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Heads up, Philly restaurants: The inspectors are coming

By next year, Philly restaurants could be a lot cleaner. Theoretically, anyway.
Mayor Jim Kenney’s proposed city budget for fiscal year 2018, which starts on July 1, would add $1 million to the Health Department budget to help meet its goal of inspecting restaurants every 12 months.
“This will increase the number of inspections we can complete, enabling us to inspect every food service establishment at least once per year,” said Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.
That once-a-year schedule is what’s adhered to in New York City — where Farley previously was commissioner and ran a public health nonprofit — and is also the target schedule for cities like Chicago, DC and San Francisco, although some of them also struggle to meet it. Right now, Philadelphia restaurants are inspected on an average of once every of 15.3 months, according to the Health Department.
How would the new money help slim the Philly interval? By adding staff.
The new funds would allow the department to hire 20 new food safety inspectors and supervisors — “sanitarians” is the official job title. Considering the Philadelphia Office of Food Protection currently employees just 29 “sanitarian specialists” and five supervisors, who make between $41,000 and $59,000 in salary, that’s a pretty huge staff boost — to the tune of nearly 60 percent.

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Celebrating Northeast Philly's dynamic, diverse and underappreciated food culture

When people talk about Philadelphia’s hottest restaurant neighborhoods, trendy Fishtown and East Passyunk will likely come to mind, as well as upscale Rittenhouse Square. But … humble Northeast Philly? Could it be our next boulevard of exciting culinary dreams?
After nearly 60 meals there over the last few months, from Peruvian ceviche in Lawndale to Uzbek kebabs in Bustleton, classic Italian hoagies in Tacony and Rhawndale, and stellar dim sum in the budding Chinatown around Castor Gardens, where you’ll also find a carnivore’s dream of several Brazilian churrasco grills, it’s become clear to me that few parts of the country can match the dynamic diversity of the Great Northeast, where nearly 30 percent of the population northwest of the Roosevelt Boulevard is foreign-born. Few places in the city reflect its dramatic demographic shifts so vividly through food. And few areas are so misunderstood, or lacking respect.
“Every day, I feel like someone is thumbing their nose at us,” says Kristopher Serviss, the chef and co-owner at Blue Duck, a creative New American BYOB in Winchester Park where duck breasts come encrusted in ""everything"" bagel spice and the unusual burgers are ground with pork roll. “Northeast people are a different brand from what you’ll find in [Center City]. A little more blue-collar, a ton of union workers, and with a little more grit. And we’re kind of overlooked.”
That’s an understatement. Though nearly a third of Philadelphia’s population lives northeast of Tacony Creek, few Center City residents -- including several Northeast natives I know -- would ever think to head up Bustleton Avenue in search of dinner amid the area’s vast swath of two-story brick tract housing. I’ve been guilty, too, having formally reviewed and rated just five restaurants there over the last 19 years."

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Chinese Restaurant Closed After 2 Children Hospitalized With Burn-Type Injuries To Mouths

Chinese Restaurant Closed After 2 Children Hospitalized With Burn-Type Injuries To Mouths, Throats State health inspectors said Tuesday they were testing crystal lye taken from a Chinese buffet where two children were severely sickened after drinking what they believed to be apple juice.
A Department of Agriculture inspection found violations but no imminent health threat at the Star Buffet and Grill near Lancaster.
Authorities said they were working to determine what caused burn-type injuries to the mouths and throats of a 10-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl at the restaurant on Friday evening. A Penn State Health spokeswoman said Tuesday the children remained in a Hershey hospital, listed in good condition.
”As soon as they took a sip they were throwing up and there was blood. Any other time that they brought apple juice to us they would bring a Styrofoam cup with ice, and a separate drink so you can open and pour it if you want to. This time they brought it already made,” said Richard Zaragosa Sr., the children’s father.
Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Shannon Powers said testing on the apple juice and other substances taken from the restaurant was expected to take a few more days. She said township officials closed the buffet on Tuesday over possible building code violations.

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Award-winning Philly restaurants dominate Pennsylvania's Beard Award nominees

Hope you’ve been saving up, avid foodies: The 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards nominees were announced this afternoon. Pennsylvania names on the list will be familiar to anyone who’s willing to travel to Philadelphia for award-winning fare:
Outstanding Chef
Michael Solomonov of Zahav, 237 St. James Place, Philadelphia. Solomonov opened his modern Israeli cuisine restaurant in 2008, was named the Foundation’s Best Mid-Atlantic Chef in 2011 and also was nominated for a Beard Award last year in this category.
Outstanding Restaurateur
Stephen Starr of Starr Restaurants, Philadelphia. During a decades’-long career, Starr has helmed classics such as Le Coucou, Serpico, Upland, Talula’s Garden , The Dandelion and others.
Outstanding Service
Zahav, Philadelphia.
Outstanding Wine, Beer or Service Professional Sam Calagione, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, Milton, Delaware. not a Pennsylvania nominee, it’s true, but Dogfish Head is an easy drive from Lancaster County. Calagione is another repeat Beard nominee; this is his eighth consecutive year. He’s founder and president of the well-known craft brewery."

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"What Are Philly Restaurants, Bars, and Cafes Doing For International Women’s Day?

It’s International Women’s Day, and you’ll likely see signs of it around town in Philly today — most notably, there’s a rally outside Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey’s Chestnut Street office at 1 p.m., as well as a march from Logan Square to Thomas Paine Plaza, starting at 5 p.m.
Those aren’t the only protests happening though — around the country, some women are stopping work, hoping to demonstrate the valuable contributions of women to all parts of society, as well as to draw attention to other issues faced by women, such as gender-based wage gaps. Organizers of the protests are also encouraging people to avoid shopping for the day (with exceptions for businesses that are small, women- and minority-owned), and to wear red in solidarity with women who are striking.
On the Philly restaurant scene, it doesn’t look like there will be closures as happened a few weeks ago for the Day Without Immigrants protest (although the exact scope of the A Day Without A Woman strike should become clearer as the day goes on).
But that doesn’t many restaurateurs or their staff are ignoring International Women’s Day or A Day Without A Woman — a host of restaurants, bars, and cafes around the city are getting involved, donating parts of today’s profits to organizations that support women or women’s rights. We’ll be tracking local restaurants’ plans for the day here."

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Come together, right now, over food: ‘On The Table Philly’ set for spring launch

A new initiative plans to bring people from all over Philadelphia together to create a sense of unity through new relationships. And food, of course.

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Allowing Phila. soda tax to stand will create chaos for state budget, says plaintiffs' attorney

Not one, not two, but three separate briefs opposing the city of Philadelphia in its court battle over the sugary drinks tax were filed Monday with a group of small businesses from across the state expressing concern while a coalition of three dozen Pennsylvania lawmakers said it "sets a dangerous precedent" within government.

"What matters is how a tax actually operates in the real world, not what labels the government self-servingly attaches to it," the plaintiffs' attorneys wrote in their appeal.

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Pay-it-forward pizzeria nears opening of University City restaurant

The owner of a Center City pizza restaurant known for its pay-it-forward program is nearing the opening of the West Philadelphia outpost, which may come with a few changes given the restaurant's location.
It's been more than three years since Mason Wartman opened Rosa's Fresh Pizza on 11th Street between Market and Chestnut streets back in December 2013, and business has picked up enough that he's finally had time to build the business and focus on opening his second spot.
The restaurant is well-known for its pay-it-forward program, which began in March 2014 and lets customers donate a dollar that will go toward a slice of pizza for the next homeless person who comes in and asks for one.

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Iron Hill Brewery signs lease for East Market

PIron Hill Brewery has announced that it will set up shop at East Market, becoming the latest tenant to join the massive $600 million dollar mixed-use project at 1150 Market Street. Iron Hill will lease 8,450 square feet of space at East Market, its first location within Philly’s Center City limits and 13th overall. The brewery has hired DC-based firm Street Sense to design the restaurant. The actual brewery will be visible behind the bar and enclosed in glass, according to the announcement. It’ll also have semi-private dining rooms and “breakout rooms” for corporate and convention gatherings. When Iron Hill opens in spring 2018, it will join a long list of other tenants who have already signed onto East Market, including Mom’s Organic Market, the Design Center, and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson at 1100 Ludlow. Construction on the 1st residential tower, the Ludlow, has been underway for the past two years, and second apartment tower will follow. This likely won’t be the last we’ll hear of future East Market tenants, especially as construction forges ahead on the first phase. It’s expected to be complete this spring.

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Philadelphia restaurant scores No. 5 spot on 'America's 50 Best Steakhouses' list

There are two words for one Philadelphia restaurant that scored a top spot on a list ranking the best steakhouses in America – well done.

The Daily Meal, a food website, published its "America's 50 Best Steakhouses" list last month by looking at more than 200 restaurants, filtering them through pre-existing rankings as well as suggestions from chefs across the nation. The website also excluded chain restaurants.

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A New Philly Restaurant Is Donating 100% of Its Profits to Charity

The amount of work/money/stress/effort it takes to own and operate a profitable restaurant makes you wonder why anyone would do it in the first place. And when a restaurant then decides to give away all its hard earned cash, it seems a little, well, insane.
This week, Rooster Soup Company opened in Center City Philadelphia, serving upscale diner fare by chef Erin O'Shea, from biscuits and gravy to chicken cutlet sandwiches (with roasted beet spread, dill, capers, and arugula). 100% of the profits go to Philadelphia's most vulnerable via the Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative.

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Police say two men tried to rob a Chinese take-out restaurant in West Philadelphia but one of the owners pulled out his own gun and opened fire.
It happened at 62nd and Spruce Street at 9:30 last night.
Police say two masked men walked into the restaurant and announced a robbery.
The two store owners were inside at the time.
One of the owners pulled out a gun and shot one of the suspects in the back.
Police believe the second suspect drove him to the hospital.
Both suspects are in custody.
Investigators say before going in, the suspects tried to cut surveillance wires to a camera, but they made a mistake.
""The in-store surveillance cameras and the one in the back yard were still functioning and did record the robbery,"" said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.
Both suspects are expected to be charged.

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Philly restaurant owners, concerned by Trump, start taking action

"Philly restaurant owners, concerned by Trump, start taking action..In his 12-plus years as a chef, Hungry Pigeon co-owner Scott Schroeder has done dozens of collaboration dinners. He can’t think of one that came together as quickly as this.
On March 2, Schroeder’s Queen Village restaurant will host an event called “Sit Down and Eat to Stand Up for Change.”

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Philly Restaurants Declare Themselves “Sanctuaries” in Response to Trump

Sanctuary cities have received plenty of attention due to President Trump’s continuing tough-on-immigration promises (for the unaware, these are urban areas, Philadelphia included,
that support undocumented immigrants by refusing to enforce federal immigration laws on a city level). And now, “sanctuary restaurants” have arrived.

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