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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
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Philly Loves It’s Front-line Workers – Thank You!!

These are strange days, as we struggle with filling time, dealing with isolation, family matters, home schooling and loneliness. It’s a huge sacrifice to stay healthy, to keep our family, friends and neighbors safe. Thank you for doing so, humanity thanks you and Philly Thanks You!!

It’s great to see so many people come together in this crisis to appreciate front line workers doctors, nurses, as well as housekeepers, store clerks, train conductors, essential workers who keep our world going even if we’re not utilizing it fully at the moment. Thank You.

Every Tuesday the City lights it’s buildings in blue to thank Frontline Health Workers.

I’m now 100 % healthy and a Covid19 survivor.

I was excited to shoot some of our favorite buildings lit up to honor Front Line Health Workers,

as well as Philly loves essential workers as the City lights up with a lot of love.

Social distancing at the art museum Tuesday night. Note the flags are at half staff.

If you look closely you can see Comcast Tower One has an XO spelled out with it’s windows.

Aaah the Hilton Penn’s Landing gave it a good shot, but when I look at this I want a soft pretzel.
The Four Seasons is amazing. I saw them put this together over a two night period. The first night was a little off, I tweeted to my people it looks like a heart, maybe. The 2nd night it turned out amazing.
The Loews Hotel perfection.

The same organization who kept open the Liberty Bell during the Government shutdown last year, Visit Philly spearheaded a campaign to thank essential workers in Philly on Wednesday. Philadelphia says “Thank You”. Check out more on the project at CBSPhilly and Conrad Benner’s Streets Dept blog.

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PhillyGossip: Bendall Has A Date; Kate Winslet Gives Good Face, V-Day Fun

Hey there Thursday, only one more day until frigid cold Friday and St. Valentine’s Day.

I’ll be heading to advertiser, and deliciousness Pinefish at 12th and Pine for my Vday dinner. It’s been too long since I went last but I’ve been jonesing for it.

Last night I was at Slice Pizza in South Philly learning how to create the perfect heart shaped pie. This one is not mine, mine didn’t perform well as it seems that I put too much cheese on it and it didn’t bake right. I’ll keep my day job. Marlo Dilks, co-owner of Slice with husband Jason, tells me you can order ahead, or call up tomorrow and they will deliver you or your loved one a heart shaped pizza. Yesterday on Twitter I asked what do they do with the dough not used in the heart shaped pizza? Marlo tells me they make garlic knots. Now that sounds delicious too!

Speaking of date night, last night Sixers Ben Simmons and girlfriend Kendall Jenner were spotted at Wm. Mulherin’s Sons 1355 N Front St. around 8PM last night. They were spotted by many, bothered by none, but someone was kind enough to send this photo to me and I appreciate it. I hear they enjoyed Francobolli Black Truffle, a Double Margherita Pizza, Ravioloa and a bottle of GL Riscossa Barbera.

Kate Winslet stopped by Vanity Salon on Walnut Street earlier this week to get her face made up pretty by Marlene. While I was away she and her husband dined at Vedge with a few friends. This week Mare of Easton is filming in Aston, Pa.

Buy Persian & Oriental Rugs from Roy’s Rugs! Conveniently located in Historic Mt. Airy. A short distance from Center City and the entire Main Line.

Congrats to NOTO on their 3rd anniversary. They have a stellar line up to celebrate this weekend.

Here’s your chance to be seen by a large, engaged audience. East Passyunk is looking for entertainers for their various outdoor events.

If your in the market for a new home, check out an Open House this weekend at 1549 S Bailey this weekend on Saturday 12-2

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The Four Seasons Hotel Lobby, Jean-Georges and View Review – That Elevator

Welcome back. I’ve lit my pumpkin spice candles and I’m ready to get back to work. How about you? Recently I stopped by the new, much anticipated Four Seasons hotel in the Comcast Technology building to check out the view and food. They were open for about a week when I wandered in, here’s what I found.

Looking towards Jean-Georges restaurant from the JG Sky Bar which is a floor above and looks down on it

An incredible architectural gem we get to claim as part of Philadelphia.

The glass elevator ride was not as scary as I first anticipated, unless you actually look out the glass panel side. There is a full side that is not glass and if you are nervous you can focus on that area and you will be fine.  Do not miss out on the Four Seasons if you are afraid of heights, nothing will happen, the elevators are really amazing and it’s the safest Instagram moment from a height you can imagine.

The check in desk

The ride from the elevator takes about a breathtaking minute, breathtaking cause it’s beautiful not because you’ll be having a panic attack, although I suggest you look towards the doors, or to the left if you are prone to them. The lobby is sleek, modern and mirrored. In fact the whole 60th floor is, which allows you to not only enjoy the beautiful lobby, but the views of the whole City if you just look up. Here I am taking a selfie while facing the check in desk, and enjoying North Philly.

In the lobby I found Brittney Shipp , NBC10 Philadelphia, which is located in the same building on a lower floor, with her mom. From here there are breathtaking views and flower arrangements ( Celebrity Floral Designer Jeff Leatham creates the arrangements. He’s the go to florist to the stars, like Oprah Winfrey, the Kardashians, and Madonna.) ), which is a great location for family photos, Instagram moments, or to just stop and smell the flowers. They are changed every few weeks. This week I saw photos and they’re white.

From the ground floor you take the elevator to the 60th floor, then you go to another bank of elevators to get down to your room. You can’t go from the ground floor to your room without first going back to the lobby which is on the 60th floor. These are the elevators to go to the rooms. There are benches to relax as well as a spectacular view looking west.

The sunset is best viewed from this area looking west, but if someone is sitting in those chairs go to the other elevator bank where there’s an identical view, and no chairs.

On the floor where JG Skybar is the windows have dots on them, making them less than picture perfect. I ran into the Four Seasons GM Ben Shank who told me these were to reflect the sun and keep the room cool. Clever idea without disrupting the views too much. You might recall how hot the Hamilton Garden Roof Top event space was before they added a “roof” and a/c. It might have become a hot box without this added feature.

JG Skyhigh is more than just the hotel’s bar, it’s a destination. It’s more lounge, with tables and comfortable chairs that hug you, spread out on a generous space on the 60th floor. There are nooks and crannies with deuces, or four tops where conversations can be enjoyed as well as lite bites. Jean George takes care of the menu in this space as well, but don’t expect a large menu selection. You can make reservations to sit in the lounge, but you can also walk in as well and wait for a table to open up, sit at the bar or stand around. The day I went the doorman as I entered the building told me it was standing room only.

When I looked around JG SkyHigh I saw a lot of the business leaders, movers and shakers, scenesters, Philebrities and people on dates filling every corner of the breathtaking space. It was like going to a Philly Style Magazine party, my neck was hurting from people saying hello. I wish I had taken more peoples photos, I was taking it all in. Photo top left: Ben Shank, GM Four Seasons Hotel with Sam Cooper and girlfriend Lauren Villa . Sam is in a band, Mt. Joy, they’re playing the Fillmore in Philly Oct 4.

I had promised my friend AJ Mattia we would eat dinner at Jean-Georges in September, but I couldn’t wait and decided to have a bite, I promised myself I wouldn’t do any social media around it so he wouldn’t know.

I’m not to be trusted. I was able to get a seat in Jean-Georges and I dived into the SUMMER TASTING MENU $128 which friends of mine had earlier in the week. It’s a steep price, but the build up to the Four Seasons, and rave reviews about Jean-Georges whet my appetite. (Menu)

Great service by Whitman and Ray. Ask to be seated in Ray’s section.

It was a luxurious treat I don’t regret, a great way to end the summer. Now I can’t wait for the Fall Tasting Menu, and the amazing views that come with it. There are so many restaurants I haven’t tried because of the cost, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try the world renowned Jean Georges restaurant, my friends have all raved about over the years. They were right. Plus the view, oh my the view. I was so wrong in my earlier Social Media posts, it’s spectacular at night as well.

Before I left I was treated to this magnificent lightning storm; no longer will I need to wonder what it would be like to be there during a storm, or experience the view of the City without tinted windows as is the case in most skyscrapers in Philly, or catch the sunset from the tallest building in Philadelphia. You could enjoy all the splendor of this magnificent gem by just going to the lounge, enjoying a cocktail, or even just taking the ride to the 60th floor to to the lobby, take a few photos and head back down again. I have been known to direct tourists to certain buildings, and hotels just see the beautiful views of our City, you know your curious. Just do it.
Check out additional info here and at Visit Philly.

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Scenes From Patti LaBelle Way Ceremony – Boyz II Men repped in the house…

The legendary Patti LaBelle was honored with the renaming of the 200 block of Broad Street yesterday in her honor – Patti LaBelle Way….

Hey there’s Joe Cox, who’s running for City Council at Large, in the pink hair. His flyer says he’s not taking any oil donations.

Another legend in radio Dyana Williams, (r) who is heading back to the airwaves full time on Monday, July 15. She will host the afternoon drive from 3 to 7 p.m. on Classix 107.9 FM, Monday through Thursday, while continuing Soulful Sundays show on WRNB-FM (100.3) with Derrick Sampson . Congrats Dyana!! More on the good news on Inquirer.com

Garces Events. How clever veggies in a “tool box.”
Ric Harris President and General Manager of NBC10 Philadelphia with Little BigSister Band and WanMor Band (Boyz II Men member, Wanya Morris, has formed his own singing group that consists of his four sons!)
Patti poses with the Kimmel Show Stopper Singers!! Congrats Miss Patti, who is getting recognized for her talents, contributions and creating beautiful music for the world. See you on July 4th for the ceremonies (BTW it’s the first time I’m attending as I usually head to the SNJ small towns to photograph their cute parades.) Then catch Patti LaBelle at Parx Casino next Friday July 12!! You know where I’ll be, and it’ll be my 19th show.
Philadelphia

Visit Philly & Palizzi Social Club Dinner Reception for Chefs

Visit Philly & Palizzi Social Club Dinner Reception

The 5th Annual Philly Chef Conference was hosted by Drexel’s Center for Food and Hospitality Management this past weekend. Sunday night, March 11, 2018 Visit Philly hosted a cocktail party at the super secretive delicious members only eatery in South Philly – Palizzi Social Club for chefs participating at the conference as well as the 2018 James Beard Award Semifinalists of Philadelphia.

Palizzi

The Visit Philly Team: Laura Burkhardt, Meryl Levitz, Executive Director and Cara Schneider

Spotted at the soiree was Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality – Outstanding Restaurateur; Rich Landau, Vedge – Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic and Nicholas Elmi, Laurel, Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Meryl Levitz greeted the guests, paying tribute to the chefs saying you create pride in Philadelphia every single day.


Susannah Mauro, Abbe Stern and Kiki Aranita


Ariel Yarolawitz and Pat O’Malley, Hungry Pigeon

Lara Gilmore, wife of Italian chef Massimo Bottura and Alexa Bottura


Justin Kennedy and Leila Cartier


I spy Ben Fileccia, Art Etchells, Manatawny Still Works and Alex Tewfik, Philly Mag’s Foobooz

Brad Thomas Parson,  Writer. Eater. Drinker. Author of BITTERS (winner of James Beard and IACP Cookbook Awards),  and Peter Cohen


Meryl Levitz greets the guests, and pays tribute to the chefs gathered from the Drexel Chefs Conference, as well as the 13 Philly chefs, bakers, bartenders and restaurant gurus named as James Beard Award semifinalist. Philly is known for a few things – Birthplace of the Country, Super Bowl Champs and the most spectacular food scene.


Vaughn Ross, of Mayor Kenney’s Office welcomes guests from NYC, LA and across the seas.


Kate Jacoby, Ellen Yin, Brigid Squilla and Councilman Mark Squilla

The 5th Annual Philly Chef Conference is hosted by Drexel’s Center for Food and Hospitality Management. Drexel University’s vision is based on providing students with real world education while also being active in their local community. The mission of this annual conference is to engage our students with industry leaders while also connecting members of the restaurant community through a day of education. Gabrielle Fenerty and Matt Sanders at your service with a smile.

Thanks Visit Philly and Joey Baldino for your hospitality

 

Philadelphia

Laura Burkhardt, Meg Rider, Alex Tewfik, Kevin Sbraga and a few other Make Moves

Laura Burkhardt, Meg Rider, Alex Tewfik, Kevin Sbraga and a few other Make Moves

We’re a day early with our twice weekly Philly Gossip Column (Sunday & Thursday) but a lot of hot is happening:
2017 is turning out to be one of those years where people are making moves, whether it’s Arthur Etchells who left Foobooz last month and headed to Manatawny Still Works as Philadelphia Region Manager,  as written by his former Foobooz intern at Alex Tewfik who later headed to Philly Eater , but has now left Philly Eater, and is rumored to be stepping into Art’s role at Foobooz, full circle complete.

Then there’s

Laura

Laura Burkhardt, longtime publisher at Where Magazine and now heading to Visit Philly at the end of the month to lead the department of Tourism Engagement with a title of VP Visitor Appeal. (Laura is pictured above with her former editor of Where Philadelphia, Kristina Jenkins, who is now editor of UWISHUNU at Visit Philly)

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Also on the move is Visit Philly employee Jim Werner (c), who is being promoted to VP of Hotel Initiatives and Tourism Development at Visit Philly.  I hear Laura and Jim will have offices next to each other and report directly to Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of VISIT PHILADELPHIA. Let the creativity begin….

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A hearty congratulations is in order to Meg Rider, who is the new co-chair of the Board of The William Way LGBT Center.
Meg’s day job is Guest Relations and Volunteer Services Manager at Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, and she’s also on the board of Philly AIDS Thrift

Chip Olson, Stephanie Olson and Kevin Sbraga
Michael Klein broke the story yesterday that Kevin Sbraga has closed his namesake restaurant Sbraga at Broad and Lombard, and his other city eatery Fat Ham on Walnut Street (Chef-owner Kevin Sbraga will still run The Fat Ham at KOP Mall with it’s delicious chicken and waffles.) I just saw him on Saturday night at The Lemon Ball and he looked as happy as he always is. In fact he’s slim, slim he should have been included in the People Magazine article last week, which I told you about Monday, where Oprah featured chef’s who lost major LBS. He looks like a million bucks, probably could use a million bucks too as the Philly Mag article by Victor Fiorillo stated that he took a big hit when he closed Juniper Commons in 2015 after 6 months. The Inky’s Craig LaBan torpedoed it in a review, and as this town tends to go, one bell or less can shut a restaurant. Recently Aqimero by Richard Sandoval at The Ritz-Carlton received a bad review and the cleaned house. Of course you can’t get rid of Sandoval, but everyone else is gone including the GM, manager and chef. They have a new Chef de Cuisine and his name is

laura

Paulo Mendoza who hails from San Diego and for the past two years was Chef de Cuisine at Sandoval ‘s Venga Venga Cantina & Tequila Bar. Anywho, last week LaBan skewered Scarpetta and they have already made some serious changes.  A couple of my favorite restaurants have gotten one or less LaBan bells and they seem to still pack them in, Del Frisco’s (LaBan said in his review the only thing Del Frisco’s was missing was a stripper pole. So in his honor they installed one. It’s at the end of the bar near the staircase), Ocean Prime, even the former Haru in Old City hung in there for six years after its 2005 no-bell. The Little Lion occupies that spot now, with their one star, and they’re packed to the rafters. Get the chicken.  OK Back to Kevin Sbraga , at The Lemon Ball Kevin told me that every year he donates a chef’s dinner prepared by him for 6 people. The item was a hot bid again Saturday night, and in the end the auctioneer sold two for $11,000 each. Very nice. I look forward to Kevin Sbraga’s next hot restaurant as well. I’m sure it’s going to be something special.

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If you haven’t read Danya Henninger ‘s article on the food scene (What’s Behind The Sudden Slimming Down of the Food Bloggers), which is a story really about the bloggers who initially started covering food over the passed decade until this year when the last two major players left the field. I feel the beginning of the end started in 2012, which was when Drew Lazor left City Paper’s Meal Ticket. For me it was a great time, as I started my blog in 2007, just when the food scene started to take off, when celebrity chefs meant something, and food was just starting to move away from meat and potatoes. I didn’t set out to cover food, but I definitely wanted to cover the folks that did cover the food. On more than one occasion I was invited into their inner sanctuary to break bread; it was great.  (One of my fav old school food blog events with some of the beginners)

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PS Tomorrow I am heading to Florida for a few days. I have pre-posted for the rest of the week, but if I miss something current that I normally would cover, it won’t be here. I’ll have a lot of palm trees and sunshine on my social media though. Best wishes, HughE