The WC Press Local Business Growth Issue - February 2019

Page 1








“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people” –Steve Jobs

Press PUBLISHER Dan Mathers


COLUMNISTS Becca Boyd Jamie Jones Andrea Mason DJ Romeo Rotary Club of West Chester Chester County Historical Society Published By... Mathers Productions 12 E Barnard Street West Chester, PA 19382 610-344-3463 The WC Press is a monthly magazine distributed free of charge to more than 250 businesses. For a free digital subscription, visit For more information about specific distribution locations, visit



Group worksh o prov id es tool p s& strateg ies behav i to make or cha happen nge .

Our no-nonsense table of contents


WELCOME TO WEST CHESTER Get to know Jason Gomez who recently opened Tilted Axes


SETTING THE STANDARD Examining the businesses that define our downtown


EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH Jonathan Bedwell is Righteous Tap House’s best worker


Profiling the people who’ve grown local success stories


Tish shows off a great look for February


Find the five differences between the two pictures and win!


FEBRUARY’S CAN’T-MISS EVENTS Our guide to what’s going down this month.






from the


Dan Mathers shares some personal insight into this month’s theme

It’s rare to think of a suburb as an incubator for business. Usually the “next big thing” comes out of New York, LA or San Francisco, places with educated, prosperous and large populations. But then, West Chester is more than a suburb of Philadelphia; it’s a mini-city in it’s own right, and if wealth, education and population size drive business development, well then our town should be a hot bed: the last census placed Chester County as the 25th richest in the country; we’ve got a top-ranked university; and the Greater West Chester Area has a population akin to cities like Hartford, CT and Charleston, SC. I like to think I knew this intuitively. I grew up in West Chester, but my first job took me to New Jersey, Delaware and New York. Still, when it came time to found my own company, I felt there was no better place to do it than 19382. I worked hard to establish this business, but the building blocks were already there. Which is good, because one third of businesses fail within their first two years; only half make it more than five. This January, The WC Press turned seven. While I joke that this company is my baby, if it were in fact a child, he/she would be halfway through the first grade. I was pretty proud of that accomplishment, until I read Malcolm Johnstone’s “Setting the Standard” and learned there are a handful of businesses in the borough that are my age, and at least one that was born a year into Herbert Hoover’s first term. Assembling this magazine, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from the folks behind our town’s defining businesses, and there’s one lesson I encountered more than any other: a good leader is quick to accept blame and deflect praise. Time and again we encountered this trait, to the point that we had to intentionally cut many such remarks. When asked why they’d been successful, the people we interviewed cited their team, their employees, their partners and their communities. When asked about missteps along the way, they always spoke in the first person. My biggest struggle in growing this business is sourcing employees in whom I don’t constantly find fault. I’m swift to blame for mistakes I wouldn’t have made, quick to grow frustrated when others don’t learn, and angry when I try to sort out the root causes. Sure, in superficial situations when a client’s had a small problem, I’ll give it the ol’ “The buck stops here,” but in daily interactions, I’m not so good at taking the blame. As I write this, we’re halfway through January, and I’m yet to settle on a New Years resolution. In light of what I’ve learned— about myself and this company—I’m certain I’ve found something to improve upon: remembering to accept blame and give recognition. So, to Adam, Kehan, Kaela, Jill, Jeremy, Luke, Walt, Justin, Kevin, Christine, Lexi, Chelsea, Clare, Paul, Hutch, Gabbie, Annie, Rachel, Jennifer, Brad, Gina, Mollie, Jesse, Naz, Luke, Kate, Niki, Jack, Julie, Becca, Diane, Jon, Daniela, Geoff, Sabina, Andrea, Suzanne, Jamie, Skye, Amy, Dan, Bill, Courtney, and—of course— Nick, thank you for everything you’ve done to see this magazine through it’s first seven years. —






to West Chester PHOTO Amy Tucker INTERVIEW Dan Mathers

Get to know Jason Gomez, who opened the first axe-throwing complex, Tilted Axes. Why is axe throwing so popular? It’s the new bowling. People can go out and do it while eating, drinking and hanging with friends. Plus, it’s for just about any age — it’s 14 to 80. And why did you decide to open in West Chester? My wife and I went out in West Chester for drinks and dinner, and we loved it, but I was amazed by the lack of things to do while being out. By the end of the night, you spent a lot of money, you had a few laughs, but you didn’t really do anything. I thought this town could use something to do. Are you from the area? I grew up in Downingtown but ended up down in

Houston. My mom was living there, and I went to visit her one time and ended up not leaving. I was there for seven years before Hurricane Harvey put four and a half feet of water in our house. My dad is a retired State Trooper—he actually took three bullets and then continued working (and in his honor, all police officers are free here). He lives in Downingtown, and my grandfather lived at the corner of Gay and Bradford for 60 years, so we thought this would be a good place. What we was your introduction to axe throwing? We went and did it in Montgomery County and had a blast, but after two hours, it was done, and we all had to go home and there was nothing else to do. Is that not the case at Tilted Axes? When we opened here, I wanted to make sure there was a lot to do, so it could be a place to hangout. You get your standard, two-hour axe-throwing session, but before and after that, we have three pool tables, two dart machines, a punching bag machine, Golden Tee, Big Buck Hunter, and an old school game console with a bunch of games on it. Plus, we have three 60-inch TVs with all the sports.

That’s a lot going on. Yeah, and it’s BYOB, plus we’re going to be having food trucks coming through, and we’ve linked up with Levante. The idea was to offer something people could have a great time doing and not have to save up to do. A two-hour session is only $38.99. What do you get with the session? Well, you get axe throwing, but you also get an axe coach for each lane who will run you through games, keep score, and we have trophies to compete for. Plus, a lot of the lane coaches also work as comedians in the city, so it’s really a great time. Does anybody get really competitive about it? Oh yeah. We have leagues starting next month. We’re affiliated with the World Axe-Throwing League, which was recently picked up ESPN. If you win one of our eight-week leagues, you come back for the tournament that will be aired on ESPN. From there the winner goes to the US Open, then the World Championships. Sounds intense. But it’s also good family fun. When my wife Angela isn’t working at the hospital, she’s here and so are my four daughters, Destiny, Skye, Chaise Lilyana and Rowynn—everybody loves it.





Near and Far

Jamie Jones of Whirlaway Travel explores some travel options abroad and highlights their local counterparts

A few years ago my husband and I had our wills created. Aside from purchasing our first home and raising kids, this felt like one of our most grown-up accomplishments. The only thing left to do was purchase life insurance policies. I have always been on the fence with insurance. To me, it’s an expense that doesn’t provide any sort of gratification unless something unpleasant happens: death, accident, fire… you get the picture. The options are overwhelming and not something I have felt like dedicating any brain space to. So naturally, we put it off year after year after year after... In the spring of 2018, a snot-nosed kid I used to babysit in my early 20’s reached out to see if we could meet. He recently graduated and accepted a position with Northwestern Mutual. I begrudgingly agreed figuring he could “practice” his spiel on me, I would kindly tell him I wasn’t interested, he would leave me with some information and that would be that. Well I was wrong. Owen Evans, the little boy I remember chasing around 18 years ago, showed up in a suit and brought along his coach, Matthew Missimer. Owen conducted a thorough interview to get to know my family and our needs with insurance and investments. I shared that we are all set with investments but life insurance has been on our to-do list for far too long. We agreed to meet again with my husband aaaand long story short, our family is now protected. Throughout the process, Owen and Matthew were transparent in the products they recommended to us to ensure that they helped us make the best decision based on our individual needs and not what was just going to make them the most profit. I felt like I was doing business with a team that performed similarly to my own. Owen and Matthew earned more than a few life insurance policies from me. They earned my trust. When it comes to travel, going somewhere new and exotic is exciting. The cost of travel is a lot easier to stomach because the return on investment is time with loved ones, new experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. The last thing our clients want to think about is purchasing travel insurance for those unpleasant and unexpected events that lead to early returns, unexpected delays, lost bags, medical assistance and trip cancellations. Travel insurance is an investment that provides no gratification unless it is needed and no one wants to have to use it. Unfortunately, every year we have clients that need to submit a claim, and when thousands of dollars are on the line, travel insurance was the smartest investment they made. Just as Owen and Matthew reviewed options with us to determine the best coverage, it is important to do the same with travel insurance as not all policies are created equal. Travel is an investment that enhances our lives exponentially. Just as you protect your life and loved ones with insurance, make sure to protect your travel investment just in case lightening strikes, or a car breaks down, or someone gets ill or… you get the picture. —





setting the








Examining the businesses that have stood the test of time and help define our downtown. MALCOLM JOHNSTONE





Iron Hill’s facade has become an icon of the borough courtney potts


would be impossible to list each business that has contributed to the vitality of downtown West Chester; there are, after all, over 600 businesses that call downtown home, each one adding the character of our community in their own unique way. But there is a short list of shops, restaurants, and even professional businesses that have defined downtown as we know it today. Each has its own contribution to the history and hospitality that we’ve come to enjoy, and more than a few have an impressive longevity that demonstrates how a business can adapt to trends without losing their sense of place. It’s an incomplete list, to be sure, but certainly a good place to start.


Casual, upscale and distinctive, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant is often credited with the downtown renaissance that’s become the hallmark of the West

Chester’s 21st century revival. Opened in 1998 by owners Kevin Finn, Mark Edelson, and Kevin Davies at the site of the old Woolworth’s store, Iron Hill became known for their New American cuisine and award-winning, handcrafted ales and lagers, brewed just feet away from customers. But it was by no means without challenges. “It was scary,” said Kevin Finn in a 2016 Philadelphia Inquirer article. It was a feeling shared by Kevin Davies, Finn’s partner, who said, “I was afraid we would go bankrupt.” Instead, Iron Hill has become an anchor for the dining scene in downtown. Coincidentally, the brewery takes its name from their first location near the site of a Revolutionary War battle outside of Newark. Today, the West Chester location sits where the first school house, built in 1760, provided education for the children of early settlers. In 1777, it too became part of the revolution when a field hospital took over the school during the Battle of the Brandywine. It’s said that soldiers are buried there.


When Jane Chalfant first opened their doors in the fall of 1933—yes, 1933—they never imagined the type of impact they would have, not just on the women’s fashion industry, but also on the small (and soon to be booming) borough of West Chester. For the ensuing eight decades, Jane Chalfant (which later became known as Jane Chalfant | Kiki Boutique) has been providing women with the latest fashion trends, accessories, and jewelry for any outing or occasion. Their knowledgeable staff provides top-notch customer service to each and every customer, as well as some of the best fashion advice around. By traveling to trade-shows and different cities around the world, the current owners of Jane Chalfant, Kiki & Pat Comerford, have been able to change with the times and the ever-changing fashion industry. Expert alterations are available off premises, and don’t forget to ask about the free parking located right out back!





Fairman’s opened in West Chester in 1988 photo courtesy of Fairman’s



After a successful start in Delaware County, Fairman’s Skate Shop chose the corner of Church & Chestnut Streets for their second location in 1988. Moving just one block to the corner of Gay & Church Streets in 2000 established the “boardsports lifestyle” store as a key retail destination and anchor of the rapidly growing downtown.

What once stood as one of just a few retail shops downtown in the late 1980’s has since become a staple for the West Chester community and visitors alike. Kaly Clothing was first opened by Holly Brown in 1988 and later passed down to her daughter and current owner Polly Zobel.


Fairman’s has also sponsored generations of talented skaters trying to work their way into the upper echelons of the sport. For a time, Fairman’s was in the national spotlight when a young member of it’s team, Bam Margera, catapulted to stardom. Fairman’s continues to thrive under new ownership, committed to serving the skateboarding community as well as customers who just want to wear popular clothing and footwear brands. Next time you visit, take a close look at the authentic “history wall” inside the front door. It tells the intriguing story of how the business began and grew.


Although the store has gone through a number of changes over the years, the goal at Kaly has always stayed the same: to cater to the local community. It’s about finding clothes and items for your life that you will love and can wear time and time again—and about feeling good about wearing.

Taylor’s opened in 192 9 right as the stock market was crashing.

When you shop at Kaly, you will find a wonderful selection of clothes, accessories, and gift items, most of which are sustainable, organic, handmade, fairtrade, or made in the USA. Yes, it’s possible to be responsible and on-trend.


West Chester's oldest retail store is Taylor's Music Store and Studios. It is, in fact, celebrating 90 years of serving as the center for musical instruments and music education in Chester County. Offering everything from guitar picks to grand pianos, music lessons to sound support systems, it also features full-service departments for instrument repair, rental and sales. When John I. Taylor opened the store, the country was headed into the Great Depression. You read that correctly: Great Depression—Taylor’s opened in 1929 right as the stock market was crashing. But John survived by operat-





ing just a small, one-room store. As he became established in the community, Taylor’s grew into a shop serving every musical need for both families and schools. Eventually the store grew to eight times its original size. Today, owners Tom Buglio and Len Doyle have expanded the store to 25 teaching studios educating more than 350 students per week. There’s even audio-visual recording studios on-site and a recital room.


Founded in 1893, the Chester County Historical Society is most certainly the oldest private institution in West Chester. It continues to be dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the history of Chester County as it has from day one. The History Center is a 56,000-square-foot complex that houses the historical society. It includes two connected buildings, the older of which is known as Horticultural Hall and was designed by renowned architect Thomas U. Walter in 1848. It was the site of the 1852 Pennsylvania Women's Rights convention. The buildings were modernized in 1979 and contain more than 500,000 manuscripts, 80,000 photographs, and 20,000 volumes. Along with the changing exhibits, the gift shop offers a large selection of local history books and made-in-Chester County gifts and collectibles.


Gourmet artistry certainly reached an apex when master chocolatier Christopher Curtin, the owner and chef at Éclat Chocolate, introduced his incredible salted caramel truffles and bonbons filled with Shiraz-infused ganache. But it is his pretzel bar, infused with the flavor of Pennsylvania Dutch pretzels, that just might be the ultimate salty and sweet chocolate concoction.

Christopher curtin linked up with anthony bourdain and eric Ripert to produce “Salt & Sin” right here in West Chester. Eclat’s chocolate has carried West Chester’s name around the country, and the world, with their praises being sung by such publications as Food & Wine and The New York Times; their Peruvian Nacional Truffles were crowned “Best Chocolates in America” by Bon Appétit.

their own custom chocolate bar. It was crafted with a recipe of 72-percent cacao and made with Fair Trade organic beans. Dubbed Salt & Sin, the bar is as salty and spicy as the pair’s personalities, featuring Himalayan sea salt, orange, fennel and spices.

As impressive as that may be, Christopher Curtin’s most famed creation was likely the chocolates made in conjunction with the late Anthony Bourdain, along with his friend Eric Ripert, who chose Éclat Chocolate to make

Incredibly, Salt & Sin wasn’t Eclat’s first collaboration with the world-class chefs. In 2012, they came up with a bar called Good & Evil, also sold at Éclat. The reviews determined that, despite the name, it’s all good.





Financial news junkies will be very familiar with west chester’s own Mark Zandi


There are more than 400 professional office businesses in downtown West Chester. Of course, being a county seat, financial center and host to a large university certainly contributes to the popularity of downtown as a place where small offices and corporate headquarters can flourish side-by-side. Among the first structures to be constructed in the new century, exclusively built for this crowd, is the fivestory building called 121 N Walnut at the corner of Chestnut & Walnut. Built by E. Kahn Development, it was the first at such a scale to be built downtown in nearly 100-years. It did not go unnoticed. In 2005, it was recognized as Best New Development for West Chester by Philadelphia Business Journal. It also became the home-base for Moody's Analytics, a subsidiary of Moody's Corporation, established in 2007. Make no mistake: this is an international company with a key office based within our borders. For those who ben-

efit from services like economic research focused on risk, performance and financial modeling, as well as consulting, training and software services, Moody's Analytics is a major name. In fact, N Walnut is where Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, directs economic research through, which was acquired by Moody's Analytics in 2005. Zandi is certainly the most influential local player in the economic informational world. He regularly writes for the Philadelphia Enquirer and The Washington Post, as well as providing commentary for outlets like CNBC, NPR, Meet the Press, CNN, and others. Periodically, we even see him comment on the livable qualities of West Chester, where he resides.

WEST CHESTER BOROUGH PARKING DEPARTMENT And then we come, finally, to an organization that is crucial to all others in our downtown, but one that is often overlooked until people become par-

ticularly angry. Folks encounter works of this institution when they alight into downtown wondering how much wandering they might have to do before they can snuggle their car into that perfect space so that they can go shopping or eating. And, it seems that wise men and women have been pondering the question of parking since 1946.

The first municipallyoperated metered parkling lot in West Chester opened on November 15, 1948 Former Council person Jim Jones did research on this question and discovered that's when 391 parking meters were installed on West Chester streets. Evidently some people were so pleased with the results that 40 more meters were authorized just a year later in August 1947. But the real breakthrough—parking-wise—was the creation of what a 1952 Daily Local News article called “the first municipally-op-





The final cost of the project... was $12,056,850. But the revenues... will finance the garage and then some. Demand for parking continued to increase and, luckily, so did supply. In 1999, the $5.5 million Bicentennial Parking Garage on South High Street opened with 367 spaces. It was designed by L. Robert Kimball & Associates and Frens & Frens Restoration Architects to blend in well with the 19th-century row house streetscape. Perhaps too well. People seemed to not notice that there was a six story parking garage ready for customers. So a parking sign was added and things have been busy there ever since.

All west chesterites will instantly recognize taylor’s awning courtney potts erated metered parking lot in the Commonwealth,” which was nicely located on East Chestnut near Walnut Street. It first opened at precisely 9am on Monday, November 15, 1948. Ten cars immediately chose to park there, which demonstrated its automotive parking appeal. They each used it for 90-minutes, considered the optimal amount of rest for vehicles. The lot was originally planned to handle 52 cars, but the Public Utilities Commission felt like things were on a roll, so they authorized an additional 26 spaces, bringing the total to 78. This created the

feeling that all seemed perfect. But then, some pesky drivers noticed that the Borough was charging 5-cents an hour for parking up to a maximum of 50-cents for ten hours. This struck some as quite excessive, except for Friday and Saturday nights when, for some reason, nobody seemed to care as much. Needless to say, Borough Council members responded with concern and held “a pair of stormy sessions” and decreed that on March 10, 1949, the rate would be lowered to a more civilized 5-cents for two hours. There was still some grumbling, of course, but Council was resolute: you stay, you pay.

Finally, the Chestnut Street Garage opened in 2010 with seven stories containing 689 parking spaces, 275 more spaces than the garage it replaced. The final cost of the project, including parking controls and all of the alternates, was $12,056,850. That computes to $17,500 per space or $53 per square foot. But the revenues have been good enough to fund the debt that will finance the garage and then some. It might not be right out front, and it might not be free, but it’s well maintained, and thanks to 72 years of effort, parking is always available downtown. [Side Note: many restaurants and merchants offer a parking validation program, and you can find out who’s offering at] West Chester’s business landscape will continue to grow and evolve, and new ventures will form that fashion our future. But the above-mentioned enterprises make it clear that, when interested owners are involved, it’s possible to make an indelible imprint on our downtown... and a tidy profit. Elle Steinman and Dave Fairman contributed to this article.






Becca Boyd shares tips on life and cooking on her blog at


Dinnertime connotes feelings of warmth, family, and satisfaction, especially in the chilliest months. However, for the family’s chef it looms, a checkmark on the to-do list that magically disappears each morning. Instead of Googling “easy dinners” once again, try one of these healthy, nutrient-packed dinners. Your family will (well, should) thank you. – Stuffed Pepper Soup - serves 8 8 c. beef broth, divided 3/4 c. brown rice 1.3 lb. organic ground beef (ideally grass-fed organic) 1 lg. onion, diced 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 zucchini, diced 3 bell peppers, diced

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt 3/4 tsp. ground black pepper 1 tsp. dried oregano 6 oz. tomato paste 2 (15 oz) diced tomatoes 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar 1/3 c. minced fresh parsley 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese

1. In a medium saucepan over high heat, add 4 cups of beef broth.

When it reaches a boil, add rice. Reduce to medium low and simmer. 2. Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium high heat, add beef. Cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink. Drain excess fat then remove beef. 3. Add onion and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened. 4. Add zucchini, peppers, salt, black pepper and oregano and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened. 5. Add tomato paste and stir frequently for 1 minute. Add tomatoes (with juice) along with remaining 4 cups beef broth. Add rice (with broth) along with reserved beef. Bring to boil. 6. Reduce to simmer and cook for about five minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vinegar, parsley and cheese. Add hot water to thin as needed. Salt for taste. Serve, with cheese. Pizza Casserole - serves 4-6 1 lb. lean ground beef 3 links (or 8 oz. bulk) Italian-style chicken or turkey sausage 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, divided 24 oz. white mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

2 sm. zucchini, diced 1 sm. onion, diced 1/2 tsp. oregano 1/2 tsp. garlic powder 15 oz. can tomato sauce 1/2 c. water 1-2 c. shredded mozzarella

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium and add beef and

sausage. Add 1/4 tsp. of the salt. Cook until no longer pink, and remove to a bowl. 2. Add mushrooms, zucchini and onion to pan. Increase heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is released and evaporates and vegetables are beginning to brown. 3. Reduce heat to medium low and add remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, oregano and garlic powder. Stir to combine. 4. Return meat to pan and stir to combine. Add tomato sauce and water and stir to combine. 5. Top with cheese and broil in oven until cheese is bubbling and beginning to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. 6. Top with more oregano or crushed red pepper, if desired, and serve.






of the Month PHOTO Courtney Potts INTERVIEW Courtney Potts

Jonathan Bedwell’s work ethic caused Righteous Tap House to nominate him for this feature three months in a row! So, what’s you role at Righteous? I’m one of the line cooks. I applied for a dishwasher position first—I’d clean this entire place, six days a week, then work four days a week back in the kitchen. I eventually got frustrated and was tired of the cleaning. I told the owners I couldn’t do the cleaning anymore. After that, they placed me back in the kitchen as a line cook. I feel more comfortable here. How long have you been working here? I’ve been working with Righteous for two years. I started working at this location when it used to be called the

West Bradford Bar and Grill. I worked there for a couple years, and then someone else bought it. After that, I worked at Boxcar, for about six months. After they went out of business, I got a call from the owner here, Jon, to help clean and gut the place. What led you to the industry? A couple years ago, I was living with my parents, and my mom said there was this restaurant down the street. I went down there, and filled out an application for a job. After that, since I lived right down the street, I kept coming back every two or three days to see if they were hiring people, until one day someone called me and offered me a job. You seem like you’re a pretty motivated person. Yeah, that’s very true. You gotta keep going and going—that’s how life works sometimes. What’s a typical day look like for you? The main station I work at is the salad station. I have to clean it almost every day, and I make fresh guac, fresh pico, and nacho chip plates. What do you enjoy most about working here? The people: the custom-

ers, the employees. It’s always a really nice place to be. Do you have any mentors here? I look up to chef Kevin Diskin; he’s a very cool person to work for. What’s your favorite thing to order? I love the Inquisition Burger. It has two La Frieda custom patties, cheddar cheese, bacon jam, with a fried egg on top. It’s one of my favorite sandwiches here. It’s so good! For beer, it depends what’s on tap—it changes often. We have a lot of options on our can and bottle menu as well. I enjoy ciders usually. Do you contribute to what you guys serve here? I don’t have a say in the menu, but I do contribute to the weekly specials we choose. Last week, we did a nice and simple taco flatbread that everyone loved. I ended up being pretty busy that week, making a lot of them. Do you ever come here in your free time? Usually on my days off I like to chill at home. After my shifts, I like to stay for one drink and talk with the customers or the employees. There are so many great people here.





BUILDING A BETTER BUSINESS how to establish a succesfull company, according to those who’ve built them. story: Kate Chadwick, Michael Lynch, Courtney Potts & Dan Mathers photos: Amy Tucker





America’s Pie When Matt Reed started America’s Pie in September 2010, he had three employees. Today, he’s got a team of 40, and opened a second location in Tinicum, Delaware County about two years ago. “When I was younger, I’d dream about having my own restaurant one day,” Matt said. “I never thought then that we’d have more than one location. The overwhelming response to America's Pi’se food and vibe had people always asking if and when we could expand. Opening another location in DelCo—my home county—seemed the obvious choice.” The growth that America’s Pie has experienced has been both figurative and literal. “Outgrowing our spaces has been a huge pain for the store,” Matt told us. “We’ve expanded each store to get more square footage, and it never seems like enough!” Another problem with giving the people what they want? “Meeting the demands of everyone's expectations has been the biggest transition for America's Pie during

our growth. Being able to maintain the food quality we’re known for, combined with the speed everyone expects—it’s a tightrope act, especially when you add the growth of volume we’ve seen in the past eight years.” The key to expanding a small business is pretty straightforward, according to this entrepreneur. “Never take your foot off the gas. You work harder than you ever have before when you are running your own business. You can't shut it off, it becomes part of your identity. Never sacrifice quality. The proof you are successful isn't in the profits; it’s in the reputation you build.”

Arthur Hall Insurance Talking with the team at Arthur Hall Insurance, there’s a keyword that keeps coming up: integrity. From questions of business growth, to success, to implementing culture, time and again Executive Vice President Mark Sammarone cites the importance of integrity. “Creating a good value proposition for your customer and acting with integrity is

Key employees at Arthur Hall formed a management group to run the agency. Pictured are Agency Principals Mark Sammarone, Nicole C. Grebloskie, Karen L. Leary & Joshua J. Isler

not new,” he says, “but it’s still a winning formula.” Arthur Hall Insurance is one of only a handful of local businesses to have surpassed the half-century mark. Found in 1966 by a man named, unsurprisingly, Arthur “Art” Hall, the agency was initially established to focus on personal insurance and farming accounts. Yes, farming. That agency, like many a small business, was initially run out of Art’s home, but it quickly grew to include several employees and an office in West Chester. Art ran the company for it’s first 20 years before seeing it through its transition to Tom and Jackie Van Grofski. The Van Grofski’s oversaw incredible growth at the helm of the company, which doubled in size under their stewardship. Incredibly, the company’s reins remain in local hands; in 2005 a core group of employees formed the current management group and again doubled the company’s size. They now maintain offices





in three states and hold licenses to do business in 47. Selflessness seems to be another key for the company, which makes sense when you’re business is insuring lives and livelihoods. “Arthur Hall Insurance prides itself on putting the client’s needs ahead of our own,” Mark says. They also don’t believe there’s a single blueprint or one best bet for every interaction— they’re always catering the interaction to the client’s individual needs. “We believe the best coverage begins with a conversation. Finding out what is important to you lets us create an insurance program that is unique to each client, be it commercial or personal.”

Frank had one goal in mind at the beginning: to stay in business. “I knew I’d have to grow the business if we were going to last. I had enough room for five chairs in the first location, and once we grew that we expanded to the upstairs and added four more chairs. Then, the expansion of the Chester County population gave me an opportunity to go outside the borough and into our second location. The third location came about with a young employee working for me who wanted to open a salon, so I helped him get started in Exton.”

by opening the infamous Brownies. The three worked hand-in-hand for 15 years in the nightlife industry, opening three different nightclubs focused on live music and late hours. “We’d usually get out of work around 4am,” remembers Gallen. Unfortunately, nobody can stay young forever, and those hours started the catch up with the trio. That’s why, in the mid 1990s, the brain trust got together and formed their next great idea: Barnaby’s. “I agreed that getting into the food and restaurant business would be a better option,” Gallen says. The idea centered on a fictional character the guys invented, named Barnaby. “He was a sports enthusiast and loved good food and drink,” says Gallen.

Develop a good plan and stick to it. Don’t let others’ opinions affect your commitment. Perseverance is key to success. And be flexible to the changing times” -Frank Gruber, Avante

It sort of starts to sound like industry jargon, unless you’ve met Mark—then you know he genuinely means it. Mark’s an active member of the community and serves on several nonprofit boards. In fact, we first met him when we was serving as President of the Rotary Club of West Chester. So, when Mark says things like, “Arthur Hall Insurance places great importance on staff professional development and ethical behavior towards all we encounter,” or, “Remaining grounded and connected to the community has helped us succeed,” you know he’s simply speaking the truth. When asked where he sees the business going in the future, Mark thinks bigger than the dollars and cents. For him and Arthur Hall Insurance, it’s always all about the people. “[We intend to] stay true to our core values, act with integrity, proactively advocate on behalf of each client, hire and retain talented, highly qualified, and committed professionals, and deliver an uncommon level of expertise to address the challenges of securing our clients future and assets.”

Avante Salons At age 23, Frank Gruber—by his own admission—had no idea what it was like to run a business. “I knew how to cut hair, and I had a large clientele,” he says. He started out working by himself with his sister answering the phone. Today, Frank is president of his own company, Avante Salons, with three locations and 112 employees.

One of the biggest challenges for Frank in growing the business is a pretty likely suspect. “The economy. It’s always either your friend or enemy. And staffing and developing stylists is always an ongoing commitment to your growth.” A visit to any one of his busy salons indicates that Frank now very much knows what it’s like to run a business. And if he could advise his younger self, Frank would tell him this: “Develop a good plan and stick to it. Don't let others’ opinions affect your commitment. Perseverance is key to success. And be flexible to the changing times.”

Barnaby’s If you live in West Chester, odds are, you’ve been to Barnaby’s. But, there’s a sizeable chance you didn’t know that the massive bar on High Street is technically just Barnaby’s West Chester — yes, downtown’s biggest bar is just one of four, and it’s only a small part of an ongoing ownership saga dating back to the 1980s. Michael Gallen, Bill Daley, and Ralph Lamarra began their careers together

The idea was to create a business around this fictional sports lover and establish the kind of place this customer would want to hang. “The format was a combination of sports, good food and community,” Gallen says.

The first Barnaby’s opened in 1997, with other operations opening in 2004, 2006 and 2007, and they chose their site’s wisely. “We searched out were in need of a sports bar, but that could take advantage of spot that could be sort of a community club, their go-to bar,” Gallen says. While they applied the same formula across their businesses, the key to success, according to Gallen, is not always in consistency—transformation can be just as important. “When the market changes, you have to change with it, but always treat your staff and customers like they are family,” he says. “That’s what’s worked for us.”

Brandywine Valley Heating & Air Conditioning Deflecting praise has been a recurring theme throughout these interviews. Typically, when asked how their business has achieved its success, business owners will give the praise to their employees. Bill Ronayne is even more self effacing than that. “Anyone could do what we do,” he says. “It’s just all about the customer.”





Over the past 26 years, Brandywine Valley Heating and Air Conditioning has grown into the area’s preeminent name in HVAC. After spending 22 years working in the industry for other people, Bill was confident he could strike out on his own. The company he launched in October of 1993 did less than a half million in annual sales—this past year they clocked in just short of eight figures.

back. Like many of West Chester’s best business people, he’s an active member of the Rotary and has the distinction of being a past president of the ever-influential Rotary Club of West Chester. And, as a company, BVHVAC has served, for many years, as the presenting sponsors of the Challenge for Cancer Bike Tour, which benefits patients in Chester County who are living with cancer.

As much as Bill makes his business all about the customer, he’s also quick to give credit to his employees. “We are blessed with great people,” he says, “[We have] skilled craftsman that care about what they do.” Knowing the value of his employees, Bill works to make sure they as well-prepared as they can be to face the challenges of a rapidly-changing, highly-competitive industry. “We do weekly, monthly and yearly planning,” he says. “I have a great sales staff, installation and service team and a great finance team—they all drive our success.”

This focus on service—both to customers and the community—is a central tennant of BVHVAC’s business practices. “We are lucky to be in Chester County and West Chester,” Bill says. “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” When asked how important the company’s connection to West Chester has been, Bill replies, “Priceless.

Throughout that growth and success, Bill has remained connected to the community, consistently finding ways to give

Champions Miguel Nieves never intended to be a multiple business owner. He just wanted to do what he felt was a calling to give back to his community, and a simple dream: to be a barber. He gave up a sales career to follow that dream.

Bill Ronayne and BVHVAC have been presenting sponsors of the Challenge for Cancer Bike Tour for years.

“That meant going from $60,000 a year at the age of 23 to making ZERO,” Miguel said. “No customers, no skills, no name recognition, simply a vision and a humble heart.” He started a mobile gig, On the Run Barber Shop, providing services to prisons, funeral homes, and assisting living facilities, which led to his first shop on Chestnut Street in 2010. “I was able to open an establishment where I could not only give back by making the community look and feel good, but also inspire those who wanted to be part of my vision.” What began with just Miguel in that one location grew to a second location on High Street in 2014, and eventually a state-approved training facility, Champions School of Barbering. Said Miguel, “I currently have over 10 employees and eight students who’ve chosen me as their mentor.” While these expansions were never part of his original plan, “I always had a mindset to push things to their





extreme,” Miguel said. “Every job I had, I always went above and beyond what my role was. That’s just the way I was raised. I’ve gone from student to teacher, from barber shop owner to now owning and operating a barber school. I get to not only teach, but also watch these students grow and become part of their future. It’s an amazing process to be part of.” Miguel’s philosophy is based around one word. “What typically gets forgotten is sacrifice. Can you sacrifice your family, your friends, your life savings, your home, all of your toys, vacations? Are you willing to serve the needs of not only the public but your team? Are you willing to not count hours but make every hour count? And with no guarantee that you’ll make money—everyone gets paid before you. You’ll get out of it what you put into it. Hard work will pay off, but only honest hard work. Dedication has no off season, and that’s what makes the difference.” His advice? “No matter how hard things can get—because they will get hard—remember why you chose this

path, because you saw a purpose. It can’t just be about money, because the money is never guaranteed.”

Computer Doctors Kevin Mash’s motivation for starting Computer Doctors in 2005 was one of necessity—but maybe not in the way you’d think. “I first started out of the very basic need to get all of the IT equipment out of my house after my then fiancé, now wife, Jessica moved in.” Kevin was running an IT network consulting business out of his home office, “which sprawled across the entirety of my apartment.” Kevin figured he’d have a workspace for himself and then-solo employee, Greg Palloni, as well as storage for all of his equipment. “Greg and I figured we’d be open two days a week to cater to local residential computer needs and expand our IT service offerings into the borough.” Those two days turned into three, then five, then six, and three employees grew to five. “Since then we’ve added additional staff and another location,

Miguel Nieves has grown Champions from a single shop to multiple locations and a school of barbering.

totaling 11 employees between them.” Kevin knew he was on the right track early on. “Large box stores have higher prices and less-skilled team members, and other small providers didn’t seem to have the skills to adapt to the fast changing PC/Mac landscape. I understood that if I met this need and built a team of likeminded employees, success and growth would follow, putting the customer first and never looking to get rich quick.” His biggest hurdle in growing the business is common: staffing. “It’s easy to know what you need in a staff member, but finding the special mix of traits that make an employee truly great is difficult. I’ve hired and fired more staff than I care to remember, and in doing so have developed a very good sense of potential in new applicants.” And what would he do differently? “In hindsight, I’d have made more of an effort to market and grow my business-to-business IT management ser-





Kevin Mash wasn’t content with a single business - he built Computer Doctors to two locations and recently launched his newest project, gaming studio LEvel13.

vices. While we’ve greatly enhanced our business service offerings, I know that my efforts and focus on building the Computer Doctors brand somewhat hindered my progress in the managed services marketplace. We’re all caught up now, and have an amazing IT support team of engineers, helpdesk, and administrative people, but it would have be better to be at this point five years ago.”

DARE Automotive DARE is one of those businesses that toe’s the line between family-owned and operated and being what we’ve dubbed a “mid-size biz.” They’re family-owned and operated in the sense that founder Dave Aloisio’s two children now control the company since his retirement, but the business has grown bigger than any two people could manage on their own. Started in the mid 1970s as a single-bay auto repair shop with Dave himself serving as the only mechanic, today the auto repair side of the business boasts eight bays and enough technicians to keep those bays constantly busy. In addition, they’ve added a car sales company in Jonathan’s Auto Outlet, plus Between the Seats auto detailing services. To this day, Dave’s daughter Laura is often the friendly face that greets you as you come in, and she saw the growth of the business as obvious and inevitable. “Really, the process has just come full circle,” she says. “With an excellent automotive repair team and extremely competent staff, and we have access to a variety of vehicles, so it made sense to incorporate the sales aspect, so we now have 80 used cars, full title and tag service.” Detailing was just as clear-cut a decision, since DARE already prided themselves on returning the vehicles they service back to their owners in better condition than when they arrived. “We could not be happier with our decisions,” she says.

But they’re also aware that providing a superior product is only part of the job, and they’ve worked hard to develop relationships with local businesses, non-profits, schools and events. “We appreciate the community we serve, and give back in many ways,” Dave’s son Jonathan said. In fact, Laura served as the chair of The Rotary Club of West Chester’s Chili Cook-off this year, which makes it incredible that she’s able to juggle family time, running a business and chairing such a massive event. “My

support group in and out of DARE is amazing!” she says. “We all understand how important it is to support our community.”

Iron Hill Most Millennials might not remember, but there was a time when your local pub likely had as many beers on tap as the bartender had hands. Craft beer, as we know it today, is still a very recent trend, and its explosion has as much to do with big names like Sierra Nevada





and Samuel Adams as it does with local favorite Iron Hill. Without microbrews, there’s little chance the craft movement would’ve caught on fire the way it has. Like most craft brewers, Iron Hill co-founder Kevin Finn started brewing as a pastime. “Mark Edelson and I began brewing in the early ‘90s, when it was just a basement hobby,” he says. “We started entering some of our home brews into competitions to win awards, and we started to wonder if we could do this for a living.” It wasn’t until they linked up with restaurateur Kevin Davies that the concept for Iron Hill started to play out. That concept has been massively successful. The restaurant that anchors the center of our downtown is just one of 16 locations spread across four states, and they’ve taken home medals from the Great American Beer Festival every single year since their inception in 1996. “The craft beer boom has definitely been a source of success for us,” Kevin says. “We’re extremely grateful that folks are becoming more interested in trying new and innovative brews and are eager to

try new concoctions and experiment.” While the focus on fresh food and complex beer is central to the dining scene these days, Iron Hill was one of the early investors. “Our core driver of success and growth has been our philosophy of ‘scratch beer and craft kitchen,’” says Kevin. “We pride ourselves on our unique food and beer pairings, our ability to incorporate beer into many of our most popular dishes, and we strive for equal parts consistency and diversity at Iron Hill.” As much as Iron Hill’s business plan sounds like a clear-cut recipe for success, Kevin insists that every company has it’s own way of doing things, but he does point to two practices from which all enterprises could benefit: promoting and connecting. “We like to promote from within, and one of our main points of pride is that many of the senior positions in most locations are individuals who started as servers, barbacks and line cooks at Iron Hill and have been promoted through the ranks to GMs, Head Chefs and Head Brewers,” he says. ”Another aspect is that we strive

Kevin Finn and his partners have taken Iron Hill to four states and 16 separate locations

to work with the local communities to give back, through charity initiatives like the Triple Chocolate Hill initiative, which donates $.75 to local charities chosen by the staff.” An additional $.75 of each sale is donated to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, which means their charity has gifted nearly $600,000 since its inception. Kevin and crew have plans for the further expansion of Iron Hill, all while continuing to keep their eye on the ball. “We’ve done a good amount of research on markets, and we are vigilant about monitoring each store to determine what works and what doesn’t,” he said. “Our goal is to have 20 stores open by 2020 and we’re always on the hunt for new markets.”

Lamont Coffee and Tea Back in 1956, Joe Lamont’s father and grandfather started Lamont Food Services in Delaware County, which eventually became the coffee and tea distribu-





tion company that Joe and his brother Jim oversee today. It probably didn’t occur to the entrepreneurial father and son team then that they were beginning something that family would continue for over 60 years, never mind how their two-man operation would grow in those decades. “It was just the two of them back then, and they had 25 accounts,” Joe said. Today, Lamont Coffee and Tea has 10 employees and over 500 accounts. “We’ve got a larger territory than they did years ago,” Joe told us. “We handle Chester County, Bucks County, Lancaster County, and northern Delaware, so we expanded not just in terms of employees and accounts, but territory.” When Joe and Jim joined the company in the late seventies, “we were young and hungry and determined to put our mark on it and to grow it,” Joe said. “We had a fire in our bellies. Being young, we made mistakes along the way, but we had our dad there to provide the smarts and put the brakes on us when necessary. It was a good combination—his wisdom and our drive.” Growth issues they encountered along the way included “Capital, and dealing with banks,” Joe said. “You have

to sell your ideas to them, convince them that you’ll do well.” Add to that staffing, acquiring more trucks for deliveries, and suddenly there are a lot of pieces to the growing business puzzle. The advice Joe would give to his younger self? “A lot,” he laughed. “You need to have patience to be in business for the long haul, to learn how to handle the moving parts of it better, to handle employees better, and to even handle yourself. Don’t let the small things become mountains—they’ll resolve themselves. Keep your focus.”

Levante In August of 2015, brewmaster Tim Floros co-founded Levante Brewing Company with the purpose of elevating the craft beer and community experience in West Chester. Levante is the Italian word for rising, and the concept for the business was originally inspired by the culture of Italian vineyards. This means there are no TV’s inside, and instead, the team at Levante wants you to focus on the beer and conversations with family and friends. Levante has continued to grow in popularity among beer enthusiasts since their founding,

Lamont have long been a regional name, and they’ve recently expanded their product line, adding artisan craft coffee to the mix

and their beer is now widely available, having gained acclaim throughout the Northeast region. The success they have achieved is incredible, especially considering it’s only been three and a half years since the company launched. When brewer and brand coordinator Spencer Holm talks about how Levante has been able to achieve the remarkable success it has thus far, he focuses on how the business continues to stick to their founding ideals, which are a passion for quality, inspiration—both locally and globally—and keeping the essence of their taproom intact. Spencer also discussed the importance of listening to the input of their clientele. “We listen relentlessly to the feedback of our guests. Whether you’re leaving us a comment on social media, rating one of our brews on Untappd, or chatting with a bartender about your taste preferences, we listen,” he said. Spencer further explained how such feedback has allowed Levante to evolve as a company, particularly when it comes to the beer styles they produce.





In three short years Levante have grown into a regional name in brewing.

The business has also taken full advantage of the available technologies to further bring the experience directly to their guests. Levante created a texting service called “Text the Fridge” to provide instant updates on can availability, as well as today’s food truck, and retail sixtel keg availability. Potentially most important is the attitude they’ve kept when responding to the inevitable pitfalls that strike any new business. “If you’re new to the brewing industry, one thing you’ll quickly realize is that every day presents a new challenge,” Spencer said. “It’s not the challenge that matters, it’s the way you respond to it.”

Limoncello Since its inception in 2006, Limoncello Ristorante and Caterers on 9 N. Walnut Street has established itself as one of the shiniest spokes in the wheel of successful West Chester businesses, achieving the highly coveted goal for any downtown establishment: staying power. They’ve even grown beyond the bounds of our borough, opening a second location in Chester Springs a few years ago.

We recently caught up with Frank Mingrino, who manages the business his family founded, and he shared a couple key ingredients regarding the prosperity of the family business, where input from their clientele is extremely important. “We strive to exceed customer expectations and solicit feedback through a robust review process,” he said. Frank further explained how their team actively encourages input and uses the results to tailor their business to meet the expectations of guests. “We synthesize the feedback and put the results into action. It’s an endless cycle and our guests remain the focus of our efforts,” he said.

don’t view roadblocks as setbacks, but rather as opportunities to grow.” With both locations of Limoncello having been voted Best of the Mainline Italian Restaurants in 2018, it appears that the Mingrino family are handling such challenges with ease.

Market Street Grill

“Another reason I feel we’ve continued to be successful is our connection to the local community,” Frank said, a sentiment shared by many of the borough’s most successful businesses. “We are active supporters of many local charities and an annual sponsor of the largest Marine Corps Foundation Toys for Tots Program in the Philadelphia region,” he added.

Kerry Grecco, primary owner of Market Street Grille, opened his beloved breakfast and lunch eatery in the borough of West Chester in 2003. Since that time, the business has been so well-received that Kerry handed over the management reins to his son, Christian, and co-owner, Darla Riccetti, and then opened a second location—Green Street Grill—ten years later in Downingtown. We met up with Kerry at the impressive Green Street Grill on a busy Friday morning, and chose to pick his brain about his efforts at success over the last 16 years.

When asked if Limoncello has experienced any challenges along the way, Frank said, “Of course we have. I’d imagine most businesses do. However, we

“Well, the food is great, and that helps—it’s not your typical diner faire,” he said. Kerry added that hiring the right people is critical, but his criteria might





From cold brewing in their kitchen to a warehouse with two product lines in multiple flavors, peloton is stomring the bottled beverage industry.

be different than what you’d find elsewhere. “I don’t hire experience—I hire kindness,” he said. He feels that hiring process has been part of their success, because in the restaurant business, a positive experience is as important as a good meal—if orders take longer than expected, guests are more likely to be forgiving as long as servers are genuine. “That’s why hiring kindness is so important,” he said. Of course, any business is bound to face its share of hurdles, and Kerry talked about the challenges of food and labor costs, as well as increasing rents. Yet he disclosed that those realities of business are always easier to manage with a steady flow of returning guests—and one of the ways to make sure they keep coming back is to show your face. “People like to see the the owner of the business. It’s personal that way,” he said. As Downingtown has warmed and welcomed Kerry and his crew, showing his face appears to be working out perfectly.

Drink Peloton You would think that starting a successful cold-brew coffee company from the ground up and very nearly by accident—by experimenting in your apartment after trying a cold brew for the first time because you thought you could do it better—would be enough of an accomplishment. And then getting that cold brew manufactured, bottled, and sold, and carried by grocery stores up and down the east coast—maybe that would be enough of an accomplishment. If so, you clearly don’t know the Jones brothers, Adam and Dave, the pair behind Peloton Cold Brew, the company they founded in early 2015. Not content to rest on their laurels, these innovative siblings have just kicked the coffee game up a notch by expanding into another obvious-but-maybe-not beverage arena: tea. Cascara tea, to be exact. Never heard of it? Peloton will fix that for you.

“When we started, we were hyper focused on the cold brew industry, and we wanted to expand Peloton Cold Brew nationally,” Adam told us. But with coffee and all of its permutations absolutely everywhere in the current zeitgeist, the java trend worked against them. “Unfortunately, cold brew became a dime a dozen, and we were just too small with not enough money,” Adam said. “This is when we realized that we had to come up with something new and innovative to separate ourselves from the pack.” Enter cascara, also known as coffee cherry. “Dave stumbled upon cascara and discovered that it was a byproduct that was unutilized, but it’s loaded with health benefits if brewed into a tea.” Simply put, cascara is the fruit or skin portion of the coffee plant, and is typically discarded after the bean is harvested. When the otherwise-unutilized (and antioxidant rich!) cascara is purchased from a coffee farmer instead of just the beans, however, there is a domino effect, with social, economic

and environmental benefits: less waste, more money for the farmer, improved lives. Check out the video on Peloton’s website ( to hear it straight from the mouth of a Honduran farmer. So not only have the brothers solved their issue of being little fish in a toobig coffee pond, they’ve done it in a delicious (peach-ginger, apple pomegranate, and cranberry-lime flavors), antioxidant-rich, sustainable way. “After developing the Cascara Tea and getting it in to market, we started to expand organically up and down the East Coast,” Adam said. “We are not national yet, but we have gotten the tea in to two large retailers—Giant and Walmart—which is super exciting!” A lesson here is to be flexible, and willing to notice when the plan needs tweaking. “Tea was not in our sights at the beginning,” added Adam. And now it is, with plans to focus on “possible iterations of our Cascara Tea, such as sparkling Cascara.”





According to Adam, the biggest growing pain along the way for them was “realizing just how capital intensive the beverage industry is.” And, if he had to give advice to the just-starting-out Peloton owners from the present-day Peloton owners, he’d tell them this: “Be patient, and raise money early.”

Ryan’s Pub The Ryan family are a bar-business dynasty. For more than a century, dating back to 1908 when Joseph Ryan opened JP Ryan’s in Philadelphia, there has been a Ryan at the helm of a bar. Today the family oversees four establishments in the region, including the locally famous Ryan’s Pub on Gay Street. Joseph’s son Paul was the first to expand the business when he opened Smokey Joe’s on the University of Pennsylvania campus back in 1952. His sons Pat and Paul Jr. took over there in the 1970s and subsequently opened the West Chester location, followed by two more in Phoenixville and Manayunk. Like many good leaders, Pat Ryan deflects the praise to those who work for him. “The number one reason why we are successful, is that we have a great staff. Many have been here since day one,” he says. “They take pride in making Ryan’s a

comfortable pub for all.” While they’re implementing the kind of industry changes that keep an establishment relevant—like rotating craft beers on tap and maintaining an inventive menu to rival gastro pubs—some things have always been the same at all Ryan’s bars. “It’s important to consistently offer good service and quality offerings at fair prices day after day, month after month, and year after year,” says Pat. With a fourth generation poised to takeover in the coming years—Joseph’s great-grandchildren Sean, Mike, Paul III and Tommy already serve as general managers at Ryan’s businesses—the JP Ryan’s legacy will continue to prosper within the bounds of this borough and beyond.

Treehouse World Daniel Wright launched his first business, Treetop Builders, in 2003. His tools and inventory were stored in the garage, and the website was launched from the living room. It was an incredible concept. “I saw an opportunity to serve a niche market with few competitors,” remembers Dan, “I started building tree houses.” Beautiful, high-quality, custom treehouses.

DARE Auto have gone from one bay and one tech, to eight bays, and auto dealership and a detailing company

As the business took off, customers and DIY aficionados started inquiring about purchasing the custom hardware Dan used on construction projects. So, in 2009 he decided to open a second business called Treehouse Supplies. Both companies continued to flourish, requiring more space to grow, so the company moved into a 2,000 square foot commercial warehouse. “I had a desire to be creative and strategic, rather than to allow others to control my future,” Dan says, and that drive was almost insatiable: only two years after moving operations into that warehouse, the company purchased 14 acres in West Chester. The property provided enough capacity to cover both businesses and room for a third: Treehouse World. In 2015 the treehouse theme park and activity center opened, and it’s continued to grow ever since. If there’s a recurring theme this month it’s that these successful business owners know it’s not all about them. “I’ve needed help from good business partners and talented employees along the way,” Dan says. “There is no way I could have come this far alone.”





Making a Difference Rotary Club of West Chester’s column is written this month by Carol Hansen who continues exploring the organizations that are making a difference.

My husband Dennis and I are avid sailors and love setting off through the islands of the Caribbean. Though stunningly beautiful, illiteracy is a major issue. It’s not uncommon for Caribbean children to stop their education at sixth grade. Schools are not funded for books and learning materials—teachers are expected to provide those out of their meager salaries. One day, while reading Sailing magazine, Dennis learned about an organization successfully addressing illiteracy in the eastern Caribbean called Hands Across the Sea. Based in Boston, the organization’s mission is to raise the literacy levels of Caribbean children by supplying books requested by the teachers, creating and rejuvenating lending libraries, and supporting sustainable positive change in these classrooms and schools. Motivated to support the organization and its beneficiaries, Dennis arranged a trip. Rotarians traveled throughout St Lucia visiting eight schools in 2016. The purpose was to see the successful schools and the libraries they have helped, and visit libraries that they would like to help, but which lacked the necessary funding. We spoke with teachers, librarians, administrators and volunteers about the program. We also reviewed and were impressed by the financial statements, founding documents, tax returns, and media sites of Hands Across the Sea, Inc. Most impressive was the mandated follow-up by the schools. They must demonstrate that they accept the responsibility of providing suitable library space, that they will protect the books from environmental degradation, and that they will provide the resources that promote reading among students to enhance literacy. They then supply age-appropriate, new books purchased at discounted prices. Since then, nine schools have been adopted by The Rotary Club of West Chester, Greater West Chester Sunrise Rotary, Longwood Rotary Club, Conshocken-Plymouth-Whitemarsh Rotary, and the Upper Main Line Rotary. In 2018, in support of our continued commitment to improve literacy for the children of the Caribbean, the West Chester and the Longwood Clubs were awarded matching grants from District 7450 Rotary Foundation. Over the past eleven years, Hands Across the Sea has put over 464,000 amazing new books into the hands of approximately 103,000 Caribbean children. They have created or rejuvenated lending libraries at 352 primary and secondary schools. The feedback from letters from the children and their teachers has been inspiring! We plan to revisit the schools in St. Lucia to review the progress they have made with their books and libraries. Hands Across the Sea has the passion, the energy and the resources to improve literacy. Those of us on the International Service Committee of the Rotary Club of West Chester are pleased to be working with an organization that is making such a difference in the lives of Caribbean children. – If you are interested in making a difference, please feel free to check us out. The Rotary Club of West Chester meets every Thursday at noon at the West Chester Country Club.







Spring suiting is a huge trend for the coming season, just in an unexpected way. Shown here in a white romper is an updated way to wear the look. Make it edgy with a pair of cool kicks!

cream ROMPER $242 by Drew leather BAG $495 by Zadig & Voltaire leather SNEAKERS $278 by Zadig & Voltaire MODEL Megan Crocetto





Design Dilemmas Andrea Mason of Perceptions Interiors is a professional interior designer who wants to help you upgrade your space

Your fireplace is the main attraction on these cold days and nights. It’s also an important focal point year round that can be easily changed out through the seasons. Here are a few important tips to make your mantel beautiful throughout the year. SYMMETRY VS ASYMMETRY There is no right or wrong answer here, but the latter is more forgiving when decorating. A few symmetrical ideas include hanging art work that is the same size above the mantel, or flanking a piece of art work or a mirror with matching greenery. Asymmetry can look more artsy and gives the decorator a chance to experiment with different mediums. Asymmetrical examples include incorporating a variety of accessories at different heights and weights to create an overall balanced look. However, there is an art to creating balance with asymmetry: The rule is to choose a tall, medium, and short item to avoid monotony. You can choose more than three things, but make sure they are still at varying heights and mediums. ACCESSORIZING A problem I see time and time again Is decorating your mantel with too many items of the same color, finish, or material. Add more texture to the mantel by utilizing different materials. For example, mix a glass vase, a wooden box, and antique, gold-framed artwork. Try not to over clutter the mantel which will make it look too busy and distracting. It’s better to select a few prized pieces. GOING GREEN Garland is a common decoration during the holidays, but this look can be used throughout the year by incorporating different plants or flowers. A beautiful planter or vase filled with seasonal flowers will add so much color to the space. Fresh flowers are ideal, but faux will give the look you want as well (with a lot less hassle). STAYING SEASONAL It’s important to change with the weather—your garland will look pretty out of place come March. You can fit the season with different types of greenery, as well as accessories. A bowl of seasonal fruit like lemons will look great on long summer days and pumpkins and gourds always fit the fall. MOUNTED TVS: YAY OR NAY? I say “yay,” but there are some exceptions. One of the biggest concerns is for the comfort of your head and strain on your neck with the TV being mounted so high—you’ll want to get a mounting bracket that tilts. Another issue when mounting the television above the mantel is to make sure TV doesn’t exceed the recommended temperatures that are on the unit’s technical specifications. Keeping these two considerations in mind, a TV above the fireplace will look great by consolidating two focal points in one spot. Your mantel has never looked better, so light a fire and make the most of these dark days and cold nights. —





Good luck spotting the five differences in this corny, stock photo of “business people working.” Email your answers to, and you’ve got a chance to win a Barnaby’s gift certificate. Congrats to January’s winner Gerardina Martin who spotted the five differences the architectural scene!





February Playlist DJ Romeo curates a list of the tracks you’ll be enjoying all summer long. The following is a list of songs that will take over the radio stations in the next few months. You’ll soon know them by heart and play them ‘til they’re tired. But, good news: you can download them first and look like the cool musical genius to all of your friends. | @DJRomeo24

Calvin Harris & Rag’n’Bone Man – “Giant” Post Malone – “Wow” Ariana Grande – “7 Rings” Sam Smith ft. Normani – “Dancing With A Stranger” Mike Posner – “Noah’s Ark” Khalid – “Saturday Nights” A Boogie Wit da Hoodie – “Look Back At It” Logic – “Keanu Reeves” The Killers – “Land Of The Free” Robin Schulz ft. Erika Sirola – “Speechless” (Sini Remix) Ellie Goulding ft. Diplo & Swae Lee – “Close To Me” Shane Runion – “Love You That Much” Seeb & Bastille – “Grip” Gesaffelstein & The Weeknd – “Lost In The Fire” Backstreet Boys – “New Love” Metro Boomin ft. Gunna – “Space Cadet” Old Dominion – “One Man Band” Galantis – “Emoji” John Bellion – “Stupid Deep” Call Me Loop – “Silly Boy” J. Cole – “MIDDLE CHILD” Marshmello & Bastille – “Happier” (Matt Medved Remix) Frank Ray – “Tequila Mockingbird” The Struts ft. Kesha – “Body Talks” Drax Project ft. Hailee Steinfeld – “Woke Up Late” Jeremy Zucker – “comethru” Luke Combs – “Beautiful Crazy” Calboy – “Envy Me” Halsey ft. Juice WRLD – “Without Me” Weezer – “Take On Me”





Can’t-Miss February Events 2/2

February 2

Axe out NF2 Titled Axes is hosting a fundraising event for NF2 Biosolutions, with all proceeds going directly to fund research to end Neurofibromatosis Type 2. There will be food, cocktails, and beverages included in the ticket price of $55. Additional items will also be up for auction. If you can’t make it out to the event and still want to show support, you can donate towards the cause at The fun will start at 6pm and the party runs until 10pm. Tilted Axes 19 Hagerty Blvd | 484-798-9369

February 3

Opera tutti Presents The True Story of Cinderella Opera tutti (meaning opera for all) will perform on Uptown!’s main stage for the first time. The True Story of Cinderella, a “fractured fairy tale,” is a mini opera comedy performance. The cast boast 12 singers, one narrator, and a pianist. Uptown!’s new director, Catherine Friedman, stars as Cinderella. Tickets are on sale online for $20 for adults and $15 for students. The show begins at 2pm and runs for 60-minutes. Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610-356-2787

February 9

Ryan’s Run 8th Annual Barnaby’s Fundraiser Ryan’s Run is a big deal in the area, but now is your chance to support the Ryan P. McCall Foundation without running a step! Just come out to Barnaby’s and eat, drink and hang with friends, starting at 9pm. This year, a portion of their proceeds will go to Cuddle My Kids, a foundation that offers in-home child support for parents and families suffering from cancer. Tickets will be available at the door for $30 per person and include a buffet-style dinner, plus beer, wine and well drinks. Raffle tickets will be available to purchase as well. Barnaby’s of West Chester 15 S High St | 610-696-1400

February 14

Painting With A Twist’s Valentine’s Day Sessions Whether single, taken or heartbroken, this event is for you. Enjoy a tall glass of wine, and let your creative side loose this Valentine’s Day. Painting With A Twist is offer-

ing two different sessions, each painting a different piece, both running 7-9pm. Tickets can be purchased through their website and cost $35 per seat. The event is 18+ and you must be 21+ to consume alcohol. This event is a bring-your-own drinks and food affair, but they provide cups, napkins, plates and bottle openers. Make sure you get there 15 to 20 minutes before the scheduled time, in order to get smocked and unwind a little. Painting With A Twist 1502 West Chester Pike | 484-313-4059

February 15

Married to Broadway Looking for a unique Valentine’s Gift? Ron Sharpe & Barbra Russell first met when they were playing the young romantic leads of Marius and Cosette in “Les Misérables” on Broadway. The story they often tell is that after being married on stage hundreds of times, they decided to do it for real. Ron and Barbra (together with one or two other equally talented Broadway stars) perform the big show-stopping numbers that are audience favorites around the world—from Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, and West Side Story, to Carousel, Fiddler on the Roof, and, of course, Les Miz. Tickets for the






February 22

February 23

Blues and Brews is back again by popular demand. A variety of blues bands will be performing, with crowd favorite Red Little Lobster headlining. Victory Brewing Company will be in attendance, and offering cold brews for purchase. Raffles with free giveaways will also be available. Music starts at 6:30pm and the show goes until 10pm. This is a 21+ event. Purchase your tickets through the website.

Ever wanted to try yoga but were too intimidate? Now’s your chance to start! Presenters from the Isha Foundation will be covering an introduction to Yoga. Whether you decide to come to calm your mind and get away, or if you want to engage in a healthy lifestyle, these practices were created to help make life a little easier. Ages seven and older are able to attend. You can register online through the library’s event calendar. Classes run 3–4:30pm in the community room.

Blues and Brews

show can be purchased through West Chester University’s Website. Pricing for the tickets will be $27 for adults and $22 for students and seniors. The show runs from 7:30–9:30pm. WCU Live! Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall 700 S High St | 610-436-2266

February 16 & 17

Uptown Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St | 610-356-2787

Feburary 23

Oscar-Nominated Short Film Screenings

West Chester Playschool’s 40th Annual Auction

You may have made it to the theatre to catch all of the films getting Best Pictures nods this year, but odds are you haven’t caught a fraction of the best short films of 2018. Well, here’s your chance to catch them all! On February 16 you can catch the best Animated and Live-Action films, than come back the next day to catch the short documentaries. Tickets are $35 for both events or $20 per event and are available online. A menu provided be Delightful Desserts will be available for purchase.

West Chester Playschool is hosting their biggest fundraising event of the year, starting at 6pm. The night will be full of fun, laughter, and bidding wars at the live and silent auction. This event helps West Chester Playschool maintain its operating expenses and provide new materials, programs, and learning experiences for the children in our community. This is a free event, including food, drinks, and great deals. Ages 21+ only.

Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center 226 N High St -- 610-356-2787

Ballroom at the West Side 430 Hannum Ave | 610-692-6538

Yoga for beginners

West Chester Public Library 415 N Church St. | 610-696-1721

February 24

West Chester Wedding Guide’s 2019 Bridal Showcase Chester County’s top wedding show is coming up, and you don’t want to miss it. Wedding vendors from across the West Chester area will give newly engaged couples the perfect connections they’ll need for their big day. Get excited and celebrate with a glass of champagne, inspiration, and, yes, prizes. The showcase will start at 11am and lasts until 2pm. Tickets can be purchased online in advance. American Helicopter Museum & Education Center 1220 American Blvd | 610-436-9600



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.