House to Vote on Cig Tax Today. (Really.)

shutterstock_cigarette-tax-940x540

Shutterstock.com

Here we go again: the Pennsylvania House is expected to vote today to give Philadelphia the authority to levy a $2-a-pack tax on cigarettes to fund city schools. If approved, the bill goes to the Senate.

The problem? The Senate has approved gas tax authority for Philadelphia — but only in a bill larded down with amendments containing hotel taxes and other tax incentives favored in that chamber. Will the Senate vote for the House’s clean bill?

Read more »

Ashton Cigar Bar Moves Towards September Opening

ashton-cigar-bar-sign

After a year-and-a-half a cigar bar is set to return to Walnut Street. Holt’s Cigar Company’s Robert Levin plus his son and daughter are preparing to open Ashton Cigar Bar above Holt’s, in the former home of Mahogany on Walnut. Named for Holt’s proprietary brand of cigars, Ashton promises to be a luxurious oasis for cigar lovers.

The bar will offer a selection of 200 different cigars as well as a choice of 200 whiskeys, signature cocktails and a state-of-the-art air purification system. Levin stresses that the bar will be attractive to non-smokers in addition to cigar aficionados.

The bar will open in September with a completely overhauled interior that will feature an 18-seat white marble bar surrounded by high-top tables. Guests can also choose leather-upholstered lounge seating and club chairs as well as leather sofas. A floor-to-ceiling view of Walnut Street provides light throughout the second floor space.

Photos, drinks and more details » 

Reserve Opening Tomorrow, With Some Reservations

The grand opening tomorrow of the opulent, $30-to-$50-a-plate Reserve steakhouse in Old City can mean one of only a few things: 1) That the recession is truly behind us and co-owner Didier LaFontant and his quiet partners are hurrying to spend money before another downturn strikes; 2) The aforementioned LaFontant is hopelessly optimistic and/or foolish; or, 3) Mr. LaFontant is a visionary.

Here’s why. Reserve is gorgeous and plush and extravagant in a way that many of us have come to feel a little squeamish about. It’s bejeweled with stained glass windows, looming Corinthian columns, towering ceilings draped in frescos and a sexy cubby of a cigar bar hidden in plain sight at the top of a sweeping wrought-iron staircase. It exists to gift Old City with fine dining, chilled lobster, martinis and power networking. And as poor Georges Perrier, the bedraggled owners of Union Trust, and every restaurateur who’s recently scurried to add a patio and a light-fare menu can tell you, we just don’t go out like that anymore.

Read more »