Devon is fired up over DanDan.
It hasn’t officially opened but the new restaurant – at the old Ella’s near the Devon Acme – is already packin’ ’em in.
Just like it does in Center City.
And for good reason.
One itty-bitty problem: It can’t find enough employees. (A tune we’re hearing more and more area restaurateurs hum.)
DanDan is (softly) up and running – but so are its owners, Cat and Kevin Huang. They’re taking orders, tending bar, scooting hither and yon, whatever it takes.
The vibe is buoyantly modern (especially the bar). Only the oversized lanterns hint at the Szechuan and Taiwanese goodies served therein.
On the menu: Refined Chinese dishes that bring the heat with the sweet. We started with the Spicy Crispy Cucumbers and signature DanDan Noodles, tossed tableside. (Ask for chili oil on the side if you’re scared.) Pickled Sichuan Fish and Fermeted Black Bean Chicken entrees were fab, too.
The owners are 10-year Devon residents. Each left careers – Cat in dental hygiene and Kevin in IT – to enter the rough-and-tumble restaurant world.
Seems they know what they’re doing. Their Rittenhouse Square DanDan’s been red hot since it opened two years ago.
Fun fact: Cat tells us she loves to eat but it’s Kevin who wears the apron in the family.
DanDan, 214 Sugartown Rd, Devon Square Shopping Center, 484-580-8558, has a full bar and private parties for 20.
Bryn + Dane’s in Bryn Mawr (at last!); Malvern next
Bryn + Dane’s is slinging hash in the new Bryn Mawr Village.
Thought we’d never write those words – construction dragged on foreeeeevvvver.
Like McDonald’s, it serves fast food from dawn through dinner. But it’s WAY better for you and in much nicer surroundings. There isn’t a deep-fat fryer or greasy hood in the joint.
On the menu: A slew of smoothies, wraps and salads – not to mention sleek blond woods, living plant walls, an open kitchen, soaring ceilings and skylights. The entire nanowalled front rolls away for open-air dining. And overspreading it all, a 16 ft. tall black olive tree.
The Great Outdoors. Inside.
B + D Signatures: Smoothies with no added sugars/syrups (from $6), Banana wraps ($4), Cabo Taco Wraps ($8), baked sweet potato fries ($3.25), and build-your-own oatmeal, acai and chia pudding bowls ($4 – $6).
Coming soon: Kids meals.
A supercool (if slightly Big-Brotherish) touch: Supersized touchscreen terminals that put WaWas to shame. You order, pay, and a little camera uses facial recognition software to record your customized salad or wrap for next time. No ugly wall menus. No paper.
Bryn Mawr is the chain’s fourth location and its first on the Main Line.
Next up: A drive-thru Bryn + Dane’s in Malvern’s new Atwater Village, then one downtown at 8th and Chestnut.
After that, the world.
Only sort of kidding. The chain has hired a topnotch franchise guy to help them roll out 100 stores in the next five years. Ultimate goal: 3,000.
Not that they’ll all look quite as spiffy as Bryn Mawr. “We wanted it to be a perfect showplace,” store designer Matt Scheller tells SAVVY. Because Bryn Mawr will stay corporate-owned, they lavished lots of love on it. Probably didn’t hurt that that it sits squarely in the high-rent district either.
Bryn + Dane’s, 915 Lancaster Ave in Bryn Mawr Village, is open daily 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Farm fresh finds at new Cottage at Valley Forge Flowers
Wait til you see what’s in store at The Cottage, the latest offshoot of Valley Forge Flowers in Eagle Village: light, bright and oversized antiques that are nothing like mom’s or grandmom’s.
One-of-a-kind pieces (at one-of-a-kind prices), most in bleached woods, that meld perfectly with today’s contemporary interiors.
In other words, furniture and collectibles with character – and French accents.
Each was hand-selected, mostly at flea markets in southern France, by VF Flowers staffers Maureen Katona and Connie McMahon (among others), Main Line gals who know what we like here. (Unlike, say, an overseas buying agent.)
Seems the ladies have sharp eyes. Three-quarters of the crate from their first buying trip was sold out of the basement before the Cottage even opened.
And since the doors were unlocked a week and a half ago, nearly half of inventory is gone.
All of which helps cement Barbara King and her minions’ reign as Main Line Queens of Good Taste. “Nothing is over the top or ornate here,” Barbara tells SAVVY. “Mixing these pieces into your décor helps a home not look like a furniture showroom. I’m thrilled that people are responding to it.”
Another Cottage industry: La Colombe coffee in the shop’s 25-seat café. (Oui!!!)
The Cottage at Valley Forge Flowers will host a grand opening party May 31, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with 20 percent of sale proceeds to benefit Main Line Animal Rescue. RSVP to 610-687-5566 or [email protected]
Attention Kmart shoppers: Deals in all aisles; Devon store closing
It’s been limping along for years and soon will be put out of its misery.
Kmart, an anchor of the Devon Square shopping center, will close for good this summer.
Until then, look for deals that get better as the days get longer: 10 to 30 percent off storewide now; 30 to 50 percent off in a couple weeks, and so forth.
Until it’s all gone, likely by mid- to late July, according to a store spokesman.
He also tells us they’re still receiving shipments from other Kmarts so the pickings aren’t as slim as you might imagine.
What will take Kmart’s place? Dave McManus, leasing agent for shopping center owner Westover Properties, confirms that Target is among those interested, but a Target deal would mean “a bird’s nest of stuff to untangle relating to the Acme,” which sells some of the same stuff, i.e. food.
He says Westover could either put in one big tenant or split the space. “I’m hopeful and confident that what’s going to replace Kmart will make the community happy and will be a place that they use frequently,” McManus tells SAVVY.
We hope so, too.
T/E friends chip in for funeral of standout Stoga athlete, Corey Manning
The Conestoga community is mourning the tragic loss of football and rugby star Corey Manning, Class of 2016.
Friends, family and coaches kept vigil at Lankenau Hospital for a week, until he passed last Thursday night.
In the days since, Corey’s friends have been discussing meaningful ways to remember him – perhaps paying tribute at the place where his star and promise shone brightest, Conestoga’s Teamer Field.
But one Stoga parent took action right away.
With the OK of Corey’s family, Larisa Leon started a GoFundMe to pay for Corey’s funeral. In just 24 hours, the goal of $10,000 was met … then exceeded.
Larisa tells SAVVY it was the least she could do. For many years, Corey was like one of her family – buddies with her son, Harrison, on and off the field. On football weekends, he’d stay at the Leons’ because he had trouble getting rides to games.
“He was outgoing and had that contagious smile,” Larisa remembers. “He touched so many lives. He had his struggles but everyone seemed to know him and love him.”
His gridiron honors were many: Central League First Team, All Main Line First Team. In rugby, he represented Conestoga in the state juniors finals.
After graduating from Conestoga, Corey enrolled at Valley Forge Military Academy, hoping to burnish his credentials for college sports.
Arrangements were incomplete at press time but we’re told Corey’s funeral will take place after the holiday weekend.
Ousted football coach sues Stoga Principal and T/E Schools Superintendent
Just when folks were trying to move on from the Conestoga locker room scandal comes this: SAVVY has learned that one of the fired football coaches is suing Conestoga High School’s principal and the superintendent of T/E Schools.
Lawyers for longtime assistant coach Tom Batgos, a Stoga football player himself in the mid-’70s, last Thursday filed a complaint seeking punitive and compensatory damages over $50,000.
The filing in the Chester County Court of Common Pleas, a copy of which was obtained by SAVVY, alleges “fraud, misrepresentation, defamation, false light invasion of privacy and tortious interference with business relations.”
Among the lawsuit’s claims:
- That the coaches were never told to supervise the locker room, yet in a public forum, Principal Amy Meisinger told the community that “Coaches are expected to supervise locker rooms.” (Batgos affirmed to SAVVY last year that he never set foot in the school, nor was he told to. He would go from his car to the football field and back again.)
- That Meisinger and Superintendent Richard Gusick had a legal duty to inform coaches about “the very real potential of danger lurking in that locker room.” The claim says the two were “driven by the objective of concealing the scandal and media uproar” and intentionally hid the freshman player’s history of sexual misconduct, which included middle school sexting/cyberbullying charges and a sordid school-bus incident in elementary school.
- That Meisinger and Gusick made “defamatory and misleading statements” in their widely circulated email to parents announcing their response to the sodomy/hazing charges. The suit says their letter implied that Batgos’ and other coaches’ “failure to supervise the locker room” resulted in “an atmosphere of hazing and the horrific sodomy of a minor student,” causing Batgos to suffer “irreparable damage to his reputation.” According to the suit, his “tarnished and sullied” reputation has prevented him from getting other coaching jobs. (Batgos’ primary job is personal training. He coached Stoga football on the side for 11 seasons.)
(The suit also claims that the freshman accuser’s father committed “tortious interference” because he knew that coaches would suffer consequences when he had his son “lie about the fictitious sodomy and a hazing culture and inadequate supervision.” The father’s motive? To skip out on the $13,000 the district fined him for fraudulently claiming his son lived in district boundaries, the suit says.)
Batgos declined comment and referred us to his attorney, Brian McCarthy at the Egan Law Firm.
“For Tom Batgos, this is not about punishing the school district,” McCarthy tells SAVVY. “He still loves the T/E and Conestoga community and stays in touch with the young men he’s coached and mentored. This is about a failure of the system and about righting a wrong.”
The three charged students weren’t the only victims here, McCarthy says. “The coaches were victims, too. They did nothing wrong.”
Why didn’t other coaches join Batgos’ suit? “Unlike other coaches, Tom Batgos did not have another job with the school district,” McCarthy said, adding, “We brought this claim only after a reasonable investigation. We’re seeking closure and vindication for Tom Batgos.”
Barring delays, Principal Meisinger, Superintendent Gusick and the father of the freshman accuser have 20 days to respond.
The suit was filed just one day after an Inquirer editorial had T/E tongues wagging. Columnist Ronnie Polaneczky blasted Chester County DA Tom Hogan and recounted the scandal’s lingering fallout. The Inky’s headline: “Conestoga Sodomy Lie Still Reverberates: Will the High School ever get out from under disproved assault allegation?” Yuck.
Innovative BodyX marries fitness with food in Bryn Mawr
We’re pumped to tell you about a cool new cardio/cooking studio now open near the Bryn Mawr train station.
Its owner, Frances Vavloukis, is pretty pumped, too. And we’re not just referring to her biceps (impressive as they are).
See, BodyX has been rolling around in Frances’ brain for years. Bryn Mawr is but a prototype. With the generous backing of husband Ken Gross, she hopes to take her idea nationwide.
The BodyX difference: Fitness studios tend to tip their toes in food, selling juices, granola and such. BodyX does a deep dive – offering healthy cooking classes and meals in a fully tricked-out demonstration kitchen. Wolf range, closed circuit TV and cameras included. So, under the same roof, you kick-start your metabolism in a kickboxing, weightlifting or cardio yoga class, then kick-start better nutrition in a Lunch & Learn cooking session or Cooking Dinner.
A health and wellness twofer.
And chef/trainer Frances – BodyX’s X factor – is just the lady to lead the show, whipping off her sweaty shirt to slip on a chef’s coat. (Only thing missing is the phone booth.)
Born in Greece and partial to a healthy Mediterranean diet, she was a cooking demonstrator for Whole Foods Markets (a la Rachel Ray), eventually charged with opening Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods cooking centers.
She’s also warm and telegenic. Seven years ago she made it to the second round of “The Next Food Network Star.” More recently, she’s been a popular guest chef at Audrey Claire’s Cook in Center City.
She’s also ripped.
While she’s certified to teach yoga and indoor cycling, too, Frances chose to bring strength and cardio workouts (many from Les Mills) to BodyX. She figured there were already plenty of spinning and yoga studios.
At Frances’ invitation, we joined her for a BodyX BYOB cooking dinner. She prepared a multi-course Greek feast; we relished her food and cooking tips. And took home two prizes: recipes and bags of fragrant oregano grown by her twin sister in Greece.
Gia Mas (Cheers).
BodyX Fitness is at 22 N. Bryn Mawr Ave. First fitness class is free; small-group classes and Lunch and Learns are $28 ea. BYOB multi-course Wed. night cooking dinners are $89. Discounts for fitness class packages and memberships.
Louella launches third preppy-chic boutique
While others open stores at the shore (Skirt, Coco Blu, Gingy’s, KnitWit, Bedazzled, Latrice), Louella likes to keep it local.
In five years, owner Maria Delany has opened three Main Line outposts: the flagship Louella debuted in Wayne in late 2012, Louella Malvern followed in 2014, and Louella Bryn Mawr launched two weeks ago.
That’s a whole lotta Louella.
But Maria has a whole lotta fans up and down the Pike.
The Bryn Mawr store took over the Ellelauri space across the parking lot from the new Tin Lizard Brewing. The brick-red building’s been painted white and sports Louella’s signature apple green and navy décor.
Inside, you’ll find the same preppy-chic women’s fashions in a nice range of price points. Plus, a selection of gifts and accessories, e.g. Sw’ell water bottles, Lisi Lerch earrings, inexpensive purses.
Louella boutique, 1012 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, 610-525-8100, is open Mon. – Sat., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Hope Chest expands to Wayne
In Haverford Square for 11 years, Hope Chest has brought its bras to a second Main Line spot.
Owner Donna Goetz has been eyeing the storefront between Pie in the Sky and Christine Shirley Sewing & Design for years. First, because it’s near her Wayne home. And second, it’s in the heart of downtown Wayne, duh.
So when Ultimate Fat Loss System moved on, Donna moved in.
“We’re known first and foremost as bra fitters,” Donna tells SAVVY. Many women choose bras with numbers too large and letters too small, she says. For instance, a 36B should often be a 34C.
Among others undies, the Wayne Hope Chest carries Simon Perele, Mary Jo, Cosabella, Cosaballa Sweet Treats for younger buyers, Spanx, Commando and Hanky Panky.
Also in store: higher-end PJs and, ahem, “intimate bedroom accessories” by Lelo.
Hope Chest, 104 E. Lancaster Ave. in Wayne, 484-580-6649.
New Orchestra plays to kiddies (& their bargain-hunting moms)
Orchestra, aka H & M for the kiddie set, just planted its first (French) flag on U.S. soil at the King of Prussia Mall. Hugely popular in 40 countries, the fast-fashion retailer plans to conquer America, too.
News that can’t have the folks at, say, GAP Kids turning cartwheels.
Each season, Orchestra composes thousands of designs for babies, girls and boys in southern France, fabricates them in China and India, and sells them online and around the world for a song.
The KOP orchestra took over 4,400 square feet once home to The Children’s Place, which has closed 300 of its 1,000 stores in the last few years.
Orchestra’s new U.S. CEO Agathe Boidin, who last summer relocated her fam from France to Villanova, calls Orchestra’s styles “trendy but age appropriate.” The company chose KOP because its heavy traffic would provide lots of feedback as it refines its concept for American audiences, she says. Plus, New York rents were sky high.
Agathe showed us around, raving about the French tissue-cottons arranged by “collection,” the denim bar and the mini-play area for kids.
We gotta hand it to them: the clothes are cute, with vaguely French details, and don’t look cheap. Although the price tags do indeed shout otherwise: $3 for baby “basics,” $11 for girls jeans. Music to moms’ ears everywhere.
For extra savings: Buy a $10 club card and get 25 percent off everything for a year. Pretty nifty answer to nonstop retail sales, n’est-ce pas?
The club – no surprise – is a hit. Agathe tells SAVVY that up to 95 percent of European sales are at club prices.
Orchestra, 610-233-1599, is open daily 10 to 9 in the King of Prussia Mall’s upper level near JCPenney.
Hold onto your hats – it’s horse show time again
The always fabulous Devon Horse Show’s Ladies Day hat contest is next Wednesday morning (May 31), Judges Carson Kressley, Adam Joseph, Yours Truly et. al. presiding.
So, get thee to a milliner. Stat.
Or throw on any old topper to get in for free and enjoy the best people-watching this side of Radnor Hunt. (Super-fun pics of last week’s Radnor Races and Devon in the next SAVVY Social!)
Hat contest prizes are extra splashy this year and even runner-ups will go home with gifts. (A new wrinkle and a rather sporting one at that.)
Ladies Day tickets – $65 in advance and $80 at the door – include beverages, bites, a paddle for hat contestants, and a goody bag with five free raffle tickets for prizes donated by show vendors.
Can’t make Ladies Day? How about bringing Fido to Yappy Hour, Thursday, May 25, part of Devon’s new Dog Show at the Horse Show lineup. Craft beer, live music, 30 Main sangria tastings, doggie snow cones, and, yup, doggie bags. Free show admission. $25 wristband gets you and your pooch into Yappy Hour, 7 – 9 p.m. in the Picnic Grove. Woof Woof.
FLITE soaring in its 10th year
Kudos to the all-volunteer nonprofit, Foundation for Learning in Tredyffrin/Easttown, (FLITE), now celebrating 10 years.
FLITE raises money and disperses funds so kids of every background can receive a soup-to-nuts education and succeed in T/E’s stellar schools. In ten years, the group has helped thousands of young people access preschool, homework help, computers, school supplies, musical instruments and summer programs.
Yoga/Bootcamp kickoff in Wilson Park
Cardio/Strength training and yoga: so perfect together – especially when they’re alfresco, in, say, Wilson Farm Park.
Paoli’s Purenergy Studio will kick off its summer Wednesday night bootcamp/yoga classes with a real hootenanny June 14 at 6.: live music by the Whiskeyhickon Boys, beer and cider tastings, yogi Kate Goodyear and fitness guru Suzanne Olson.
Your $10 donation goes to All 4 Paws Animal Rescue.
Count us in.
Register online or call 610-993-9933. (And thanks for being a SAVVY advertising partner, Purenergy.)
And finally, a SAVVY salute to a dear childhood pal, TV’s Pixanne
A piece of our Philly childhoods flew off to pixie heaven with the May 13 passing of ‘Pixanne,’ aka Jane Norman of Bala Cynwyd, and before that, Gladwyne.
She was 83.
Unlike many starlets, she left her elfin character behind decades ago and went on to lead a grounded and fulfilling life: composing, writing, producing and performing.
“She was a creative force and her energy level was incredible,” remembers Charlene Guyer, Jane’s friend for 40 years. “She was patient and kind and very much in control of herself and her career – but she was never pushy.”
A child prodigy in music, she closed out her career as a cabaret artist, singing to a sold-out house in NYC just three years ago. “She knew how to engage and enchant audiences, just as she did as Pixanne,” Charlene tells SAVVY. “What always amazed her is that people would come up to her and remember her and her voice; Pixanne had so many fans.”
Charlene says Jane also had a nose for Broadway, smartly investing in “The Great Comet of 1812,” “Pippin” and other hits.
According to Charlene, Jane didn’t want a memorial service and wrote her own obituary – a few simple sentences about people wondering “whatever happened to Jane Norman? I haven’t seen her for a while … Jane flew away.”
Safe flight, Jane. You will be missed.