Chops - the steak house that started in Bala Cynwyd and expanded to Washington Square before shuttering last year - is back in business.
Alex Plotkin's brand occupies the former Table 31 at the Comcast Center at 17th and JFK Boulevard. Chops' outdoor operation on the plaza in front of the Comcast Center opened in the spring.
Eimer Design redid Chops' two-story bar area, opening it up to the outside windows on the 17th Street side and adding a gas fireplace. The dining room is more colorful.
Chef David Boyle, who spent more than a decade at Davio's, oversees a steak-house menu whose entrées, based on designer beef, are about $15 to $20 at lunch and $28 to $62 at dinner.
Winnie and Bob Clowry are venturing next door from their Winnie's Le Bus in Manayunk - into the space that was Bella Trattoria - to open a barbecue restaurant this winter called Smokin' John's (4258 Main St.). Namesake John O'Brien is their chef at Winnie's. Due more imminently is the opening of Rubb, a barbecue joint, at 4311 Main St.
What was Big John's Steaks & Pizza for 30 years on Route 70 in Cherry Hill will become Rockhill, which will take a more refined approach to casual dining when it opens in early November. Andrew Welder, whose family owns Peppermill in West Chester, is behind it. Marc Oppen, most recently operator of Ocean Prime in Center City, will run it.
Rob Halpern sold West Philadelphia's Marigold Kitchen (501 S. 45th St.) to two of his chefs, and now it's back under Andrew Kochan and Tim Lanza, young bucks in their mid-20s who met at culinary school. Halpern's executive chef, the Culinary Institute of America-trained Keith Krajewski, remains, too. They offer ambitious, 14-course tasting menus for $90. Included are such plates as FLT (foie gras, lettuce, and tomato), duck negima maki, and eggs-Benedict-flavored "dipping dots."
The plush GG's, which had been in the DoubleTree Suites in Mount Laurel for 20 years, has yielded to the more casual Redz (515 Fellowship Rd. N.). Chef Mirko Loeffler was last at Royal Cracovia in Magnolia. Owner Mitchell Davis named the place after the redheads in his life - his fiancee, mother, sister, and red golden retriever. The menu has something for everyone. Redz is open daily for lunch and dinner.
Ting Wong, the Hong Kong-style duck house on 10th Street in Chinatown, is planning to close at the end of October after 15 years. Employees said its lease was expiring.
Hiroyuki "Zama" Tanaka has bowed to pressure and added sushi to the menu of coZara, his Japanese bar (izayaka) at Chestnut Square in University City.
Frosted Mug Cafe is the name of the new beer pub at the Acme market at 19th Street and Oregon Avenue in South Philadelphia, which stocks 400 varieties and offers frosted mugs and glasses to dine-in patrons. Though suburban supermarkets have been selling beer and six-packs to go for several years, this is the first in the city to do so.
More restaurant news at www.philly.com/mike