Let’s Stop Rat-Shaming Philly Restaurants, Shall We?


Philly’s an old city. Some of its buildings were built centuries ago. Philly also has a real winter, so it gets cold. Plus, the city is obviously teeming with restaurants these days.

Know what mice, rats, roaches — any pests, really — like? They like our old buildings, because our old buildings are easy to navigate (thanks to the generations of pests before them paving the way). They like not freezing to death, too. And they like to eat. In fact, they live to eat.  Read more »

Michael Schulson Cooks for the “Hot Chicks” — and That’s Sexist

Michael Schulson and his wife, Nina Tinari | Photo by HughE Dillon

Usually, discussions about sexism in the restaurant industry focus on discrimination, harassment, and other barriers to success that women chefs face, or on harassment from customers, coworkers, or supervisors that leaves women who work front-of-house unable to do their jobs.

So it’s disappointing, but not surprising, to hear a prominent and successful business owner’s reductive view that his female customers are more desirable (to his business and to everyone else) if they’re “hot.”

Last week, Philly.com published an interview with restaurateur and chef Michael Schulson. Schulson, the owner of Sampan, Graffiti Bar, Double Knot, and Harp & Crown, among others, recaps career ups and downs, confesses his own non-foodie eating habits, and weighs in on the current state of Philly’s food scene — typical topics for this type of Q&A.

At the end of the interview, Schulson is asked why his restaurants are “such a hit with millennial women.” This was his response:

I have a belief, and I’ve said this for 20 years now: You cook for the hot chicks. And I hope nobody takes that the wrong way because it’s not meant to be chauvinistic or anything. When I think of my wife [Nina], I think my wife is very attractive and smart. I think she’s a hot woman. But when we go out to eat, she’s picking where we’re going out to eat, and cooking for the hot chick means you’re cooking a certain type of item, you’re putting crab, shrimp, lobster, filet — those are the kind of things — tuna, they’re looking for the lighter, cleaner things. That’s what women like to eat. So when they look at a restaurant or a menu, they’re going to pick that restaurant. And then take it further, then you have the single guy. Where does the single guy want to go eat? At the restaurant that has the pretty women. And the pretty women are going to be at the restaurant that serves the food that they want to eat.

Whether Schulson realized it or not, his words exemplify the way patriarchy influences the choices both men and women make, from where we spend our Saturday nights to what foods we decide to put in our bodies.

Let’s unpack this, shall we?

Read more »

50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia: Fall 2017

Oyster House – Photo by Jason Varney

Back in the beginning of the summer, we updated our 50 Best Restaurants list. And in doing so, we flipped the script on the way we do things around here. Instead of a biennial update (like we used to do), instead of an annual update (like we did between 2014 and 2016), and instead of a biannual update (our most recent method), we promised a seasonal update, because in 2017, in our food scene, everything is seasonal — even our lists.

Which brings us to today, our first fall update. Read more »

The Best Cafes (and Restaurants) to Bring Your Laptop and Eat an Actual Meal

The Cusco Sandwich at Plenty Cafe

The Cusco Sandwich at Plenty Cafe

Maybe you’re a freelancer with a few hours between meetings downtown and you want to keep up the productivity. Or there’s construction in your office building and you can’t get anything done with power tools grinding away upstairs. Or you work from home but you’ve reached the point at which you’ll freak out if you don’t leave the house today.

You need a spot to get work done — school, freelance, creative, or just catching up on email. You also need to eat, and as tasty as the croissants and cookies at most coffee shops are, they’re not exactly brain food.

We’ve rounded up some of Philly’s favorite spots to camp out for a few hours (or more), eat a real breakfast or lunch, crush your task list. For our purposes, we’ve stuck with Center City and adjacent neighborhoods; we also made free wi-fi for customers and an actual food menu (however brief) a requirement.

And for when the workday spans meals, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite trendy spots where you might spend a working lunch (and maybe happy hour afterwards) while chowing down on a more substantial, chef-driven menu.

Read more »

My Top 5: Kid-Friendly Spots for Healthy Eats in Philly

Frozen yogurt at Honeygrow | Photo via Facebook

Honeybar at Honeygrow | Photo via Facebook

My goal in life is to raise the kind of children who, at circa three years of age, tell flabbergasted adults that their favorite food is sushi in between bites of kale salad. This dream of having outrageously sophisticated, jaw-drop-inducing children probably won’t come true, though. Because let’s face it: No matter how hard you try to convince kids that raw fish is the bomb, in the end, most of them still crinkle their noses and ask for a slice of pizza instead. They’re a picky bunch, those kids.

Paige Wolf, Philly-based author of the new Spit That Out: The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids in the Age of Environmental Guilt, admits that her kids, ages three and seven, aren’t exactly kale salad devotees. Or salad fans at all, actually. Which means she has to get a bit tricky when it comes to squeezing in healthy eats around town: Think thin-crust pizza topped with local organic veggies at Nomad Pizza and grass-fed burgers (which you can order in a collard wrap!) at Bareburger.

Below, Wolf clues us in on her top five kid-friendly eateries to find healthy (er, healthy-ish, at least) food for both kids and adults in Philly. (And psst: If you’re interested in loading up on more of Wolf’s healthy parenting tips, she’ll be hosting a book launch party at Midtown Village’s NEST tomorrow afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m.!)

Read more »

Philly Eateries Say DNC Is a Mixed Bag

East Passyunk Avenue Restaurant Week.

East Passyunk Avenue Restaurant Week.

The stretch of blocks on East Passyunk Avenue from Broad Street to Passyunk Square was mostly calm Tuesday evening, the second night of the Democratic National Convention.

Just before 9 o’clock, a fleet of the Philadelphia Police Department’s major incident response vehicles slowly meandered down Broad Street in what was largely a silent spectacle of flashing blue and red lights. They were tailing the protest throngs marching their way down to the Wells Fargo Center.

Couples and small groups of onlookers clustered on corners along Broad Street, watching the traffic amble along, but few wandered down Passyunk Avenue, where many businesses reported an average or slower-than-usual night.

Read more »

Iron Hill Brewery is About to Grow at Hyper Speed

Iron HillIron Hill Brewery‘s already lightning-fast expansion is about to hit another gear. The company announced on Friday that it struck a deal with investment firm A&M Capital Opportunities. Armed with fresh capital, Iron Hill is eyeing a massive expansion plan with locations across the Eastern seaboard.

Iron Hill currently has 11 locations with a 12th coming soon to Huntingdon Valley, Pa. President and CEO Kevin Finn said the company had its sights set on 20 locations by 2020 but now says “the goal is to accelerate that and do it more efficiently.” Read more »

A Day in the Life of Branding Guru Marc Brownstein

DITL marc Bownstein

A few of his favorite things. | Photography by Courtney Apple.

It takes a lot to be the President and CEO of one of the top branding agencies in the city, but Marc Brownstein makes it look easy. Running the show at Brownstein Group, Marc fields over 200 emails a day and 40 meetings per week and, somehow, still manages to clock in some major miles on the bike (110 weekly, to be exact). He juggles regular lunches with his father Berny, sits on multiple charity boards, and maintains great style all the while. Find out where he shops, what he drinks, and how in the world he gets so much energy to do it all.  Read more »

Urban Outfitters to Buy Vetri Restaurants

Urban Vetri

Two of Philadelphia’s best-known brands are set to become united. Urban Outfitters has agreed to buy the Vetri Family of restaurants. No sale price has been disclosed.

“Having known Marc for almost a decade and partnered with him through his charitable foundation, we are honored to have him, Jeff and the Vetri family join the URBN team,” said Richard A. Hayne, CEO of Urban Outfitters in a statement. “Spending on casual dining is expanding rapidly, and thus, we believe there is tremendous opportunity to expand the Pizzeria Vetri concept.” Read more »

Sued for Playing Whitney: Bar Owners Fighting Relentless Drive for Music Fees

Although it may surprise people outside the service industry, bars and restaurants must pay music licensing fees for the right to play music in their establishments. That’s live music, dinner music, DJs, jukeboxes. Everything. If you’re going to play Shake it Off at your bar, Taylor Swift (or whoever owns the publishing rights) wants a check.

While the process is legal, it has bar and restaurant owners upset — and a growing list of proprietors claim the “take-it-or-leave-it” fee structure lacks alternatives and transparency in how they’re billed. There are three main music licensing companies: Broadcast Music Inc., the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and SESAC Inc.) To some, the way they operate feels like a shakedown — especially since the companies send spies to the establishment to write down what songs they hear. Then comes a questionnaire asking about the establishment’s square footage, live-music schedule, jukebox situation and other things — outputting an amount they have to pay. But don’t try to argue. If you don’t comply, they’ll just use their big money to take you to court. Just ask Silk City in Northern Liberties. More on that in a minute. Read more »

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