Philly Bounces Back


Chestnut Street is Brimming With Business

Hope you had a great weekend. I caught this amazing sunset in Cape May on Saturday. Last week I attended a few re openings on Chestnut Street, which seems to be mostly open.

H&M is on the brink of re opening at 16th and Chestnut Streets
Steve Jamison is the Owner of Blue Sole Shoes speaks to guests at the ribbon cutting.

Three ribbon cuttings on Chestnut Street happened last week Joan Shepp, Blue Sole Shoes and Boyds Philadelphia opened their doors after 6 months at a joint press conference.

Ellen and Joan Shepp

Boyd’s is excited to be reopen and they just announced they’re opening a store in Suburban Square in Ardmore as well. Read the story at the Philadelphia Biz Journal. See you out and about in Rittenhouse Square.


Rittenhouse Row Reopens

Hello it’s Thursday and gloomy, but the news I’m writing about showcases a bright future for Center City. I’m happy to report that Rittenhouse Row is ready for for your return. So many stores are open now, restaurants are open, the oppressive summer heatwave has subsided and the streets and park are clean and inviting. Some of our favorite stores have closed, a few closed because of the riot, but the majority were affected by the pandemic. Some did close before the pandemic like Intermix, I know a lot of people are sad about that store. A few new stores opened after the pandemic. I will do a comprehensive post next week after the ribbon cutting for the reopening of Boyd’s and Joan Shepp.

After weeks of cleaning Mac Cosmetic store at 18th and Chestnut Streets will be re opening tomorrow. M-S 11-7; Sunday 12-6 (It’s not reflected on their website or Instagram, but the managers have reached out to me to give me the good news) . Nearby Sephora re opened last month at 1714 Chestnut St. Unfortunately superstore Ulta Beauty has closed for good on Walnut Street, but they have a nice store in the Fashion District on Market Street.

More good news, Butcher & Singer has opened at 15th and Walnut Streets. Now what’s going with Alma de Cuba down the street as it’s still closed?
Welcome back Swarovski, 1421 Walnut St, and Pandora at 1613 Walnut St. Tiffany’s Jewellery is opened across the street, and will be moving into their new space in late fall in the space which was Zara’s at 1715 Walnut.
LAGOS Jewelry on 1735 Walnut St is has re opened and Janice Waitkus and associates are excited to welcome you back.

Tumi looks to be opening soon as they have re stocked their store.

Nearby H&M on Walnut St. is still closed but they’ve finally painted their boards black after lots of my online complaining. Rumor has it that either this H&M or the one at 16th & Chestnut might close as they feel they’re competing with each other. Plus they’ve just opened a beautiful new store in the Fashion District.
Two weeks ago I reported the Wells Fargo bank on Walnut closed for good. Sadly the buildings at 1706 – 1712 Walnut St have been condemned as unsafe by L&I after the fire set on May 30. The wall and roof of the buildings have collapsed and their are notices on the building. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen with these four buildings.

Opened and waiting for you. Blue Sole Shoes

Kids Foot Locker has opened at 1510 Chestnut Street, but across the street Foot Locker has closed for good the store clerks have told me.
Stuart Weitzman 1711 Walnut St has closed, and as I reported weeks ago Allbirds is now open.

Center City is getting back to business, and is looking forward to seeing you. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news these past few months, but I want you to know that things really are looking good and opening up. I feel that it’s safe to come into the City, but of course always be aware of your surroundings. Be extra careful after dark, a lot of stores seem to close by 8pm and foot traffic is lighter at that time. The restaurant areas are packed, and when possible park as close to them, take an Uber or a cab, again it’s just because a lot of folks are still working remotely so there’s not a lot of foot traffic after dark. Wear your mask, if you can eat out, try and tip at least 25%. When a server comes to your table if you remember wear your mask, protect both of you. Be considerate, and kind. We’re all stressed out in this unprecedented time. See you social. Twitter and Instagram. Stay in touch with what’s going on on Rittenhouse Row here.


Midtown Village Update 8/28 2020

In another series of Hughe Around Town I’m updating you on the progress of Midtown Village. It looks great. Lots of places re-opening, a new business, and two places saying good bye to the neighborhood.
For the third week Midtown Village / Gayborhood will be dining outside with many of the streets closed. It’ll be the 2nd time for McGillin’s Old Ale House to participate, after a sold out weekend. Make sure you make reservations at the eatery of your desire before heading there, so that everyone can socially distance safely.

I wrote about it on my blog earlier this month in greater detail.

One restaurant/bar you won’t be hanging out at in the future is Tiki Bar. It is permanently closed. I had been watching it for a few weeks and even saw them cart the Tiki’s off about 2 weeks ago. It was a cool spot, but like the ones before it, and the spot before that, it just never took off. I don’t know why, I love the corner location especially their roof patio.

Good News: Opening between the former Bella Turka and the re opened Duross & Langel is Morton Contemporary Art Gallery at 115 S 13th St in the old Paper on Pine location. It opens on 9/1/20. The owner Debbie Morton is no stranger to Midtown Village as she used to operate another gallery nearby. I stopped by earlier this week, and really enjoyed all she had to offer. She has many local artists as well whom we all enjoy. Check out their website to see her art, as well as the store to welcome her back to the neighborhood.

Speaking of Paper on Pine, they love being in Midtown Village as well and moved just around the corner to 1310 Sansom Street. The store looks great and is stocked with all the items we love about Paper on Pine.

It’s right across from TIME, which I’m excited to see is now re opened. Great to see our City, especially Midtown Village bouncing back. Have a great weekend. See you on Social where I multiple times a day of things I see, for you to do or birds and flowers I come across. This weekend I’m in Cape May, then next weekend I’ll be going to Lancaster, for more than just my normal day trip. Have a safe weekend, be kind, and thank you so much for stopping by. xo HughE


This & That: Cake Life Bake Shop Closed for Now, Engagement & Marriages. PhillyWood News

Its Thursday and time for another column of This & That Philly. SUBSCRIBE to PhillyChitChat blog at the top left and get Philly News you want to chitchat with your friends.

UPDATE Cake Life Bake Shop is closed for now but reopening soon.

It looks like Cake Life Bake/Shop the popular Fishtown bakery where Jay-Z would buy Beyonce‘s birthday cake and present it to her on the last night of the Made In America festival, has closed. The bakery has cited they couldn’t survive Covid. After a source tipped me off, I sent them a note and this is what I received:
Unfortunately, due to the hardships of the COVID-19 outbreak, Cake Life is closing its doors. Thank you for your email! That means that this email address is no longer active (no one will see your email or reply to it). Their phone number is disconnected as well. If you have an urgent business to address with Cake Life’s owners, please email hello@cakelifebakeshop.com. I contacted them there and they had a standardized message saying they’d review their email and answers would be delayed. We’ll miss them. I know they’ll do something delicious in the future. Cake Life Bake Shop did get back to me after my post published, and an outcry of sad cake fans responded.
It looks like Phillywood is bouncing back as Heery-Loftus Casting has sent out a casting call for background actors, as well as basketball players and SAG-AFTRA talent fluent in Serbian actors for a new Netflix film titled “Hustle”, starring Adam Sandler. Head on over to the Heery-Loftus Facebook page for more info on what they’re looking for as well as where to apply.

In other Phillywood news, Kate Winslet, who was in the middle of filming the HBO TV Series “Mare of Easttown” in the Philly area this past winter, has revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that starring in Contagion gave her a jump on preparing for Covid-19, leading to her wearing face masks months before the rest of the US. She states in the interview she plans to return to Pennsylvania to finish the final 21 days of filming in September. The cast also includes Julianne Nicholson, Jean Smart, Angourie Rice, Evan Peters, Cailee Spaeny and David Denman. (source)

The Greater Philadelphia Film Office, Philly’s primary liaison with Hollywood, has had their budget slashed by Covid19’s Pandemic.
Let’s Save Philly Film
To donate go to: Greater Philadelphia Film Office
Legendary DJ Patty Jackson tweeted Warmdaddy’s on Delaware Avenue put on her social media Warmdaddys Soul Food and Live Music has closed. They’re looking for another place to open. My guess is the parcel is being optioned for development as the shopping center which houses the Covid currently closed United Artists theaters, has a lot of empty storefronts as well. Head on over to their FB for their official statement and how you can still order their delicious food. BTW have you watched Auntie Patty’s Hollywood Gossip. She delivers the goods, better than TMZ I think. Give it a listen.

This past weekend Flyers TV and In-Arena Host Andrea Helfrich (when I met her a decade ago, she was Miss Philadelphia) had plenty to celebrate as the Flyers won their first Stanley Cup Playoff series since 2012 and her boyfriend, Antonio Presta, proposed at the Four Seasons in Center City. The couple shared their special moment on Saturday overlooking the city of Philadelphia and was accompanied by their beloved mini Australian Shepard, Benji.

Helfrich, a Richboro native and graduate of Council Rock South High School and West Chester University said, “He got me good!  A proposal perfectly sandwiched in between playoff rounds, I don’t know how he did it but it was an absolute surprise!” Presta, who is Managing Partner of Craft Manayunk, is an Abington native. Helfrich said “I’m so grateful to my fiancé, family and friends who made this a day I will never forget. (Thanks to the Flyers for providing this information. The photos were taken by Philip Gabriel Photography)

Congrats Keith Leaphart, Founder of Philanthropi and Ebonne Ruffins, Vice President of Local Media Development (LMD) at Comcast on their wedding Saturday. Looks like it was a beautiful affair, attended by his son Jayden at the Waterworks behind the Phila Art Museum. The reception was held at longtime friend Chase Lenfest’s home on his patio at Liberty Place 50 stories above our Philadelphia. The couple who met through a mutual friend 3 years ago, were scheduled to be married in Jamaica in June, but the global pandemic had other plans. Way to pivot, love will find a way.
Congrats to Frances Vavloukis and Ken Gross on their backyard wedding on August 19, 2020. Ken’s the Chairman at Connect America Medical Alert (You know them from their popular commercials “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” and she’s a chef at Body X in Bryn Mawr.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing about Midtown Village, and how the business’ have come together to create a wonderful community. A new business is just about to open, and sadly a couple have closed. In the meantime, have a great day, be kind to one another and I’ll see you on Social Media. xo HughE


Walnut Street: Ulta Beauty Closes, Madewell, Warby Parker and others Re-Open,

Monday I woke up late, as usual in my new normal, but instead of hanging out on the computer I decided to go for a walk. It was one of those walks I take through Center City to see how the City is re opening as well which business have closed during the pandemic. I’m happy to report that folks have returned to the streets to shop, to see friends, to exercise.

I’m happy to report that in my latest walk around the City, more than half, no almost 2/3rds of the folks I saw out and out were wearing masks!! Definitely much more than I had seen earlier in the summer. Good job!! And it’s amazing how much the street changes from day to day with openings, and closings. Which is where we will start.
I don’t like to start off with a business who has closed because of the pandemic, but I began my walk up Walnut from Midtown Village. I reported that Hats in the Belfry closed on Chestnut Street a few weeks ago, so I was curious about Goorin Bros. Sadly they’re permanently closed as well. A Covid casualty. But across the street Williams Sonoma was open.
The Verizon Store always has a line with helpful clerks in the que. Across the Street AT&T, and TMobile are open as well.

Welcome Back Ubiq (I can’t wait for the next limited edition sneaker) and Warby Parker, both now open.

To get into the Apple Store (1607 Walnut St) you’ll need an appointment as well as to shop at the new store on Rittenhouse Row, Interior Define. (Formerly Thomas Moser furnishing. Remember when I got the tip they closed last year, and then they wrote me to tell me they weren’t closed, and then they closed a few days later. Annoying.) It was just the wrong fit for Walnut St. We have a CB2, which is also open by appointment. Pandora Jewelry store is also re opened.
As of last week Madewell (1716 Walnut St) was still closed (I called their headquarters in July, and they couldn’t tell me of the status whether it would open or not.), and I noticed Indochino had moved from Chestnut St to Walnut St and is now located where Intermix was. Intermix closed before the Pandemic. (Note that Madewell’s boards are painted black, you can thank Center City District for painting the stores who are still closed and boarded.)

BUT Yesterday I was like an excited kid when I saw that it was finally re opened!! It’s perfect to have Madewell (women’s wear) and Indochino (menswear) next to each other.

Across the street Loft is open, but H&M is still closed. Every day I walk by the doors are exposed like this, but the sign on the door still says closed, and when I peer in the store is restocked, but with summer clothing. We’re now headed into fall. Note H&M’s boards are not painted. Very annoying too.
One store I heard several rumors about closing was Ulta Beauty on Walnut Street. It was one of the last stores on Walnut Street to remove their boards (which had been painted black as well). I noticed over the past few weeks they removed their promo posters and replaced them with a signs that say “We’re Closed”, and are directing people to the Fashion District as well as a store on Delaware Ave. I wrote 8/19 I had a feeling this was going to close.
Monday I walked by and noticed the letters above the door have been removed.

I wish I had a better photo, I should have crossed the street. As you can see on the left photo, which I took last Thursday, the sign is still up and projects from the wall. The photo on the right has the letters removed. Signs directing customers to the other locations are in the window. I don’t think Ulta Beauty closed because of the pandemic, it was always rumored they would move once the Fashion District opened, but that’s just my gut feeling, as is most of my reporting. See you on Social Media. Remember your umbrella today.


A Walk Through The Fashion District Mall – East Market

Hello Wednesday. Slowly the sidewalks of Center City are coming alive with the opening of retail, restaurants and good weather. Yesterday I took a walk through the Fashion District (forever known in conversations as the Gallery to anyone born before 2000). The Fashion District opened last year to much fanfare, and just like Philadelphia it’s 2020 future looked bright, until Covid19 had other plans.

This was my 2nd walk in the past few weeks.

The Fashion District is taking Covid19 serious, with signs on how to social distance, as well as lots of hand sanitizer stations.

Yesterday the mall er I mean #thedistrict was much more bustling, with more stores opened and folks with shopping bags.

Great to run into PhillyChitChat reader and Fox29 viewer Darryl, who told me he and his wife were praying for my well being during Covid19. Thanks, those prayers help!!
It’s hit or miss what is open at the Fashion District, but it’s a beautiful building and a nice escape
Both big box stores Century 21 and Burlington were opened.
H&M is opened (not the ones in the Rittenshouse Square area yet though), but you have to enter on the top floor of the mall. Century 21 can also only be entered on the top floor of the mall or from outside on Market Street.
You won’t find any chairs or benches to sit on, but you will find art dotting much of the blocks long building.
A sweet spot
Talk about sweet, Candytopia is open. I wonder if you still get a piece of candy in each room? Do they still blow confetti on you? I will tell you of all the Instagramable pop ups, it’s the best one. When I was there in July, the line was a block long.
There are plenty of shoe stores still open at the Fashion District, but don’t fret DSW is opening 8/27 for your convenience.
Opened with much fan fare last year, the only store still opened in the Philly centric area is American Hats , which is doing a steady business. Dolly’s Boutique and South Fellini are closed, but have their original store locations as well as an online presence. I hear South Fellini is looking for another Center City location, with a street front.
Another spot not opened is the food court, but throughout the mall there are places to grab a a snack like Tiffany’s Bakery, Auntie Anne’s, Pretzel Factory, Cinnabon bakery, and Haagan-Dazs
Recently: Kate Spade Outlet’s first Philadelphia store opened this week at PREIT and Macerich’s new Fashion District on Market Street.
PREIT CEO Joseph Coradino was delighted, saying the Spade value-priced option is a perfect fit with the three-block-long mall’s tenant curation strategy.
“We have created a go-to destination for fashion and fun experiences that offers a unique combination of flagship, off-price, fast-fashion, full-price and outlet stores,” Coradino said. According to Chain Store Age
A popular spot was this cell phone repair and accessories shop

Great news all you Ulta Beauty is open at Fashions District. It’s the only one opened in Center City. I have a feeling the one on Walnut Street is not going to open. Recently they took the boards off the store front, but they put signs in the window directing people to this one as well as the one in KOP.

I’ve always loved this campaign the Fashion District has promoted, and I believe this statement is true again. The Fashion District is a perfect date spot, just eat dinner before you go. To stay up to date with everything happening and opening at Philly’s latest mall, check out their website.


This & That: Savannah Guthrie Spotted, Center City Re Openings & New Biz

Hope you’re weekend was a blast, let’s get to the fun stuff:
A ChitChat reader wrote on Friday: Just spotted Savannah Guthrie walking down Ventnor ave across from Casels market in Margate. She looked stunning! She was wearing an amazing knee length navy dress with open back and a huge hat. (Def a more Hamptons look than Margate – so we noticed her right away. But she really is stunningly beautiful in person!)

Foot traffic is picking up in Center City, especially in the Rittenhouse Row shopping areas of Chestnut and Walnut Streets.

Sophy Curson, the chic women’s boutique that opened in 1929 on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, has withstood the test of time and is one of the first high fashion clothing stores to re open during the pandemic after Philly moved into greenish, and they always have a fun window display.

Speaking of fun, fabulous high end clothing stores, Joan Shepp (1811 Chestnut Street) will reopen in mid-August. She just dropped some big news earlier this week when she announced home decor partner Kevin O’Brien will be sharing retail space in Joan’s iconic Rittenhouse Store. Kevin will be opening an 800 square-foot beautiful shop in the mezzanine of Joan Shepp in September. The shop will be dedicated to showcasing his products, which range from bedding and decorative pillows to rugs and furniture.  Joan feels it is a valuable service to offer her customers in these trying times

I previously reported Boyd’s clothing store, across the street from Shepp’s, will open on September 1, the new date is September 14. Here are beautiful heart pastes the kids from the Community Partnership School did with artist King Saladeen

The short lived Inchin’s Bamboo Garden at 1726 Chestnut St has closed, but remains under the same owner who is now opening as Ancient Spirits & Grille , which he plans to open in September the owner told me.

Also opening in September on the 1700 block of Chestnut Street is Greene Street consignment shop. They’re hiring as well. Check out their site.

It’s nice to see so many PhillyChitChat readers out and about, like Crystal and Mo who I met at 18th and Chestnut Streets the other day. And for so many others thanks for the shout outs as well, but keep your eyes on the road. A honk is good. Thank and let’s chit chat on Tuesday. In the meantime follow me on Instagram and Twitter as where I talk daily, sometimes hourly filling you in on the who, what and happening in Philly, and nearby.


Tea Time: Sofitel Opening Aug 6, With Afternoon Tea

I took this photo, all others were provided

Good Monday morning, hope you’re all well. I just walked by Sofitel last week and was going to note that after 3 months or so it seems to be preparing to open soon, when Aversa Pr sent over a press release with details of the Sofitel Philadelphia opening.

Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square announced last week that the hotel will reopen its doors to hotel guests and visitors on Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 11:00am. The luxury hotel that blends French elegance with American style will reopen for overnight stays for guests in 306 newly renovated elegant suites and 67 newly renovated luxurious suites, plus the stunning Presidential Suite. Banquet facilities will be open for limited private events in accordance with local and state guidelines. Hotel restaurants will remain closed at this time. Sofitel Philadelphia’s top priority remains the safety, care and well being of hotel guests and employees. At this moment, this means keeping guests and employees safe by preventing the spread of COVID-19 by partnering with top experts to implement new standards of safety and enhanced operational protocols and procedures which are among the most stringent in the hospitality industry. As part of the reopening plans, Sofitel Philadelphia is offering guests a buy one, get one free offer for a complimentary night stay with the purchase of an equal night stay.

“We are excited to share that Sofitel Philadelphia is reopening its doors as of August 6th,” said   Sofitel Philadelphia General Manager Angela Bauer. “We’ve missed you all and are thrilled to welcome our friends, family and community back into the hotel. As always, our hotel’s top priority remains the safety, care and well-being of our Sofitel Philadelphia family. Welcoming, safeguarding and taking care of others is at the very heart of what we do and who we are. Today, this means keeping our guests and employees safe by preventing the spread of COVID-19 by partnering with top experts to implement new standards of safety and enhanced operational protocols and procedures which are among the most stringent in the hospitality industry. We have missed being part of the Philadelphia community all of these months and we can’t wait to see you.”

The new operational standards being implemented at Sofitel Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Square and Accor properties across North and Central America were developed and vetted by a team of expert advisors to ensure maximum efficacy in preventing the spread of all viruses and pathogens, including COVID-19, with oversight by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspections and certification; Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security & fellow with the Infectious Diseases Society of America; and Ruth Petran, Ph.D., CFS, Senior Corporate Scientist, Food Safety and Public Health, for Ecolab, global leaders in cleaning and hygiene, and trusted advisors to the CDC.

All Stay Well Program. Informative info on taking precautions for Covid19

We could all use a little tea time: I was also excited Sofitel Philadelphia was bringing their Afternoon Tea back as well. I’ve been to tea time, and as I’ve written here before I’m a big fan of Tea Sandwiches, scones and tea.

Starting August 1, 2020, Sofitel will be offering afternoon tea  for up to 10 Guests in our Magnifique Presidential Suite.

There are 3 seating’s a day, for up to 10 people $500 plus tax. Now that sounds like a good party. Check out more info here.

Sofitel Philadelphia Opens After 3 Month Closure because of Covid19
Although not every amenity of the hotel will be opening right away, but for the most part, it will be operational on most cylinders. For example, banquet facilities will be open for limited private events in accordance with local and state guidelines, but hotel restaurants will remain closed at this time.
Welcome Back Sofitel Philadelphia