Around Town With HughE

Positano Coast in Old City, Philadelphia Reveal

Photo: Adriano Martino

Aldo Lamberti and family are proud to introduce and unveil the new Positano Coast in Old City, Philadelphia. The award-winning Italian and seafood restaurant, bar, lounge, event space and outdoor dining destination has been renovated inside from top to bottom.

I had a chance to go the other day, which was not a twist your arm kinda thing as it is one of my favorite restaurants, and the Lamberti family is like family. They make everyone feel that way. I love all their places, but the new space, the new menu wow so good. It’s like a new restaurant opening. I had never had the veal chop, it was delicious. Yes I ate this whole thing. Yes I know, I am mostly plant based, but as my friends will testify not out, usually. There were good vegetarian options as well but when I saw someone nearby order this beauty, it was all over.

Danielle Avarez, Sip on What and Toi Storr, Toi Time

Congrats to Danielle who recently got engaged. She met her beau at one of these Kory Aversa media/influencer events I’ve been told.

Nothing says spring like Lilly and a nice yellow sweater.
Chelsea Logan and Penny Gsell, Penny in Philly

I thought I’d have fun tonight while covering this event. I asked guests “Do you sleep with your phone?” I am guilty. I know, radiation. No good reason except I’m too lazy to put it on the end table, plus I wake up and I am always curious of the time. Not much else. I also go to sleep with my ear pods in either listening to the news, Luther Vandross, or some scary podcast. Yes I have interesting dreams. Chelsea tells me she does not sleep with her phone in HER BED EVER!!! She stressed!! Penny sleeps with it right her head, in bed, to my relief. I see Penny and I have other things in common too. Love that Veal girl.

potato dumplings, cream of zucchini, lemon zest was Chelsea’s dish. A new menu item.

George Bank ,Laura Swartz, Kelly Meerbott and Ernest Owens

George, and Laura both sleep with their phones. Leadership and Team Development Coach Kelly doesn’t, and she probably recommends that to her clients I imagine. Congratulations to Ernest Owens who revealed his book cover “The Case for Cancel Culturethe other day, he says when he is asleep, the phone is in the other room. Now that is disconnecting.

Rachel Viggiano, @rach_ontheradio sleeps with her phone under her pillow. Mario LoVerde, @mano__loverde on the bedside, Dhruvi Shah @dhruvii__S under her pillow and Vybar Hiraesave @why_be_10 on the nightstand.

Davida Janae @vidafashionista is an under the pillow gal as her phone also acts as a baby monitor and she wants to know Cora is alright at all times.

Compatible: PHL Date Night Francesca Geonnotti with friend Anastasia Geomotti are definite no’s on sleeping with their phones.

Ray only lets Miguel sleep in the bed, but the phone is nearby to keep abreast of news on his Rebuild Philly projects. Happy Birthday Sunday to Alex Holley, who jetted off with friends to a tropical location for non-stop celebrations with the gals.

Josh Moore @josheatsphilly, Rebecca Neckritz @phillyfoodladies and Kaitlyn McLaughlin @phlmyplate

For more about the new menu and the history, visit https://www.positanocoast.net/. For reservations visit Open Table or call 215-238-0499.


Philly Gossip: Sylva Senat Top Chef, Sets Date For Restaurant Opening, Murals Frankie Avalon, John Mellencamp

Good Sunday, what a gorgeous day out. I hope you all get out and enjoy, I hope you get to spend time with your friends, family and those you love. Last night I went to #PhillyFightsCancer a fundraiser for The Abramson Cancer Center. It was an amazing event and tomorrow I’ll have photos in PhillyMag.com and PhillyMetro.com. People are really generous with their time and money in order to help other people. What a blessing. Philadelphia, wow what a place to live, or visit. Over the last decade it’s just gotten so attractive. Thanks Ed Rendell. I really believe it started with him, and people he put in place to execute the vision. With each administration after him they fulfilled this legacy. I’m not saying we don’t have problems, we do, but the vision of making Philadelphia a 7/24 city is at our doorstep. I’m so excited AC Moore is coming. People wrote me this week and were disappointed on that choice, but what do they want. Trust me the real estate peeps and building owners have aggressively tried to get Bed, Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, even Restoration Hardware to come into the bigger spaces, but to no avail. The Post Brothers tried very hard to get Restoration Hardware into the old Avenue A/Ted Montana space, but RH didn’t feel like the “loading dock” was big enough. And that’s in quotes cause there’s barely a loading dock. As for FYE, the powers to be really wanted a Bed, Bath & Beyond, but AC Moore came in with a higher bid. Go to Target get your bath supplies, meet me later at AC Moore as I’ll be in the art supply section; plus they have art classes for the very novice, oh and DIY crafty classes. That’s a win. Another thing who would have thought a Whole Foods would excited a City. WOW, go see it. It’s beautiful, and innovated. OK onto what’s gossipy this week. PS This next story is a good example of one I held back last Thursday. I spoke with Sylva Senat at &Pizza on Wednesday night. I had two big stories, the AC Moore story, and what the chef told me. I decided to split them. Later that day the big Senat story broke by Molly Eichel, I’ll link it below. Even if you are working on something, it’s ok and nice if you acknowledge when someone else publishes it first, even just online. It doesn’t have to be acknowledge in print since print is king. I first saw the story in PhillyMag, but I did an internet research and saw Molly wrote it the day before. So that’s who gets credit. PSS It’s sure nice that last week the Inky and Daily News gave me credit for the timeline of the Geno’s “No English” sign along with Billy Penn’s story. And thanks to Phila Biz Journal and Philly Voice for giving me the credit for the AC Moore story. I’m just a little blog and links help for SEO, especially since I just re-did my site.

Sylva Senat, Laura Rankin, &pizza and  Michael Lastoria, chief executive of &pizza

I ran into former-Tashan head man, now Dos Tacos, Chef Sylva Senat at &Pizza on Wednesday night. I barely recognized him, and he told me he cut off his trade mark dreads as he embarked on a new projects and decided to make the change.  Up next for him he’s excited for his new eatery  Maison 208 208 S 13th St where the long defunct Letto Cafe was located.   Across the street is another popular eatery, Indeblue: Indian Restaurant.  Senat tells me Maison 208 ( 208 S 13th St) he’s aiming for the first week in December, hopefully just in time for his appearance in the 14th season of Top Chef, premiering at 10 p.m. Dec. 1 on Bravo.

As Molly notes, he did tell me he was relinquishing his part in Dos Taco’s, that really was just a stint to buy time between restaurant gigs. The other owner of Dos Taco’s Ryan Dorsey, who is heading the promotion crew at NOTO, short for “Not of the Ordinary, the new nightclub in the Loft District.


You might recall Maison 208 was under construction last year, and was burned down and this Wellness Mural designed by James Burns was destroyed as well, by a disgruntled contractor. Down but not out, Senat came back even stronger. The restaurant is nearly rebuilt,
changed the design of the interior, the mural is on it’s way to being restored and this time Senat tells me, it’s going to “continue” into the restaurant on the wall.


So bummed I wasn’t feeling well to make it to this event. I think as soon as I’m well I’m going to get that flu shot. MURAL ARTS PHILADELPHIA DEDICATES  SOUTH PHILLY MUSICIANS REMIX MURAL WITH BLOCK PARTY, Celebrate South Philly’s music legacy and the Bandstand era of musicians who contributed to the city’s rich cultural history – Frankie Avalon, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Jerry Blavat, Eddie Fisher, Fabian Forte, Al Martino, Charlie Gracie, and James Darren – at an afternoon block party featuring music from DJ King Arthur and emceed by Jerry “The Geator with the Heater” Blavat, refreshments, and the dedication of Eric Okdeh’s new mural, South Philly Musicians Remix.


Afterwards the legendary Geator with the Heater, and Frankie Avalon headed to Gran Caffe L’Aquila where Sylvia Feinberg stopped by to say hi


Don’t miss the Phila Gay Men’s Chorus holiday concerts. The schedule isnt up yet, but when they put it up get a ticket.

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That guy on the left looks like Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine. Congrats to my hubby Mike Toub, who volunteered at his
21st AIDS Walk Philly as bike monitor. Frankie

 John Mellencamp signs a fans head at the AC airport

Frankie Frankie

Phillywood returns to Philly with the Philadelphia Film Festival 10/20 – 10/30 Frankie Frankie

Congrats to Shelley on her new position at WHYY. You’ll remember when she won an Emmy a few weeks ago, in her speech she said if anyone was looking for an Emmy award winning
producer she was available. It’s all about connections and being at the right place at the right time.

Have an awesome day. HughE


DNC Day 4 – Hillary’s Victor Party – Celebs In Town

Day 4, the final day. Sorry about missing Day 3, hopefully you saw my photos in Philly Mag and Philly.com, and caught me on Fox 29 yesterday. Hillary

After being on Good Day I headed over to the Convention Center, more like limped as I really hurt both my feet after standing for nearly the entire week. While on my way to pick up my “Thursday” DNC pass, I saw Danny Glover. He looked much better than the day before.


I then went home for a couple hours to do work. I chatted with my buddy John McDevitt from KYW News Radio and made arrangements to go out and find stories.


Here’s John interviewing a congressman from Vermont, who was about to board a bus for the Wells Fargo


I stood by and caught the fashionable


Senator Elizabeth Warren was in for a Democrats for Woman event on Tuesday and Robin Roberts of Good Morning America was in for dinner on Tuesday night at Davio’s. Mary Louise Parker caught the Snoop Dogg concert at the Electric Factory last night. The show went on at 230AM and the place was packed I hear; Snoop got back to the Hotel Monaco as the sun was rising. So glad I didn’t do that one. Brooklyn Beckham and Chloe Grace Morentz were spotted leaving the Sofitel Hotel last night on their way to the DNC Wells Fargo.


Then I said hey John I hear Hillary’s Victory Party is at the Kimmel Center. let’s go check it out. I told him it’d be hard to shoot Hillary as she would probably go in the back and there would be lots of security, but more than likely some celebs would go through the front with the guests.


We stopped by Bop and got a shot of Hillary and David Song, GM of Bop


Small world, just at that moment Mike Jerrick and Chris Murphy were heading to dinner at Bop. I decided not to go to the last night, cause I was exhausted, I hadn’t slept in two days and my feet as I mentioned were in so much pain. I should have worn sneakers this week. It’s ok too, the Wells Fargo was so packed, hot and water was $4.50. i watched the historic night from my couch with the husband before John came and picked me up about 1130PM


OK fast forward to midnight. John and I returned to the Kimmel Center and Hillary Clinton’s after party. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who’s a celebrity, especially if you don’t really watch TV or read celebrity magazines, but hey I think these two could potentially be one….





Harvey Hurdle and Kevin Yoder

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Also spotted at the party Laetitia Garriott de Cayeux, entrepeneurs for Clinton organization and Richard Garriott, billionaire Video Gamer and 2nd private citizen to fly to space. (Philly.com will have his pix up shortly for your enjoyment. John picked him out of the crowd cause he was fun dressed, and then I shot him for the same reason, but it was random, we didn’t know his amazing story. )


Dustin Lance Black who was also in town for Equality Forum.


Around 2AM – President soon to be First Gentleman, Bill Clinton, Madame President Hillary Clinton with Senator Tim Kaine and his wife Anne Holton.


PhillyGossip: The Rittenhouse Hotel’s New Restaurant, Caitlyn Jenner, Kanye West PLUS More

Good Friday morning. WOW did this week go by fast. Lots going on in Philly this week, and this weekend. Can’t believe we’re up to February 19 already. Spring is nearly around the corner. In the meantime I’m eating my Snap Kitchen meals and using my SAD light to get me through.

 An Evening with Caitlyn Jenner happened at Penn Wednesday night to a sold out crowd in which the audience had to either be attending Penn or an alumni. Neither Team Derek or I made the cut. Team Derek did meet Caitlyn at the Rittenhouse Hotel, and told me she was super friendly. Posed for photos and signed dozens of magazines for them. Check out Billy Penn for more photos and info on her chat at Penn.


Speaking of the Rittenhouse Hotel, the Philly foodie community has been on the edge of their seats to see what eatery is going to fill the space left vacant by Smith & Wollensky. Although Michael Klein alluded to it last year in a post, I will tell you it’s more than a rumor now, it’s going to be Scarpetta,
which is an Italian restaurant with locations in New York, Montauk, Las Vegas, Beverly Hills and Miami. Friends of mine had dinner at the NYC one, and the server told them he was excited to begin work at the eatery. I spoke to Philly friends who have put me in touch with the investor behind the project. The transformation of the space hasn’t started yet, and they hope to begin this month and complete sometime in the summer. Some say it could be done by the time Hillary gets nominated, but that seems to be an ambition goal.
George from the Bronx said:
“This place is f——- amazing. I should just end my review here. But as
a yelper I will tell you the food journey I went on because it was
unbelievable. A fatass journey at the very least…because Scarpetta
left me speechless. I wish I lived next door that is how much love I
have for this place.”
 I like their hours too, til 10:30PM every night but Sundays when they close at 10PM.
They also participated in NYC’s restaurant week. I love this place already.
Speaking of Grammy’s, Kanye West thankfully wasn’t there, but he was still making a fool of himself on Social Media when he complained he was in debt for $57 million. The Philly Police stepped forward offering him a job.
But I think Philly Smurfette told us something we all kinda know.
Great shot of a packed Fillmore Philly before the Bryan Adams concert on
Monday night, by Marilyn Russell, BenFM, who hosted the event.
Congrats to Philly fashion designer Michael Thomas who dressed Philadelphia Recording Artist Kriss Mincey for the Grammy’s on Monday night. Michael doesn’t have a website, but told me you could reach him at bewellbefaithful@gmail.com
A couple of Flyers ( Radko Gudas, Ryan White and Michael Nieurberth) leaving the Claude Giroux Foundation 2nd annual event at Lucky Strike Lanes Wednesday night.


 It was windy on Monday.
 Condolences to Big Ang‘s family, and so many of my friends who lost someone they adore. My timeline was filled with photos of with Big Ang.
  Geno Vento continues his philanthropic ways in Philly. The other night he was a sponsor of the Nova Temple BBall game, and received the evenings ball. 
All week he’s been the title sponsor for Philadelphia Fashion Week who is having wonderful shows at their new location in South Philly. Tickets are still left for the remaining two nights. Check out the Philly Voice today which covered the show’s street style fashion.
Thoughts and prayers go out to Miss NJ 2013 Cara McCollum and family who was critically injured in a car accident Monday night on Rt 55 in SNJ. There’s now a website Prayers for Cara
where you can go to get updates on Cara.  

I met Cara through Miss Philadelphia 2013 Francesca Ruscio a few years back, as did Keith Jones, NBC10 reporter/anchor and boyfriend of Cara.
We were all last together at The Cole Hamels Diamonds and Denin Gala last summer, where we all shared a table.
The duo were in love more than ever. Cara was finally finished school and so excited for the next chapter of her life, at the new start up TV station SNJToday as an Anchor . She was so glad to be able to spend all her days with Keith. We didn’t see each other often, but via social media we’d catch up, and I knew I’d see her at the Red Cross Red Ball coming up, as Keith MC’d it every year.

Scene & Heard in Philly – Mary J Blige in Town, AI’s Weekend, Sixers Nerlens Noel Birthday Party, Carlo’s Bakery

 Hope you had a terrific weekend with that amazing weather. I had to run out yesterday to cover the BenFM Women of the Week Luncheon, so I didn’t have time for my Scene and Heard in Philly.

What an amazing weekend it was, Saturday I attended the WDAS Women of Excellence luncheon, it was great to see so many beautiful, empowering women, hear inspiring messages and enjoy thoughtful performances.

One of the “Shereos” Sheinelle Jones, with her dad Federal Judge Darnell Jones in 3rd Circuit located in Philadelphia.   

Mary J. Blige was at the WDAS’ First Annual Women of Excellence Luncheon
on Saturday, April 11, 2015 held at First District Plaza in
Philadelphia, where she was given the WDAS Trailblazing Woman of
Excellence Award, which will be renamed as the WDAS Mary J Blige Women
of Excellence Award beginning next year. The event was held to recognize
9 extraordinary women in the Philadelphia area including former Fox 29
Good Day Morning Anchor Sheinelle Jones, now at the Today Show, Faatimah Gamble and
Commissioner Susan Slawson, doing extraordinary things in their
community that improved peoples lives.  

 At the luncheon Mary J Blige was really humbled and the
emotion really comes through in this photo. She’s being honored by

Allen Iverson was in town this weekend. First he was spotted Saturday night watching the Garcia fight at Dave and Buster’s then yesterday he was at Sugarhouse trying out his luck there. Has anyone ever seen him in anything but sweats? (Thanks to my tipster who sent this photo)

Congrats to Sixers Nerlens Noel who celebrated his 21st Birthday at 1925 lounge (ie the former G Lounge) last Thursday. I hear it was a jam packed good time at the new don’t call night club.

Recently Philly Mag reported that “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro was opening a Location of Carlo’s Bakery in Rittenhouse, I took this shot the other day seems like it’s coming along nicely. It’s been reported that the opening will be late Spring, early summer which I would agree with. 
Speaking about anticipated eateries, I hear Mercadito, at 2116 Chestnut Street is shooting for a September opening. When I walked by the other day they were not working on it yet.
So sad the Food Bazaar has closed. I peeked through the little space in the door and the relics of the Food Bazaar were strewned about.
Remember Oh So Good, the delicious food buffet at 19th and Market, they closed up shop quickly last summer. (They have since opened at 1700 Market St.,) I was walking by their old spot and it’s starting to be gutted. I’ll keep a lookout to see what might pops up there. So much fun and development in Center City.
2015 Walnut Street has one of those “orange” L&I signs. It says that this spot is going to be a restaurant and for take out. I am crossing my fingers cause I really need a Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood. I’ve been jonsing for one since Wok closed. 

UPDATE: just informed me it’s going to be a BYOB taco place run. Oh well, maybe Chinese will follow somewhere Walnut St soon.


 This spring has brought a lot of engagements, congrats to my good friends Amanda Giddings and Michael Dana
And then there’s baby news!! Congrats.
Saturday night after shooting Blingo, I headed to Zama for a late night bite. I ran into my old friend Angelo Soldevila, who I used to work with when I was a paralegal. He was out celebrating his wife Lea for her birthday!! Great to see them.

A video posted by Philly ChitChat (@phillychitchat) on Apr 13, 2015 at 6:19am PDT
So glad I met this girl Alex Holley. I have so much fun with her. Sunday, Mike, Alex and I went to the Manayunk Street Fair. It was packed.


Rumor: Ruth’s Chris Steak House is on the Move…

Not really a rumor, now as I have a second source.

 Ruth’s Chris Steak House has been a fixture on Broad Street as long as I can remember.

When I was growing up in Jersey my parents would take us kids there for our birthday dinners, it was one of the rare times we headed over the bridge except to watch the Mummer’s parade from the Maglio’s 2nd floor windows near Broad Street. Then in the 90s I moved down the street, and when I walked by it would always bring me back to those memories. I’ve eaten there a few times in the past years and it’s always been delicious.

I’m excited for them as I just heard that they are moving into the space that used to occupy
Elephant & The Castle. I love that space, I love that it has an outdoor area for al fresco dining. I love that Ruth’s Chris is going to have a much larger space to serve their delicious steaks, and it’s connected to Sonesta hotel for their guests. I’m glad the former Elephant & Castle space has finally found a tenant. I was sad it was empty all last summer, although I do like the Art Cafe next door much better than what previously was there. Anyway, I think business will be booming this summer for Ruth’s Chris in this new location, with it’s large plate glass windows inviting people in. I was surprised Morton’s Steakhouse didn’t scoop it up, it’s got to be tough for them on the 2nd floor of a building with no street visibility. Look for a mid-summer opening, September, and my favorite light night service, and a reasonably priced bar menu they tell me.

First Look U-Bahn (don’t call it a basement bar) Hosts The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund Our Night Out Party

The team behind Brü Craft and Wurst keep the German vibe going at their subterranean bar U-Bahn, set to open officially next week, but Tuesday night

the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund hosted its successful monthly OurNightOut networking mixer at the industrial the 3,300 square foot space

 which includes
two bars and a kitchen. U-Bahn will offer local beers and food
including cured meats, cheeses and specialty sandwiches.
 It might be winter, but I’m wearing a t-shirt cause I look good
 Photos provided by Aversa Pr. I was supposed to be at this event but my photo exhibit was postponed from January to Feb on this Tues. I’ll write more about that great event on Tuesday.
 I love this trend of classic video games in a bar. Get off your phone and play some pacman!!
 Hey are they TV’s
 Hey Mr DJ put a record on.
I think this is going to be a pretty big deal, it’s like a subterranean beer garden
Hey Jim Donovan from CBS3!!
The Delaware Valley Legacy Fund
Heroes Luncheon is Sunday, April 12, 2015 12:30pm to 3:00pm at Hotel Monaco.

OPENING SOON New Restaurants on Chestnut Street – And A Food Review

I took a walk around Philly Thursday and noticed a few new eateries that are about to make the City a little more exciting.

I’m really excited that my favorite pizza place is opening up downtown at 703 Chestnut Street. Luigi’s Pizza Fresca. They have a few stores in South Jersey and one across the street from where I live in Fairmount. For a short time they owned Lulu’s at 236 Market Street, but that place has since closed.
I chatted with the gal at the Fairmount location and she said that within a week the new location should be opened. They use the best cheese and have the best chicken wings.

 Update on Butcher Bar (2034 Chestnut Street.) which is owned by the Valanni/Varga/Mercato’s George Anni. It’s supposed to be completed by June 2015. I’m a big fan of their eateries so I look forward to patronizing this nugget. You can read more here at PhillyMag’s Foobooz.
 Utrecht Art Supplies at 2020 Chestnut St closed a few years back, but seems to be on the brink of new life.
as the KJ Choi Corporation has filed for a liquor license.
You may know them as the folks who own Food & Friends in Rittenhouse Square. It’s a cute grocery store, coffee shop and beer take out place. Now the sign has been up there for a little bit, but I checked with the LCB and the application is still pending. I have no doubt as this will happen as the it’s right near several new residential high rises. (Photos above borrowed from Yelp.)
 The Chestnut Street – Philly Bagels Place is just about to open. I love their Hot Bagels sign. They’re located across from Nordstrom Rack at 17th and Chestnut Street.
Not on Chestnut, but noteworthy. 
I went to Gyukaku Philly last week. The idea is kinda fun, there’s a hibachi grill in the middle of the table, and you have an option to cook your own meat, and vegetables. Kory and I both had appetizers, and he had two drinks. I had a diet coke. The bill was $101, which I think is a little expensive. I would call this a date place or with lots of friends place. I was surprised that the eatery itself seemed so worn already, unless they were going for that. And now a word from our sponsors.
 The Shishito Peppers are back at Penn 6. I really love them.

Celebrities in The City – NYC Mayor’s in Town, A Dancing With The Star, star, Young Media Royals, Mario Lopez Likes Ocean Prime

On Saturday, reporter Michael Boren spotted NYC Mayor Deblasio in the Italian Market:
Celeb sighting mt Now I’m 99.9% sure: NYC walking around ‘s Italian Market w/his son. Just saw them up-close (But he was only 99.9% sure)

 I’m 100% sure that former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani was at the Italian Market today,as he stopped by Geno’s to grab a wit, with.

 Also in town this weekend:

 Mario Lopez appeared on QVC Sunday, but the night before he was at Ocean Prime for dinner. Seems he enjoyed his Baked Alaska dessert. Yes that is the normal size of that serving. Mario stayed at the Four Seasons while he was in town.

Dancing with the Stars Louis van Amstel stopped by the trade shoe LA Blast Fitness which was at the Marriott as well as the Pennsylvania Convention Center. He was super nice, and posed with fans.
There was a big wedding in Philly on Saturday, as Jamie Gayle Shupak and Brian Patrick Stelter were married Saturday evening at the Sheraton Society Hill in Philadelphia.
Stelter, 32, is the morning traffic anchor in New York for NY1, a cable
news channel. She graduated from the University of Maryland. The bride is the daughter of Helen R. Shupak and Neil L. Shupak of Philadelphia. Mr.
Stelter, 28, is the senior news media correspondent for CNN, based in
New York. He is also the host of “Reliable Sources,” a Sunday morning
program on that network. Until November, he was a staff reporter at The
New York Times covering media news. I follow them both on Social Media and they seem to have the pulse of the millennials. Although Reliable Sources is taped on Friday to play on Sunday, Brian wore his wedding ring to be factually correct by the time it aired Sunday morning.
Philly Resident Star: Marc Summers spotted in Miami at the Food and Wine Festival.

Holy Cow Game Changer: Red Owl Tavern, Hotel Monaco Philadelphia and The Stratus Lounge

Lately on twitter I’ve been using Holy Cow to really get across notable moments, and extraordinary things of interest. The Red Owl Tavern, Stratus Lounge and Hotel Monaco Philadelphia fits that definition; separately or together it’s a big Holy Cow game changer for Philadelphia.

It’s hard to believe that it was only a year ago when I took this photo at the “groundbreaking” of the 
Hotel Monaco Philadelphia. (This is looking towards what is now the Red
Owl Tavern restaurant with it’s grand windows over looking Independence
Hall and the Liberty Bell) Jack Ferguson, President & CEO of the Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PCVB), Nick Gregory, General Manager Hotel Monaco Philadelphia – Director of Operations at Kimpton Hotels (standing),  Kimpton’s President and COO, Niki Leondakis, The honorable Mayor Nutter and Meryl Levitz, CEO Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) 

Last night I attended one of the Friends and Family nights for Philly’s
latest and one of the most anticipated new restaurants, Red Owl Tavern, part of the
new Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco opening next week at 5th and Chestnut.  I can’t remember the last time a restaurant in a hotel was so highly anticipated with the exception of Eric Ripert’s 10 Arts at the Ritz Hotel with Chef Jen Carroll. (BTW Top Chef’s new reality show  “Life After Top Chef” debuts tonight on Bravo at 10PM. I’ll be in two episodes, the first one airs on October 17.)

What’s interesting about the Kimpton brand is the branding of their restaurants. They are stand alone, meaning they have an entrance that fronts the street welcoming guests through the front door without having to go through the lobby. Their other property in the City, Hotel Palomar Philadelphia also has a restaurant with a door on the street, Square 1682 17th and Sansom Streets. Another restaurant in the City that does very well, and with this concept is a.kitchen, which is part of the long term stay hotel AKA Rittenhouse.

Guillermo Tellez Cruz, executive chef Red Owl Tavern, and Stratus Lounge (he will continue to oversee Square 1682 too) last night prepping orders for the packed house.

 Michael DeGano, Director of Restaurant Operations at Kimpton Hotels., Chef Guillermo Tellez Cruz and Erik Travers, the Restaurant Operations Director of the Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco

Jack Reilly, Legend Properties, Natalie Pineda, General Manager of Red Owl Tavern and Diane Farina, Starr Restaurants

Jimmy Contreras, VlahosPR Sandy Foxx and Matt Vlahos, VlahosPR who does the PR for Red Owl Tavern and Stratus Lounge

Kimberly M. Ciesla and Robert N. Johnson, both of Anne Klein Communications Group.

Nikki Vlahos and Stevie Wagner

Dileimys Franco and Angela Giampolo (or as I like to call her, my lawyer.)

Kristen Foote and Nicole Cashman, Cashman & Assocs. Nicole does the PR for Hotel Monaco Philadelphia and Hotel Palomar.

Dinner was delicious. My friend Kristyn Aldrich and I shared a steak, a chicken pot pie (that was outta this world), the Red Owl Salad – hmm hmm good and a cherry pie that is the size of the ones you would get at More Than Just Ice Cream. Above is the fruit tart and a peanut butter chocolate whoopie.

Then we were whisked to the 11th floor and the Stratus Lounge. WOW I was so surprised at how amazing the space was. Lately all I kept hearing was negative nelly stuff like there’s no direct view of the skyline, but even with the fog and mist I could see the buildings. More importantly though it was outdoors, it was beautifully decorated with plenty of seating; it’s dope.

This is the bar area, which is under a roof with garage like doors with windows that close in inclement weather.

 The whole outdoor area is heated with heat lamps when necessary.

Kristyn standing in the future DJ area. There’s not a dance floor per se, but it’s a lounge and toe tapping is encouraged.

There are two enclosed pavilions at either end of Stratus Lounge, these used to be storage buildings for the historic Lafayette Building which is the Monaco Hotel, capacity for each is about 60 people, with windows that overlook Independence Mall, seating for about 30 in areas that are reminiscence of VIP bottle service, but there is no bottle service here, no minimum if you and friends are out for the evening.  It’s like getting VIP bottle service, but what is the normal service at a Kimpton property. They can also be rented out for private parties for a reasonable amount that includes a food and beverage amount. See John Christinzio, Lounge GM for more info.

Vapor – is the more sleek of the two pavilions, with it’s black and white decor, TV’s, many couches and a few tables;  It’s more intimate. I took the above shot with a flash, this is the room where you wanna listen to some Barry White with your boo.

Mist is bright and white. There’s a nice size community table running the length of the room, comfortable white chairs that might make your mother cringe if you drink red red wine in this room. The two windows have a great view of the Constitution Center, but no one’s gonna be looking out them except me, cause the action will be happening in the room. It’s the see and be seen room, it’s well lit.

Looking towards Vapor. There are conversation pits, a long couch and a 30 foot fireplace for those cozy nights with that special someone. The Stratus Lounge reeks of romance, as well as a great place to go with friends. There’s a lot of options on the roof top. It reminds me of Hop Sing Laundromat but outdoors. It’s a little bit off the beaten track, but it’s worth the trip.

In anticipating this property over the year I was wondering if it would attract locals or just remain a hotel property where guests are the predominately users of the restaurant and lounge. I’m here to tell you that this is going to be one hot property.  Red Owl Tavern has a diverse menu that will keep it’s hotel guests happy, as well as the locals. It’s eclectic like Square Peg, but still has standard fare that even little Mary would want to try. Stratus Lounge will be a destination point, where hotel guests, locals and people from the tri-state area will want to check out the scene, all year long and then tell there friends.

As I tweeted in the cab drive home last night:

Honestly the entire Hotel Monaco complex sets a new
standard for Philadelphia. It’s sophisticated, whimsical and delicious.

The hotel is gorgeous, the lobby reminds me of falling down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland.

Here are a couple links to photos & stories by the Foodies of Philly on Red Owl Tavern and The Stratus Lounge.
Michael Klein
City Paper – Stratus Lounge Menu
Foobooz – Red Owl Tavern Menu

uwishunu – Monaco Hotel Philadelphia