Stephen Starr and Pierre Robert. Photograph by Dustin Fenstermacher
STEPHEN: You know, growing up, my goal was to be a disc jockey.
PIERRE: Really? Wow.
STEPHEN: I got my FCC license when I was 15. I was 16 at a radio station in Vineland, New Jersey. I wanted to be Scott Muni. Same guys that you probably looked up to. I used to love listening to Michael Tearson and Ed Sciaky. Michael was my favorite — that voice. Then I got a job at WMGM in Atlantic City.
PIERRE: That’s so cool. I came to town in ’81 from San Francisco, and the Ripley [Music Hall, Starr’s club] was already established.
STEPHEN: That was on South Street. It opened in ’80, next to what is now my restaurant, Serpico. I knew all the radio guys ’cause we advertised a lot, so we got to know Pierre through that. And then we did a big welcoming of John [DeBella] when he came.
PIERRE: He was amazing. When he walked into the studio, he had a red beret on, and red mirrored sunglasses and a red leather jacket — at six in the morning. I knew the world had changed at ’MMR. … I was floored by how alive the music scene was at that time. There were all these great local bands: Kenn Kweder, the A’s, Beru Revue, and, later, Tommy Conwell, the Hooters, Robert Hazard and the Heroes. I walked down South Street on a Monday night and it was bursting with energy. You wouldn’t find that today.
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Okay, so the piece in the New York Times Dining & Wine section wasn’t all about Le Diplomate. As a matter of fact, Stephen Starr‘s new(ish) D.C. version of Parc only gets one paragraph in a story talking about the newly-booming restaurant scene in our nation’s capitol.
But what’s important is that the writer has a line (paraphrasing Starr, I assume) that has likely never been spoken before about Philadelphia.
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Restaurant Business magazine has released its list of the Top 100 Independent Restaurants by Sales in the United States. And Stephen Starr owns five of them. Starr’s NYC Buddakan was ranked #9 with estimated sales of $21.5 million. His top Philadelphia restaurant is Parc with estimated sales of $11.9 million.
The top independent restaurant is Tao Asian Bistro in Las Vegas with sales of $64.4 million. The only other nearby restaurant on the list is The Lobster House in Cape May, New Jersey. Despite a short busy season, the seafood restaurant brought in $14.5 million in sales.
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Way before there was a Stephen Starr and his twenty-one or so Philadelphia restaurants, there was a Starr’s Cafe. This 1917 photo of Margaret Street and Frankford Avenue shows the cafe that offered light lunch, ice cream, oysters as well as steaks and chops. Sounds like a stomach ache waiting to happen.
Frankford and Margaret St [PhillyHistory]
Yelp has released a new way to play with the online review giant’s data. Yelp Trends allows you to see how popular certain terms have been over Yelp’s ten years in business. It’s interesting to see just how Starr focused Philadelphia was back in 2006-08.
Other things we’ve taken from the charts »
Christopher Sawyer, the anti-blight crusader behind Philadelinquency, announced yesterday that his tax delinquency database is now current as of August 1. The database is an addictive tool where you can search properties that are behind on their taxes by any number of data points.
Curious about your own zip code? You can sort that way. Curious about who reigns supreme with the most liens in the city? (It’s 37 and the title is shared by three people.) You can search that. Want to check on whether your neighbor filed a homestead exemption? You can search by individual addresses, too.
Hours of fun (and civic despair) to be had at the PDQ Property Catalog.
More news this way …
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When it comes to supporting Philly public schools, restaurateur Stephen Starr has put his money where his customers’ mouths are: He raised more than $100,000 for the school district by asking patrons to add a donation to their bill whenever they ate at one of his restaurants.
Starr gave an interview to the Philadelphia Business Journal about why he promotes the schools. An excerpt:
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On Tuesday, August 5th, Fette Sau is hosting a Whiskey and BBQ Dinner. The event, which starts at 6 p.m., will feature whiskey pairings from Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey and chef Jason Goodman’s family-style, never-before-seen menu items. Though a menu hasn’t been released, we do know that most of the 9 dishes will imitate Pennsylvania classics, like “Duck and Kraut.”
And as you stuff your face, keep an eye out for Dad’s Hat founder Herman Mihalich and co-founder John Cooper. They’ll be walking around to give some guidance on the whiskey pairings, which will include three cocktails and one neat pour.
Tickets are limited and cost $60 per person, not including tax and gratuity. To reserve your spot, make reservations by calling 215-391-4888 or by visiting the restaurant.
Fette Sau [Foobooz]
No, your sushi won’t look this good.
By Isabelle Gallicchio and Ella Torres
Last year Stephen Starr’s West Philly pan asian restaurant, Pod, launched an in-house Sushi School, taught by head sushi chef, Tomoyuki Takasu. After a successful first summer session, Pod decided to bring back the popular class this year. Sushi school provides hungry students the opportunity to learn how to prepare and roll their own sushi under the watchful and helpful eye of chef Taka. It’s also very popular with the first date crowd, in case you need some inspiration.
And because we kept hearing unceasing praise for Pod’s class, we decided to check it out ourselves. So last week, Foobooz went back to school…
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Ten years into its existence on Rittenhouse Square, Stephen Starr’s first Philadelphia steakhouse remains the city’s most stylish and expense-account-crushing ode to red meat. As at Starr’s supper-clubby Butcher and Singer, service here is A-1. But while Butcher and Singer is the kind of place you can take Mom to for an impressive birthday dinner, Barclay Prime is the type of modern see-and-be-seen dining room where you’ll be embarrassed when she shows up in anything less than Prada. Skip the gimmicky wagyu-foie cheesesteak and cut into the signature rib eye. Just expect to drop $150 to $200 per person if you’re going all in.
Barclay Prime [Foobooz]