The Busy Philadelphian’s No-Sweat Entertaining Guide

The in-house design team at Terrain can transform even the most pedestrian dining room into a festive, swoon-worthy oasis. | Photography by Jauhien Sasnou

The in-house design team at Terrain can transform even the most pedestrian dining room into a festive, swoon-worthy oasis. | Photography by Jauhien Sasnou

For Dinnerware: Scarlett Alley

Supplement your existing tableware arsenal at this Old City boutique, which stocks a comprehensive assortment of table necessities ranging from tortoiseshell flatware and eclectic glasses to serving dishes and dessert stands. They even have a surprisingly style-forward selection of melamine, that virtually unbreakable material ideal for raucous guests or rambunctious little ones.

For Food: The Personal Chef Co.

If your kitchen know-how is nonexistent, tap this Bryn Mawr-based fleet of personal chefs to furnish your spread. Look over the seasonal dining menus, select your courses, and, come party day, a practiced chef arrives armed with ingredients and equipment, ready to prepare a multi-course dinner (starting at $150 per person). Tip: Get the butternut squash ravioli with fried sage to make your home smell dreamy. For the only slightly culinary-impaired, Glenside’s farm-to-table catering company Seedling and Sage will assemble expertly styled cheese plates and hors d’oeuvres (think tiny cones of ahi tuna, and flank steak on mini baguettes) to kick off your party (starting at $25 per person).

For Booze: Spirit Forward

Sure, you can serve casual nightcaps from your bar cart. Or you can pull out all the stops and treat your guests to speakeasy-worthy cocktails courtesy of lauded A.Bar bartender Dan Hamm. His roving spirits outfit will concoct signature cocktail pairings for each course of your dinner, like a sherry and rum sip that combines raw sugar, citrus and fresh berries. (The on-staff graphic designer will create and print a gorgeous menu, too.) Hamm can also whip up party-friendly vats of herb-y seasonal punch and rum-tinged eggnog that put store-bought versions to shame. Starting at $1,500.

For Decor: Design by Terrain

Elevate your affair from everyday dinner to full-on fête by enlisting Terrain’s in-house design team to outfit your dining room. For the woefully unprepared, they’ll dispatch a pro to deck out your space with stylish accoutrements (an autumnal urn! Succulent-dotted centerpieces!). Industrious entertainers, meanwhile, can sleuth out the garden shop’s entertaining wares and decorate on their own. Starting at $2,500.

Looking for the Ultimate Hostess Gift?

Suede Candles | Photo courtesy Zoet

Suede Candle | Photo courtesy Zoet Bathlatier

Leave the cheese ball to the gift-giving novice. The best way to earn a repeat invite is with a candle from Malvern-based apothecary Zoet Bathlatier. With notes of freshly cut wood, fir needles, patchouli and sandalwood, the Suede candle ($34), which boasts a 65-hour burn time, is the fragrance embodiment of the season.

This article first appeared in Philadelphia magazine’s November 2016 issue.

Look Inside 10 of Philly’s Most Enviable Closets

There isn’t much in life that’s more personal than our wardrobes — they’re where we stow our personal artifacts, pile our favorite things (and dirty laundry) and hide our skeletons. Here, a glimpse inside the closets, collections and curiosities of Philly’s coolest characters, power players and fashion plates.

Dallas Shaw

Fashion influencer

Nearly 80,000 people follow fashion illustrator Dallas Shaw’s Instagram feed for peeks at her stylish life—and into her gilt-wallpapered closet, a guest room in her circa-1905 Wilmington house that she converted into a dressing room. In the glam space, both designer and “dirt-cheap” clothes line a wardrobe rack, silk scarves hang in a vintage trunk, and part of her vast shoe collection (it spans hundreds of pairs; out-of-season styles are in storage) is displayed on salvaged window frames and along an old gate from a church. “I’m not into the cubed closet thing,” says Shaw. “Instead of a traditional closet, I wanted to have a room that I can live in.”

Photography by Christopher Leaman

Photography by Christopher Leaman

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Day Trips: 5 Philly-Area Main Streets With a Small-Town Feel

The twinkle-light-festooned patio at El Poquito in Chestnut Hill | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

The twinkle-light-festooned patio at El Poquito in Chestnut Hill | Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

There’s never been a shortage of charm on most small-town Main Streets, but thanks to an influx of cool shops and eateries, our region’s main drags are busier, buzzier and better than ever. Here, the standout spots to visit now.

Germantown Avenue, Chestnut Hill

Best for: A day of boutique-hopping
Best bets: A longtime standout thanks to its top-notch storefronts, Chestnut Hill’s main drag is a destination worthy of a day-long trek. Start near the Regional Rail stop at the top of the hill and head east toward rustic home shop Isabella Sparrow to scoop up farmhouse-worthy wares like dangling wooden light fixtures and antique serving dishes. A block away is Style Camp, a women’s boutique stocked with covetable accessories, nubby knits and tricky-to-find labels. Break for lunch on the outdoor patio at Mexican cantina El Poquito. Order the street tacos (they offer banh mi, brussels sprout and Korean BBQ varieties), decadent churros and a tequila flight. Don’t leave without a bouquet from one of the street’s duo of respected florists — Robertson’s Flowers and Rothe Florists — both of which can whip up a fall-ready assortment of blooms in a snap.

Lancaster Avenue, Wayne

Best for: Holing up in cozy spots
Best bets: Once a buttoned-up enclave of the Main Line, Wayne’s commercial corridor has shed its stuffy stereotype. First, duck around the corner to North Wayne Avenue, where you’ll find Main Point Books; prod the friendly owner, Cathy Fiebach, for her favorite page-turners. Afterward, head back to Lancaster and hunker down with your new reading material at Gryphon Cafe. It’s home to a cast of regulars you’ll find nursing the cafe’s specialty, Sean’s Latte (a caramel and vanilla sip), and whatever’s on tap (usually kombucha) from weighty patterned mugs. Grab a late lunch at Cornerstone Cheese & Charcuterie, tucked on West Avenue. The BYO posts its happy-hour menu and wine- and beer-pairing suggestions online, so diners can come prepared. (There’s a Fine Wine & Good Spirits store within walking distance.)

Broadway, Jim Thorpe

Best for: Old-school charm (and a bit of adventure)
Best bets: It’s an hour and a half from Philly, but Jim Thorpe’s main thoroughfare — dotted with old stone buildings and hordes of historic markers — feels like it’s been plucked from a Hollywood back lot. The retail lineup lacks some of the refined merchandising of its Philly counterparts, but it’s no less of a treasure trove. Peruse Sellers Books & Fine Art for affordable books; Soundcheck Records for used vinyl and music miscellany; Somersault Letterpress for paper goods; and the Vintagerie for small antiques. Wind down at Stone Row Pub and Eatery (the building’s been there since the 19th century) or American restaurant Moya on Race Street, only steps away. Beyond shops, Broadway is also home to the Jim Thorpe eXperience, an adventure service that lets you choose from a slew of guided trips — from waterfall hikes to nighttime snowshoe treks. Before you set out, grab a to-go sandwich (available to order online) at Through the Looking Glass, the quirky Carrollian restaurant that anchors Broadway.

State Street, Doylestown

Best for: Kid-friendly entertainment
Best bets: A tree-lined one-way dotted with boutiques and eateries, State Street is the pulse of this picturesque suburb. Take little ones to famed children’s bookstore Booktenders Secret Garden, where there’s a lively story time and organized crafts conducted by former teacher and owner Ellen Mager. Reward their creativity at old-timey Sweet Pea Ice Cream with a cone of the seasonal special, pumpkin with gingersnaps, and a scoop of pistachio and wildflower honey for yourself. Let the sugar rush subside and then swing through Estate, a luxe boutique that stocks men’s and women’s collections from a roster of designers like Gant, Ulla Johnson and The Kooples. Insider tip: Before you go, be sure to check out the Doylestown Township Parks & Recreation calendar of events for fun offerings like a kids’ supper club that schools fledgling foodies in the preparation of spaghetti and meatballs, while parents can sneak out for date night. (We suggest catching a foreign flick at the County Theater — just look for the old-school marquee — and enjoy a bucket of its perfectly salted popcorn.)

Baltimore Avenue, West Philly

Best for: A surprisingly wallet-friendly gastronomic tour
Best bets: Eating your way through any neighborhood is often the best way to become acquainted with it, and the variety of fare on Baltimore Avenue is perhaps its strongest suit. Begin your day at Dottie’s Donuts on Springfield Avenue, where you’ll find a bakery case full of vegan doughnuts in flavors like matcha cacao, Thai tea and, for the purist, Boston cream. (Go early; popular flavors sell fast.) For lunch, ethnic foods reign supreme: Enjoy African cuisine at Youma, Thai and Laotian at Vientiane, and Ethiopian and Eritrean at Dahlak. Don’t miss seeing a production at Curio Theatre Company, an offbeat ensemble-based theater company. When it’s over, stroll to family-friendly Clarkville for fried chicken and beer, or, for an elevated dining experience, Marigold Kitchen and its lauded $90-a-head tasting menu.

This article first appeared as “Day-Tripping” in Philadelphia magazine’s October 2016 issue.

How One of Philly’s Coolest Developers Spends His Day

Photography by Courtney Apple

Photography by Courtney Apple

David Grasso has his hands in some of Philly’s coolest projects. The founder and CEO of commercial development firm Grasso Holdings, Grasso is a partner 12 different companies (including Fishtown eatery Wm. Mulherin’s Sons; coworking space Pipeline Philly; and ROOST Apartment Hotel). And he knows a thing or two about good design (have you seen the gorgeous interiors of ROOST?), luxe toys (see: His Tesla) and keeping sane during crazy-busy days (he gets 550 emails a week). Read more »

Field Guide: The Best Philadelphia Blow Dry Bars to Upgrade Your Hair Fast

Philadelphia Blow Dry Bars: Heads & Tails Beauty Boutique in Rittenhouse

Heads & Tails Beauty Boutique in Rittenhouse

The rise of the blow dry bar has turned the lot of us into a bunch of old ladies: We get our hair “set” once or twice a week, toting hardcore shower caps and satin pillow cases with us everywhere we go, and before we know it, it’s been months since we even bought our own shampoo. Can you blame us? Getting our hair professionally coiffed not only lets us walk out of there as if Beyoncé’s fans have been trained upon us, appointments offer a respite from the outside world—one with scalp massages and champagne to boot. Here are the local places you’re most likely to find us.

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Macy’s to Close 100 Stores — Could Philly Locations Be Shuttered?

Macy's Center City - mannequins in the Wanamaker building

Mannequins (that have not yet come to life) pose in the grand court at Macy’s in the Wanamaker building. | Photo by Dan McQuade

Wanamaker is a name with a lot of history in Philadelphia. John Wanamaker first got into the retail business in 1861, and he opened the grand Wanamaker Building in 1911. There has been a department store there ever since — and one with a lot of beloved Philadelphia traditions in it. The pipe organ in the Grand Court is the largest playing pipe organ in the world, and its holiday light show has delighted citizens of Philadelphia for generations. It also hosts Dickens Village, a more recent holiday affair that was once at Wanamaker’s.

Also, the Wanamaker Building played Prince & Co. in Mannequin, which for various reasons isthe greatest film ever made about Philadelphia. Now a Macy’s, the department store is just three levels — reduced from an original nine floors of retail space.

Today, Macy’s announced it had “outlined a series of initiatives to drive profitable growth, enhance shareholder value and strengthen Macy’s as America’s preferred omnichannel shopping destination.” Translation: Macy’s is closing 100 stores. (Its stock jumped at the news.) Read more »

A Philly Designer Is on the Newest Season of Project Runway, and We’re Excited

Image via Project Runway Facebook

Mah-Jing is in denim in the back row; Alex Snyder is in black next to him. Image via Project Runway Facebook

Set a reminder, program your DVRs; Project Runway season 15 is right around the corner. Adding a little Philadelphia spice to the competition is Mah-Jing Wong (pronounced “Mun-Gene-Wong”), Philly-native and 2011 Art Institute of Philadelphia grad. The Philly designer describes his designs as very “denim-focused” with lots of Asian influences. Also featured this season is San Franciscan Alex Snyder, who lived in Philly for 3 years before heading out west (it totally counts). Read more »

Meet the Philly Publisher Working with Tim Burton to Bring Your Favorite Books to the Big Screen

Photography by Courtney Apple for Philadelphia Magazine

Photography by Courtney Apple for Philadelphia Magazine

Chances are, if you’ve walked into a bookstore within the last five years, you’ve seen some of the books Jason Rekulak has worked on. We’re talking mega-hits like YA series Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (stay tuned — the novel is up for a big-screen adaptation in September) and cult favorite Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. In his 16 years at Quirk Books, Rekulak has edited five New York Times bestsellers, read around 150 books per year, and published approximately 25 new titles every year. We chatted with the Philly publisher about his everyday routine — including working with Tim Burton, his go-to coffeeshop and where to score surprising literary finds. Read more »

Best of Philly: Gift Shops and Drones and Watches, Oh My!

Images via Instagram | @moonandarrow and @occasionette

Images via Instagram | @moonandarrow and @occasionette

Best of Philly 2016 is now online as well as at newsstands. Check out the best in Philadelphia-made goods as well as the rest of the best in food, drink, shopping, beauty, health, fitness, fun and games.

We’ve already rounded up the best in men’s and women’s shopping, as well as Kardashian-worthy beauty, but what about gift shops and bookstores and the like? From the hottest baby boutiques to the dopest drone stores (it is 2016, after all), here’s where to go for everything else.
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