so excited I would have agreed to anything. It was then that an amazing thing

happened during a walk in Washington Square Park. Some kids approached me and asked me what I had planned for some future events. I immediately replied “the Beatles in Shea Stadium in August”. They wanted to give me money on the spot to guarantee their seats so I rushed over to the Post Office and secured a Post Office Box (#21). I then told the kids that all they had to do was send a check or money order to my box, made out to Sid Bernstein. The ticket prices were $4.50, $5.00, and $5.65. In a matter of a few weeks, we raised $304,000. There was no advertising - no posters - no nothing. It was just the simplicity of the grapevine doing its thing. It truly was an incredible experience and needless to say, it became a sell-out. BB: Sid, did it ever get any better in your entire career that that night at Shea Stadium? Sid: Let me answer it this way… The year was 1971 when I received a phone call from John Lennon asking me for tickets to the sold-out concert featuring the reggae music of Jimmy Clift.

My children gave up their tickets and I ended up sitting next to John and his guests. During the intermission John elected to stay in his seat so we had an opportunity to talk. He looked at me and said the following…“Sid, that concert at Shea Stadium in 1965… I saw the top of the mountain on that unforgettable night.” I looked at him and replied … “I saw the top of that same mountain John” and it never got better than that. BB: It was December 8, 1980 and the death of John Lennon had to be devastating to you. Sid: I was only one block away from the Dakota where John and Yoko lived when it happened. I was at a restaurant called Fine & Shapiro’s for dinner and I stopped into SPQR on Mulberry Street to see my friends and their new upstairs club. My friend’s wife burst in with the horrible news. I actually agreed to appear on Good Morning America the following day and I have no recollection of what David Hartman and I talked

about for some ten minutes on the air. I was still too numb to think about anything. BB: And the death of George Harrison‌ Sid: He was much too young, and it’s so sad. George was the quiet one. He was very reserved, very reclusive and very spiritual. He was a gentle man and a gentleman. Obviously, I miss them both.

Sid Bernstein recently passed away at age 95.


The Barnes holds one of the finest collections of Post-Impressionist and early Modern paintings, with extensive works by PierreAuguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse,

Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau, Amedio Modigliani, Chaim Soutine and Giorgio de Chirico, as well as American masters Charles Demuth, William Glackens, Horace Pippin and Maurice Prendergast. There is so much more, and every visit is a new and inspiring experience.

2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway

Prime Travel‌Miami Beach, The Eden Roc Renaissance

Devoted visitors of the classic Eden Roc see this beautiful hotel as a timeless treasure that became famous for hosting Hollywood greats since 1956.

You might remember that incredible private party honoring Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd for the premiere of the film “Around the World in 80 Days�. If indeed you were there, how can you forget so many of the notable guests that included Katherine Hepburn, Jimmy Durante, Groucho Marx, Joe DiMaggio, Jackie Gleason, Esther Williams, Liberace, Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, and of course Ernest Hemingway (just to name a few).

While the Eden Roc still maintains that aura of Hollywood and the “Rat Pack” in Miami Beach, it has been totally renovated to accommodate more modern expectations. The modern version includes the new ELLE Spa with Eighteen luxurious treatment centers and a state of-the-art fitness center. The good news is that the Hotel still sits on the beautiful beach and the views are stunning.

Destination Hotel & Resorts – Miami Beach, Fl. 4525 Collins Avenue – 1-855-4-Eden Roc

A picture is worth a a thousand words.

Happy Holidays!


The Restaurants; The Arts; The People; and Travel in the Philadelphia Area...

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