To the Tredyffrin kids who ride his school bus each day, he’s their polite and punctual bus driver. Notable, perhaps, for his Hungarian accent and nothing more.
Ah, but looks can deceive.
Beneath his spotless polo shirt and chipper demeanor, Andras Szekely is, in fact, struggling to survive. He leads a life of carefully hidden homelessness, made bearable only by his art, his far-off family, and his hope for a better tomorrow.
Until now, Andras has kept his living situation secret.
But with this story, this intentional outing, he’s hoping – not for a handout but for a leg up. For his arresting images and hard-luck story to strike a chord with someone out there, a compassionate soul who might feel called to help.
It’s a long shot, he knows, but with his health just starting to slip at age 68, Andras says he’s “in a situation that cannot continue.”
In a life strafed with loss, what more can he lose?
Hiding in plain sight in the suburbs, Andras seems worlds away from the homeless you see in cities.
He showers daily and wears laundered clothes.
He doesn’t drink, smoke or do drugs and never has.
To keep medical bills at bay, he eats a nutritious diet, fortified with vitamins and regular exercise.
He’s held a steady job for five years, albeit one that’s part-time and without benefits.
When he’s not behind the wheel, Andras focuses on his photography. He’s either out taking pictures – favorite haunts are Valley Forge Park and Longwood Gardens – or working to sell them.
His images astound. Close-ups of flowers so vibrant they look digitally created. Gorgeous vistas, jaw-dropping wildlife photos and expressive portraits – Andras’ eyes see and record beauty at every turn.
His photo-greeting cards are sold at Valley Forge Park’s Visitor’s Center, the Cabin Shop at Washington Memorial Chapel (shown below) and online – 2,600 are posted on his website. His work was accepted three times into the Immaculata Art Show. He’s won multiple prestigious awards in an esteemed international photography exhibition staged by Seattle’s Burke Museum.
Truly, no one who sees his work, who meets the artist behind the lens, would guess that he sleeps in his 2007 Toyota minivan and has for the last seven years.
Meticulous and methodical, Andras’ daily schedule follows the sun. When it sets, he parks on a quiet, residential street somewhere between Malvern and West Chester, shuts off the engine – and with it, the A/C or heat – and crawls into his makeshift bed, a wooden board covered with quilts that stretches from the back of the front headrest to the trunk.
On cold nights, he piles on extra blankets. On sultry summer nights, he swelters. Fearing detection, he dare not even crack a window.
Only once in seven years has a police officer tapped on a window and told him to move on.
He wakes before the sun – at 4:30 or 5 a.m. – and drives to the Krapf bus depot in Malvern. “The earlier you leave, the better,” he says, ever fearful of prying eyes.
At the depot, he uses the bathroom, brushes his teeth, changes his clothes, eats cereal and yogurt and drinks herbal tea. At seven, he begins his morning run, transporting five kids with special needs – along with their wheelchairs and aides – from their Malvern/Paoli area homes to the Child Development Center in Coatesville.
After he parks his bus in late afternoon, he uses the depot’s microwave to make a simple dinner, then heads to the West Chester YMCA, where he’s a member.
He works out – swimming laps and lifting weights – showers, then parks himself in the lobby with his laptop open and his backpack at his feet.
“I’m like a fixture there,” Andras says. “Everybody knows me and waves and says hello.” He waits until dark then drives off in search of that night’s sleeping street.
Weekends are spent at the library and the Y. When the weather’s nice, he spends hours driving around taking photos.
If he comes across a homeless person in his travels, as he sometimes does on the streets of West Chester, he’s quick to offer a few dollars. He has it bad, but they have it worse, he figures.
Andras says he cries a little inside every day. But he’s learned to hide his pain.
“It’s good for my own mental well-being to crack jokes and smile at people,” he says. “Self-esteem is a big thing with me. You still want to feel like a man. You’re not a beggar.”
When school ends each June, he uses money saved through the year to hit the open road. When your bed and your belongings are already in your car, you have nothing to pack. You’re portable.
In late June Andras drives west to California where he spends a few weeks with his daughter and grandkids. He takes his time, wandering through national parks and small towns, happily snapping photos as he goes. He dreams about one day buying a small camper and video equipment so he could crisscross the country documenting “the nooks and crannies of America.” He even has a name for his project: “America the Beautiful Through the Eye of the Homeless.”
“My story would fill many books,” Andras says. “Hollywood could make a movie about it.” The abridged plot: The son of Holocaust survivors, Andras Szekely grew up in Communist Hungary. His father died when he was 15. Shell-shocked by the loss of four babies in childbirth, his mother was cold and distracted – “a semi-functional human being,” he calls her.
With no money for college and job prospects bleak, Andras left Hungary at age 19, living in seven European countries and Israel, where he was wounded during the Yom Kippur War. Along the way, he taught himself seven languages. He eventually settled in Brooklyn, NY, where he worked as a self-taught handyman, started a construction company and married an Israeli woman.
Convinced the city was no place to raise a family, he bought land in upstate New York and started a successful landscaping business.
But a few years later, Andras’ wife moved back to Israel, taking their children, then 7 and 3, with her. When she returned to the U.S., she sued for unpaid child support. Andras insists he paid the support all along – and has the international money order receipts to prove it. But his wife “had connections,” he says, and the judge ruled against him.
“Family court wiped me out,” Andras says. “I lost everything in life.” His home, his business, his greenhouses, his car, even his driver’s license. (We dug up court records that verify his story.)
Thrilled to “live in freedom and democracy, in America,” he became a U.S. citizen in 1994. “No matter how much injustice I’ve encountered, I still carry the American flag with me in my car,” he says.
In the succeeding years, Andras lived on and off with friends and girlfriends. For a stretch, he hung with the horsey set in Chester County after his photos caught the eye of Frolic Weymouth, a Du Pont heir, founder of the Brandywine Conservancy and Museum and an artist himself. Andras says Weymouth even stored Andras’ work in his Chadds Ford barn, the same barn in which he famously hid Andrew Wyeth’s nude paintings of his neighbor, Helga. Weymouth would invite Andras to parties at his home and at the Winterthur Point-to-Point steeplechase. No one – including Frolic – suspected that their talented photographer friend was homeless. “I would park my van next to the fancy cars, change clothes and take pictures. Frolic always welcomed me and treated me like a human being,” Andras says. “He was so full of life. I think he felt the honesty in me.”
Weymouth went to his grave in 2016, unaware that his Hungarian-American friend was flat broke and living in his car. “Not telling him was a big mistake,” Andras says. “Frolic could have helped me get on my feet again. It would have taken one phone call.”
Andras has thought about putting a roof over his head but says the numbers just don’t add up. His $1,600 monthly paycheck from Krapf Bus Co. doesn’t go far. Even a bare-bones room would cost $1,000, he figures, leaving little for gas, car repairs, food and necessities. Plus, “you get college kids and drug addicts in rooming houses,” he says. “I’d rather sleep in the street and stay clean. My personal hygiene all my life has been immaculate.”
Through his ups and down, his photography has kept him sane.
“Without my pictures, I’d go berserk,” he says. He was, in fact, suicidal several years back and sought help at a free clinic, which eventually referred him to a Salvation Army shelter. “Living there was more depressing than my car.”
Strangers along the way have been kind. An older gentleman he met at a photography club saw his talent and gave him an updated camera and a laptop.
Katie Acker, a Villanova math professor he met at the Y so admired his “amazing photos,” she connected him to the university’s Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute, where ICE Entrepreneur-In-Residence Barbara Bigford has been helping him sharpen his marketing and business skills.
The digital divide has proved especially daunting. Andras doesn’t know how to post photos on Instagram or Facebook. He has no idea how to drive traffic to his online store. His only marketing tool is his website. But it’s clunky and outmoded and he can’t afford to pay someone to fix it.
And so, a man with the keenest of eyes finds himself shooting blindly, spraying the landscape with long shots.
He shows up at area WalMarts, drugstores and supermarkets with his photos in his backpack, hoping to convince managers to sell his cards and prints.
He writes letters to rich men – Bill Gates, “the Google Guys,” President Trump – begging them, repeatedly, to take an interest in his work.
And he outs himself, sharing his story – and his shame – with this publication.
Despair nibbles at Andras but stays at the edges. It hasn’t swallowed him. Not yet, anyway. For this proud, unfailingly polite man, this school-bus driver who sleeps on plywood and carries everything he owns in his car, chooses, stubbornly and rather remarkably, to see beauty in this world. He spends his days seeking it, framing it, capturing it. And it’s that choice, that gift of seeing, that saves him.
Andras Szekely’s photographs are sold online and at the Valley Forge Visitor’s Center and at the Cabin Shop at Washington Memorial Chapel. He can be reached at [email protected] and receives mail at 101 E. Gay St. #3282, West Chester PA 19381.
Developer (slightly) downsizes plan for Devon – again
Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Developer Eli Kahn is willing to lop a floor off a proposed project for “downtown Devon.”
Yup. It’s déjà vu all over again in never-a-dull-moment Devon.
After eight months of study, the Devon Center District Task Force – nine residents and two Easttown officials – released its recommendations to Easttown planners and neighbors this month.
And those recs were a decidedly mixed bag for Kahn’s plans to build a four-story retail/ boutique hotel complex on Lancaster Ave. and a luxury, five-story apartment building on the north side of Lancaster, across from the Devon Horse Show.
Two glimmers of good news for Kahn: The task force gave a thumbs-up to multi-family housing in the proposed “Devon Center District.” It also advocates for allowing parking garages as a “conditional use.”
The bad news for Kahn: The task force recommends that nothing – retail or residential – be built higher than three stories (or 40-ft.) high.
And so, not three days after the task-force presentation, Kahn countered with a plan of his own, filing his own zoning amendment with the township.
Call it Kahn’s Compromise: it would allow him to go four stories on the apartment building and the hotel/retail – presumably, at least in Kahn’s view, a happy medium between the task force’s three-story rule and the five-story apartment building he first proposed.
To be clear, just because the task force recommends a particular zoning map doesn’t mean it gets rubber stamped by the township. “The Planning Commission can accept or modify, based on their experience and expertise,” says Eugene Briggs, the township’s planning & zoning director.
But if planners concur with the three-story height limit, Kahn tells us he’s out. He’ll pull his plans for the hotel, the shops, the garage and the apartments.
“No new development will occur in central Devon with only a three-story max height restriction,” Kahn tells SAVVY. “Nothing will happen with these dilapidated buildings. Everything will stay just the way it is.”
In Kahn’s view, a “vocal minority of residents wants nothing to change in Devon … Most of the people we speak to in the community are in favor of Devon developing into more Devon Yard type projects,” Kahn says. “These folks are relying on their elected officials to guide Easttown’s zoning into the 21st century.”
What these vocal residents need to understand is that these parcels are small, Kahn says. And new retail, restaurants, hotels (and, yes, housing) can’t be built without parking.
When surface parking is scant, Kahn says developers have to “go vertical.” Parking decks inside buildings = taller buildings. (From a cost/headache standpoint, developers shy away from multiple levels of subterranean parking.)
Kahn says he needs at least four floors to make his apartments and retail/hotel proposals worth his while financially. “How many apartment buildings along Lancaster Ave. are three stories with parking? None … I’m not proposing anything that hasn’t been done successfully elsewhere.”
Some of the show’s immediate neighbors, maybe 80 or so, led by attorney Joe Kohn, are thrilled with the task force’s three-story rule. What they’re perhaps most vexed by is the prospect of a parking garage on Dorset. “It would be a hideous structure that looks like it belongs at the airport,” Kohn tells SAVVY. On behalf of his neighbors group, he submitted these alternate plans for a “Village Green” to the township, proposing a public/private partnership pay for it.
Shoppers, diners, hotel guests all need to park. “If I can’t build the garage, I can’t do anything with the gas station,” Kahn says. You can’t put anything besides a gas station there unless you can “park it,” he says. As lovely as it may be, the Village Green idea simply doesn’t provide enough parking, he says.
The Devon Horse Show has said all along that it would dearly love the extra parking, storage and small museum that’s part of Kahn’s proposal. But don’t believe the rumors: the horse show – whether it will be included in the Devon Center District map is still TBD – is staying in Devon regardless, affirms show president Wayne Grafton.
And as for mounting fears advanced by Kohn’s group that Easttown’s planning consultant may be “sneaking in a repeal” of Devon’s 8-unit-per-acre density limit and that a repeal might one day permit apartments at Devon Yard, Easttown’s Director of Planning says they’re unfounded. Eugene Briggs, who also serves as assistant township manager, tells SAVVY that the Devon Yard zoning overlay forbids apartments, now and forever.
“Devon Yard was approved as a unified development, which doesn’t allow residential,” says Briggs. “There’s no touching that overlay in any way, shape or form.”
Easttown Planning Commission resumes public discussion of the Devon Center zoning project Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at Hilltop House. Arrive early if you want a seat. Confounded by all the luxury-apartment proposals pending in Ardmore, Devon, Berwyn and beyond? So are we. We’ll explore the Main Line’s impending multi-family boom in detail in the next SAVVY.
Part fast-casual eatery, part watering hole, Bodega by La Cabra Brewing is 100-percent yummy and off to a smokin’ start in the former Biga building near Bryn Mawr Hospital.
Not up on hot 21st-century culinary techniques? Live-fire cooking is the open-flame, slow-cooking and seductive smoking of, in Bodega’s case, brisket, bacon, wings, rabbit, salmon and whatever else Chef Luke Loomis gets his hands on. Even the deviled eggs and asiago cheese are smoked in house. The world’s oldest cooking method – as in Neanderthal old – is suddenly new again.
Items not live-fired or smoked are probably pickled, so pucker up. Choose from sides of pickled carrots, pickled Italian peppers, and pickled, well, pickles.
Truth be told, we’re not sure why the place was named for a Hispanic mini-mart. Maybe because the original La Cabra crushes on Latin-leaning food – although there’s none of it in Bryn Mawr.
Or maybe because their Bodega has an ultra-casual, down-home vibe. You order at the counter if you’re taking a seat, order on an iPad if you’re taking out, and grab your own brew at the bar.
Or perhaps because, with a scant 40 seats and six bar stools, this is indeed a mini bodega of sorts, even if it doesn’t sell plantain chips and lottery tickets.
On the menu: Our hands-down fave was the brisket. Fork-tender as your bubbe’s, order by the half pound ($13) or pound ($24), in a potato-roll sandwich slathered with Pit or Sweet Heat BBQ sauce ($14), or as a “Burnt Ends” appetizer ($8).
Another sure-fire winner, we’re told (it was sold out when we visited): the house-smoked slab bacon and the smoked deviled eggs, also with bacon. Next time.
Other standouts: Mac & Cheese cavatappi with smoked gouda and extra-sharp cheddar ($5), the sweet pickled Jimmy Nardello peppers and veggies ($2), and the double-rubbed smoked wings. The Watermelon Salad ($3) sounded fab but lacked zip.
Can’t make up your mind? Order a shareable “bar board” du jour – mounds of nibbles on an oversized platter for a reasonable $9.
Next visit, we’re trying the hot-selling Hot Chicken sandwich ($14), which we’re 100% sure will be better than Popeye’s.
Vegetarian or needing your greens? The harvest salad with peaches, pecans, gooseberry, smoke asiago and pear kefir dressing ($12) sounds positively peachy. Or perhaps the barley grain bowl with roasted eggplant, green beans, arugula and pea shoots ($13). Or Bodega’s best-selling salad: mixed greens, smoked tri-tip steak, Point
Reyes bleu cheese, boiled egg and caramelized onions ($15).
Food is delivered to your table. There are no servers. Still, on a relatively slow Sunday night, the joint was jumpin’ with friendly staff, some still in training.
No doubt they’ll need plenty of hands on deck for when Bodega really catches fire.
Bodega by La Cabra Brewing, 810 Glenbrook Rd., Bryn Mawr, 610-526-2337, is open Tues. – Thurs. and Sundays, 11 to 9, Fri. and Sat. 11 to 11. Closed Mondays. Small, on-site parking lot or use the municipal lot diagonally across the street, at the corner of Bryn Mawr Ave. and W. Railroad Ave.
Looking to punch up your fall wardrobe? May we suggest a visit to ELLIE Main Line? A grand dame of Wayne’s Eagle Village for more than 20 years, she’s got a new owner, a new attitude, and frankly, has never looked better.
Gone are the formica countertops, dated dressing rooms and classic but sometimes too-safe sportswear.
In their place: a lighter and brighter store (courtesy of The Blue Octagon’s Krissa Wichser) with fresh and modern styles to match.
“We’re 100% focused on buying for our customer – confident women who dress with style and effortless elegance. There’s nothing matronly here,” says new owner Diane Oliva, a financial analyst who says she bought the store from Steve and Margaret Smith as a real-estate investment two years ago. The Smiths still operate an ELLIE in Greenville, Delaware, among other boutiques.
Oliva is convinced that bricks-and-mortar clothiers aren’t going anywhere. “Women want to be able to see and touch and try on clothes. Instead of shopping at midnight all alone by the light of your computer screen, they want interaction and expert style advice. We give them that.”
Oliva leaves the day-to-day operations, customer service and styling to longtime managers Jennifer Lighthall and Donna Poth.
“Customers trust us,” says Lighthall. “They love that we’re honest and there’s no pressure. If they try on something that isn’t their best look, we say so.”
The two love nothing more than solving fashion dilemmas.
If there’s an orphan item in your closet, bring it in and they’ll show you what to wear it with.
Need something to wear to the club, uh, tonight? No sweat. They’ll hook you up.
Not sure about the new kick-flare and wide-leg jeans? Lighthall and Poth will show you multiple ways to wear any trend, including the right style of footwear.
All the fall trends are here, in wearable, high-quality and age-appropriate interpretations:
- the fresh twists on animal and camo prints and plaid
- the rich jewel-tones like amethyst, sapphire, emerald and merlot
- the longer silhouettes and higher waists
- the wider leg, trendy denim cuts
- the soft printed blouses to wear under menswear-tailored jacket
“Fashion can be intimidating – there are no garanimals for adults,” Lighthall says. “Anyone can pick out a top online, find out it doesn’t work and ship it back. Our bread and butter are the women who trust us to put them together.”
Sweetening your shopping even more: ELLIE’s loyalty program offers $50 rewards for every $1000 you spend.
Top-selling ELLIE lines include Parker, Joie, Michael Stars, Ecru, Minnie Rose, Elie Tahari. Autumn Cashmere, Joseph Ribkoff.
Flimsy, fast fashion this is not. ELLIE doesn’t do one-season wonders. Each piece is rendered in quality fabrics, has a special detail and was chosen for wearability and mileage – this year, next year and the year after that.
ELLIE Main Line, Eagle Village Shops, 503 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-293-6822, is open Mon. – Fri, 10 to 5:30, Sat. 10 to 5, Sunday, 12 to 4. Wine, nibbles, 15% off storewide, and gifts-with-purchase over $150 at Ellie Main Line’s 2nd Anniversary Party, Sept. 12, 5 to 7:30 p.m. See the latest styles and promos on Instagram and Facebook.
Nova christens The Commons, an uncommonly deft campus transformation
Too often, new construction looks too, well, new. Not so the $225 million blockbuster addition to the Villanova campus, so deftly conceived and constructed, it looks like it’s been sitting on the south side of Lancaster Ave. forever. Or at least since the University’s founding in 1842.
“Now you drive through Villanova instead of past Villanova,” said University President Rev. Peter Donohue, of the new Lancaster Ave. pedestrian bridge and six apartment-style residence halls he opened with his signature bang-up blessing on August 28.
“I told the architects at the beginning of this process that I wanted these buildings to look as though they have always been there,” said Marilou Smith, Nova’s senior facilities project manager.
Well, mission marvelously accomplished.
Collectively called The Commons, they’re Nova’s first new dorms since 2000, built to keep pace with peer colleges. Hence, the two fitness centers with cardio, spinning/fitness classrooms, the giant TechZone for student collaborations, the smart-locker mailroom, the four outdoor courtyards, and coming in early fall to the project’s east end near Ithan Ave.: the Parliament Expresso & Coffee Bar and Nova’s first open-to-the-public restaurant, The Refectory, a collaboration with Tredici/Zavino owner Greg Dodge.
And that’s not counting the final jewel in The Commons’ crown: a smashing new Performing Arts Center due to debut next year.
Besides making a knockout first impression, The Commons addresses a longtime sore spot with prospective Nova Nationers: scanty on-campus housing for juniors and seniors. The school can now house 85% of students on campus, which, depending on where they live, may or may not be good news for Nova’s neighbors.
It’s also a model of sustainability. Built with 5,000 tons of stone in select shades of gray, The Commons is actually quite green, LEED-certified green.
Rain gardens, infiltration trenches and a nifty cistern system collect and filter rainwater. Bioswales clear pollution from surface runoff. Plumbing is low-flow. Light fixtures are dark-sky compliant and operate on motion sensors.
If, like us, you thought Nova’s hoops championships funded the project – The Jay Wright Commons has a nice ring to it, right? – Nova says no. The school insists that its wildly successful capital campaign raised the funds. Which, we suppose is technically true.
But did ecstatic alumni, swelling with pride over two NCAA titles in three years, grease the skids? You betcha.
Can’t wait to catch the Crawleys on the big screen in Bryn Mawr? You’re not alone.
Well, fancy this: We were all set to invite you to join Team SAVVY at Bryn Mawr Film Institute next Thursday night where we’re co-hosting a special Downton Abbey Premiere party and sneak-peek screening.
We were going to tell you how A Taste of Britain would be serving tea sandwiches, scones and sweets, how Stateside Vodka would be slinging cocktails, and how costumes – flapper dresses, fascinators, cloches, white gloves, whatever – were encouraged, and how the lights would go down at 8:30 sharp for the big show. (Our friends at BMFI got the go-ahead to show the film a day early than the rest of the U.S. Bloody brilliant, right?)
But tickets to the Sept. 19 shindig sold speedier than a Henry Talbot roadster. (Downton fans will recall Henry as Lady Mary’s new race-car driving husband.)
Tickets sold so fast, in fact, that the big night is completely SOLD OUT.
Alas, there IS a way you might be able to join us. For free. Keep an eye on SAVVY’s Instagram for a chance to win two free tickets to the sold-out Premiere Party/Screening, along with a gift card to Taste of Britain and tours and a round of drinks at Stateside Vodka. (Total value of our ‘Downton Savvy’ sweepstakes: $160.) An Insta click or two from you and your name goes in our prize drawing. We’ll announce the lucky winner Sunday, Sept. 15.
Shut out of Thursday night’s shindig and show? BMFI begins daily Downton screenings Friday, Sept. 20. Count on a nice long run.
Talk about seamless fashion transitions. When Nota Bene owner Martha Philpott decided to retire after 10 solid years in the Malvern Shopping Center, she knew just who might take the torch: loyal customer Linda Orff. A regular King Street shopper, Orff had once confided a long-held wish: she’d love to own a boutique like Nota Bene.
Last spring, the two struck a deal and by June, they were working side by side: Philpott as teacher-mentor, with Orff, her eager apprentice. At the end of July, Philpott handed Orff the keys and walked away, thrilled that she’d left her special little store in such friendly, capable hands.
An accountant-turned-stay-at-home mom, Orff hadn’t had a paying job in 25 years. She’d thrown herself into volunteer work, serving on the board of Home of the Sparrow for 12 years. Her recently retired husband was “playing a lot of golf” but his wife was raring for a new challenge.
She’d even been keeping a notebook of ideas and names for her one-day boutique. One name had long resonated and she circled it: Silver Linings. Orff had always been a glass-half-full girl, after all.
Except for the new name and a fresh coat of pale purple paint, Nota Bene customers will hardly notice the change.
Longtime employees Kelly, Susie and Helen are staying on.
Favorite fashion lines like Habitat, Sno Skins, Renuar pants and Damee jackets are still in store.
Staffer Susie Heaver’s artisanal jewelry is still displayed on a wall.
And the vibe – small-town friendly, warm and welcoming, never pushy – remains firmly in place.
Prices remain moderate; styles are flattering and wearable.
“I shopped here for a long time; I’m not going to make big changes,” Orff says. “I’m continuing Martha’s tradition as a comfortable, relaxed place to shop.” Her store’s tagline: “Find your own style of happiness.”
As she unpacks inventory and plans her grand opening weekend, Nota Bene regulars keep popping by to meet the new owner. Malvern is that kind of place.
She greets each with a warm smile and memorizes names. “I’m a people person like Martha,” Orff says. “People tell me they feel like they already know me. They’ve adopted me in this wonderful Malvern shopping family and I’m loving it.”
Silver Linings Boutique, Malvern Shopping Center, 117 W. King Street, 610-644-5016, is open Tuesday, 10 to 5, and Saturdays, 10 to 4. GRAND OPENING WEEKEND with bubbly, bites and giveaways, Friday, Sept. 27, 10 to 8 and Saturday, Sept. 28, 10 to 4. Check out the latest Silver Linings looks and news on Instagram and Facebook.
The Eagles have the night game this week…
… so no reason not to roll on over to the Radnor Fall Festival Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15. The street carnival, now in its 27th year, closes North Wayne Ave. from Lancaster Ave. to the train station.
The folks running the show (Wayne Business Association) are thinking extra big this year – as in, well, Ferris-wheel big.
Yup, for the first time ever, the festival features a big wheel. (As if moon bounces, rock walls, kiddie rides and face painters weren’t enough.)
WBA Board VP Deanna Doane, aka Wayne’s Chief Ambassador, says the festival draws families from as far as 10 miles away. “I love how it connects service providers and businesses to the community. And families have such a great time.”
Other highlights: The Top Dog contest with Braxton’s Animal Works, performances by Bach to Rock and Contempra Dance, tasty bites from Radnor restaurants, and a chance to chat up town merchants and community groups. (Hope you’ll stop by the SAVVY Main Line table to say hi.)
Insider tip: The fun starts at 1 but can’t hurt to arrive a smidge early so you can snag a parking space (free anywhere you find one), purchase $10 fun passes (for rides and face painting), and take that first ride on the Ferris wheel ($5/ride). Parking demand peaks at 2. Try the lots on South Wayne Ave., behind the Wayne Hotel, and near the old Anthropologie. Better yet, walk, bike, take the train or call an Uber.
Proceeds pay for Wayne Business Association college scholarships to high school seniors employed by WBA businesses. They also fund efforts to promote and beautify the town.
By Dawn Warden
Longing for a nice, long weekend off the grid? Chloe Johnston Experiences has the perfect antidote for what ails you: a luxurious wellness getaway in California Wine Country.
Detox, de-stress, and stretch your body – and your palate – with a multisensory experience that lets you savor the moment as you learn how to sustain a healthy lifestyle wherever you roam: at home, on the road or at the office.
Leading the five-day, four-night retreat: Emmy-nominated “Daily Burn” fitness trainer Nora Minno. A registered dietician and holistic nutritionist, she’ll share her insights on mindful eating and striking that delicate balance between enjoying life’s pleasures and over-indulging.
Your getaway begins with an invigorating stroll around an exclusive, off-the-beaten-path Calistoga, Calif. vineyard, renowned for its breathtaking scenery, boutique wines, and farm-grown fare so decadent you won’t believe it’s actually good for you.
Day Two kicks off with a Minno-led total-body workout followed by an arm workout – lifting your glass – at another best-kept-secret winery. After a private vineyard tour, you’ll sample this estate’s rare Phase V limited production wines in a seated tasting led by winemaker Philippe Melka. You’ll feel like you’re starring in a James Bond film as you enter the Cellarium via biometric access. Your infrared hand scan unlocks the doors to this members-only cave hideaway.
Exercise and indulgence – a holistic approach to The Good Life – continues throughout your time in Napa. Do as much or as little as you’d like. Chilling on a hammock, reading a book, writing in your travel journal, and taking a refreshing nap are all encouraged. As are Minno’s HIIT workouts which allow you to enjoy the region’s famed culinary creations 100% guilt free. You can find the full itinerary here, but count on surprises!
One indulgence you won’t want to miss: the cedar enzyme baths at Chloe’s favorite spa. Found nowhere else in North America, this Japanese therapeutic treatment involves immersing your entire body in a soft, fragrant mix of ground cedar and rice brain with living enzymes that stimulate metabolic activity.
After your treatment, chill out, meditate or simply count your blessings in a secluded pagoda in one of the spa’s stunning Japanese gardens.
If you’re more of an outdoor enthusiast, you can explore the scenic countryside on foot, bike, or kayak. Or how about throwing yourself a picnic with a side of kite flying? Decisions, decisions.
Whether you dive in solo or with your sweetie or your besties, we can’t think of a better way to unplug than five glorious days of bespoke R&R, Wine Country-style.
Curated by luxury-travel guru Chloe Johnston, CJE Wellness Retreat 2019 runs Nov. 14 – 18 in Calistoga and Napa, CA. Click here for pricing and itinerary. Contact [email protected] to reserve your spot today. Limited to eight guests to ensure an intimate experience. Photos and updates on CJE’s Facebook and Instagram.
Devon Fall Classic back in the saddle
Galloping back into town this weekend after taking a breather in 2018: the Devon Fall Classic. Or as we like to think of it: the cozy cousin to the big June show.
All manner of hoopla – horsey and otherwise – is planned: carnival rides and crafts for the kids, shopping, live music, schmoozing – and maybe a little boozing – for grownups. And for all: seriously stellar show jumping in the Oval. The best riders compete in Saturday night’s $25,000 Devon Fall Classic Grand Prix. Yeah, the purse is a smidge smaller than the $250,000 awarded in spring’s Grand Prix, but we guarantee Saturday’s show will be a thriller just the same.
Special (ticketed) happenings include:
- Yappy Hour on Friday, Sept. 13, 5 – 7 p.m. A $20 ticket gets you and your pup admission to the grounds, special seating in the Picnic Grove, 2 drink tickets for wine, draft beer or cocktail, raffles, doggie goodie bag and a $25 gift card to Louella Boutique. Prize for Best Dressed Pooch so do put on the dog for this one.
- Live rock with Knock One Back in the Picnic Grove Friday night from 7 to close. ($20 ticket includes admission, special seats, free distillery tastings, and one drink.)
- First Annual Devon Fall Classic Chili Contest, 2:30 – 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon in the Pavilion. ($20 to enter, free tastes for “voters” so come hungry.)
- Saturday Night Dance party in the Picnic Grove with the band, Prime Time, from 7 p.m. ($20 ticket includes admission, special seats, free distillery tastings, and one drink.)
- Sunday brunch by Wild Blue Creative Catering with strolling fashions by Louella, 11:30 to 2 p.m. $30 ticket includes admission, brunch, one Bloody or Mimosa and a $25 Louella gift card. (A steal.)
A benefit for Bryn Mawr Hospital, Devon Fall Classic runs Sept. 12 – Sept. 15, 610-688-2554. Admission tickets: $5/adults, $3 for seniors and ages 6-18. Click here for more info and to order.
Hepp lets them have it
Image counts, especially when you’re in the TV news biz. That’s why the lovely (inside and out) Karen Hepp, co-anchor of Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia and a Wynnewood resident, went ballistic after her photo started showing up on erectile-dysfunction ads, message boards and dating websites.
In some photos, she’s tagged as a “milf.” If you don’t know what that means, ask your adult kids.
In one particularly gross ad, Hepp’s photo was edited to include an image of a man masturbating behind her.
Seems the news anchor’s pic was captured by a security camera at an NYC convenience store and, unbeknownst to her, made the rounds.
This week Hepp filed a $10 million lawsuit against Facebook, Reddit, Giphy, Imgur and other websites, demanding the unauthorized, “sexualized” photos be taken down, a jury trial, and compensatory damages.
Damn straight, sister.
This and That
The Main Line’s second HipCityVeg welcomed its new Radnor neighbors in a big way this week. The fast-casual vegan eatery gave a high school and college kids a back-to-school treat on opening night: dinner on the house. Not only does HipCItyVeg owner Nicole Marquis, a mom herself, understand that students are always “starving.” But she says she hoped to inspire the “entire Main Line community to consider going plantless one day a week.” (We’re thinking free food on the first #MeatlessMonday of the school year was a smart place to start.)
The new outpost opened Monday near Estia on Radnor Chester Rd. Like sister spots in Suburban Square and Philly, HipCityVeg Radnor serves “Ziggy” [Beyond] Burgers, faux “cheeseteaks,” sweet-potato fries, “Chick’n” nuggets, along with salads, bowls and banana whip “ice cream” sundaes.
Topgolf is a go in King of Prussia. Upper Merion Supervisors greenlit a developer’s plan to build a 68,000 sq. ft. Topgolf at N. Gulph Rd. across from Valley Forge Casino Resort. Valley Forge Park and KOP District officials feared lights and signs from the mammoth entertainment venue would impact the planned North Gulph Rd. trail. But Provco Group promised tree screening and help building a linear park nearby, and wary officials were satisfied. The new facility, on 24 acres, should open in 2022.
After six years, Flywheel Sports cycled out of Bryn Mawr in late August, one of 11 under-performing locations felled by rising competition from Pelaton, Life Time, SoulCycle and the boutique-studio boom.
The lux-casual women’s boutique Eaves has exited Ardmore after a three-year stint in Suburban Square. Shoppers can still hit up Eave’s original store on Wayne’s Aberdeen Ave. Eaves owner Susan Ahn tells SAVVY that her situation in Wayne is “ideal.” After 8 years, “we have the perfect opportunity to expand our operations, continue to grow our creative initiatives, and build online,” she says.
Happy 30th birthday to The Bakery House in Bryn Mawr. Hope you’re whipping up one of your fab cakes for the occasion, Sandy. In three decades, Sandy Stauffer‘s bakery has become a Main Line mainstay – almost as famous for its chicken salad and tomato soup as it is for its scrumptious cakes, cookies, tarts and pies. The holidays promise to be bonkers as usual, with long lines and a van parked outside to hold all those pie orders.
Main Line Restaurant Week is days away so make your plans pronto. At last count, 47 restaurants from Haverford to Devon will offer prix fixe menus, discounts and specials Sept. 16 – 22. Seems just about everyone is on board, from fast-casual spots like The Simple Greek, Aneu, Bryn + Danes, and Love Bird Chicken to fancier joints like Estia, both White Dogs, Enoteca Tredici, At the Table, Main & Vine and Autograph. Now in its second year, the week was planned by Villanova U. with support from the Bryn Mawr and Wayne business associations.
Villanova’s Main & Vine rolls out Sunday brunch this weekend. $28 ($15 for kids) buys you a bounteous buffet with prime rib and omelet stations, Eggs Benedict, banana French toast, shrimp and charcuterie, salads, salmon, sweets and more. Also on tap at M & V:
- The debut of Realtor Michelle Leonard’s monthly Dine & Dish speaker series Sept. 23 with home-design guru, TV personality Eddie Ross, who – fun fact – lives in Wayne. He’ll dish on his career and a portion of each $50 ticket will go to his fave charity, Cure Alzheimer’s. Call 484-380-3688 to reserve.
- And starting Oct. 5, the dance floor opens every Saturday at 9 p.m. for “Fresh From the Vinyl” nights with djs, food and drink specials. Weekly “Thursday Nights Live” with live acoustic music and food and drink specials in the lounge from 6 to 9 p.m. are off to a solid start.
Paoli Blues Fest will jam a week early this year. To avoid conflicts with the St. David’s Fair and Chester County Day and UMLY’s Oktoberfest, the free musical festival/street fair, now in its 11th year, will be held Saturday, Sept. 28 at Paoli Presbyterian Church. Click here for the full scoop, including expanded parking & shuttle info.
Lederhosen alert: Oktoberfest returns to Ardmore’s Shauffele Plaza Sept. 28 with a big fat beer garden, German food, oompah music and more. Kiddos welcome, too. New this year: VIP tickets.
The day of deliverance is nigh for long-suffering folks who live near Walker Road in Tredyffrin. The roadway should re-open in five to six weeks, according to an email from NV Homes, builders of Wayne Glen townhomes and twins. NV has been working on replacing antiquated drainage under Walker Rd. for what seems like forever. Fingers crossed the new drainage pipes help the neighborhood’s flooding issues.
Shoutout to Penn Valley’s Steven Abramson, named to Forbes’ list of “Innovative Leaders” at #62. The Bucknell/Temple Law/Ohio State alum is President and CEO of Universal Display Corporation, creators of the energy-efficient OLED displays that light up lives: from our iPhones and TVs to our smartwatches and tablets. (Talk about your bright ideas…)
Demolishing historic properties might soon be a tad tougher in Tredyffrin. In July, the township’s historical commission approved a draft preservation ordinance and sent letters to 70 owners of properties identified as historic. The draft proposal doesn’t affect an owner’s right to update or change their properties. It simply forbids demolition without township consent. Ball’s in the township planning commission’s court now.
P.S. Want to boost historic preservation on the western Main Line? May we suggest buying a ticket – or two or three – to Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s 15th Annual Historic House Tour set for Sept. 28. SAVVY is once again proud to sponsor this worthwhile event. Just look how far the Trust has come rebuilding the Jones Log Barn and creating a Living History Center at Duportail! See you on the tour.