While life in the city and suburbs slacks off in the summer, workers get busy pounding out new restaurants to open before the holiday rush.
This year's crop is emerging - an assortment of concepts as familiar as Italian and new American, and as novel as upscale kosher, Mexican and Scandinavian. A couple of chains. And pubs - by the yard-full.
And of course, Stephen Starr. He has some new tricks. He even may be spoiling for a new rivalry with Jose Garces, the guy he brought to town at El Vez and Alma de Cuba, but who is building an empire of his own (Amada, Tinto, and more on the way).
The lineup of new BYOBs - the independent jewel boxes that have become Philadelphia's signature - looks promising, though it may be the smallest list in memory. Barry Goldstein, a lawyer with Goldstein, Friedberg, Goldstein & McHugh in Bensalem who handles many local transactions, says perhaps it's economics, as a liquor license helps cover rising expenses and rents.
Here's a rundown of what's new - including some very new arrivals - and what's on the way:
Blue Pear Bistro. The venerable Dilworthtown Inn has added this chic, refined bistro next door; lively bar, too. 275 Brintons Bridge Rd., West Chester, 610-399-9812.
Pietro's Prime. Downtown West Chester gets an upscale steakhouse-seafooder. 125 W. Market St., West Chester, 484-760-6100.
Joe Pesce. Pompeii has reconceptualized (fresher, less-formal Italian) under brothers Joseph Tucker and Robert Liccio; a second location is in the works next month for Collingswood. 1113 Walnut St., 215-829-4400.
Jose Pistolas. Creative burritos y muchos cervezas in the old Copa Too location. 263 S. 15th St., 215-545-4102.
City Grange. Regional American, locally sourced ingredients. Westin Philadelphia, 99 S. 17th St., 215-575-6904.
Zinc. French bistro, a remodeling of La Boheme; neat zinc bar. 246 S. 11th St., 215-351-9901.
Zacharias Creek Side Cafe. High-style American BYOB in Central Montco. 2960 Skippack Pike, Center Point, 610-584-5650.
Triada. Old City lounge with global small plates. 120 Market St., 215-627-2401.
Brio Tuscan Grille. Italian, by way of Columbus, Ohio. 901 Haddonfield Rd., Cherry Hill, 856-910-8166.
Cravings. The North Wales bistro has moved next to the Pennbrook R5 station, adding a larger menu and bar. 155 Pennbrook Parkway (Station Square Shopping Center), Lansdale, 215-855-4500.
Knock. Global dining/lounge. 12th and Locust Streets, 215-925-1166.
Belgian Cafe. The Monk's team flexes its mussels in Spring Garden. 21st and Green Streets, 215-235-3500.
Grady David's. Grill, brick-oven pizzeria, and wine bar from Dave Magrogan of Kildare's and Doc Magrogan's. 4690 Horseshoe Pike, Honey Brook, 610-273-9000 (Sept. 17).
Molly Maguire's. Irish pub/restaurant in burgeoning Phoenixville; music, too. 195-197 Bridge St., Phoenixville, 610-223-1234 (Sept. 19).
Las Bugambilias. Carlos Molina, former chef for Los Catrines/Tequila's, goes solo with haute Mexican. 148 South St., 215-922-3190 (Sept. 20).
The Cheesecake Factory. Three-hour waits and beepers in Willow Grove Park mall. 2500 Moreland Rd., Willow Grove, 215-657-3550 (Sept. 20).
Beneluxx. A Belgian tasting room (beers, wines, cheeses, chocolate) from Michael Naessens of Eulogy Belgian Tavern; a larger operation is up for next year at the old Broad Axe Tavern in Blue Bell. 33 S. Third St. (late September).
Buona Via. Montco's Cafe Mediterraneo makes its long-awaited big move west (one block) to a freestanding building complete with bar and banquet space. 426 Horsham Rd., Horsham, 215-672-5595 (late September).
Yakitori Boy. The Japanese staple (food on a stick) comes to Chinatown; plus sushi and bar-lounge. 211-213 N. 11th St., 215-923-8088 (late September).
Cochon. Simple country-French BYOB. 801 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-923-7675 (late September).
Max & David's. Eclectic and kosher sitdown, catering, takeout - the whole shmear. 8120 Old York Rd., Elkins Park, 215-885-2400 (Oct. 1).
Sonam. BYOB will offer globally influenced "dim sum" from chef Ben Byruch. 223 South St., 215-922-3092 (early October).
Urban Saloon. Jack's Firehouse gets a neighbor. 2120 Fairmount Ave. (early October).
Word of Mouth. The Collingswood BYOB ventures south into Pitman for its second location; a liquor license may be in the offing. 126 Broadway, Pitman (early October).
Supper. Upscale-casual American dining from Jennifer and Mitch Prensky of the Global Dish caterers. 926 South St. (Oct. 19).
Murray's Main Line Deli and Bistro M. From a branch of the Teti family: a deli, gourmet-to-go, bistro under chef Tim Olivett (ex-Moshulu and Rx). Parking garage, too. 575 Lancaster Ave., Berwyn (October).
Azie. Global cuisine in Media from the owners of Teikoku. 218 W. State St., Media (October).
Bombino's. Italian BYOB, backed by Mantra's Al Paris. Ninth and Catharine Streets (October).
Javier. This is the working name for a Word of Mouth-run BYOB planned in a short-lived Salsarita's outlet. 208 Kings Highway, Haddonfield (late October).
Pearl. French-influenced pan-Asian from Red Sky. 1904 Chestnut St. (late October).
Flip & Bailey's. Brewpub. 900 Conestoga Rd., Rosemont (October).
Bindi. Indian BYOB from the duo at Grocery and Lolita. 105 S. 13th St. (late October).
Girasole. The long-gone Italian favorite comes to the Symphony House. Broad and Pine Streets (early November).
Union Gourmet Market & Cafe. Crew from the Down Town Club sets up in the new Western Union condo building. 1111 Locust St. (November).
Maia. Brothers Patrick and Terence Feury, plus Scott Morrison, are building out a rustic but refined Euro/Scandinavian restaurant, cafe and food market, open morning till night. 789 E. Lancaster Ave., Villanova (late fall).
Many restaurateurs are hinting at new deals, including Alison Barshak (Alison at Blue Bell), Ellen Mogell (Honey's), and Joe Poon (the former Joseph Poon).
Mango Moon. Moon and Pat Krapugthong of Manayunk's Chabaa Thai plan a Thai lounge specializing in kab klam (Thai tapas) nearby. 4161 Main St. (winter-spring).
Chilango. The tastes of Mexico City, from chef Jose Garces (Amada, Tinto). 40th and Chestnut Streets (March). More immediately, Garces will expand Tinto (114 S. 20th St.) next door in November.
Chef Eric Ripert's unnamed bistro (a D.C. version will be called West End) in the Ritz-Carlton's rotunda. 10 S. Broad St. (spring).
Stephen Starr's unnamed gastropub. 706 Chestnut St. (April).
Parc Bistro. Starr's French bistro at the Parc Rittenhouse (not to be confused with the Parc Bistro in Skippack). 18th and Locust Streets (April).
Table 31. The trilevel extravaganza from Georges Perrier and Chris Scarduzio, in the new Comcast Center. 17th Street and JFK Boulevard (spring/summer).
Chima. Brazilian steakhouse chain. 20th Street and JFK Boulevard (spring/summer).
Del Frisco's Double Eagle. The fancy meat chain has designs on the Grande (formerly the Packard Building). 15th and Chestnut Streets (late 2008).
The Obligatory Starr Watch
Stephen Starr, who owns a dozen restaurants in Philly alone, is building and retooling. In the process, he may start a Mexican war in University City.
Starr says he'll put a Mexican restaurant on the University of Pennsylvania campus next September - near Chilango, the Mexican concept that former Starr chef Jose Garces is planning for spring.
But that is only one of his many projects in the works.
The biggest splash: Parc Bistro, a 250-seat French bistro at the Parc Rittenhouse with fling-out windows on the 18th and Locust Streets sides (April). In Atlantic City, he is planning a coffeeshop/hipster bar (Teplitzky's) and a 1940s-theme steakhouse (Chelsea Prime) in the Chelsea, a $93 million renovation of the old Holiday Inn and Howard Johnson (by Memorial Day).
Starr also says he's about to try something new at Washington Square. He's refocusing Tangerine's menu toward Middle Eastern small plates (soon). He'll tweak the concept at Striped Bass (March). No name yet, but the former Blue Angel and Angelina at 706 Chestnut St. will become a hipster bar with what he calls a "gastropubbish" menu and traditional, "non-froufrou" cocktails (April). - Michael KleinEndText
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