Restaurateur Stephen Starr has signed to run a seasonal burger stand at Franklin Square.

A permanent structure, to be erected on the Sixth Street side of the square at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge, is to open in midsummer, serving specialty burgers, shakes, salads, and Capogiro gelato. In two weeks, Starr workers will start dispensing a limited menu from a temporary tent on the Seventh Street side.

Starr says prices will not approach those charged at his restaurants, including $12 for a cheeseburger at the Continental, $16 for a burger at Butcher & Singer, and $14 for a Kobe cheeseburger at Barclay Prime.

The structure's $650,000 construction budget comes from a $2.5 million allocation by the Delaware River Port Authority to Historic Philadelphia Inc., the nonprofit that operates the square for the Fairmount Park Commission. Historic Philadelphia will get a yet-to-be-finalized percentage of the stand's sales, a rep said. The rest of the allocation will go toward a tech upgrade to Historic Philadelphia's Lights of Liberty show. Earlier this year, the announcement of $11 million in DRPA allocations for non-bridge projects raised eyebrows, given last year's toll increase.

On the tables

North by Northwest, the popular nightspot on Germantown Avenue near Mount Airy Avenue, plans to reopen April 15, and voice mail says it's closed for renovations. Prompting the work: NXNW was shut down last weekend for allegedly operating without a fire-alarm system and exit markers. Dominic Verdi, the nuisance task force liaison between the police and the Department of Licenses and Inspections, said inspectors Saturday night also saw about 300 people in a space whose occupancy is 200. Although North by Northwest is a restaurant, Verdi said it operated as a nightclub because it had no tables and chairs. Manager Bill Ingram yesterday denied the tables-and-chairs assertion, saying there was seating for about 100.

NBC has placed its cooking-reality show Chopping Block on hold after three of the eight episodes aired. Featured in the contest are Angie Brown and Samantha Johnson, the mother-daughter team who run the restaurant Soul in Chestnut Hill. An NBC rep yesterday did not say when the show would return.

John Taxin and his aunt Sandy can hold the keys of Old Original Bookbinder's for at least several weeks. The restaurant, closed for two weeks amid bankruptcy woes, made $45,000 in payments Monday. A court filing says the Taxins must come up with $166,380 by April 24 or the landlord can take it over. The Taxins are talking with a prospective partner or buyer. Some staffers are griping about recently bounced paychecks. From the Bookbinder's in Richmond, Va., John Taxin told me: "They'll be covered. Everybody's going to get paid."

Briefly noted

At tomorrow's Black-Tie Gay Bingo, a fund-raiser at the Crystal Tea Room for the AIDS Fund,

John Cella

will be honored as Favorite Straight Person of the Year. Cella is director of the AIDS Activities Coordinating Office of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health. His wife,

Ruth Cella

, was honored in November as Hearing Person of the Year by the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Council of Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Jen Utley, a board member of the Pennsylvania SPCA and Chase's wife, will join the Phillies Pup Rally at 5 p.m. today on Rittenhouse Square, a pooch-friendly benefit for the PSPCA sponsored by the team and Comcast SportsNet. Donations of cash and pet toys will be accepted. During a planning meeting, SportsNet's Maureen Quilter said she felt left out because she was the only one at the table without a dog. In February, she and her family adopted Zoey, a 6-year-old boxer.