Well, whaddayaknow? Marbles is rolling back to Bryn Mawr.
Fifteen years after the Main Line mainstay near the movie theater went dark, it’s being resurrected – same spot, same owners, same tin ceiling.
The building’s been owned all along by local restaurateurs George, Michel and Joseph Wakim and their sister, Fadia Wakim Abi-Khattar, the sibs behind Aldar and Murray’s in Bala and Evviva in Narberth.
After renting to other Bryn Mawr operators for a decade (RIP Carmine’s Creole Café and Verdad), the Wakims are going hands-on again. They tell us they’ve decided to reincarnate Marbles because the restaurant may have died but its spirit has lived on.
“Everywhere the family went, people would bring up Marbles,’ says Caroline Abi-Khattar, speaking for her mother and her Wakim uncles. “Generations of families ate at Marbles; grandparents took their grandkids there, couples went there for date night, women met for girls nights. There was so much loyalty.”
Adds her uncle Joseph: “There have been many magical family moments at Marbles. We’re excited to bring that to a new generation.”
Marbles 2.0 will be a modern gastropub with an American menu with the Wakim’s signature Lebanese influences. Large bar in front, quieter seating in rear, and private parties for up to 30 upstairs. Upscale, cozy-casual pub vibe.
The sign’s up outside, renovations continue inside, and, fingers crossed, the place will be rockin’ and rollin’ by late February, the Wakims say.
A bit of Marbles trivia: The Wakim sibs – who moved to the Main Line for college at Nova and St. Joe’s in the late 70s and never left – named the place for their fave childhood game.
Stoga grad at center of Trump-Russia ‘Steele dossier’
So it turns out the guy hogging the headlines this week for his Senate testimony about the infamous Trump dossier made headlines before … when he was a senior at Conestoga.
Seems Glenn Simpson, Stoga ’82, the founder of Fusion GPS, the lucrative oppo research firm hired to dig up dirt on Trump’s dealings with Russia, has a history in these parts.
According to the New York Times, Simpson threw a beer-soaked bash at his Tredyffrin house just before graduation. One of partyers, Jon Andrews, staggered out into the street and was hit and killed by a car. The driver was a 17-year-old girl who had left the party but wasn’t drinking.
Simpson’s mother was charged with corruption of minors and conspiracy to aid underage drinking. She was found guilty only of the lesser charge of allowing minors to drink.
But Simpson’s exploits were featured in a front-page Inquirer article about binge drinking on the Main Line. According to the Times, Simpson told the Inky: “[Drinking’s] a release. It’s a way to forget.”
Life stayed stormy for the Stoga grad. A few years later, as a GW college student, he broke his neck in a car crash. And when he was in his 30s, he battled spinal cancer, according to the Times. Simpson, 53, become a respected investigative journalist, breaking major corruption stories for the Wall Street Journal.
“A hard-charging reporter with a deep Rolodex, a weakness for Bob Dylan, and an unquenchable thirst for revelry, mischievous or otherwise,” reads The Times’ colorful characterization of the Main Line native.
In 2009, Simpson left The Journal to found his own research firm, famously hiring ex-British spy Christopher Steele to report on Trump’s Russia connections. And of course, it was a transcript of Simpson’s own words before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sen. Feinstein made public this week, amid a storm of partisan bickering.
Guy gets around, doesn’t he?
Radical plans for KOP Mall
It’s no secret shopping malls are struggling. Witness the makeover of Plymouth Meeting (and to a lesser extent, Exton Square) into entertainment hubs.
But King of Prussia? Well, our mega-mall’s bullet-proof, right? One store leaves, another one swoops in to take its place. No sweat.
Until, perhaps, now.
According to published reports, the mall has a bold new plan to replace big old J. C. Penney, sitting idle since July. A plan that doesn’t involve retail or restaurants – for the first time in the mall’s 54-year history.
The mall’s owner, Simon Property Group, wants to turn the vacant department store and its parking lot into 17-acres of apartments, offices and possibly a hotel.
Making the Mall a self-contained mini-city, i.e. Work. Shop. Sleep. Repeat.
Simon says it’s too early to comment on the plan but its CEO told the National Real Estate Investor the project would be a “suburban version” of Hudson Yards, the company’s mammoth mixed-use complex in western Manhattan.
Meanwhile, Township Manager David Kraynik tells SAVVY he’s hoping to get a “concept plan” with details from Simon in the next few weeks. He did confirm that any mixed-use redevelopment plan would require a zoning change.
Arrivederci, Stella Blu; Hello Imbibe
After 16 years, Stella Blu is history.
The West Conshy restaurant was slated to close at the end of January when the building changes hands. Alas, a major burst pipe Jan. 4, forcing the owners to call it quits pronto.
“We are heartbroken we have to close Stella Blu this way,” says owner Kim Strengari. Regulars can get their final fix at nearby Gypsy Saloon where Strengari says she’ll serve Stella’s signature dishes for the next few weeks.
Taking Stella’s place at 101 Ford St. will be Imbibe, a new concept from the capable hands of one Sean Weinberg, chef/owner of Malvern’s Alba and Bryn Mawr’s Biga.
This time out, Weinberg’s leaving his Italian roots to specialize in small (and some large) American-inspired plates. Biga Chef Steve Fulmer will slide over to run the kitchen.
Also on tap: craft cocktails and beaucoup wine by the glass. Imbibe indeed.
A cosmetic makeover will aim for a “clean, comfortable European vibe,” Weinberg tells SAVVY. Target opening date: late March.
Celeb sighting at new Ardmore salon
When you name your new business “LaBelle” and a certain superstar of the same name lives nearby, well, don’t be surprised if she comes calling.
And so it came to pass that Patti LaBelle, who’s hung her fancy hat in Wynnewood for some 30 years, dropped by Ardmore’s LaBelle Nail Bar not once but twice (!) since its late December debut.
And we’re told the Main Line’s Living Legend couldn’t have been nicer.
Patti’s first visit was a quick look-see after friends kept asking her if she owned the place. Seems she was so smitten, she came back for a $55 luxe pedicure. (For the record, she chose a Tiffany-esque blue polish.)
And what’s not to love?
LaBelle Nail Bar is drop-dead gorgeous, especially the cushy pedicure stations.
“I thought the area needed a nicer nail salon,” LaBelle owner Oanh Le tells SAVVY, in what may be the understatement of the year.
Other selling points: LaBelle uses only non-toxic, organic polishes: Zoya and Bioseaweed Gel. And all manicures are waterless – no soaking – and include a keratin renewal treatment, ensuring a longer chip-free finish and nicely hydrated hands.
It appears Le comes by her health focus honestly – she still works a shift or two each week as an overnight home-care nurse.
LaBelle Nail Bar, 52 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, 610-658-7228, is open Tues. to Sun. Manicures $16 – $37 (for “healthy gel”); Pedicures $25 – $55; discounts for kids under 11; waxing begins at $8.
New lux bus from western burbs to NYC
Luxury bus from the burbs to the Big Apple? There’s an app for that.
The tech startup, OurBus, is now offering daily express service to midtown Manhattan from park-and-ride lots in Wayne/KOP, Malvern and West Chester.
Just download the free OurBus app to buy paperless tickets and track your bus in real time.
The buses sound pretty swell: reclining seats, charging stations, free Wifi and bottled water and “sanitized” restrooms – and none are more than three years old. Primarily a tech company, OurBus only rents its fleet.
Tickets are $13 – $16 each way and you can reschedule for free. Ride takes two to three hours depending on where you board.
Not as fast but loads cheaper than Amtrak.
FYI, the Wayne/KOP “station” is at 153 S. Gulph Rd., the Malvern “station” is at the Matthews Rd. lot at the Rt. 29/Rt. 202 interchange. Other pickup points are in downtown West Chester and Fort Washington.
Next on the OurBus radar: routes from our burbs to DC.
Radnor’s accidental truck stop?
Are you kidding me? Some 43 trucks have crashed into the same Radnor overpass in the last nine years, Three trucks have slammed into the bridge in the last few months alone – tying up traffic and tying officials in knots.
The overpass – on King of Prussia Rd. between Matsonford and Radnor Chester Rd. – is painted yellow and signs are clearly posted about its height limit. So what gives?
Seems truckers may be so focused on their Waze and Google Maps directions that they’re zoning out and rambling right on under – and into – the bridge. Plus, there are more trucks on the road, which has become a popular cut-through from KOP to the Blue Route.
According to Philly.com, township officials want the cops to do a better job keeping truckers off the road. But Radnor Police say they can’t just park there, waiting for a truck to hit the bridge. Instead, they’d like the township to install a fancy laser system that would sound an alarm and flash warning signs when a truck’s too tall. Price tag: $100K. Ouch.
Au Revoir, Antoinette’s
Will be interesting to see who bites on the former home of Antoinette’s.
Paoli’s long-running day spa/salon went dark Dec. 23 and its former quarters – a historic yellow Victorian on Darby Rd. – are for sale.
Built around 1890, it’s a sun-filled and roomy (and we mean that literally – Antoinette had lots of tiny treatment rooms), the house measures 7,000 sq. ft. and has space for 27 cars. Asking price: $1.65 million.
Listing agent John Greenwald of JG Realty Advisors says he’s had plenty of inquiries for office, salon and medical uses for what he calls a “very unique” property.
In its heyday, Antoinette’s employed as many as 78, including two chefs to prepare lunches for its popular spa-day packages. When it closed, it was owned by the spa chain PUREBEAUTY and had just 15 on staff. Most have scattered to Paoli competitors like The Hairdresser, Studio H and Sanctuary Med Spa, which is honoring Antoinette gift cards.
With two former Antoinette-ers now on staff, Studio H Color and Design Group is taking a deeper dive into spa services. The salon in the Paoli Village Shoppes now offers medical-grade peels, dermaplaning, permanent makeup, microblading, reflexology pedicures, eyelash extensions and more.
This and That
After Phil Ahr’s and Bill Spingler’s sexually-tinged scandals, anyone else glad to see Radnor install a woman as president of the board of commissioners?
Shortly after she was sworn in for her first term, Lisa Borowski was elected to the top job. She’s only the second woman in township history to run the show. Borowski tells SAVVY that she and vice president Luke Clark “are really looking to change the tenor of the Board and leave the past as just that, the past. Radnor is an amazing town. As Commissioners, we owe it to the community to do better and be better.”
Now you see it, now you don’t. The French BYOB La Jolie in Wayne opened in July and closed last month. Avenue Eatz at 128 W. Lancaster Ave. has moved on, too.
So long to Le Saigon. A fixture at the Paoli Shopping Center, the Vietnamese BYOB is closed for renovations and will re-open as the Chinese BYOB, Cheng Du.
Another outpost of Potbelly Sandwich Shop opens near the Malvern Target Jan. 14.
Does this duo ever lose? Every time Ardmore native and Friends Central grad Benj Pasek and songwriting partner Justin Paul get nominated for a major award, they win. This week, they won a Golden Globe, their second, for “This is Me” from the P.T. Barnum biopic, The Greatest Showman.
They’ve also won an Oscar (La La Land) and a Tony (Dear Evan Hansen), are nominated for two Grammys, and will likely get another nod for Showman when the Oscars noms are announced Jan. 23. Thanks for making us Main Line Proud, Benj.
Restore Cryosauna has expanded into the old Wayne Ballet space. So now there’s room for all the healing goodies Restore offers in Haverford Square – and then some: localized cryotherapy, rejuvenating cryo-facials and infrared sauna. There’s even a spot for small group gatherings with space for 10 yoga mats.
We interrupt this SAVVY for a few words about, well, SAVVY
As we start 2018, we’d like to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who’s been spreading the SAVVY love the last few years. Whether you’ve been sharing our posts, subscribing to our emails, sending us news tips, posting comments, joining our events, buying ad space, or just telling your pals about us, we SO appreciate your support.
Last year, we took the huge step to monetize SAVVY to try to recoup some of our expenses. (Alas, the bills were piling up.) We’ve just updated our ad and sponsorship options for 2018 and, we’re psyched to say that our prices are better than ever! Contact Kathy@savvyml.com to get your business in front of the Main Line’s SAVVYest shoppers. (Shoutout to all you jewelers, florists, restaurants and boutique owners out there: Valentine’s Day is right around the corner!)
Click here to see our list of dear SAVVY friends and learn more about them. Hope you’ll patronize them early and often 🙂
And of course, never hesitate to reach out to [email protected] with your story tips, feedback, ideas for our next event, or just to say hi. We love hearing from readers!
And finally… In the SAVVY Giving spotlight: Emily’s Entourage
We’re completely blown away by the runaway success of the Main Line’s “little charity that could,” Emily’s Entourage.
Its December gala drew 450 guests and raked in nearly half a million. Yup, you read that right: 5, then five zeroes. (And that doesn’t count the follow-up campaign that netted some $100K more.)
What sets EE apart from other local nonprofits – ones that can only dream about a haul like that – is its uniquely compelling founder, her ever-loving family and their beat-the-clock mission.
See, Lower Merion grad Emily Kramer-Golinkoff has been battling the fatal genetic disease cystic fibrosis for all of her 33 years. Recent advances in CF treatments will help 90 percent of people with CF but not Emily and the other 10 percent with rare mutations. With her CF progressing – she’s been considered “advanced stage” for several years – Emily’s family decided to take matters into their own hands: they would raise money and fund research themselves.
In six years, Emily’s Entourage has directly funded $2.5 million in research at top-flight institutions, harnessing the world’s top CF minds to Emily’s cause and fueling hope for a cure – not just for Emily but for thousands of people with inherited diseases caused by similar so-called nonsense mutations.
The Entourage’s impact is ever-widening but its beating heart remains Emily herself: brilliant, relentless, a petite powerhouse who’s given so many of her cells to science, she’s the Henrietta Lacks of CF.
Girl’s got a rep way beyond her hometown, too. A poster woman for patient self-advocacy, she’s spoken far and wide and was even honored at the White House. We dropped her name to a young Boston employee of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a pioneering CF research firm. The response: “Oh yeah, Emily. She’s a total badass.”
Here’s the Bala Cynwyd-born badass in action in EE’s latest campaign video: