PHOTOS: Philly Mag ThinkFest 2012

The first-ever ThinkFest gathering of Philly innovators kicked off with a Stephen Starr Q&A.

Philadelphia magazine’s two-day ThinkFest, which brought together some of Philadelphia’s greatest innovators and entrepreneurs for presentations, discussion panels, and Q&A segments, kicked off Friday at the Rittenhouse Hotel in high style, with the king of all restaurants Stephen Starr (left). During a Q&A with Philly Mag editor Tom McGrath (right), Starr told a packed house how he got started in the business, how he got the idea for his first restaurant (he wanted to do a cocktail bar, something that hadn’t been done in Philly before), and which of his restaurants are his favorite (Buddakan NYC and Continental Old City).

Below: Philly Mag president David Lipson opened the weekend by talking about how much he and his family love Philadelphia, and the positive direction it’s been going in. He’s excited for the future. Also pictured: Susan Lipson, Dawn Chavous and Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. During the Q&A with Stephen Starr, Johnson expressed his gratitude to Starr for being persistent and continuing to open up new and innovative restaurants in Philadelphia.

Below: Garrett Gillin, Sue Rinaldi and Jon Vogel. All three were excited to hear from Stephen Starr. Did you know Starr picks out the space first and then he builds a vision around it, including what type of food he’s going to serve?

Below: Rick Lauletta and Nicki Dekunchak. Nicki is the massage therapist behind Hands at Home. They tell me their favorite Stephen Starr restaurant is Dandelion.

Below: Nick Bayer, co-founder of Saxbys, Katie English (who represents Chestnut Hill and wants me to remind everyone that every Wednesday in December, there’ll be special holiday shopping with Santa), Michael Grey, Fameco Realty, and Christie Honigman, the Honigman Group.

Below: Allison Young (left) thinks democracy is the greatest innovation ever, while Dave Maser (right) thinks it’s soft pretzels.

Below: Kevin Attie and Anna Serefeas, say the most innovative invention was the public library.

Below: Charles Paloux, Hersha Hospitality Trust, Nicole Paloux, and Neil Shah, president and COO of Hersha Hospitality Trust. Hersha Hospitality and the Rittenhouse Hotel were happy to participate in the event.

Below: Developer Carl Dranoff and wife Roberta Dranoff, who was looking forward to all the discussions, but especially to hearing what the next generation thinks will be the innovative ideas to watch.

Below: Tom Doll, COO of ThinkFest sponsor Subaru, put it well when he said we all need to learn a little more, even after we know it all. Philly innovators who appeared over the weekend included 6 ABC’s Jim Gardner, who talked about tweeting, developer Ori Feibush, and Josh Dubin, of the city’s office of arts, culture and the creative economy.