Friday, April 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, April 21, 2014, 2:12 PM
Brian Bevilacqua pours one at Bank & Bourbon at the Loews Philadelphia. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

Every bar has a head bartender, perhaps a food and beverage director, and nowadays a "mixologist" or two.

How many employ a bourbon master?

When the Loews Philadelphia hotel redid its ground-floor restaurant recently at 12th and Market Streets, management decided to devote considerable space and energy to bourbon: not only to a solid list, but an ambitious barrel-aging program that would allow customers to rent a barrel, fill it with the spirit or spirits of their choice, and visit periodically to taste the beverage as it ages. It also created a tiny tasting room tucked behind a fake bookshelf.

Bank and Bourbon Kentucky Tour from Reid Olson on Vimeo.

POSTED: Monday, April 21, 2014, 12:26 PM
TV host Marc Summers at Buddakan, April 14, 2014. (STEPHANIE AARONSON /

The longest-running Food Network series is Unwrapped, in which host Marc Summers dissects the making of snack foods, including Twinkies, Tastykakes, Goldfish crackers, pretzel rods, potato chips and the like.

"We had all this footage from 15 years of Unwrapped," Summers said. "How could we, as they say in the industry, repurpose that?"

How about a competition?

POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014, 2:39 PM

Mike Stollenwerk - for nearly a decade one of our town's most visible seafood chefs - has been operating under the radar since last summer.

After a round of bad luck with his own restaurants (Fish, Fathom) and a short-lived teaming at Branzino in Rittenhouse last year, he decamped to South Street and Headhouse Crab & Oyster Co.

He recently launched a menu that reprises versions of his earlier hits, including Fathom Fries (topped with crabmeat, brown gravy and Old Bay) and a decadent spin on skate: truffled skate frites that presents the firm-fleshed fish with truffle fries and truffle butter.

POSTED: Friday, April 18, 2014, 10:34 AM
New Robeks store, run by Kimberly Berger of Penn Valley, will be at 1035 Chestnut St. (Photo: KYLE BORN (inset))

Robeks, the L.A.-rooted made-to-order smoothie/fresh juice giant, has inked its first lease in the Philly area - the first of what is billed as 37 locations in the greater metro area.

The shop is expected to open in July at 1035 Chestnut St., half of a former women's clothing shop near Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. (The Jeff community should be pumped about this news, given the recent arrival of a Sweetgreen salad shop at 924 Walnut.)

Robeks' regional director is Kimberly Berger of Penn Valley, a transplant from Fairfield, Conn., and corporate refugee. She became hooked on the company, which is growing quickly via franchising.

Robeks, founded in 1996, was among the first bigger outfits to use Greek yogurt, and offers dairy-free, soy and almond milk options.
POSTED: Thursday, April 17, 2014, 4:02 PM
Wahlburgers. (Getty Images photos)

The chain burger boom shows no sign of abating.

Following such recent arrivals as Shake Shack, Zinburger, Bobby's Burger Palace, Burger Monger, Elevation, and Smashburger (and the impending deals to import Bareburger and Good Stuff Eatery), the Philly area is in line to get as many as five locations of Wahlburgers.

That's the up-and-coming Boston-area burger bar fronted by brothers Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlberg. It's also the subject of an A&E reality series, Wahlburgers. Filming on 18 additional episodes for its second season is due to begin this spring at the location, at Hingham Shipyard (that's "HING-em SHIP-yahd").

POSTED: Thursday, April 17, 2014, 3:08 PM
King's Oak at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties.

King's Oak, one of the larger indoor-outdoor bar-restaurants at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties, is on its way out after two and a half years.

The Piazza has put a real estate listing for the 4,300 square feet into the hands of Michael Salove Co.

Owner Brian Nagele said he was looking for a bigger place downtown with better foot traffic.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 4:33 PM
Jimmy G's Steaks at Broad Street and Ridge Avenue. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

Jimmy G's Steaks, which opened last fall in the shadow of the Divine Lorraine Hotel at Broad and Ridge, did not necessarily grow out of a love of food.

Father and son Glen and Nick Strafella, in the check-cashing business, bought the building to thwart a possible competitor.

Then friend Jimmy Markasis got on board and they fixed up the ramshackle building and went into the sandwich biz.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 3:45 PM

Third in a series that follows the creation of Charlie Was a Sinner, the curiously named vegan bar at 131 S. 13th St. from entrepreneur Nicole Marquis, owner of the HipCityVeg quick-serve shops. Part 1 is here. And Part 2 is here.

Just a quick update here:

Although Marquis had believed that the bar would open in mid-April, she is hoping to get rolling by Cinco de Mayo.

About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at

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