A big deal in Chestnut Hill, and a shocker on the side:
Al Paris, Benjamin Bynum and Robert Bynum have signed a deal to install Paris Bistro, a '30s-style French bistro with a bar upstairs and a jazz cafe downstairs, in the former spot occupied by the Melting Pot in the Chestnut Hill Hotel on Germantown Avenue.
Paris - who will be chef, as he is at Heirloom, a BYO up the street at the Top of the Hill - said he expected it to open in the late spring. (Last fall, I told you about an Italian-leaning bistro called Bardea that would take over that space; that deal fell through, said the owner, Scott Stein, who said he was looking elsewhere in Chestnut Hill for a spot.)
Now for the shocker: Jonathan's Best, a gourmet shop that's been at the side of the hotel since the 1980s, is closing at the end of March. The Bynums are installing Green Soul - their health-food cafe now in Ogontz - in that spot; Paris said they were unsure what they would do with the original location.
Jonathan's owner, David Schieber, said he was not at all unhappy to be leaving Chestnut Hill, as he has a location at Reading Terninal Market to fall back on.
This is a man with a new sense of purpose. Several years ago, after the death of his wife, Janet, he said he was ready to die. He climbed the steps of the Art Museum in a rainstorm and called to the heavens to ask God and Janet to take him. If not, he said, he would live a good life.
"They didn't take me," he said.
He told me that he met a woman in the Philippines through Skype. After long chats, he flew her to Philly and they married six months ago. He's 67, and added with considerable pride, she is 29.