Aimee Olexy (left), Stephen Starr (right)
When Stephen Starr began building his empire, he did so with concept restaurants: martini bars, Asian-fusion buddha shrines, soul food diners, and conveyor belt sushi restaurants. (That was then — decades ago. Now, he’s a James Beard award-winning restaurateur, teaming up with some of the most talented culinary stars in the world, opening chef-driven restaurants across the globe.)
But Aimee Olexy, his business partner and the owner behind two Washington Square stalwarts, Talula’s Garden and Talula’s Daily, hates the term “concept” — always has. That’s why, when Philly Mag asked her to tell us all about the new restaurant she’s opening in Rittenhouse Square (in the old Serafina space at 130 South 18th Street), she barely gave us a straight answer.
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Left: Stephen Starr (photo by Jacqueline Larma/AP). Center: The interior of Talula’s Garden (photo via Starr Restaurants). Right: Aimee Olexy (photo by HughE Dillon).
The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating a cook’s claim that he and other employees at a Stephen Starr restaurant were forced to work without pay, Philadelphia magazine has learned. The scheme allegedly cost each of them thousands of dollars in lost wages.
Robert Fitz, a line cook at Talula’s Garden from 2015 through early 2016, filed a federal complaint in August. Fitz says he told officials that line cooks at the farm-to-table restaurant on Washington Square were expected to start work between roughly 11 a.m. and noon each day, but weren’t allowed to clock in until 3 p.m. The employees spent the off-the-clock hours preparing to begin serving dinner at 5 p.m., he says. Read more »
On Monday, November November 30th, Aimee Olexy and Talula’s Daily are hosting chef Justin Smillie of the acclaimed Upland in New York. It’s a night of Starr Restaurants synergy (Upland is a Starr restaurant) as Smillie will be celebrating his new cookbook, Slow Fires during the $100 per person dinner. The book explores the fundamentals of braising, roasting and grilling as well as how to break those rules.
Diners will have a chance to chat with Smillie after he cooks dishes from his book. The dinner begins at 7 p.m. and a wine pairing will be available for an additional $60. Pick up a signed copy of Slow Fires for $40 at the event.
On the menu »
Leading off the news today, Starr’s D.C. outpost, Le Diplomate, got a big, wet, sloppy kiss of a write-up in the Washington Post. Roxanne Roberts gushed about the place (and about Starr), talking about the famous people who’ve come through the doors (Michelle Obama, Newt Gingrich, Joe Biden, etc) and Starr’s history.
For us, the most interesting stuff was about the restaurant itself and how it has quickly become one of the hottest addresses in a city full of very hot addresses. Here’s Roberts:
The bistro is the brainchild of Philadelphia restaurateur-impresario Stephen Starr, who made his fortune correctly predicting what audiences want — and even he’s surprised with the success of the Marais-inspired mob scene, his first foray into Washington. It’s not a power spot in the traditional clubby, steak-and-martini sense, nor the only French restaurant in the city.
But the guy from Philly guessed that Washington was primed for his meticulously detailed brand of theatrics. It’s not just about the food, or the wine, or the bread. What we want is an experience, this time a two-hour trip to Paris complete with crusty baguettes, steak frites and naughty pictures in the bathrooms.
Nice, right? But that’s not the only news on Starr today…
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Photo via COOK
Michael Klein posted his 2014 Philadelphia Restaurant Forecast with all sorts of juicy bits of news and rumor.
Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy are going to be collaborating on another new restaurant. Not many details are revealed but we know Starr has been hiring for a new Italian concept in Philadelphia. Whether this is it or not isn’t so clear. But we have heard whispers of not one but two wood-fired ovens.
UPDATE: Michael Klein is now reporting that Starr and Olexy are going into business together in Fishtown. The next collaboration will be at 1526-30 Frankford Avenue, next to Philadelphia Record Exchange. The project will contain a vegetable garden and will open this spring.
More opening dates and rumors »
ThinkFest is Philadelphia magazine’s week-long series of events featuring smart conversations about the city, education, the arts, entrepreneurship, the food scene, tech and creative culture.
Chris Matthews is the keynote speaker at Thursday night’s event and Saturday’s Main Event will feature M. Night Shyamalan, Aimee Olexy and Marc Vetri among others.
Vetri’s talk, “Cultivating the Creative Connection” is one of 17 idea-sparking sessions that will take place during the main event at the Kimmel Center.
Aimee Olexy will be participating in a panel looking at how are food scene is expanding way beyond the restaurant. Also participating in the panel is Dan Pennachietti of Lil Dan’s Food Truck and April White of The Food Trust.
Learn more about ThinkFest (featuring keynote speaker Chris Matthews) and buy your tickets now.
Late Summer Farmstead Collection | Photo by Courtney Apple
Trey Popp says it’s a shame that Talula’s Daily’s chef Scott Megill’s dinner was interrupted by a sales pitch.
But somewhere before dessert and the individually tailored cheese course, our cheerful waitress broke the enchantment of Aimee Olexy’s ode to homespun coziness by delivering what you’d have to call a sales pitch. Everything on the table, she divulged, was a product for sale by Anthropologie.
Two-and-a-half stars – Good to Excellent
Philadelphia Restaurant Review: Talula’s Daily [Philadelphia Magazine]
Talula’s Daily [Philadelphia Magazine]
Aimee Olexy’s Talula’s Daily is open on 7th Street across from Washington Square. In addition to being a gourmet grocery with fresh bread, cheeses, tea, wine and beer, the casual offshoot of Talula’s Garden is also a showcase for retailer, Anthropologie. Talula’s Daily’s table decor is provided by the locally based home and apparel store. The video above showcases Olexy’s newest venture and introduces her to the Anthropologie audience.
Talula’s Daily will also begin offering dinner on August 1st.
At the table with Aimee Olexy [Anthro Blog]
Talula’s Daily [Official Site]
Back in September we reported that Talula’s Garden expanding with Talula’s Daily. Then in April we snapped a photo of the construction site and gathered a few more details. And now we have a little bit more info, as reported by Philly.com. Talula’s Daily will open in mid-July as the less-expensive, more relaxed version of Talulas’ Garden. Talula’s Table sous chef Scott Megill will take the helm at the new restaurant, which will offer sit down options as well as on-the-go sandwiches, cheeses, and pastries. The hours for the 22 grocery will be 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. Then, after 7 p.m. the restaurant will serve a $50 four-course menu that will change each month, highlighted by a cheese cart that will roam the restaurant.
Talula’s Table expanding on Washington Square [The Insider]
EATS Philly 2013: Two Kitchens/Two Countries will take place on Tuesday, April 23rd from 6 to 9 p.m. at Vie (600 N. Broad St., Philadelphia). This street food festival benefits the Children’s Village and twelve of the city’s premier chefs battle it out for a good cause.
A nonprofit cause launched by Moon Krapugthong (Chabaa Thai, Yanako) and Judy Spielman (Space by Spielman), EATS (Eat Along the Street) unites high-profile chefs, food media and mobile eateries for a friendly culinary competition benefiting children here in Philadelphia and in Thailand, where Chef Moon was born and raised.
Among the chef throwdown are Marcie Turney, Tony Clark, Tim Spinner, Michael Fiorello, Sylva Senat, Greg Vernick, Clark Gilbert, Chaz Brown, Aimee Olexy, Chad Rosenthal, Angie Brown, and the Rich Landau & Kate Jacoby.
The following food trucks are confirmed »