Monday, December 21, 2009

'Restaurant Of The Future' A Little Bit Starr And A Little Bit Garces

the bazaar by jose andres at the sls hotel in beverly hills
One area of The Bazaar by Jose Andres in Beverly Hills — the restaurant of the future? | Photo via

The Wall Street Journal recently published an insightful article about how The Bazaar by Jose Andres at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills may be a harbinger of the future of dining.

The piece cites key aspects about the restaurant that correspond with strong overall trends in the restaurant industry, such as:

- Snacks Replace the Meal
- The Bar Is the Focus
- The Open Floor Plan
- Rejecting Traditional Fine Dining
- It's in a Hotel

It also provides counterpoints so as to never paint itself too far into a corner. E.g.
Snacks Replace the Meal

THE BAZAAR: Serves only tapas, or small plates, which can be ordered a la carte or as part of a multicourse menu.

THE FUTURE? Small-plates restaurants have been growing throughout the decade, but in the past year have made a quantum leap in popularity as restaurateurs look for ways to offer customers cheaper food without appearing to discount.
OR A FAD? Tapas are a Spanish tradition but not all food works tapas-style, and some diners will be reluctant to give up the familiar appetizer-entrée-dessert approach to a nice dinner out.
Anecdotal evidence supports the theory. While, The Bazaar has grossed more than $13 million in its first year, putting it in the top 50 highest earning restaurants in the country, other fine dining restaurants have been hit hard by the economy.
The $8 billion fine-dining business — the category of meals costing $70 and up — has been the hardest-hit sector of the struggling restaurant industry. Nearly every city has lost one of its most famous restaurants in the past two years, from the Striped Bass and Susanna Foo in Philadelphia to D'Amico Cucina in Minneapolis to Boston's Icarus and New York's Chanterelle.
Also interesting: the successes of both Stephen Starr and Jose Garces are referenced in the article.

For his part, Stephen Starr is quoted for what the restaurant of the future will not be. And that is, as he's said before, a restaurant like his Buddakan or Morimoto in New York City, which required inordinate amounts of raised capital to finance.
Three years ago, restaurateur Stephen Starr raised $15 million to build Buddakan and $11 million for Morimoto, both non-hotel restaurants in New York. "Getting that kind of money today for restaurants is impossible. It'll never happen in our lifetime again," Mr. Starr says.
While Chef Jose Garces is cited for his tapas prowess.
Over the past four years, Philadelphia chef Jose Garces has built a small empire of five small-plates restaurants and plans to open three more next year.

The small-plates format is a clever way around consumers' psychological barriers to restaurant spending. Consumer research shows that patrons order more when individual dishes are priced fairly low, and they don't spend time adding up the costs. Especially while the economy is soft, many fine-dining restaurants will offer a small-plates menu, either as a bar menu or instead of a traditional menu.
Meanwhile, both Starr and Garces seem to be affirming several of the article's theses in their own pursuits.

They both like the idea of hotel restaurants. Starr has Steak 954 at the W in Ft. Lauderdale and is currently pursuing another hotel restaurant in New York City. Before the recession killed (or at least severely wounded) them, Garces was looking at projects at new hotel properties in both Las Vegas (Fontainebleau) and Atlantic City (Revel).

And Starr's pull out from the Chelsea Hotel was more of a critical assessment of Atlantic City's prospects than it was about his interest in hotel ventures in general.

Garces obviously likes small plates. But as can be seen with the Cantina at Distito, he's willing to go even more accessible with it.

Starr's pushing casual too. Pizzeria Stella. Mexico City. Bar menu at Barclay Prime. Et cetera.

Overall, if these trends are, in fact, indicative of the big-time restaurants of the future, at least they sound relatively more fun and social.

Restaurant of the Future? A new model is changing the dining landscape across the country. The rise of small plates, big bars and hotel restaurants. [ Wall Street Journal ]

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Rob McElhenney's Forthcoming Always Sunny Inspired, Old City Bar Has A Name: Mac's Olde Towne Tavern

mac from it's always sunny in philadelphiaAs reported by Michael Klein in his Inqlings column on Sunday.

Can't say it's the greatest name in the world but not sure we care.

It should make money regardless.

Inqlings: A partly 'Sunny' bar for Old City [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Mac From It's Always Sunny To Open Actual Bar In Philadelphia

Chelse Prime Doing Ok Without Stephen Starr; Starr Now Pursuing New Hotel Restaurant In New York City

the chelsea hotel in atlantic cityThe Press of Atlantic City reports that Chelsea Prime is doing fine without the oversight of Starr Restaurant Organization, in the three months since SRO and the Chelsea split.

Meanwhile, Stephen Starr is not sour on hotel projects. As was widely reported last week, Starr is now pursuing a new project in New York City that will be located at a hotel.

As to which hotel, Starr is not saying. But the speculation has already begun.

Chelsea Prime's just fine without Starr [ Press of Atlantic City ]
Stephen Starr Planning Vietnamese Restaurant in NYC Hotel [ Eater New York ]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mac From It's Always Sunny To Open Actual Bar In Philadelphia

mac from it's always sunny in philadelphiaSo a couple of weeks back, we triangulated the theoretical location of the fictional Paddy's Pub from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Which turned out to be right around the corner from where Mac (aka Rob McElhenney) grew up in Pennsport in South Philadelphia.

And now we hear that Mac is coming back to his hometown as a bar owner... Word is that he and Dee (real life husband and wife, McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson) have purchased an actual bar in Old City.

Skinner's to be exact.

Which, incidentally, is only two blocks away from the unaffiliated Paddy's Pub on Race Street.

This is what McElhenney had to say earlier this year to Temple News:
TTN: Do you still have ties to Philadelphia?

RM: I’m home now more than I was when I lived in New York. I come home for Christmas and all the major holidays. My parents live in King of Prussia and Delaware County. My closest friends are guys I went to high school with.

I’m actually in the process of buying a bar in Philly with guys I went to high school with. It’s in the early stages, but they’ll run everything, and I’ll get back as much as I can. We’re still planning it, but it looks like we’ll open it in Center City.
Phoodie actually called Skinner's and got close to a confirmation.

Mystery Location Of Paddy's Pub In It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia Finally Revealed

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Maybe Shake Shack Is Coming To Philadelphia...

shake shack madison square park
Shake Shack is looking to expand up and down the East Coast | Photo via Shake Shack

An article in today's New York Times takes a look at Shake Shack and its expansion plans, which could include 20 Shake Shack locations within five years, "mostly up and down the East Coast."

Philadelphia is on the East Coast. So look out.
Mr. Meyer’s accidental empire began with a hot dog cart in 2001, part of an art installation in Madison Square Park. “To our astonishment, every day, a line would form,” Mr. Meyer said. The cart expanded into a burger stand, “and none of us had any idea that that could be a success.”
The popularity of the Shake Shacks has been wildly beyond expectations, partly due to their humble order average of $13, “perfect for this economy,” Mr. Swinghamer said.

Remarkably, with more than $4 million in yearly sales, each of the Manhattan Shacks outdistances both premium and mass-market burger chains. McDonald’s, for example, has an average of $2.29 million in yearly revenues from each of its 13,958 outlets, according to Technomic, a Chicago-based restaurant consultant. The Shacks also outdo a premium-burger legend, the Virginia-based Five Guys Burgers and Fries; its 535 stores each average $1.03 million in sales.
So how fast and how far can the Hospitality Group take this? Five Guys began franchising only in 2003, and has now ballooned to 535 stores. "Our focus is not on how many you do," Mr. Swinghamer said bluntly. "If we can't do it right? We won’t do it."

Mr. Meyer commented that "we will grow as broadly as we can, without losing the quality, the hospitality, the community. And the sense of humor."
Quality article. Give it a read.

Meanwhile, Eater is even holding a contest, in which entries are submissions for where the next Shake Shack should be and why...

The Accidental Empire of Fast Food - Union Square Cafe's Danny Meyer Makes a Fast-Food Chain [ New York Times ]
Will the 'Shacking of America' Make a Pitstop in America's Birthplace? [ Grub Street Philadelphia ]
Make Your Case for Shake Shack #9, Win $50 of Burgers [ Eater New York ]

Friends Of Rittenhouse Square Looking At Ways To Monetize Park; A Permanent Food Concession (A La Square Burger/Shake Shack) Is One Potential Outcome

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Friends Of Rittenhouse Square Looking At Ways To Monetize Park; A Permanent Food Concession (A La Square Burger/Shake Shack) Is One Potential Outcome

shake shack in madison square park new york city
Rent from food concessions is one way urban parks are generating revenue | Photo via

No, Shake Shack is not coming to Philadelphia. (At least not yet...)

But the photo is illustrative of the concept that is now applicable to Rittenhouse Square. Albeit, on a smaller scale.

The Friends of Rittenhouse Square are in the process of evaluating different ways the park can generate revenue.

For example, one way could be charging fees for organizations to host events (e.g. art shows, fashion shows, etc.) in the square. Or finding corporate sponsors for the square. Or assessing neighboring property owners.

And/or, yes, leasing a food concession to an eager restaurateur.

Not completely unlike Square Burger. Or Shake Shack. (Except Rittenhouse Square's location having much greater demand than Franklin Square.)

To help them evaluate the square's revenue-generation options, the Friends of Rittenhouse Square have hired Dan Biederman, who was responsible for turning around Manhattan's Bryant Park in the early 90s. His consulting firm, Biederman Redevelopment Ventures Corporation, now specializes in public space projects across the world.

(Bryant Park has been completely self-sustaining since 1998 and now generates more than $7 million dollars annually to be invested back into the park. In the winter, they turn the park's beautiful green lawn into a skating rink complete with a two-story bar and restaurant.)

Inga Saffron first reported on this in November:
Striking the balance between public and private goals will be tricky. Should Rittenhouse Square allow a food concession? Franklin Square did, but it isn't surrounded by restaurants.
The new management structure wouldn't be just about making money. Rosen can imagine setting aside space for yoga classes or a children's story hour. She wants to close the park's 18th Street side for occasional block parties with local restaurants.
The Friends of Rittenhouse Square are smart for looking at ways to make the park self-sustaining and not reliant on public dollars.

The challenge will be raising revenue while also keeping as much of the park as possible open as public space as often as as possible.

Friends of Rittenhouse Square Look to Revitalize the Park [ KYW 1060 ]
Daniel A. Biederman Named Consultant for the Friends of Rittenhouse Square [ PR Newswire ]
Changing Skyline: Struggle to make season bright on the square [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Monday, December 14, 2009

With Comcast To Soon Own Bravo, Getting Top Chef To Film An Upcoming Season In Philadelphia Should Not Be Exceedingly Difficult

comcast center philadelphia by b. mauleJust something worth noting.
At every turn, Comcast has emphasized to its own shareholders that the deal's purpose is to gain control over NBC Universal’s fast-growing cable channels.
Including Bravo.

The purchase of NBC-Universal could take more than a year to process completely.

But after it does, Comcast should seriously consider wielding its influence on such decisions as "where Season 8 of Top Chef should film."

G.E. Makes It Official: NBC Will Go to Comcast [ New York Times ]
NBC-Comcast Deal Puts Broadcast TV in Doubt [ New York Times ]
Comcast: Not your traditional Philadelphia firm [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

[ Photo by B. Maule of ]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stephen Starr Also Pushing For Top Chef To Film In Philadelphia

stephen starr and tom colicchio on top chefMeal Ticket scored an interview with Starr regarding his appearance on the season finale of Top Chef.

The last question asked Starr about the possibility of bringing the show to Philadelphia.
Q. What are the chances of seeing a Top Chef season set in Philly in the future?

A. I don't know. Of course I put my two cents in that they should do that. I've pushed the producers. I told them they need to come to Philly, it's a great culinary town. I think they are considering it.
Well, 'considering it' is better than 'not considering it.'

INTERVIEW: Stephen Starr discusses the Top Chef Las Vegas Final Table [ Meal Ticket ]

Tom Colicchio Wants To Open A Restaurant In Philadelphia And *GASP* Maybe Even Film Top Chef Here

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tom Colicchio Wants To Open A Restaurant In Philadelphia And *GASP* Maybe Even Film Top Chef Here

tom colicchio top chef vegas
Roll the dice, Tom | Photo via Bravo

Tom Colicchio did a Top Chef season finale interview with The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Philadelphia unexpectedly came up during the interview not once, but twice.

Q. Rumor has it that Stephen Starr is a guest diner on tonight’s show. When can we expect the empire to expand to Philadelphia?

A. I want to — plans were in the works but Stephen might have taken the space instead actually. Two great restaurants, Vetri and Osteria are there. They’re incredible. Development dollars are low right now so no immediate plans, but we’ll see for the future.
1) Awesome that Colicchio wants to bring one of his Craft restaurants to Philadelphia. 2) Meanwhile, what was the space here in Philadelphia that Starr grabbed before Tom could get his hands on it?

Then, two questions further into the interview, the real shocker:
Q. Have you thought about Top Chef international?

A. We go where the money is. I would love to do the show in London -– in a heartbeat. One of the producers is a Brit so I think he’d like that as well.

Q. Are there any cities right now that might experience a culinary revival, say in a couple years after they go through puberty?

A. I think DC and Philly are having a great moment. It would be great to film in both of those places.
Chicago presented such an excellent backdrop for the show because of the food culture.
What the WHAT?!

Tom Colicchio just said it'd be great to film Top Chef in Philadelphia — that is a huge endorsement.

Sure Philadelphia could be a great host city, but it's rare for someone from outside the city (let alone Tom Colicchio) to recognize as much and give Philadelphia such a glowing endorsement in the The Wall Street Journal.

And considering the strength of said endorsement, along with his connections to Top Chef, and the fact that Season 7 of the show, to begin filming in early 2010, is still looking for a host city, the question now becomes whether Philadelphia is going to do anything with the endorsement? Like take the hint and start to court the shit out of Top Chef's producers.

Because it appears that Washington DC is already aggressively pursuing Bravo, seeking to bring the show to DC.

And we don't blame them.

"Top Chef" Season 6 Finale: Head Judge Tom Colicchio Offers a Preview [ Wall Street Journal ]
Bringing Bravo’s Top Chef to DC [ We Love DC ]

Tom Colicchio Road Trips Through Philly, Making Sure To Break His Vetri Cherry

Monday, December 07, 2009

Laban Annoints The Village Whiskey Burger As The City's Best

Craig Laban has a new favorite burger: the $9 Village Burger at Village Whiskey. (Note: not the $24 Whiskey King Burger.)
Add to this mix a splash of super-chef Jose Garces, and rest assured that the burger itself has also been given its gastronomic due. Ground in-house daily from grass-fed, naturally raised Maine beef, with different grind sizes for the various cuts in the blend, and an ingenious shaping technique that results in patties with a perfect end-grain (as opposed to one big bouncy smush), this is now my single favorite Philly burger.

One can top it with shaved white Alba truffles or creamy pads of seared foie gras, or a cool salad of sweet lump crab tossed with horseradish crème fraîche. But such gilding, aside from some cave-aged Vermont cheddar or smoky Oregon bleu, is hardly necessary. The liver, in fact, actually gets in the way of the primal satisfaction this $9 wonder already gives. With its ideal seasoning, meaty tenderness, and butter-crisped bun, its flavor lingers on my taste buds with the all-day mineral shine of a far more expensive cut of beef. The sweet amber sting of whiskey only intensifies the hum.
Two bells for Village Whiskey overall.

Village Whiskey - Jose Garces' latest tempts with fine spirits and a burger that is Philadelphia's best. Good luck getting [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Craig LaBan's Favorite Burgers - 2007 [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Jen Carroll Is Extremely Happy At 10 Arts And Does Not Plan On Leaving Anytime Soon

Jennifer Carroll has given several exit interviews since departing Top Chef in Part 1 of the Season Finale on Wednesday, including a good one on Grub Street.

However, it was her exit interview with TV Guide in which she revealed that a) she felt strongly about winning the competition to represent not just herself and her restaurant, but also Philadelphia, and b) she's extremely happy at 10 Arts doing what she's doing and it won't be easy to lure her away. Why do you think you got so emotional at the end?

Jen: Throughout the whole season, I've been pretty hard on myself. When I do one thing wrong, it's a monster mistake to me because I like to things to be perfect. But I got emotional because I was disappointed in myself and wanted to go further. I wanted to represent Philadelphia, myself, the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Eric Ripert in the final episode. I wanted to win, so it was a disappointment. I never thought the experience was going to be as emotional as it was, and I cried the whole season. [Laughs] When people left, I was so upset because I became so close to them. I had seen other people crying on the show [in past seasons] and was like, "They've only known each other two weeks, how are they that good of friends?" But it's truly a bonding experience. Do you have any regrets?

Jen: I regret the little mistakes, but I don't regret being on the show. It's been great for the restaurant and the hotel and Philly as a whole. I'm still Chef de Cuisine [at] 10 Arts by Eric Ripert, which is in the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia. Right now we're just living in the afterlife of Top Chef. [Laughs] I have no plans on moving anywhere or doing anything different. I'm extremely happy where I am. Eric is so proud of me and all of my bosses have been such an amazing support throughout the season.
Love to see the hometown pride.

Well done, Jennifer. Please do stay awhile.

Top Chef's Jen: "I Was Thrown" by Tom Colicchio's Comment [ TV Guide ]
Jen Carroll Will Pronounce Ceviche Any Way She'd Like
[ Grub Street Philadelphia ]

Friday, December 04, 2009

Obama In Allentown Today, Lunching At Hamiton Family Restaurant

ham fam diner in allentown pa
Obama ate lunch at the Hamilton Family Restaurant | Image via

President Obama is visiting the Lehigh Valley today to talk about jobs. After his speech at Lehigh Carbon Community College, he headed to the Hamilton Family Restaurant for lunch.

So even though he didn't dine out when he was in Philadelphia back in September, at least he is showing a little love for a Pennsylvania eatery today.

UPDATE: The President had the cheeseburger.

Allentown's eateries hungry for chance to feed Obama [ Allentown Morning Call ]

Obama To Visit Philly On Tuesday, But Will He Stay For Dinner?

Will Allen Iverson's Return Mark A Return To Glory For The Houlihan's And TGI Friday's Of City Avenue?

NBC Philadelphia very astutely wonders if, now that Allen Iverson is coming back to Philadelphia, he will end up patronizing some of his favorite hangouts from the good old days.

Like the Houlihan's and TGI Friday's that reside across from each other on City Ave. at Presidential, two establishments which AI used to frequent multiple times a week earlier in his career.

To each his own. If Allen still loves his Friday's, we're not going to judge.

We just hope that he throws Center City a bone every now and again. Maybe a pop-in here and there...

It's been three years since he left and we're sure he would be very happy at a number of the new dining establishments that have opened since he left.

And Allen, the fans here would love to see you out and about. Here in town. Dining among the people.

UPDATE: That was quick.

Meanwhile, below is the latest evidence as to why Allen Iverson is probably the greatest individual we'll ever know.

Goddammit, Allen Iverson — you had at us at hello.

You had us at hello.

Is City Ave. Ready for Iverson's Return? [ NBC Philadelphia ]

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chef Daniel Stern Shares Thoughts On Menu Trends For 2010

As part of their 2010 food trends blowout, Restaurants & Institutions has a Q&A with Chef Daniel Stern about menu trends to look out for in the coming year.

Among other things, Stern addresses the recession and its effects, the differences and similarities between MidAtlantic and R2L, and some of the things he thinks consumers are looking for when dining out.

Menu Trends Q&A: Daniel Stern, Mid-Atlantic and R2L
[ Restaurants & Institutions ]

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Philebrity Nominated The Illadelph For An Award

Which was very kind of them.

And even though we have not been covering as much general Philadelphia stuff of late, it's nice to have been included with our fellow nominees.

(Jose Garces and Shane Victorino among them — albeit for entirely different categories...)

Anyway, a big thanks to all of our readers — you guys have great taste.

The 2009 Philebrity Awards

God Bless Allen Iverson (II)

Welcome back.

You have been missed.


Merry Christmas to us.

He's Back; Iverson accepts 76ers offer [ ESPN ]

Is The Stephen Starr - Jose Garces Rivalry Escalating?

letto deli philadelphia
The coveted Letto Deli in Midtown Village — a culprit?

A brief time line:

- 2001: Jose Garces goes to work for Stephen Starr (via Douglas Rodriguez) at Alma de Cuba.

- 2003: Stephen Starr opens El Vez after then employee Jose Garces brings him the concept.

- 2003: Garces debuts as Executive Chef at El Vez's opening for Starr.

- 2005: Garces leaves El Vez and SRO, opens Amada.

- 2005 - 2008: Both Starr and Garces enjoy success independently.

And now, the fun part:

- July 2008: Garces opens Distrito, directly competing with and looking somewhat similar to El Vez.

Says Garces at the time: "I opened El Vez in 2003. It was a concept I actually brought to Stephen [Starr]. When I left, of course, I had to leave El Vez behind. This [Distrito] feels like I'm taking back something that was mine, very close to my heart."

Note: Distrito was named after Distrito Federal, which is another name for Mexico City.

- October-December 2008: Starr, a self-professed expert at finding great space, finds and then bails on the super hot Letto Deli location in Midtown Village, unable to make the seating work for a rumored burger bar concept.

- October 2009: Garces signs lease for aforementioned super hot Letto Deli location in Midtown Village, vowing to bring a Brats and Beer concept to the space.

- October 2009: Starr signs lease for pretty solid Midtown IV diner location near Rittenhouse.

- November 2009: Garces wins The Next Iron Chef. (Former boss Starr not in attendance at victory party at Distrito.)

- November 2009: Starr releases name for the restaurant he plans for Midtown IV location: Mexico City. As in another name for Distrito Federal. As in Distrito...


Starr and Garces will both play it down publicly.

But this recent stuff can easily be interpreted as blatantly obvious restaurateur jabs aimed at one another.

Which makes it all a little more entertaining, no?

Starr to say ole! to Rittenhouse Square [ The Insider - ]

Monday, November 30, 2009

"Hard-Eating" Buzz Bissinger Helps Rick Nichols Evaluate The Texas-Style BBQ At Percy Street Barbecue

Buzz Bissinger makes an unnamed cameo in Rick Nichol's latest write-up:
But I digress: The brisket verdict of a Philadelphia writer who spent a year in Odessa chronicling football under the Friday-night lights? An A, with an asterisk: The meat may seem a tad wet for a true Texan.

The brat-like sausages, house-made and hung like stockings in the big cherry-red smokers (fed with split red oak) had deep smoky flavor: another A from the hard-eating author.
But of course everything (as it tends to be in the barbecue world) is under the microscope here. "How come two different burnt ends tasted different?" an early bird groused. "Hey, why no peach cobbler?" implored another. "What, no combo platter?" (like you get at the Salt Lick), queried Mr. Friday Night.
Percy Street got two A's from Mr. Bissinger Friday Night.

Texas BBQ, come to Philadelphia - It's not vinegary, not sweet, not blackened, familiar styles in these parts. It's smoked. [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Iron Chef Jose Garces Brines And Deep Fries His Thanksgiving Turkey

jose garces and family at thanksgivingDeep frying a brined turkey can be ill advised.

But not for Iron Chef Jose Garces.
Though he is almost always called on to help with the Thanksgiving cooking, Garces celebrates the holiday with his family and three other couples, rotating homes each year. This year's festivities are being hosted at the Garces home in Philadelphia.

Nominating himself to cook the turkey, Garces brines his bird for 24 hours, then forgoes roasting for deep-frying, a method he believes is the best way to cook it.

"It locks in all the juice and flavors and cooks in much less time."

Garces also gets Mamita involved. He tasks her with making the chicken-liver stuffing, empanadas and sweet corn humitas, which are essentially tamales filled with cheese and a creative, flavorful substitute for cornbread.

To pull everything off, Garces tries to "prepare as much as possible the day before, and delegates the work. If you can learn to do that, then you'll have time to enjoy your family and friends, which is the most important part of Thanksgiving and the holidays."
No big deal.

You check out his recipe for a deep fried brined turkey here.

He's also got a Thanksgiving feature in Food & Wine from 2008 with a ton of recipes (like chorizo corn bread stuffing).

Take advantage.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Iron Chef Jose Garces has much to celebrate this Thanksgiving [ USA Today ]
A Chef's All-American Thanksgiving [ Food & Wine ]
Jose Garces's Thanksgiving Fiesta [ Food & Wine ]

[ Photo via Food & Wine ]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

R2L Opening Delayed Until Sometime In January, Rocking A Massive New Year's Eve Party Regardless

r2l by daniel stern new year's eve philadelphiaR2L will be opening for dining sometime in January according to the restaurant's website. Until then, the restaurant is available for private functions.

The restaurant will also be hosting a New Year's Eve party (invitation above), offering panoramic views of the city and the fireworks, as well as a chance to get a sneak peak at the restaurant and some of its cocktail cuisine.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that Daniel Stern has hired Chef Alex Ureña out of New York City to be R2L's Chef de Cuisine.

R2L [ Official Site ]
Ureña Is Heading Out of Town [ Diner's Journal - New York Times ]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mystery Location Of Paddy's Pub In It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia Finally Revealed

paddy's pub in it's always sunny in philadelphia
Where in Philadelphia is Paddy's Pub supposed to be located?

The intended location of Paddy's Pub has never really been revealed on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

The show has established that the bar is in South Philadelphia but it has never specified where in South Philadelphia.

There was this clue from an episode from Season One.
Dennis: I don't get it, Dee: There are tons of women in this city; where do they go?
Dee: They're at velvet-rope clubs on Delaware Avenue.
Dennis: Why?
Dee: Dennis, our bar is in South Philly in a scary alley ... might as well call it "Rape Bar."
So Paddy's is located on a scary alley in South Philly.

But what alley? And where?

Well, earlier this season, there was finally a hint in the show that allowed us to pinpoint the theoretical location of Paddy's Pub.

(It's theoretical because the building exterior that is used for Paddy's is actually located in Los Angeles. Paddy's Pub as depicted on the television show does not actually exist in Philadelphia. However, it exists in the show's reality, and now we know where...)

When Dennis and Mac were walking back around the corner to the bar (clip below), you can see a street sign.

The street on the street sign? Dickinson Street?

The block? The 200 block to the left. The 300 block to the right.

So Paddy's is located just north of and around the corner from 3rd and Dickinson.

always sunny in philadelphia paddy's pub
The fictional Paddy's Pub is located around the corner from 3rd and Dickinson

Which makes sense since Rob McElhenney actually grew up in Pennsport right there at the intersection of Dickinson and Moyemensing. (Not far from the Shamrock Pub at 2nd and Reed, which may have helped originally inspire the Paddy's Pub in the show.)

So in the show's reality, Paddy's Pub is located in South Philadelphia right around the corner from 3rd and Dickinson Streets.

But not in real life — in real life, the building that doubles as Paddy's is located in LA.

Please rest easy now that this great mystery has been solved.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia [ Official Site ]

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tom Colicchio Road Trips Through Philly, Making Sure To Break His Vetri Cherry

tom colicchio and marc vetri at vetriThis week, Tom Colicchio is blogging for Food & Wine about his six-day road trip from Atlanta up the east coast.

His last stop before returning to New York was Philadelphia.

He started the day by visiting Culton Organics Farm in Lancaster with Marc Vetri.

Colicchio then stopped by the new location of Samuels & Sons Seafood.

And then for dinner, he went to Vetri, where he had never dined before.
Although I've been friends with Marc for years, this was my first time eating at his acclaimed restaurant Vetri. It was well worth the wait, and I came away thinking that his impossibly thin, buttery pastas and tender baby goat could hold their own against any I've had.
Day 6: Dinner at Vetri
[ Mouthing Off - Food & Wine ] via Eater

[ Photo via Food & Wine / Tom Colicchio ]

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Looks Like Amada Is Headed To New York City

amada restaurant in Philadelphia
Jose Garces to open an Amada in New York City? | Photo via


So last month, Jose Garces revealed to the New York Post that he'd open a restaurant in New York City if he won The Next Iron Chef.

And then a few weeks later he revealed to Grub Street that if that scenario were to happen, the restaurant he'd open in Manhattan would be an Amada.

Well, tonight is the season finale of The Next Iron Chef and not only is Jose Garces a heavy favorite to win, all signs (and rumors) point to him winning.

So if/when he does win the title of The Next Iron Chef tonight, is that a formal confirmation that he'll be taking the Amada concept to New York in 2010?

Pretty much.

UPDATE: Michael Klein reports that after the win, Chef Garces said taking Amada to New York is off the table. At least for now. Regardless, congratulations to Iron Chef Garces on the win!

Jose Garces Continues Flirting With New York [ Grub Street New York ]
Jose Garces Throwing a Victory Viewing Party [ Grub Street Philadelphia ]

Jose Garces To New York?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Del Frisco's Now A Nightclub?

thanksgiving eve party at del frisco's philadelphia
Perloff/Last Call/Philly2Night party. Check.

On biggest party night of the year. Check.

DJs. Check. (Four of them.)

Bottle service. Check.

Light Show. Check.

Giant breasts on invite. Check.

Sounds a lot like a nightclub.

Desperate times? Desperate measures?

(But hey, if Le Cirque is doing it ...)

Del Frisco's Philadelphia [ Official Site ]

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Crafty Martha Stewart Lunches At Pod, Makes Her Own Chopstick Rests

martha stewart chopstick rests at pod
Martha's design for makeshift chopstick rests at Pod | Photo via

Martha Stweart was in town on Monday to promote her new book and guest lecture at Wharton. Between the two, she lunched at Pod and then posted about her visit on her blog.

"In Japan, it is customary to use chopstick rests. We decided to create our own. This is my knot design."


Now let's see if Starr takes note.

martha stewart chopstick rests at pod
Another design for a makeshift chopstick rest by Martha's team | Photo via

A day in my life - part two [ The Martha Blog ]

Monday, November 02, 2009

New Restaurant At 10 Rittenhouse To Be Located At Corner Of 18th And Sansom

10 rittenhouse under construction philadelphia
10 Rittenhouse is to have a "premier restaurant" located on at this corner | Photo by Brad Maule of Philly Skyline

10 Rittenhouse, the new $300M, 135-unit luxury condo building rising 33 stories over Rittenhouse Square, is holding a grand opening later this month.

Work is not entirely finished, but it will be ready for residents soon.

One of the pieces not completed... the restaurant that will be located inside the building.

Developers are being tight-lipped about what the restaurant will be and who's behind it, only saying that there will be a "premier restaurant" with "first class dining" located inside the building.

We've confirmed that said restaurant will be located at street level at the corner of 18th and Sansom Streets.

So we have to ask: could Stephen Starr be bringing pizza back to a location that once housed Lombardi's???

Starr recently told Philly Mag that he "has secured a lease on yet-to-be-announced location in Rittenhouse Square" for another casual pizzeria a la Pizzeria Stella.

So, in theory, this could be that yet-to-be-announced location.

Which makes for a nice story, however, the developers of 10 Rittenhouse are positioning the building as super luxury, so it would be pretty surprising for them to go with a pizzeria for the building's "premier restaurant," even if it is a Stephen Starr pizzeria.

So the question remains: what will the restaurant inside 10 Rittenhouse be?

UPDATE: Michael Klein reports it might be Serafina from New York City.

10 Rittenhouse [ Official Site ]
Breaking: Two New Pizza Joints for Starr? [ Restaurant Club - Philadelphia Magazine ]

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Pub & Kitchen Makes A (Brief) Cameo In Most Recent Episode Of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Pretty sure that is a CGI Big Belly trash can that was added during post-production


In the most recent episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia — "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops," which aired on Thursday — Pub & Kitchen makes a cameo.

They show an exterior shot of the bar/restaurant on the corner of 20th and Lombard (still, above) and then do a scene where Artemis meets Sweet Dee inside. However, the interior scenes were not actually shot at Pub & Kitchen.

So it's actually a very short cameo.

But regardless, good location choice by production team.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia [ Official Site ]

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Morimoto May Guest Chef At Yankee Stadium, But Stephen Starr Makes Sure He Supports The Phillies With A Special Edition Gourmet Cheesesteak

chef morimoto at yankee stadium
Chef Masaharu Morimoto at the new Yankee Stadium | Photo via The New York Times

So Morimoto may have been a guest chef at the new Yankee Stadium earlier this season, but Stephen Starr is making sure his namesake restaurant in Philadelphia is staunchly supportive of the Philadelphia Phillies. And rightfully so.

Morimoto Philadelphia now offers a special gourmet Kobe Beef Cheesesteak that sounds reminiscent of the now-disappeared $100 cheesesteak at Barclay Prime.

It's a slightly less extravagant version, being without foie gras or lobster. But that means at $35, it might actually be a reasonable price. (If you really like Kobe beef.)

Regardless, good to see Starr staying true to the home team.

[ @StarrRestaurant on Twitter ]

Morimoto To Guest Chef At The New Yankee Stadium
Stephen Starr Adds Foie Gras Back To The $100 Kobe Cheesesteak... For The Steak 954 Version In South Florida

Fox 5 New York Nominates Stephen Starr As One Of Philadelphia's 10 Biggest Jerks, Projecting New York's Own Dining Insecurites On Philadelphia

stephen starr philadelphiaFox 5 New York tries to call Stephen Starr one of Philadelphia's 10 biggest jerks and we're not buying it.
MYFOXNY.COM - Our "friends" to the south decided to ask people to vote for the biggest New York City Jerk.

We decided to return the favor. Philly is just a small town next to New York but it does have its share of "jerks."
Stephen Starr: The restaurant owner has made millions off selling "hip" drinks and under-sized portions to suckers in a series of Philadelphia hot-spots.
Whoa, now. We're the suckers?! Check yourself, Fox 5 New York.

A.) Your mom sells us hip drinks.

And B.) Stephen Starr's two highest grossing restaurants anywhere are in New York City, where Buddakan and Morimoto are numbers 7 and 53 respectively in the top 100 highest-grossing independent restaurants in the country.


If anyone is guilty of "selling 'hip' drinks and under-sized portions," it's every single trendy restaurant in New York City between 1998 and 2009.

You can thank Sex and the City for that.

(Also, for the record, Starr does good business precisely because his portions are not undersized.)

As for the poll, Starr is not "winning" the race for the Biggest Jerk. That would be Jon Gosselin. Starr is holding down second to last place.

So at least he can be happy about that.

10 Biggest Philadelphia Jerks [ Fox 5 New York ]

Stephen Starr's New York Buddakan And Morimoto Doing Just Fine

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sarcone's Franchising, To Open Next Franchise In Delaware

sarcone's philadelphiaThe original Sarcone's Deli opened at 9th and Fitzwater in 1997. (The bakery has been around for much longer.)

Recently, the owners of Sarcone's Deli decided to try out franchising their deli concept.

They now have Sarcone's franchisees in Newtown, PA, Medford, NJ and, coming this winter, Delaware.

And the location on Ninth Street has a new storefront.

Sarcone's Deli Expands into Delaware [ PR Web ]

Monday, October 26, 2009

Denim Lounge Combats Recession With Porn Stars

denim lounge pornoweenWhile rumors of its sale and/or imminent demise linger, Denim persists.

And how.

The club's latest high jinks: porn star Gina Lynn will host Denim's Halloween party this Saturday — "Pornoween."

Naturally, it will be 70s-themed.

PORNOWEEN at Denim, hosted by Porn Superstar Gina Lynn [ Official Site ]

Friday, October 23, 2009

Davio's Cheesesteak Spring Rolls Now Sold At Patriots' Gillette Stadium And Your Grocer's Freezer

davio's philly cheesesteak spring rollsThe Philly Cheesesteak spring rolls are now sold at New England Patriots games.
[Steve DiFillippo, the owner of Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse,] laughs when he thinks that a spring roll with Philly cheese steak filling has become one of the more popular menu items at his restaurant chain, and now a fast-selling product in about 900 supermarkets in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Rhode Island.

A frozen version of the Philly Cheese Steak Spring Roll that was originally created by a Davio’s chef in Philadelphia six years ago is now being manufactured for retailers at Yankee Trader Seafood on Oak Street in Pembroke.

“Twenty-four years of owning a high level restaurant and I’ve become the ‘Philly roll guy,’” said DiFillippo, who is 48. “With all my training, being a restaurateur and chef, it’s really funny. I get more e-mails about the Philly roll than I do about the restaurant.”
Apparently, they are sold at Giant Supermarkets here.

Davio's Cheesesteak Spring Rolls [ Official Site ]
Davio's "Philly rolls" being manufactured at Yankee Trader Seafood in Pembroke [ The Patriot Ledger ]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Zagat Ranks Rouge Burger As Philadelphia's Best Burger, Osteria As Philly's Best Pizza

rouge burger philadelphiaThe results of Zagat's 2010 America's Top Restaurants survey were released today on and they included Zagat's calling out the best restaurants for certain cuisines in various cities including Philadelphia.

Rouge won best burger. Osteria for best pizza. Bomb Bomb Bab-B-Q for best barbecue. (Really?)

Philadelphia also retained its title as the best tipping city in America.

Hard Times for Restaurants Good Times for Diners [ PR Newswire ] via AHT

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Union Trust Reportedly Makes $150,000 For Five Days Of Filming Rudd/Witherspoon Movie

union trust steakhouse philadelphiaSo reports The Gossip on

The restaurant was closed to the public for five days while the untitled James L. Brooks comedy filmed scenes in the restaurant a couple weeks back. Paul Rudd and Reese Witherspoon were both there. And Union Trust itself, a steakhouse, had to play an Italian restaurant for the movie.

Meanwhile, no word on exactly how much Twenty Manning was compensated when it shut down for two days in September to accommodate filming for the same movie. Although, we imagine it was generous.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inga Saffron Thinks The New Barnes Foundation Could Use A 'Tavern On The Green'-Like Garden Restaurant

barnes foundation rendering philadelphia
Saffron thinks a cafe could better activate the 20th Street side of the plan | Photo via The New York Times

Inga wants the 20th Street part (on the right side in the image above) of the new Barnes design to get a little more animated and people friendly. And she thinks one of the better ways to accomplish this would be with a cafe or garden restaurant located on the 20th Street side of the plan.
The Barnes design, by New York's Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, gets an 'A' in aesthetics and an 'F' in urbanism.

It's not too late to improve the situation, especially at the critical, downtown-facing 20th Street corner, since preliminary site work won't begin until November.
The [20th Street] corner may be beautifully composed, with an elevated fountain that will be studded with water lilies, but another passive green space is not what Philadelphia needs to draw people to a street that is supposed to be its Champs-Elysees. And the drop-off plaza is vastly overscaled to accommodate the turning radius of the two charter buses that are expected daily. Nothing there will encourage exploration of the surrounding neighborhood, and the inactivity could even discourage development of the tracts of surface parking on Callowhill Street.
Fortunately, the landscape plan for 20th Street is one of the easiest things to fix. For starters, the architects could eliminate the drop-off plaza and replace it with a sidewalk cutout that would allow buses to enter and exit in the same direction. Who needs a turnaround when 20th Street runs only in one direction?

Activating the corner plaza requires more thought. The default solution is a cafe or, better yet, a garden restaurant such as Central Park's Tavern on the Green. Right now, the museum eatery is secreted in the rear.
Sounds good to us.

Changing Skyline: Perking up the Parkway - Even before the Barnes arrives, major landscaping projects will transform the area to make it more pleasing to pedestrians [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pizzeria Stella Now Doing Take Out

pizzeria stella in philadelphia
Hopefully, the pizza boxes are made from recycled cardboard... | Photos via Stella

As Foobooz reported earlier this week, Pizzeria Stella is now doing take-out orders. Their pizzas are sent out into the world in the custom Pizzeria Stella boxes above.

(Looking for the menu? See it here.)

That is all.

Lots Of Recycled Furniture At Pizzeria Stella — Is Stephen Starr Going Green?
And Now The Actual Opening Menu For Stephen Starr's Pizzeria Stella

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ladder 15 Keeps It Classy With A Genre-Defying Over 23 Door Policy

ladder 15 philadelphia door policyWondering how Ladder 15 distinguishes itself from its rowdier siblings in Old City and Manayunk?

So much so that it has attracted the likes of Herc from The Wire, Ashton Kutcher and Rumer Willis, and even Mac from Always Sunny over the past six months??

Perhaps it is due to its atypical 'over 23 after 10 pm' door policy, which is displayed prominently at the entrance.

Anything to keep the kids at bay.

Ladder 15 [ Official Site ]

Eric Ripert Can't Guest Judge On Top Chef This Season On Account Of Jennifer Carroll Competing

jennifer carroll and eric ripertIn case you didn't realize that.

Eater sat down with Eric Ripert at this weekend's New York Food & Wine Festival. Top Chef came up, as Ripert has been a guest judge on Top Chef in past seasons.

But this year, his working relationship with Jennifer Carroll would have been a conflict of interest.

So no cameos.

But he's rooting for Carroll.

From the Eater Lounge: Q&A with Eric 'The Ripper' Ripert [ Eater New York ]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. Gives Arthur Kade His First (?) Lifetime Ban

franklin mortgage and investment co.Just FYI.

Grub Street Philadelphia today has an interview with Colin Shearn, a bartender at The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co.

Among the things revealed: that Arthur Kade has been banned from The Franklin for life.

No details on how or when. Just that he has.

Colin Shearn of The Franklin Likes His Customers Curious, Thirsty, Rich and Funny [ Grub Street Philadelphia ]
The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. [ Official Site ]

Wegmans Opens New Collegeville Store With Full Service Restaurant And Bar Inside

wegmans collegeville grand opening
The opening line at 7 am Sunday at Wegmans new Collegeville store | Photo via WHAM

On Sunday, Wegmans opened its newest store in Collegeville, Montgomery County.

While a new Wegmans is always good news, this opening is also noteworthy because it is the first Wegmans to have a full service restaurant and bar located inside the store.

Called The Pub (below), the restaurant is located in the store's Market Cafe area. It's modeled on a traditional Irish pub and serves wine, beer and liquor. It also has an open kitchen and customers are encouraged to observe and even ask questions of their chefs as the chefs prepare their meals.

They've got a few locals on draft (Yards and Victory). The food menu has calorie counts for each item.

Both food and drink rices are extremely reasonable. Downright recession friendly. And they ask customers not to tip — Wegmans covers it.

Wegmans is also planning on opening a second The Pub restaurant when they open their Wegmans Malvern location in summer 2010.

wegmans pub restaurant collegeville
The Pub at Wegmans new Collegeville store | Photo via WHAM

Check out the links below for more info.

Wegmans Collegeville [ Official Site ]
Wegmans Opens New Store in Pennsylvania [ WHAM Rochester ]
Collegeville Wegmans opening just grand [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Grocer Wegmans opens full-service restaurant [ Nation's Restaurant News ]
New Wegman's in Montco Has a Pub, Too [ KYW 1060 ]
Checking out Wegmans [ Times Herald ]
Wegman's Plans A Pair of Pubs as It Tests Full-Service Restaurants [ BNET ]

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jose Garces To New York?

On Thursday night, Jose Garces was up in New York City to attend the Chelsea Market After Dark party for the New York Food & Wine Festival presented by the Food Network.

The New York Post was there and honed in on Chef Garces to ask him a few questions. Among them: would he open up a restaurant in New York City?

To which, Jose Garces coyly responded: "Maybe. If I win [The Next Iron Chef] I will."

Well, we hear that very outcome just may happen. So... stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Spilled drinks & hangovers at Chelsea Market After Dark [ New York Post ]

Friday, October 09, 2009

Jennifer Carroll And Jennifer Zavala Do A Double Interview, Reveal Their Favorite Places In Philadelphia To Eat

jennifer carroll top chefAround Philly just posted an interview with the two Philly Top Chef 'Cheftestants': Jennifer Carroll and Jennifer Zavala.

Among other things, they were each asked about their favorite places in Philly to eat.

Zavala shows off some street cred, naming both Porky's Point and the Taco Loco truck at Jefferson Square Park among her faves. (Propers.) She also dropped Paesano's, Sang Kee, El Camino Real, Vetri, Osteria, Zahav, Mémé, Amada and Distrito.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Carroll name checks the usual suspects: Zahav, Vetri, Mémé and "all of Jose's places." Oh, wow — look at that — she's on a first name basis with Jose Garces. No big deal.

We kid. Anyway, is it just us or do Vetri and Garces have a stranglehold on restaurants Philly chefs love to love?

And apparently David Katz is already a "chef to watch" here, getting votes of confidence from both Zavala and Carroll.

jennifer zavala top chefRe Top Chef, Zavala had a few choice soundbites:
Product placement for advertisers was a scripted addition and huge annoyance to Zavala. "'I'm going to use my GladWare® when I put away my mis-en-place.' Do I say that s*#! when I'm cooking everyday? No I don't." And the after-show interviews to pry out drama about women in the kitchen made no sense on a cooking show, says Zavala. "For me, it was a distraction from the competition. I don't care about drama, who's kissing, who's making out, GladWare®, cars. I don't care about that stuff. Let's focus on what we're here for."
All business.

As for the actual cooking challenges:
But for all her complaints, Zavala confirms that the cooking aspect of the show is far from fake. "The challenges, the situations, those are real," she says.

"27 seconds to shop for a five course meal at Whole Foods? That's absolutely real. Standing in front of the judges table and whatever, that's all real. Worrying that you're completely humiliating yourself on national television is real," she laughs.
Also, Zavala had this to say about what she'd have for her last meal:
"I would have fried chicken, that’s what I would have… like fried chicken, potato salad, corn, and homemade muffins or cornbread."
Talk about a girl after our own heart.

Philly's Top Chefs (Almost) Uncensored [ Around Philly ]

Good News: John Bucci Jr. Is Back Behind The Flat Top At John's Roast Pork

Unbreaded checks in on the sandwiches at John's Roast Pork and brings good news:
For John Bucci Jr. ("John John" to his friends) making sandwiches isn't just a job, it's a lifelong family tradition. But a recent battle with leukemia came close to ending it all. Thankfully, with the help and support from relatives, customers, and a successful bone marrow transplant, Bucci is back at the grill, building up his health, a few days at a time.
Well done.

Unbreaded says Bucci Jr. hopes to be back full time in six to eight weeks.

Meanwhile, the sandwiches appear to be as delicious as ever.

The Family Secret Lives On At John’s Roast Pork [ Unbreaded ]

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Morimoto Can Teach You How To Make Sushi With One Arm Tied Behind His Back

morimoto with arm in slingOr at least with one arm in a sling.

Morimoto is sporting a broken arm in a sling but he can still teach the shit out of a sushi class.

As evidenced by the class he just taught at the New York Culinary Experience this weekend, of which Serious Eats has provided visual and written documentation.

New York Culinary Experience: The Principles of Japanese Cuisine with Morimoto [ Serious Eats New York ]

Emeril Likes Philly Street Food, To Open A Burger Concept At PA Sands Casino In Bethelem

emerilEmeril Lagasse will open his first burger restaurant anywhere at the Pennsylvania Sands Casino in Bethelem on November 22nd.

The restaurant will be called Burgers & More.

It will be a full-service restaurant, featuring gourmet burgers made from a variety of types of meat.

If successful, it could prove to be a prototype for future Emeril endeavors.

(Emeril currently has 11 restaurants across the country, including one already at the PA Sands, Emeril's Chophouse.)

Meanwhile, Emeril only had nice things to say about Philadelphia to the Daily News:
Although Lagasse professed a deep and abiding love for the city and its cuisine, he said he doesn't foresee opening an eatery in Philly any time soon. But that won't keep him from returning as often as possible to sample its delicacies.

"The Italian places are great," he enthused, "and I like the street food Philly has to offer - and not just the cheesesteaks."
CasiNotes: Emeril kicks up the heat in Bethlehem [ Philadelphia Daily News ]
Emeril Lagasse to launch burger concept [ National Retail News ]