Ten years ago this month, Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney popped open the door of Lolita, a Mexican BYOB on 13th Street between Chestnut and Sansom.
The BYOB launched their restaurant empire, all within several blocks - Barbuzzo, Jamonera, and Little Nonna's. They also own the grocery store Grocery; a gift shop, Verde; and a furnishings store, Open House.
The neighborhood grew up, too, and Lolita needed a liquor license. Safran and Turney decided to renovate, as well. They closed in August.
On Friday, about eight months later, Lolita (106 S. 13th St., 215-546-7100) is to reopen.
All grown up, Lolita has a new, 30-foot, concrete, 16-seat bar/chef's counter that looks into the open kitchen.
Turney's menu is billed as Mexican street food. The bar, with eight beers on tap, will serve margaritas using the mixes that Lolita made famous in its BYOB days. It will be open nightly; lunch will begin soon.
Crow & the Pitcher
In what may be the city's first bar named after an Aesop's fable, the casual, rustically romantic Crow & the Pitcher is up and running at 267 S. 19th St. (267-702-0059), just south of Rittenhouse Square. Chef Alex Capasso (ex-Blackbird) and veteran manager Michael Franco (most recently at Per Se) - both alums of Georges Perrier's empire - have a cheese room as well as a rehabbed cheese cart from the old Le Bec-Fin. Capasso's menu - cheffy stuff such as coxcomb and veal sweetbreads, in addition to a burger, a pot pie, rabbit leg, and a $28 rib eye - is priced for the neighborhood. It's open Tuesday through Sunday starting at dinner.
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. Also on the way is Wahlburgers, a spin-off of the Boston burger shop owned by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg; no location has been signed.
Few bars employ a bourbon master, which is the title of Medford-bred Brian Bevilacqua at the new Bank & Bourbon at the Loews Philadelphia in Center City. He oversees an ambitious program that allows patrons to barrel-age their choice of whiskey. Bevilacqua, who calls himself a cocktail nerd, stumbled into spirits. While underage, he said, he became acquainted with Sazerac from his brother-in-law, who is from New Orleans, and also bought his first cocktail book, Cocktail by Paul Harrington.
The Hattery Stove & Still, opening in May in the Doylestown Inn, has hired a chef: Hakeem Otenigbagbe, a Nigeria-born French Culinary Institute grad, who will give up his daily commute to New York's Blue Fin at the W Hotel in Times Square. He previously was chef at Union Trust.
Liberte Lounge at the Sofitel Hotel in Center City has imported chef Justin Perdue from Chicago's Sofitel.
More restaurant news at www.philly.com/mike.