ChitChat: Thanuja Hamilton, CLIP, Lesley Van Arsdall, Janet Jackson

Remember to clean off your car before driving.

Hello readers, I hope you’re well. Hello new readers too, thank you so much for following me. I see I have over 100 new followers in January. In December I added this link to my instagram and it’s been very useful for followers to find my blog. So I receomend it.

A few weeks ago I saw workers cleaning up graffiti along 19th Street. I asked the man about this program and he told me it was called CLIP. Community Life Improvement Program

The Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP) helps Philadelphians make the City a nicer place to live. As part of this mission, we:

  • Remove graffiti vandalism from buildings, street signs, and other street fixtures.
  • Enforce the City’s regulations to make sure vacant lots and areas are kept clean.
  • Lend supplies and offer trash pickup for CLIP-coordinated neighborhood cleanups.
  • Provide adult non-violent offenders the opportunity to complete their community service sentences by cleaning and beautifying the city.

To utilize this service call 311

Tune IN: Dr. Thanuja Hamilton is making her debut on the Nick Cannon Show tomorrow on Fox29 at NOON. She gets in bed with Nick and gives him advice on how to get the best sleep.

Congratulations to Lesley Van Arsdall, former sports reporter on CBSPhilly has co written a book with former Eagles player Brian Westbrook. They revealed the children’s book cover earlier this month, which will debut in June,

Last Saturday night Jerry Blavat and Friends entertained friends and fans at the Kimmel Center located on the Kimmel Cultural Campus. It was a fantastic night of entertainment with legendary stars. Check out Metro Philly and CBSPhilly for more photos and story.

We all headed to the Ritz afterwards, where I ran into Andy Cosenza and friends, including his bestie Alexis Lord, Flyers Dance Team.

New Tune: A new show hosted by Jimmy Fallon called “That’s My Jam”; an hour long music and comedy variety game show featuring teams of celebrities that include T-Pain, Normani, Bebe Rexa, Chance The Rapper, Kelly Clarkson and more. Think of it kind of like celebrity karaoke. House DJ is Philly’s DJ Aktive, notable for being a tour DJ, one who gets the crowd fired up at concerts, he goes on for who spins for Patti LaBelle, Common, Diddy and Janet Jackson.

Speaking of DJ Aktive, he’s hosting a a gig on his Instagram tomorrow 1/28 right before the anticipated Documentary “Janet Jackson” debuts on Lifetime. “Let’s party on my IG 12pm EST and give the Queen her flowers” Link Thanks so much for tuning in. Chit Chat tomorrow…


The Russian Ballet Theatre brings ‘Swan Lake’ To Our Area



The updated classic will feature unforgettable engagements in Sewell, Trenton and Newark, New Jersey, as well as a stop in Reading in Central Pennsylvania


Russian Ballet Theatre is thrilled to hit the road and tour with Swan Lake for the first time since 2019. Swan Lake is presented by Co-Producers Sasha Gorskaya and Gulya Hartwick. The production team includes Choreographer Nadezhda Kalinina, Production Designer Sergey Novikov, SFX Makeup Designer Irina Strukova, and Principal Ballet Mistress Tatyana Linnik. Prima Ballerina Olga Kifyak will dance the lead roles of Odette (The White Swan) and Odile (The Black Swan) – a unique and bold casting choice for the American 2022 tour. The cast also includes the amazing talents of Evgeny Svetlitsa as Prince Siegfried, Mikhail Ovcharov as Jester, Vasili Bogdan as Rothbart.

Award-winner Irina Strukova’s grand artistry will give a magical touch to this already magnificent production. Known for her film makeup creations (Netflix, HBO, Crazy Rich Asians), Strukova has created hair designs and special effects makeup that, together with the dazzling costumes, further enlighten this whimsical and glittering fantasy.


According to the press release Russian Ballet Theatre’s production of Swan Lake is replete with the visual splendor and virtuoso dancing global audiences have come to expect from classical Russian dance. The 2022 tour delights by pairing time-honored Russian traditions with some delightful new inspirations.

“Although we are telling the classic story of ‘Swan Lake,’ there are tweaks here and there that make the show new and exciting,” said co-producer Gulya Hartwick. “We have all new choreography. Usually there is one jester, we have five of them. We did what we could to make the production more lively and more colorful.”


RBT’s international ballet corps will draw talent from ten different countries for this new tour. The dancers will bring Kalinina’s choreography to life along with new exquisite hand-painted sets and 150 new hand-sewn costumes, all designed by the young, accomplished Sergei Novikov (Mariinsky Theatre, Omsk State Music Theatre, St. Petersburg State Music Hall) in the century-old tradition of the great theatrical masters.

“Swan Lake” takes one of Tchaikovsky’s most popular scores and mixes it with a love story inspired by Russian and German folk tales.

“Swan Lake” will be hitting the stage in each city for one night only. Tickets are now on sale for the dates, which include Sunday, Feb. 13, in Newark, New Jersey, at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Tuesday, Feb. 15, in Trenton at the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial; Wednesday, Feb. 16, in Sewell, South Jersey, at Investors Bank Performing Arts Center; and Thursday, Feb. 17, in Reading at the Santander Performing Arts Center. All theaters have amble parking nearby.

On Wednesday, February 16th, Swan Lake dance within minutes of Philadelphia, in South Jersey with a one-night only stop in Sewell, New Jersey at Investors Bank Performing Arts Center. This stop is just minutes from South Philly, over the Walt Whitman Bridge, at a venue that is well-known for hosting local and regional dance and ballet recitals and competitions. Showtime for this performance is 7:30pm. Tickets range $39 to $89. The Investors Bank Performing Arts Center is one of the Philadelphia region’s largest indoor venues, located at 519 Hurffville-Cross Keys Rd., Sewell, NJ 08080. For venue and health updates, visit

Tickets for performances listed are available at and also by visiting Ticketmaster. All venues offer onsite or nearby parking. All venues are accessible by public transportation.

For more information visit Russian Ballet Theatre’s official website, at


Walnut Street: Steve Madden, Barbour Closing; News on Free People and Aritzia

Yesterday I got a tip that a new store was heading to Walnut Street sometime this year, so I headed there to get photos of the space to do a post. I noticed Steve Madden next door was closing. As you know I monitor what’s happening in Center City, openings, people out and about, restaurants and occasionally closings. I don’t always like to highlight the closings as people throw blame around, when it’s often the bottom line. Money, have you shopped at a brick & mortar lately? Rent. For years the rents have been rising on Walnut, especially in the last decade when Joan Shepp , Knith Wit moved from Walnut to Chestnut St.; Last week I wrote about Williams-Sonoma closing at Broad & Walnut, I had known for awhile the Bellevue had plans on building out their ground floor for a new concept. So when I saw the sign and Instagramed it, even with my explanation people blamed safety, the City, and not the concept Bellevue has in mind. Over the past 3 years there have been a lot of retail closures in Center City. It’s not always the reasons you think.

The stretch of Walnut Street west of Broad will likely experience a rash of closures due to flagging performance and/or expiring leases, multiple retail brokers told Bisnow. While some landlords are looking forward to the opportunity to revamp long-occupied spaces and fill them with tenants more relevant to current trends, the turnover will be disruptive near term, and potentially damaging long term. – This article was written pre pandemic, January 6, 2020. Walnut Street was influx already because of expiring leasing, rising rents, competition from malls as well as online. Then the pandemic struck. (BTW even though Stephen Starr’s Alma de Cuba is closed now, soon it will open under a new concept)

In December 2020, the Inquirer did an article on what the pandemic was doing to retail, specifically Walnut Street. Report: Center City retail is being decimated by the pandemic. ‘It’s horrible.’ We are in unprecedented times in our lifetime. It’s up to us to save retail in the City. Restaurants are booming, maybe not in January as it’s normally a slow month, we hibernate. But for all the folks who head to restaurants for dinner, stop by one of the stores and buy something. Shop Center City when you feel comfortable. Retail depends on it.

When I stopped into Steve Madden, they told me they had just put up the store closing sign earlier in the day, and sales were slow. I told them I would get the word out, especially when she told me everything in the store was $10. I came back an hour later and the store was basically cleaned out. So don’t bother going as they told me they weren’t going to restock. BTW Steve Madden offered employees jobs at other stores, as well as employees have been applying for jobs in town. Everyone is hiring. I caught the always fashionable Alex Holley, Fox 29 Good Day and stylist to the stars Arnold Milfort picking up a dozen or so shoes and accessories . Steve Madden will close this week, if not today as I am sure they sold out. Arnold does Alex’s fashion, and it is on point and lit!! Super nice guy too.

I appreciate all my readers who tagged me on social media thanking me.

Moving into the old H&M store next door to Steve Madden is Women’s Fashion Boutique Aritzia. There’s one in KOP. Work has started on the property. Thanks to the reader who send me the info, along with details of property. I had forgotten Nan Duskin once occupied this spot in the 70s, then Border’s in 80s until March 2003, when they moved to 1 South Broad St., then Xpress, then H&M occupied this location. Which is now a Walgreen’s. Which unfortunately took a bite out of the competition for…

the CVS at 1424 Chestnut Street. In the 90s the Barnes & Noble used to occupy this space before they moved to the 1800 block of Walnut Street.

Jacob Reed’s Sons had occupied this site from 1905 until they went out of business after 105 years, when B&N took over the space, in the arts & craft’s style building. I cringed when CVS took over. A lot of folks might not know but I was a volunteer tour guide for The Architectural Foundation for many years in the 90s and 00s before becoming Philly Chit Chat. This was my tour beat.

Many of my readers mentioned Barbour Philadelphia 1517 Walnut St is closing on January 23, 2022. They are having a final sale of 40 % off or greater sales until then, no returns.

So many of my readers asked me what happened to Free People at 1625 Walnut St. Sure enough everything was gone, in fact all the way down to the studs.

But don’t fret, the store is only temporarily closed.

Google Photos

A reader tells me they’re moving up the street to the former location of the Jack Willis at 1617 Walnut St. Look for a summer opening. In the meantime, support our brick & mortar when you can. Thank you readers for the tips. There is hope for the future. The endemic is near. I really like this article by Paul Levy, from Center City District for the Philadelphia Citizen. Believe in Walnut Street’s Future Philly is a hot market, we will continue, and I will continue to be out there to tout all there is to be excited about. Like record number of new buildings. People want to be here.


Marilyn Russell, Galentine’s Day Fun, and Migs is Off to Beijing

Bon voyage Marilyn Russell. The legendary radio dj/personality announced on Instagram that she is no longer with WOGL . Marilyn has been with WOGL since January 2017 (I used to be on with her every Friday before the pandmic), when she joined the station’s Breakfast Club broadcast alongside former WOGL hosts Frank Lewish and Bill Zimpfer, who departed the station later that year. (Valerie Knight who was part of the Breakfast Club had been laid off). Marilyn dominated the morning rush hour for several years, before moving to the 11am to 1pm slot, and then to doing just her weekly radio show “Remarkable Women” which aired every Sunday, and was featured on the WOGL website.

Valerie Knight went on to host Weekdays 6AM-10AM on the Breeze 106.1FM. Here’s Valerie and Marilyn Russell at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Media Night for Pretty Women: The Musical 2 weeks ago. The longtime Philly radio personality, Marilyn Russell began her Philadelphia broadcasting career in 1993 at WDRE. She was laid off from 95.7 BEN-FM in November 2016, prompting her move to WOGL. Marilyn told her followers she’ll be in Arizona for the time being.

Congrats to my friend Miguel Martinez-Valle who will be covering 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing for @nbcphiladelphia and @telemundo62. Can’t wait to catch his reports.

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, that could only mean one thing – a great Galentine’s Party. Louie Louie in University City is hosting one. Co-owenr Sydney Grimes announced on her instagram: 3rd Annual Galentine’s Day @louielouiephl on Feb 10th 6-8pm! The event will be hosted by my best friend Editor in Chief of @phillystylezine @antonialdepace and I! 😍😍The event is BYOG – bring your own girlfriends and features Philadelphia’s top FEMALE vendors

Short & Sweet today. I have a last minute thingy to attend. I have a lot more gossip and tidbits, which I will post tomorrow. Thanks so much HughE


ChitChat: Ben Simmons Engaged, Big Plans for the Bellevue, Harriet Tubman Unveiled

Apropo sign on Franklin Institute. I hear we might get some kind of a storm Sunday into Monday. Don’t let that deter your MLK plans, here’s a list of places you can volunteer.

Saturday night I headed to Sugar Factor to photograph DJ Pauly D and noticed a new spot opening where Grocery used to be at 13th and Chestnut Streets. It’s called Boba King USA. It’s a Bubble Tea Shop, Bubble tea is a Taiwanese recipe made by blending a tea base with milk, fruit and fruit juices, then adding the signature “bubbles” and tapioca pearls that sit at the bottom. Basically it sounds like a another kind of milk shake, or smoothie. They have another location in University City.

Excited I had another national placement of DJ Pauly D in Us Weekly

In other Philly celebrity news, congrats to BB player Ben Simmons on his engagement to British personality Maya . I heard about it from a friend back in December who was going to give me details on the ring, but thankfully someone arranged to capture photos of the duo out and about in Philly recently Check out the story on the Daily Mail.

Williams Sonoma is closing their Center City store at Broad & Walnut Street. Sales are happening, but I hear there is not a lot of inventory. A few years back I wrote about the owners of the building with big plans which included returning the famed hotel back to it’s luxurious self, creating an expansive lobby, lounge area similar to the popular Ritz-Carlton up the street. The Bellevue recently changed hands with Lubert-Adler buying the building through a $650 million fund established by Lubert-Adler. They plan on investing $100M for apartments, new restaurants, rooftop pool and skating rink. The rooftop will turn into what Adler described as an “urban oasis” with a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, ice skating rink and garden. Much much more at Biz Journal

Vocalist Valerie Gay who performed a musical tribute of Wade in the Water and Go Down Moses. sculptor Wesley Wofford, Wofford Sculpture Studio; Vanessa Garrett-Harley, First Deputy Managing Director; Kathryn Ott Lovell, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner; Marguerite Anglin, Public Art Director, Sheila Hess, City Rep and Michael Newmuis, Visit Philly

The sculpted figure of Harriet Tubman, the abolitionist and political activist who led hundreds of slaves to freedom, will stand tall at Philadelphia’s City Hall through March 2022.

A 9-foot tall bronze “Harriet Tubman – The Journey to Freedom” sculpture was unveiled  Tuesday by the City of Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy.

Around Town With HughE, Philadelphia, Uncategorized

Old City Gets Two New Biz: Ping Pong and Produce, Pretty Woman & Dish of the Week

Hello readers. I’m sorry I ghosted you again. Last week I wrote about having writers block, and being stuck. Going into our 3rd year of the pandemic and my business has come to a halt, again and it’s thrown me for a loop. Events which were schedule for January and even February have been postponed, and left me unmotivated. I’ve been sleeping a lot. Mike will tell you there’s a lot to do, and I do have a lot to do. I just have to have hope, as you do, that this will end soon, or we will just live with it. Prayers to about a dozen of my friends who must have gotten the Delta version over the holidays, as they are still very sick. Entire families are getting sick, so mask up, especially in crowds. OK I did cover a few things this week, as well as found fun tidbits on the internet you might find interesting too.

So many pretty women came out to see Pretty Woman: The Musical last week at the Kimmel Cultural Campus, including WOGL’s legendary personality Marilyn Russell, who attended the show with contest winners. Each of the winners received a rose from Marilyn, provided by Acme supermarkets.

Carole Morganti, CJM Public Relations, Valerie Knight,106.1 The Breeze and Cindy Webster, WIP

A standout in the production has to be scene stealer Kyle Taylor Parker in “Pretty Woman: The Musical.”, who plays 2 main characters. I wish I had two pairs of hands to clap my appreciate of his performance. The show was just as charming, and plays through January 16th. It’s what we all need right now..

Congratulations to the Sugar Factory Philadelphia which officially opened on Saturday night hosted by celebrity DJ, Jersey Shore star DJ Pauly D. Thanks to my wire service Photo Image Press for placing one of my shots in People Magazine. it’s always fun to get national exposure.

Locally the photos ran in my Around Town With HughE Dillon column at Metro Philly and CBSPhilly. If you want me to cover your party, event, ribbon cutting or press conference click HERE for the details.

Sixers Tobias Harris celebrated the opening of his friend’s new store – Crumbl Cookies, in Wynnewood on January 6, 2022! Owner and operator Charles Terry III said he’s been friends with Harris for 11 years, and when the New York native decided to open up a Crumbl in Philadelphia, he knew exactly who to call to help with the launch as well as serve as a brand ambassador. Sixers Tobias Harris and Crumbl Brand ambassador and Charles Terry III of Wynnewood See more photos at CBSPHILLY and Phila Tribune as well as the April issue of Main Line Today.

Tobias Harris and his family: Dad Torrel Harris, sister Tesia Harris, fiance Jasmine Winton, and mom Lisa Harris. Tobias and Tesia were engaged in 2020, with Tobias popping the question at their future retirement home in LaJolla.

Dish of the Week. After photographing Crumbl I realized I was near DePaul‘s in Ardmore. I heard their octopus dish was delicious, so I headed over there for dinner. It’s always easy to find parking in Ardmore. Usually I get a spot on the street nearby, or when nothing’s available I park at Suburban Square a few blocks away. The dish was better than good, with a little kick to boot. I really enjoyed it, as well as the steak and Brussels Sprouts.

Things are happening in Old City: Last week I wrote about the new Cosi at 10th and Chestnut, well the old Cosi at 4th and Chestnut is about to become PINGPOD: Ping Pong on Demand – the Future of Table Tennis. Unlike the uptown SPIN , Ping Pod is not a nightclub atmosphere but similar to going to the gym and reserving the paddle board court to play. Plus they give lessons if you want to perfect your game. It stresses Covid safety, so look for it to open in a few weeks to entice us to get out of the house.

This is exciting news, especially since Mike and I have started eating whole food plant based dished, he’s now a full time whole food guy, I’ll be eating it at home, but when I am out I will be conscious of eating healthy, we’ve agreed. Anywho: Riverwardsproduce is opening in the heart of Old City on Bread Street, bread is actually allowed on my whole food plan, but not butter. Anyway They Are Hiring and at a decent wage.


It’s more than just construction and a beautiful space. In order to grow and open new locations we need the right people. Riverwards is hiring all positions right now and we offer a $16 starting wage, wellness and mental health support via Healthy Pour and Fishtown Wellness Center, 20% employee discount, Paid Time Off that includes vacation, sick time, bereavement time and family leave time and that’s not all. With the additional revenue from RWP2 we can now offer a HEALTH CARE package to our employees! This has been a dream of mine since the beginning. Follow the link in bio to learn more and apply. Let’s do this ✌🏻🌱 📸: @roccoavallone Riverwards Produce 2 opening spring 2022

OK this wasn’t so bad. Back to business. Maybe I’ll do these informative columns for a bit, as well as celebrate past columns as PhillyChitChat turns 15 this year. Tomorrow night I am banging the drum at the Flyers game, which is their equivelent to ringing the bell at the Sixers. So honored. Excited. And nervous. Also I read your emails about the print being small when you read it on your phones. I realize when I do two photos side by side, the photos don’t publish correctly and the print gets smaller. For the time being I will do one photo per paragraph, and see what can be done as I do love those side by side photos, and slideshows. On desktops and laptops it comes out fine, just not on phones.
Thanks, and have a great day….


Goodbye My Friend Jeff Guaracino

Jeff Guaracino and I at the Philly Pops Gala in September 2021; Jeff captured that fun video of Thanuja and I dancing, which went viral and inspired me to sign up for a charity dance happening this year.

Dear dear Jeff , Our hearts are broken. Condolences to your family, friends, and there are many. Philly has lost It’s biggest cheerleader, and so many of us have lost a personal cheerleader. No one was more proud of their friends and their accomplishments then you were. I will cherish all the notes you sent me over the years, especially these past years. Life can be soo unfair, but your legacy won’t be forgotten.

I met Jeff through Laura Burkhardt in 2008 (which is when this photo was taken). Bruce Yelk is on the right. He and Jeff were the best of friends, from being roommates, co workers, best friends through out their lives until the last day, they were there for each other.

I was a huge fan of Jeff’s, I’m a wanna be hospitality guy, I followed his career from GPTMC (now Visit Philly), to Atlantic City Alliance, to Welcome America to Executive Director of Visit Philly. Charismatic, self assured, driven who was focused on selling a City, whether it was Atlantic City or Philadelphia.

Even before I was Philly Chit Chat, I was excited about all things Philly tourism, I’d ride the Big Bus a couple times a year, being a tourist in my own City, photographing the City, I even had a line of greeting cards depicting tourist sites (they sold at City Hall, and a few stores). Then when I lived in NYC between 2005-2007, I would see signs promoting Philly, and dreamed of working for the tourism office at some time. (I took both these shots in 2005) I later learned these were campaigns Jeff helped initiate.

When I started PCC, and got to know the players in the tourism industry, Jeff stood out. I followed his career, it was exciting to get to know him over the years. I learned he was behind some of the great campaign initiatives like the ground breaking “Get Your History Straight, and Your Nightlife Gay” campaign years ago made a big impression on me being part of the LGBTQ community.

The 18th annual Equality Forum kicked off with a VIP party at the Hotel Palomar with Jeff and Malcolm Lazin, founder and executive director of Equality Forum (c)

It told me that my community was worth marketing to, that we were welcomed to Philly, it’d be safe to hang out with my friends and tour the City. It was an important campaign. Of course at the time I didn’t know this was a project that Jeff, vice president of communications for the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) and Bruce Yelk, director of gay marketing for GPTMC, now Visit Philly.

Over the years I was able to work with Jeff and Cashman & Associates on projects they were doing together. Notably, when Jeff was recruited to join the newly formed Atlantic City Alliance in 2012 we did a few influencer projects including a memorable all night party bus club hopping activation at places around town. That was so fun. Miss America, that a bucket list for me to do, attending, covering the show and her dip in the ocean photo opp, and then there was the Maroon 5 concert on the beach August 2015. On the right is Jeff and his boyfriend Todd watching the monitor.

Jeff helped create the DoAC campaign, which everyone still refers to today

Jeff Guaracino, Chief Strategy & Communications Officer Atlantic Alliance, Liza Cartmell, President Atlantic Alliance, Paul Zoubek, Esq. at the Qatar Activation 2014

In 2016 Jeff was tapped by newly elected Mayor Jim Kenney to head the Welcome America office, which produced the July 4th events, and concert on the Parkway. It was the first year anyone ever invited me to cover the party, which was so great. I could never get into those invite only, no “press” event events. He trusted that I would get the photos I needed, and ignore any personal, wild and crazy, gotcha moment shots. Which BTW you should know are short live career moments.

Jeff and his friends

It was also Jeff’s idea to expand the party to include sponsor tents, for a price a sponsor could have space for their invited guests. Jeff was all about easing the burden on the City with finances. The funds from this party would go to Welcome America and their efforts. It was a genius idea which is still in place today.

The party and TSOP concert was a great success, despite the rain. Here’s a fun interview with Jeff PHILLYMAG

2016 Jeff introduced Philly to the new City Hall Christmas tree. The ornaments were larger than life, the base was tall and for the first time it listed sponsors on the base. He was able to get additional sponsors for the tree and found a clever way to promote those sponsors.

It was around this time that Jeff started hiring me for projects. For his first tree he had me shoot it from different angles at 2am so there’d be no people near it, from the middle of Market Street (the tree was still located on the West side of City Hall, the following year it moved to the North side.) It wasn’t really as scary as I thought it would be being that late, and the photos came out great. In 2018 I connected my client NRG Energy with Jeff, and every since they’ve been a major sponsor of the tree.

The 2nd year Party on the Parkway (2017) was a great success as well,

but it rain again. Nobody cared, not even Mary J Blige. That was an amazing experience. Pitbull was the next year and he did not disappoint. We should have him back. When Jeff went to Visit Philly, and sponsored a tent at Welcome America, I was still invited to attend, which again, was significant and I really appreciate that opportunity to cover the people attending, as well as enjoying the concert from that vantage, as a guest.

David Wagaman , Jeff Guaracino and Jarrod Williams at the PHS Flower Show 2018

It’s getting close to the time where I have to get ready for Jeff’s funeral. I missed so much, especially his campaigns thanking the FRONT LINE WORKERS during Covid. He was a visionary, kinda, caring, driven, confident.

I’m just going to post a few photos from over the years. If you’re in any of them I’d be happy to send them to you. This is one of the best articles discussing Jeff’s accomplishments. so many of which I missed here, but noted on Social Media as I was really stuck emotionally.

Jeff, moi and David Wagaman circa 2015

Randy Giancaterino wrote this poem for Jeff and sent it to many of his friends yesterday.

The day yields to dark
Since you are out of sight
But your legacy shines through a ray of light
You will watch us from afar
Inspire, teach us what to do
To make your dreams come true
Your soul never will be out of mind or out of heart
Your touch on our lives sets you apart
In the matter of life, your life mattered
We didn’t know your short embrace was inevitable
But your power and strength were irrepressible

And so our friend, son, brother, paisan, our City Champion, its not good night
Your gift of 48 remains our good fortune
Like the tower of William Penn or the glow of your City Hall holiday tree,
The tenor of your voice roams over the city free….
A familiar refrain, urging and Welcoming America to Visit Philadelphia
Even though your fate was 48
Your shadow is forever….
Live your best life in each endeavor

Another Great Jeff interview

That laugh of Oz’s lion will outlive a lifetime
Your joy echoing in the promise of your prime

Worry not. We will carry through your mission
Equality, love of city, friendship, human compassion
Enjoy the fruits of wine, snap the vines that slay
Don’t let the grass grow under your ….seize the day

Condolences to Jeff’s family, friends and fiance Joshua, who told me they had just gotten engaged in December, and were very excited for the future. Good bye my friend….


ComeBack Kids: Doc Martens, & Cosi re open in Philly; Destination Dogs on Deck

Happy New Year, although today those words feel empty as I try and navigate all that is happening around us, as well as losing a friend – Jeff Guaracino. I’ll be writing more about Jeff tomorrow, posting photos I’ve taken of him over the past decade, and for the past year leading into the pandemic as his personal photographer capturing him at events and providing him with photos for his social media, and records. Let’s see what’s been happening around town.

I was fairly busy for most of the fall, I’m so grateful to have work, I really thrive when I am busy capturing Philly and Philadelphians. I did get a break and finally had a moment to run to Pennypack Park and photograph the Mandarin Duck which had been spotted in November. So pretty. Billy Penn has a nice article about it. People have since told me that it was probably a pet and let go at some point. It’s still there, I saw photos over the weekend. If you want to go see the Mandarin Duck, head to the Pennypack Environmental Center 8600 Verree Rd. The duck is nearby, above the dam with his girlfriend, the wood duck. Or just look for all the photographers, he’s a big hit.

Got Bread:
Hey Cosi, we thought you were long gone and now here you are popping up at 10th & Chestnut. Thanks to Nicole Michalik and Bill Reichert From South Philly for sending this nugget along. Seems Cosi has a new concept, and it’s perfect for the times. It’s a take out, delivery and catering concept, which is perfect for social distancing and enjoying the Signature Salad I miss so much.

A welcomed sight on Walnut. Dr. Martens has re opened a few doors down from their original store, which you know burned down in 2020 along with Vans and McDonald’s. It’s been open for about two weeks, and everytime I go by there’s a line of folks waiting to shop. Rumor has it, and here at PhillyChitChat we do rumors, the three lots where the fire destroyed the interiors of 1706, 1708, and 1710 Walnut, will be developed into a 12 story apartment building with retail on the first floor. I wish I knew more details, especially on how the deal was brokered as the three lots are owned by 3 different people. A commentator on my Instagram, where I first posted the news, mentioned that the Vans store is also reopening on Walnut.

My friends Laura and Chika checked out the Sugar Factory (Located in Midtown Village at 1216 Chestnut St.) a few weeks ago. The two story, 187-seat, restaurant, formerly Porta, was packed; Although we didn’t have a reservation they were able to sit us at the bar for a bite (banana split) which was great. Everyone looked like they were having a good time, the place is beautiful and I think it’s a great addition to the Philly food scene if you’re not looking for gourmet dining, but a kitschy fun, Instagramable spot. Plus they’re open for late night dining, which is great since most of the diners in Philly have been closing at 10PM. The official opening is this Saturday, when DJ Pauly D kicks off a set to celebrate at 9PM.

Who knew?

On New Year’s Day, the White Dog Cafe celebrated 2022 with a pajama brunch! The restaurant has been celebrating New Year for 33 years, and the pajama brunch is a great way to welcome the new year! Despite the frightful weather dozens of patrons enjoyed the award-winning contemporary American Cuisine and each other.

Speaking of dogs, I saw an orange liquor license sign on the former Crisp Kitchen at 1900 Market St. signaling Destination Dogs would soon open here. Of course we’re in a pandemic so soon could be a year.

I’m feeling a little better already, sharing news, championing the Philly scene, getting back into the groove.
Happy New Year readers, and thanks for all your support. It’s year 15 for this little blog of mine. xo HughE

Charity, Uncategorized

DVLF TOY 2021 with Ray & Miguel

Earlier this month I attended the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) TOY 2021, it’s an annual holiday fundraising event to benefit DVLF. Guestsbuy tickets to attend, and bring an unwrapped toy for the children who will spend the holidays in the hospital. This years event was hosted by merriest of couples Miguel Martinez-Valle and Raymond Smeriglio with the very entertaining Varla Jean Merman who kept us in stitches for her entire set, including the very brave Ric Harris, President & General Manager, NBC10/Telemundo who didn’t cover his eyes or ears once,

even though I may have with Varla’s real take on LGBTQ life, hook ups and relationships especially in Covid times…. She is a must see in any season.

The event also featured a hearty brunch buffet, open bar and a silent auction to raise additional funds.

TOY is DVLF’s annual fundraising event that edifies the organization’s ability to provide for the emerging needs of the LGBTQ+ community in the Philadelphia/Delaware Valley metropolitan area.At TOY, DVLF will deliver annual grant recipients with grant checks. Additionally, because DVLF was not able to provide an in-person event at the time, they will also honor annual HEROES award recipients who have contributed to activism and growth within the Philadelphia LGBTQ+ community.


Main Line Jeweler Jeff Kellmer Pop Up

Main Line jeweler Jeff Kellmer hosted a client appreciation event at DePaul’s Table in Ardmore this past Friday. The night included free flowing cocktails and delicious modern Italian fare. Clients, family, and friends got the first look at some of the most opulent and exclusive Jeff Kellmer designs including a knock out half million dollar cocktail ring.

Carly Michaelis, Jenna Wolfson and Jackie Kalpin model Kellmer Jewelry

Lauren Strailey, Gary DeVito and Lily Strailey

Guests were not shy about trying on the diamonds and purchasing to support a charity close to Jeff’s heart, Ovarian Cancer Research Institute.

Abigail Bullard and Jamie Metzler

Besties Amanda Arroyo and Theresa Hrivnak

The holidays will be over before we know it but Valentine’s day is right around the corner and there is plenty of time to create something exclusive for your loved one. Our showroom is open 6 days a week and jewelry lovers are encouraged to stop by or window shop online at, or Ig: kellmerjewelers, Fb: kellmerjewelers

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Jeff Kellmer and Amy Plumstead!!