Forget bonds or gold. Perhaps -- as one guy in the food business was telling me this morning -- with the stock market tanking and the economy in a shambles, private investors are focusing on restaurants.
I ran this theory by a restaurateur with two locations, and he reasoned, "My restaurant isn't off 30 percent."
This might explain the recent crush of restaurant projects. I still don't see too many gigantic projects on the horizon, but any closings seem to be more than offset by newcomers.
Here are a few more projects to add to the pile:
- Valentino on the Square (267 S. 19th St.), just south of Rittenhouse Square at 19th and Manning, is being remodeled (darker, cozier) as an Italian wine bar called DiVino. Owner Cosimo Tricarico says it'll be open in a couple of weeks. Tricarico has added a second-floor banquet room to his Caffe Valentino at Moyamensing and Wharton in Pennsport. He also has sold his stake in the Valentino at 1328 Pine St., and it's being redone.
- Lynda Hoseno says she is about a week from opening Lynda's Mediterranean, a BYOB, at 1617 E. Passyunk Ave. in South Philly, which last was Clementine's. She's a home-trained cook born in Algeria, and she says the moderate-priced menu will reflect her homeland.
- What was the short-lived Peppercorns on Moyamensing Avenue in Pennsport is being redone and is supposed to soft-open in a couple of weeks. Name is still TBA, and I won't yet name the owner, who also has a posh spot in Wilmington after years with a steakhouse chain, or the chef, who was the sous at a well-known BYOB that closed. This should be interesting.
- Speaking of wine bars, Tria is considering (and I hear only considering at this stage) a lease at 2054 South St. Owner Jon Myerow is keeping his options open and still wants to create a third Tria in (take your pick) Graduate Hospital, Fairmount, Bella Vista or Queen Village. He needs 1,000 to 1,500 square feet plus a basement.