Sunday, April 25, 2010

Stephen Starr: Philadelphia's Restaurant Scene Developing At Lightening Speed

el rey logo philadelphiaKYW's Hadas Kuznits sat down and talked with Stephen Starr at El Rey during preparation for its opening and, among other things, asked what he thought about Philadelphia's restaurant growth.

He had this to say:
I think Philadelphia is developing for restaurants at lightening speed. They're popping up everywhere... everywhere you can imagine: South Philly, Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Old City, here [Rittenhouse Square], I mean it's great. There's a giant boom going on in restaurants.
An assessment like that from Starr is good for Philadelphia.

Appropriately, El Rey and the Ranstead Room open today.

Stephen Starr Opens 70's Style Mexican Diner in Center City [ KYW 1060 ]
El Rey [ Official Site ]

Big Guns: Stephen Starr Teaming Up With Sasha Petraske Of NYC's Milk & Honey To Develop Cocktail Program For The Forthcoming El Rey "Speakeasy" Annex

Monday, April 19, 2010

Team Starr Checks In To Remind Us That Many Of Their Establishments Have Outdoor Dining

starr restaurants outdoor dining ad
That may be so, but what's the story with Starr's beer garden?

It was going to be the crucial addition of the summer — not to mention the year — and now it won't open until the fall??

Totally dropping the ball on that one, Steve-o.

The Starr bier garten on Frankford Avenue won't open until after the summer [ Grub Street Philadelphia ]

Stephen Starr To Jose Garces: I'll See Your Beer & Brats Concept And Raise You A Bona Fide German Bier Garten

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stephen Starr Scheduled To Open El Rey This Weekend

starr el rey exterior
Open 14 hours, not 24 | Photo via

Sunday, April 25th is opening day — so reports Michael Klein.

The annex speakeasy, to be called the Ranstead Room, looks to be along for the ride.

Restaurant Notes [ The Insider - ]
Starr's Sneak Peek Photos of El Rey [ Grub Street Philadelphia ]

Big Guns: Stephen Starr Teaming Up With Sasha Petraske Of NYC's Milk & Honey To Develop Cocktail Program For The Forthcoming El Rey "Speakeasy" Annex

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Stephen Starr Reportedly Thinking Rittenhouse Gastropub Again; Also There May Be A Potential Collaboration With New York's Ken Friedman In The Future

the breslin in new york city
Will a Starr Gastropub have a Friedman influence? | Photo via The Breslin

Yesterday Eater reported that Stephen Starr was having a meeting about doing a gastropub in Rittenhouse Square, something he has long been interested in doing.

Eater suggests that the location Starr is eying for said Rittenhouse gastropub is the corner of 18th and Sansom, i.e. one of the retail spaces inside 10 Rittenhouse.

While Serafina is taking one of the spaces inside the new building, maybe there's room for a second restaurant in the building's ground floor retail space?

Or maybe ARC Wheeler would dump Serafina if they strike a deal for a coveted Starr restaurant??

Or maybe, Starr is looking at another space somewhere nearby?

UPDATE: Apparently, it's the latter. Word is Starr is looking to lease the space on the northwest corner of 18th and Sansom, the space that was formerly Stiletto. So not in 10 Rittenhouse, but right across the street.

Eater also wonders if Stephen Starr would team up with New York restaurateur Ken Friedman (Spotted Pig, John Dory, The Breslin, etc.) for a gastropub project, something the two have been talking about for a while.

Friedman told Eater that they'll probably collaborate on something, but in New York not Philly.

UPDATE 2: It's on.

So there's that.

Meanwhile, Starr likes collaborations these days, so who knows.

Does Stephen Starr Want The Spotted Pig For Philly?
[ Eater New York ]

Big Guns: Stephen Starr Teaming Up With Sasha Petraske Of NYC's Milk & Honey To Develop Cocktail Program For The Forthcoming El Rey "Speakeasy" Annex
New Restaurant At 10 Rittenhouse To Be Located At Corner Of 18th And Sansom
Jose Garces Beats Stephen Starr To Rittenhouse Gastropub; Will Only Serve Craft Beer, Figuratively Decimating Every Other Bar In Rittenhouse

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Stephen Starr Reportedly Eying Two New Restaurants In University City: Pizza And Italian

stephen starr philadelphiaLately, Grub Street likes to say half seriously that "Stephen Starr [is] Opening Every Possible Type of Restaurant Everywhere, All the Time."

Well, it's starting to look like that is really the case.

Starr has a semi-ridiculous amount of restaurant projects in the works right now.

All of the following projects are currently at some stage of development:

1. El Rey (opening in April) at 20th and Chestnut.
2. El Rey's yet to be named back bar speakeasy.
3. Beer Garden in Fishtown targeting summer.
4. Pizza place next to Parc this spring.
5. Stella expansion next door.
6. Taking over the old Ansill space at 3rd and Bainbridge.
7. A hotel restaurant in Manhattan.

And now comes word of two more projects he wants to do in West Philadelphia.

The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with Starr regarding his use of the DiningIn restaurant delivery service, and they also asked him if he was working on bringing anything new to their neck of the woods.
Starr said he is considering opening an Italian restaurant in West Philadelphia. He also plans to open two pizza shops, one in West Philadelphia and the other in Rittenhouse Square.

The Starr pizza shop would be "a traditional take out and delivery" with "real thin" and "excellent" pizza, according to Starr.

"I think it's going to be slightly revolutionary for Philly," Starr said. "It's hard to find good pizza in Philly."
If you're looking for a little insight as to what Starr is thinking about as he works on all of these new projects, Plan Philly recently asked Starr why he wanted to create a beer-focused venue (with the Fishtown beer garden).

Starr's response: "I'm always looking for something new to do. I get bored with myself."

And how.

But god bless him.

Dining in, Starr style - will now deliver food from four more Stephen Starr restaurants [ Daily Pennsylvanian ]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Twenty Manning To Be Reincarnated As Twenty Manning Grill

twenty manning philadelphiaMichael Klein first reported on Twenty Manning's closing earlier this month. Owner Audrey Taichman decided to close the restaurant to reconcept and open anew.

The name of the new restaurant had not yet been determined, although Twenty Manning Grill was the leading contender.

Signage went up on the paper-covered windows over the weekend confirming that Twenty Manning Grill will indeed be the new name.

The signage also states the restaurant will serve: fish, fowl, pork and beef.

The new Twenty Manning Grill is supposed to ready to go sometime in April, just in time to take full advantage of two of its greatest assets: its location and its outdoor seating.

Twenty Manning's changeover
[ The Insider - ]

Saturday, March 27, 2010

First Look: Rendering of Wynn Philadelphia Casino

rendering of wynn philadelphia casino
A rendering of Steve Wynn's Philadelphia casino | Image via

Apparently it will have the Wynn name on it.

Exclusive First Look: Wynn Philly [ Vegas Happens Here ]
Changing Skyline: An artful urban casino or more big-box blah? [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Big Guns: Stephen Starr Teaming Up With Sasha Petraske Of NYC's Milk & Honey To Develop Cocktail Program For The Forthcoming El Rey "Speakeasy" Annex

dutch kills bar in long island city
The Bar at Sasha Petraske's Dutch Kills in Long Island City | Image via

In an interview with Plan Philly regarding his plans for opening a beer garden in Fishtown this summer, Stephen Starr also reveals this gem about the back bar at El Rey, his other upcoming project, which he hopes to open in late April at 20th and Chestnut in the old Midtown IV Diner:

"Starr hired the owner of Milk and Honey, located in New York's east side – to develop the cocktail menu."

The owner of Milk and Honey is famed mixologist Sasha Petraske. So we're assuming that's who the reporter means Starr has hired to develop the cocktail program at El Rey.

Which is big news.

Starr has made no secret of his plans for a speakeasy vibe in the back bar at the former diner, which will be connected to the main El Rey restaurant but be "thematically separate" and have it's own entrance on Ranstead Street.

So by hiring Petraske, who helped start the speakeasy trend with Milk and Honey on Manhattan's Lower East Side last decade, to consult on the bar program for the El Rey annex, Starr is breaking out the big guns.

UPDATE: A Starr rep writes in to clarify:
Sasha Petraske will be consulting with Stephen Starr on a yet-to-be named cocktail lounge. The lounge is an annex of Starr’s new restaurant, El Rey, and will feature handcrafted cocktails for which Petraske is known.

While Petraske won’t be consulting on the beverage program within the restaurant itself, the cocktail list at El Rey will include a handful of specialty cocktails featuring fresh, hand-squeezed juices; a limited list of California , Spanish and South American wines; a choice selection of tequilas and mezcals; and an assortment of bottled and draft beer.
Got that?

Petraske is consulting on the cocktail lounge/speakeasy annex to be located at the rear of El Rey, but not on the beverage program at El Rey itself.

Meanwhile, after the El Rey Annex/Speakeasy opens next month, look out. Between it, Village Whiskey, and Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co., there will be a very nice concentration of excellent cocktails in the immediate vicinity of 18th/20th and Sansom/Chestnut.

Other key outtakes from the interview, regarding the beer garden:
- "Starr says local brews will definitely be joining German and Austrian imports on the menu [ at the beer garden]."

- "We want to do a neighborhood-y place. A place that caters to the city, as opposed to the suburbs,” he said.

- 250 seats outside

= When asked why create a beer-focused venue, Starr said, “I'm always looking for something new to do. I get bored with myself.”

- Starr has no love for the casino projects: "When asked what the proximity of SugarHouse, and, further south on Columbus, Foxwoods, would do for his business, Starr said, "I think they do nothing for it. I'm not a big fan of the casino thing.'

Yo Fishtown: A Biergarten is in your future [ Plan Philly ]

Starr Poaches Longtime Xochitl Chef Dionicio Jimenez From Team Cook-Solomonov For Forthcoming Midtown Diner Project

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jose Garces' Mercat A La Planxa Is A James Beard Award Finalist For Restaurant Graphics

mercat a la planxa graphic
Some of the nominated work | Images via

mercat a la planxa t shirts
mercat a la planxa graphic
mercat a la planxa noteWhile the nomination is for the work done for Jose Garces' Chicago restaurant, Mercat a la Planxa, if the Mercat graphics win, the award goes to the design firm — Korn Design out of Boston — that did the design work, not Garces.

Note: Korn Design won the Beard Award in this category in 2009 for the work they did for a Denver restaurant.

Outstanding Restaurant Graphics
[ James Bear Awards ]
Korn Design [ Official Site ]
Mercat a la Planxa [ Official Site ]`

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dwight Schrute Enjoys A Lionshead Beer On The Office

dwight enjoys a lionshead beer on the office
Lion Brewery of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania represent.

Nice attention to detail on the part of the show's producers. Now if only the Always Sunny gang would start drinking local beer at Paddy's Pub.

Clip below.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Stephen Starr Wins Career Design Award

morimoto restaurant in new york city
Morimoto in New York City | Photo via SRO

Hospitality Design Magazine has named Stephen Starr a 2010 Platinum Circle design award recipient.

About the award: "For the past two decades, Platinum Circle has been awarded to industry luminaries—architects, designers, owner/operators, purchasers—who have demonstrated the highest degree of excellence throughout their careers."

HD Announces 2010 Platinum Circle Honorees [ Hospitality Design ]