With the yellow light finally flashing, the Main Line emerged from its coronavirus cocoon last week. We walked into stores, we dined outside, and in huge numbers, we marched.
With fists raised, voices lifted, signs hoisted.
Like the R5, a wave of protests chugged through Bala, Narberth, Ardmore, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Wayne, Devon, Berwyn, Paoli, a fresh march each day.
There was Take a Knee, Bala Cynwyd; Black Lives Matter Bryn Mawr; Ecumenical March for Justice Narberth; Main Line Families for BLM Ardmore; protests at Harriton and Lower Merion high schools, and covering the most ground, Main Line for Black Lives Peaceful Protest, a long, hot six-mile march from Wayne to Paoli last Thursday.
The Conestoga students who planned it hoped 200 would walk with them. A thousand showed up. A rainbow of pain: mostly white but also black and brown, teens and seniors, moms and toddlers, teachers and clergy. “George Floyd called for his Mama, so I’m here,” read a sign held by a mom wheeling a stroller through Wayne. “We all bleed the same,” read another.
Streets eerily quiet for months came alive with the chant, “No justice, no peace.”
While some were less careful, older marchers and the kids in their care wore masks and attempted social distancing, with mixed results.
Radnor, Tredyffrin and Easttown police came, too, but as supportive escorts, not paratroopers.
Well-wishers lined the route, passing cars honked in solidarity. Some spoke of goosebumps, others of tears blinked away. “One of the best days since quarantine started,” a few said.
Merchants on North Wayne and Lancaster avenues waved from storefronts. Edible Arrangements in Strafford served granola and applesauce, Eadeh Enterprises in Berwyn put out portable trash cans and porta-potties, and water and first-aid stations popped up everywhere.
“It was an awesome sight as the crowd came pouring over the hill from our vantage point,” said Meg Robertson, owner Kramer-Drive in Berwyn.
“To see this mass of people walking toward us on Lancaster Ave. was incredible,” said Eadeh President Stacey Ballard who says her group gave out 20 cases of bottled water in the parking lot of Casey’s Pour House. On a steamy day, “people were grateful, appreciative and kind,” she says.
Devon Elementary moms Kate Barry and Maureen Manfrey and their children handed out water bottles in Strafford. Said Barry: “I really believe the situation won’t change until white people specifically start demanding that it change. And not just saying it, tweeting it or reposting it, but donating, showing up and saying out loud, “Systemic racism isn’t OK.'”
After the looting in Philly and vandalism arrests in King of Prussia, the fearful took no chances.
One Bryn Mawr boutique owner emptied her front windows and carried merchandise to the basement – then rushed out to join the protest.
Euro Motorcars cleared the Benzes from its Devon showroom.
Eagle Village Shops boarded windows, blocked entrances and brought in five armed guards from the Violent Crime Fugitive Task Force in Philly to patrol its perimeter.
All for naught. Peace reigned.
By the time protesters arrived in Paoli, about half had dropped off, exhausted, dehydrated, too young or too old to take another step.
Too bad, really. They missed the fireworks.
In the Paoli Train Station parking lot, organizers, all current and former members of the African American Student Union (AASU) at Conestoga, took turns at the mic, their anger raw, their faces slick with sweat.
Rapper Roi Lush, aka LeRoi Leviston, Stoga ’06 star athlete, now a coach and teacher, fired up the crowd with his new Black Lives Matter freestyle, which he reprised at Harriton’s protest a few days later. “I’m fed up, dead up, still I keep my head up,” he rapped. (Warning: clip contains profanity.)
One by one, speakers ripped band-aids off old wounds, calling out their white “allies” in the crowd – their classmates – for looking the other way. Silence is violence. Educate yourselves. We can’t do it alone. Allies, we need you in this fight.
They talked about the racism around them: police following them on the streets of Berwyn for no reason, white classmates regularly throwing around the N word in Stoga hallways. “Why do you want to say it so bad?” asked Heather (“Geez”) Gray-Vause, Stoga ’18. Geez talked about how scared she was to stand her ground when a classmate screamed the N-word at her in the cafeteria. “Racism is a trauma we carry for the rest of our lives,” she told the crowd.
“Just because you don’t say the N-word doesn’t mean you’re not racist,” challenged speaker Elisha Ross, a rubgy player and rising junior at Conestoga.
After pointing out his grandmother, a former Black Panther, in the crowd, Jamil Hall said it was up to his generation to continue the fight for racial justice.
“It’s a shame that I have to teach my children how to grow up on the Main Line as an African American, but I do,” said Malvern Prep teacher, coach and Stoga All-American Dante Coles, as he introduced his 11-year-old daughter, Kennedy, who spoke last.
The afternoon was organized by Tajsha Gray-Vause, Stoga ’19, Alvernia College sophomore and former president of the AASU at Conestoga, with an able assist from a dozen AASU members and their parents. Taj’s mother called all three police chiefs to outline the group’s plans to march through their municipalities.
The night before the protest, both Taj and Geez told us they felt “unsafe” and “uncomfortable” during their years at Conestoga. “I got a good education,” Taj said. “But the social scene has got to change.” The sisters live in Southwest Philly now but wanted to hold the protest “in the place where we felt oppressed and uncomfortable.”
At the rally, Taj took aim at the President and CEO of the Devon Horse Show, Wayne Grafton. She said she called Grafton to ask if the march could end with a rally at the horse show. According to Taj, Grafton said, “I’m tired of these events” and hung up on her. “He made a mistake there. He’s gonna regret that,” a fired-up Taj told the crowd.
Reached for comment, Grafton denied hanging up on her. “I informed her that as a horse show and country fair, we do not allow or engage in political or social causes,” Grafton said. He also cited the event’s lack of liability insurance as another reason for turning protesters away. “Why she would embellish is anyone’s guess,” he said.
A few more photos from the Main Line for Black Lives march:
Gale-force winds try to topple Montco Commissioner Joe Gale. He’s not budging.
Although he was elected twice, Joe Gale might just be the most unpopular resident of Montgomery County.
A fervent Trump disciple, the lone Republican county commissioner unleashed a firestorm when he released a statement last week that called Black Lives Matter “a radical left-wing hate group” and “perpetrators of domestic terror.”
More than 86,000 people have signed a petition demanding his resignation circulated by an outraged 76ers star Tobias Harris.
Hundreds protested outside the Montgomery County Courthouse and, three days later, in front of the Plymouth Meeting home where Gale, 31, lives with his parents. The commissioner was reportedly down the shore at the time.
His fellow commissioners, Val Arkoosh and Ken Lawrence, voted to censure him, the strongest measure they said they could take.
And groups far and wide – the Lower Merion School Board, the Main Line NAACP among them – issued statements of condemnation. Gale’s words were “reckless and insensitive,” “woefully inaccurate” and “disregard the reality of people of color,” said Diana Roberson, President of the NAACP Main Line Branch. “In a time when our nation is in severe distress, it needs its leaders to promote healing and justice rather than incite rage.”
Gale’s not backing down. In fact, he’s come out swinging.
“The online petition calling for my resignation is a tool to silence me and those I speak for and consists of left-wing activist signers from all over the nation. It’s no reflection of the voters who elected and re-elected me,” Gale told NBC10.
Hmmm. You know who’s truly being silenced? Those who question Gale’s statements on social media. After SAVVY Main Line suggested via tweet that the commissioner “do his homework” before issuing unfounded statements about the Black Lives Matter movement, Gale blocked us from his Twitter feed, in effect deleting our comment.
And we’re not alone. Complaints about Gale deleting comments and blocking accounts, including some from students from his alma mater, Villanova, are all over social media. Late last week, a local law firm started looking into whether Gale’s actions are unconstitutional.
Sorry to see you go, Main & Vine
Add Main & Vine in Villanova to the list of early Main Line coronavirus casualties.
After losing “our busiest time of the year,” operating partner Jay Stevens says his financial backers pulled the plug on his upscale Wine-Country-themed restaurant.
“We lost Mother’s Day. We lost graduations. We lost NCAA basketball. We had to refund party deposits across the board. It just seemed like too much to recover from,” Stevens says.
Dangling a 25 percent discount, Main & Vine tried takeout in the early days of the shutdown but had few takers and gave up.
With just 25 seats outside, Stevens knew a yellow-phase re-opening wouldn’t pay.
Nor would opening at the expected 50 or even 25 percent capacity during the green phase, especially during a long, hot summer when customers escape to the shore and “the Main Line turns into a ghost town … You’re just gonna be doggie-paddling your way through the summer, hoping to get yourself through to next season.”
Stevens also feared folks would stay skittish about indoor dining. He’s nervous himself. “I can’t picture myself sitting next to someone at a bar right now when I can’t even go into a Wawa and feel comfortable if someone is within six feet of me.”
And bringing back popular bands like Jontourage, which always drew a huge crowd to Main & Vine, wasn’t happening anytime soon either. “Who’s gonna want to go out where there’s 200 people gathering in a bar, dancing and sweating over each other?” he muses.
A 33-year industry veteran and restaurant consultant, Stevens says the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of an industry that operates with meager 5 to 10 percent profit margins and relies on tipped staff who are paid $2.83 an hour. Something has to give, Stevens believes. With food costs rising, prices may have to tick up, long a tough swallow for customers.
“You try to do high-end, quality food but then everyone tries to undersell each other. I think there has to be a new landscape throughout this industry.”
Hell breaking lose
Let’s see: we’ve got an unprecedented health crisis, a record economic collapse and widespread societal upheaval. Then along comes a ferocious freak storm – no, make that two ferocious freak storms in one day. Countless trees topple, killing two drivers in Lower Merion, crashing through roofs, closing roads, knocking out power to thousands of Main Line homes for days on end.
What’s next, Lord? Locusts? Lice?
For a while, 9-1-1 lines were so jammed in Berwyn that folks started calling fire stations or messaging social media to report emergencies. Any port would do in this storm.
So many households ran backup generators in enclosed areas, EMTs were answering multiple calls for carbon monoxide poisoning.
People drove aimlessly through neighborhoods to charge cellphones. The din of chainsaws and generators interrupted the strange quiet of suburban life under lockdown.
Neighborhood message boards lit up with talk of tree services, closed roads, PECO’s whereabouts, and new charging stations (Try Wegmans’ parking lot! Use my backyard!).
Some churches, like United Church of Christ in Wayne’s Brookmead Farms, let members store food in their freezers, while nearby Trout Creek turned roads into rivers.
“We’re very fortunate it was vacant,” says Rich Downes, president of nearby Duportail House. A nonprofit event venue, Duportail House uses rental income from the three-bedroom home, once the caretaker’s cottage, to defray expenses.
After a gas line cracked, gas was flowing out of the building when police arrived, Downes says. “The whole place smelled like gas but there was no electricity, thank goodness.”
Indeed, the pandemic may have saved lives. The last tenant had moved out in April but the cottage couldn’t be shown to prospective tenants during the shutdown.
The derecho – this doozy of a storm has a special name – picked a fine time to pick on the property. Duportail House’s income had completely dried up. No spring or summer weddings, no corporate meetings, no parties. “We’re just going to have to tighten our belt,” Downes says. “We’ll do what we can to maintain the property as best we can without spending a lot of capital.”
C’mon, Lord. How ’bout a little mercy?
New look for outdoor dining: tents, cabanas and “picnic groves”
Inflamed with yellow-phase fever, folks have been rushing out to dine alfresco.
But not necessarily under the stars. Fearing rain, restaurants have been getting creative.
The lot behind Berwyn’s 30 Main now sports six reservation-only, private dining “cabanas.”
In Wayne, Cornerstone popped a tent in front of the vacant storefront below it.
Founding Farmers in King of Prussia put a makeshift covered patio in its parking lot.
And downtown Wayne just opened a giant “picnic grove” canopy – minus the grass – in the lot off North Wayne Ave.
There was talk of turning a stretch of North Wayne into a car-free, outdoor “marketplace,” like the one West Chester Borough Council just greenlit for four blocks of Gay Street.
But Wayne merchants said thanks but no thanks. Customers need to drive up to get takeout orders and shoppers wouldn’t want to lose easy parking out front.
Instead, the Radnor Board of Commissioners (BOC) worked with Wayne Business Association on an alternate plan to get diners and shoppers jazzed to come back: a temporary picnic pavilion with seating for 100.
Patrons can grab lunch or dinner and/or cocktails from a nearby restaurant and enjoy them at a socially-distanced table or high top in the tent. There are lights, fans, hand sanitizer on all tables, even an “restroom” on site. (Use your imagination.)
To keep things spic and span for the next few weeks, the township hired folks to sanitize surfaces between use.
Radnor Commissioners wisely relaxed longstanding rules, allowing sidewalk sales on North Wayne Ave. and outdoor dining in the parking lots behind Minella’s and Flip & Bailey’s. The plan: help merchants get back on their feet so they can keep those mercantile taxes coming.
The BOC has also made parking free in the two-hour spaces in downtown Wayne. Just don’t hog them, begs Wayne Business Association VP Deanna Doane, so others can use them to shop and dine.
No-touch Little League
Little League is returning to the Main Line this summer but without shared snacks, spitting, bubble gum, high fives, chest bumps and absolutely no post-game handshakes.
Instead, Little League International suggests players show sportsmanship by tipping their caps to the opposing team.
Players will sit in socially-distanced dugouts where they’re encouraged to wear masks. Fans will have to bring their own chairs and snacks (no concessions) and, of course, sit six feet from non-family members.
Berwyn Paoli Area Little League will start forming teams next week begin play on July 6, with playoffs in September and an all-star game in October. Lower Merion Little League and Devon-Strafford Little League just started taking registrations for some version of a July/August season, with details TBD.
Itching for a two-wheeler? Count on company. Lots of it.
With traffic light, trails open and cabin fever peaking, local bike shops report surging sales and dwindling supplies.
“Bikes are the new toilet paper,” says Gary Berenbroick, manager of Keswick Cycles in Paoli, who says sales volume has doubled during the pandemic.
At Main Line Cycles, manager Marzhel Pinto calls this “one of the biggest booms” he’s seen in his ten-plus years in the industry. It’s not unusual for folks to line up ten- or 15-deep on weekends outside his Narberth store, he says.
And at M & M Two Wheelers in Bryn Mawr, owner Kevin Meehan is working seven days a week to put old bikes back in gear.
“The phone is ringing nonstop,” Meehan says. “We’re repairing bikes full of dust and dirt that have been in people’s garages and sheds for years. It’s the busiest I’ve been in 13 years here.”
At Keswick, Berenbroick says kids bikes and entry-level bikes for their parents have been flying out of the store.
“Families are out riding together which is awesome to see, it’s at least one positive thing to come out of this.”
Cheaper bikes – those under $500 or so – are back-ordered and “will be trickling in” over the summer, Berenbroick says. Those unwilling to wait are splurging on pricier models.
If the bike you want is sold out, call around, Berenbroick advises. “Everyone is in the same situation but you might get lucky.”
With Narberth so close to Philly, the first wave at Main Line Cycles was dominated by commuters afraid to ride regional rail during the pandemic. The second wave has been recreational riders – families facing a summer without camps or organized sports. Pinto says his entry-level supply is “starting to dry up” and likely won’t be replenished until midsummer. Higher-end road bikes are generally easier to come by but social distancing rules out full custom fittings. As a result, many are choosing to wait before trading up.
All stores are offering contact-free drop-off and pickup. Keswick and Trek in Gateway are serving customers curbside, while M & M Two Wheelers and Main Line Cycles are also allowing a limited number of masked customers inside their stores.
In Bryn Mawr, M & M is a one-man band: Meehan with a few volunteers here or there. He’d love to hire staff but says socially-distant training would be tough and take too long. As a result, tune-ups are backlogged. “I feel bad telling them it’ll be a couple weeks, but they’re desperate so they’re willing to wait.”
Drink up, Main Line. It’s 5:dirty somewhere.
With bars still closed and state stores swamped, a local couple is delivering quarantinis to your doorstep – just in time for National Martini Day (June 19) and Father’s Day.
Melissa and Kyle Reed of Plymouth Meeting just launched 5:dirty, a line of top-shelf, pre-mixed dirty vodka martinis in wine-size bottles.
Fancy that: a no-fuss, no-muss delightfully dirty drink every time – during the Covid shutdown and long after – for a fraction of what you’d pay at your local watering hole.
No scrambling to gather ingredients during a pandemic, no recipes botched by distracting kids underfoot. Just foolproof, premium dirties on demand. Take a bottle to a party, tote one to a BYOB or whet your whistle at home.
While most bottled cocktails are notoriously weak, made with cheap spirits and loaded with additives and sugars, 5:dirty martinis are 100% natural with no artificial flavors.
The Reeds tested more than 25 recipes before settling on a blend of ultra-premium Big Spring Vodka, from a craft distiller near State College, imported botanical-infused Italian vermouth, and pure, small-batch naturally-cured olive brine.
Early testers assumed 5:dirties would be “rough around the edges” like other bottled cocktails, Melissa Reed says. “Our customers keep telling us our martinis are so fresh-tasting and smooth; It’s like a bartender just made it for me.” (SAVVY’s testers loved them, too.)
The ready-to-drink spirits business is booming but the dirty martini field is wide open, the Reeds says. The only competition the couple could find – and it’s remote – was a cheap, low-alcohol canned martini produced overseas.
While the two have big plans – to expand to gin martinis and sell across the country, 5:dirty is a side hustle for the Reeds: Kyle’s a construction manager and Melissa’s a speech therapist. “Except for enjoying cocktails, we were far from experts in any of this. It’s been a massive learning curve over the last year but it’s been fun,” Kyle says.
They smartly partnered with Premium Innovations Group – the beverage consultants behind Clique Vodka – to develop the brand.
Credit for 5:Dirty goes mostly to Melissa, Kyle says. She’s a dirty martini connoisseur, a passion she shares with her mother. The two have imbibed together for years and their premixed martini pitchers have long been a hit at family parties.
With their first production run of 1800 bottles selling briskly, the Reeds are poised to scale up. They’ll produce 10,000 bottles and expect to sell 5:dirties in PA state stores by late summer.
5:dirty martinis come in two brine flavors: “Dab of Dirty” or for saltier tastes, “Double Dirty,” $26.99 per 750 ml. bottle. (About six martinis per bottle.) Order online only for free delivery within 40 miles of Philly. ($5 to ship anywhere in PA.) Follow 5:dirty on Facebook and Instagram.
Fueled by the pandemic, milkwoman now making Main Line rounds
Trying to keep grocery trips to a minimum? How about throwing it back to the 50s and using a milkman? Or maybe “milkwoman” Erin Clancy (above), whose company, Philadelphia Dairy, just started making house calls on the Main Line.
Not totally old school, you do have to pre-order online.
Clancy says her service is contact-free, safer and more personal than Instacart, Fresh Direct, and Amazon Fresh. Instead of a stranger carrying food in a personal car, you get a familiar, friendly face transporting your order in refrigerated van. Philadelphia Dairy sources milk, butter, eggs from PA family farms via Clover Farms Dairy and ice creams from Jack and Jill.
“It’s so convenient and there’s comfort in knowing where your milk and dairy products come from, paying grocery-store comparable prices and feeling good about supporting a local woman-owned small business,” Clancy says.
A former Penn State cheerleader and preschool teacher at Bryn Mawr College, Clancy left teaching to join her father’s wholesale dairy distribution business full time in 2017.
Philadelphia Dairy delivers to Lower Merion on Mondays and Thursdays and to T-E, Radnor, Haverford, Newtown Square and Upper Merion on Tuesdays.
Living up to its name, Bryn Mawr’s All Seasons stayed open. And it’s booming.
The Little Flower Shop That Could has been rolling along quite nicely, pandemic or no pandemic.
Why was All Seasons in Garrett Hill allowed to stay open when other garden centers weren’t? Because owner Rita Curlonis sells food along with flowers – and always has.
In the early days of the coronavirus shutdown, neighborhood folks stopped in for staples no longer available in supermarkets. All Seasons sold 300 dozen eggs in April alone.
But then concerned customers started randomly giving Curlonis money, an extra five here, a 20-spot there – enough for her to pay a full month’s rent. “I have the best customers anywhere. They couldn’t be more kind,” Curlonis tells SAVVY.
When the cold spring finally snapped in May, home gardeners swarmed back. All Seasons’ May 2020 sales were double last year’s. “My growers were running out of flowers. Greenhouses were empty. I’d never seen anything like it,” Curlonis says. Scrambling for help, she hired four people who’d been laid off during the crisis.
What are her customers buying? Firewood for socially distanced gatherings around fire pits. Pretty flowers to put in pots at their front doors. “Anything that makes them happy,” she says.
Hunger is growing. So is the hunger to help.
For eight years, St. Nobert Parish in Paoli has quietly run a small-scale food bank for local families in need.
It’s not small anymore.
With the economy in shreds and in-person Masses cancelled, the food bank operations took over the church’s sizable lobby – bags of potatoes here, boxes of fruit there, frozen meat donations in one corner, filled and numbered brown bags in another.
“The church wasn’t built for this,” says organizer Lisa Nishikawa, who had to clear a path for churchgoers when Masses resumed last weekend. This week, the food bank moved operations to the school gym, at least for the summer. “I’m not sure what our plan is once school resumes but we’re hoping the need will lighten.”
Pre-pandemic, the pantry helped 10 or 15 families, now it feeds 60. Short on storage, it can feed no more.
On Friday mornings, the hungry line up in their cars, holding up numbered signs so masked volunteers can locate each family’s customized food haul, wheel it curbside and drop it in trunks.
Some of those served are parishioners. Many are Spanish-speaking day laborers sidelined by the pandemic. St. Norbert’s holds weekly Spanish Masses, so the Latinx community knows the parish well.
“They’re seamstresses, house cleaners, gardeners, landscapers. The need doesn’t stop,” says Nishikawa. No questions are asked. No paperwork is required.
The food bank’s volunteers have changed, too. Older parishioners forced into quarantine by the pandemic have been replaced by younger volunteers. “We had to rebuild the whole volunteer base in a few weeks. Thirty new volunteers stepped up,” says Nishikawa.
In partnership with Philabundance, the parish relies on donations from area supermarkets like the Acmes in Paoli and Devon, the Giant in Frazer and Trader Joe’s in Gateway. Eggs and chicken might be just past their sell-by dates. Bread might be a day old.
But early on, when supermarkets had shortages and Philabundance trucks stopped rolling, “trying to find food became a scavenger hunt,” Nishikawa says. So the call went out to parishioners, who’ve been dropping off bags of groceries and supermarket gift cards ever since, she says.
“There’s been a tremendous outpouring. It’s so humbling to see how people are willing to help total strangers in need.”
Nishikawa and her team are happy to serve during this crisis but pray the food bank won’t be quite this busy for too much longer. A hopeful sign came this week: “I’ve had two families come forward and say they’re no longer in need of food, so that’s great!”
A few miles east, Wayne Food Pantry, started 20 years ago at Wayne United Methodist Church, is also serving record numbers.
Anyone can drive up to the church’s side entrance on South Wayne Ave. for contact-free pickup on Wednesday or Thursday mornings (but not both). All will be fed and no questions will be asked, says Bob King, a retired Sunoco engineer and Wayne Methodist parishioner who volunteers his time to run the pantry. While King knows everyone by name, he only began recording them during the pandemic so restaurant gift cards from the Food it Forward campaign are distributed evenly. Needless to say, the gift cards are a huge treat for food pantry users, who don’t often eat out.
Instead of the Latinx community that uses St. Norbert’s food bank, the Wayne pantry serves mostly African American families, many from Wayne’s Highland Ave. neighborhood. On the day we visited, not one person belonged to Wayne Methodist.
Wayne Food Pantry depends on donations from local small businesses, parishioners and the public – not supermarkets – to fill its bags. Ultimate Bake Shop, Spring Mill Bread and Tredici Italian Market are regular donors. Chanticleer Garden shares its produce, which King picks up on the way to the pantry.
And Main Line Pizza has been delivering 35 pizzas a week for nine straight weeks. Owner Jennifer Saionz, who’s friendly with Wayne Methodist Pastor Tom Ebersole, says her family and customers chip in, allowing her pizzeria to help “feed as many people as possible” during the pandemic.
The public brings food, too, using a drop-off bin that sits outside the door.
Wayne Food Pantry flew under the radar until early May, when signs popped up around town announcing a drive-up donation organized by Paoli Troop One scouts with support from Radnor police.
The drive was a colossal success, bringing in 15 tons of non-perishables, enough to last until February, King says.
He calls his army of volunteers who meticulously sort, store, bag and distribute donations a “well-oiled machine.”
Because of the pandemic, the pantry pivoted to curbside pickup. Which means King’s missing one of biggest rewards of volunteering. “When they were allowed to come in, I could sit and chat with people and get to know them. We all miss that.”
Hunting for camps? The pickings are slim
ESF is out. Julian Krinsky has folded. School-based camps are cancelled. Tredyffrin and Easttown both nixed their summer camps last month. Finding a place to park antsy kids this summer won’t be easy. A few possibilities:
*Radnor is offering “Live Interactive Virtual Radnor Day Camp” or “In-Person, Park-based” Radnor Day Camp, but better hurry. Groups are smaller and enrollment is limited.
*Try the local Little Leagues. Most are offering baseball camps.
*Country club and swim club members are in luck. No swim teams, but most clubs are still holding tennis, golf and swim camps.
*The Upper Main Line YMCA just began limited, smaller-group camp. Again, best hop on this pronto. (No, you still can’t use the fitness center while your kids are in camp.)
*Kids Clubhouse of the Main Line in Radnor has reopened with summer camp as well as day care, with a new Health Director on staff and a long list of drop-off protocols, capacity limits and extra health and sanitation procedures in place. Among them: no more stuffed Elmos or Paddingtons. Poor little fellas. They just couldn’t keep themselves clean.
A Main Line caterer is getting a Grammy salute. Look who’s delivering it.
Paoli caterer Meridith Coyle, whose market café, Aneu, has delivered 5,000+ donated meals to frontline workers, got a call out of the blue last month.
Good thing she picked up.
It was a CBS producer of the upcoming special, “United We Sing: A Grammy Salute to Unsung Heroes.” Might the show’s host, Harry Connick Jr., swing by to interview you about your work? the producer wondered.
He might, indeed, Coyle replied.
The two arranged a meeting at the Allentown home of Aneu client Cheryl George, owner of Deme in Wayne.
Before the cameras rolled, Coyle had one request: “Could you take down your mask? I drove a long way to see you.”
When Connick obliged, she gushed. “Oh my. You’re so dreamy.”
In addition to Connick and Coyle, the show will feature Tim McGraw, Queen Latifah, Dave Matthews and Cindy Lauper, among others. It airs next Sunday, June 21 at 8.
This and That
Governor Wolf broke local hearts again Friday, omitting the Philly burbs from the list of PA counties that will go green next Friday, June 19. Local businesses had been banking on going green that day. Not helping their cause: last week’s Inquirer story headlined: Chester County coronavirus case numbers could delay move to ‘green’ reopening phase. Unlike neighboring Delco and Monto where new cases have been steadily trending downward, there’s been a spike in southern Chesco towns like Kennett Square, Avondale and West Grove. The county’s health commissioner attributes the jump to an increase in targeted testing in those areas.
Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s in King of Prussia opened for in-person shopping last week. Expect the usual: masks, sanitizers, new plexiglass, social-distancing signage, and in Bloomie’s case, greeters stationed outside. Mall department stores are allowed to reopen during the yellow phase because they have outside entrances. The rest of the mall remains off-limits. Forty-nine of the KOP Mall’s 450 retailers are now offering curbside pickup in the orange lot.
Leading Philly/Main Line stylist Nancy Amoroso took her client, CBS3 news anchor Jessica Kartalija, shopping at Bloomingdale’s Friday. The store was super quiet, Amoroso said, and was carrying the same spring/summer clothes she saw during her last visit in March, although now, almost everything was on sale. Normally, you’d be seeing early fall styles by now, she said. “It felt great to be back. The shopping experience has changed but I do think shoppers will adjust.” Bloomie’s GM came outside to personally welcome back Amoroso, one of the store’s best customers.
A 75-year Wayne fixture is no more. Mom-and-pop Joe’s Place has served its last burger. Owner Marty Costello, who took over the business from his father, wasn’t planning to retire just yet. But the prolonged shutdown and the prospect of social-distanced seating in his cozy quarters killed his appetite to reopen. Regulars are so bummed, more than 2,000 have signed a petition to have Joe’s Place declared a local landmark.
Hothouse Coffee at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute has called it quits. But, apparently, not because of the pandemic. In January owner Natalia Carignan informed BMFI, which owns the building, that she would close in mid-March. Carignan took over from Milkboy Coffee in 2012. BMFI will wait until state guidelines for reopening theaters are finalized before signing any new tenants for the storefront, BMFI’s Gina Izzo tells SAVVY.
Taxes are going up in T/E. Again. The school board just approved a 2020-2021 budget that includes pay raises for all administrators and a 2.6 percent tax hike (about $162 for the average home), the maximum allowable in PA. The district says the tax hike and $1.2 million in “expense reduction strategies” – including a one-year suspension of ERB tests – will help make up for a $7.7 million budget deficit.
The hikes are controversial, and that’s putting it mildly. It took an hour and a half for 60 taxpayer statements of opposition to be read into the record at Monday’s board meeting.
In the end, two of seven school board directors, Rev. Scott Dorsey and Mary Garrett Iten, voted nay. Dorsey, in particular, felt the community had suffered enough during the pandemic. People had lost jobs; small businesses were struggling. Now was not the time to add to taxpayers’ burdens, he argued.
The T/E School Board has raised taxes for the last 16 years. Why? State funding has remained flat, new programs have been mandated, and enrollment has been exploding. Student counts have risen every year for the last 20 years, with 631 more students enrolled since 2014 alone. Last Wednesday, the district broke ground on a $39 million expansion of Conestoga High School and a new elementary school may not be far behind.
If your toilet starts gurgling next week and you live in Tredyffrin, no need to call a plumber. The township is flushing sewer lines on seven roadways, including North Valley, North Valley Forge, Lancaster near Old Eagle School, Mt. Pleasant and Swedesford.
Queer Eye on the Main Line. Skirt owner Maureen Doron says her store will get a cameo in Season Five’s “Silver Lining Sweeney” episode and has already posted a “shop the look” link. “If you want to learn about French tuck and all things fashion, you will fall in love with Tan France if you haven’t already,” she wrote in Skirt’s newsletter to loyalists, where she posted this pic:
Apparently, Queer Eye’s producers surprised her in her Bryn Mawr boutique last June, asking if she’d like to be involved in the season set in Philly. Long a Queer Eye fan, Doron says she “screamed yes and may have teared up a little.”
After losing the Democratic primary to challenger Amanda Cappelletti, longtime PA Senator Daylin Leach says he’ll continue “to work for progress but in a forum that I enjoy more day to day.” In a statement posted after his loss, Leach said he was proud of himself, his family and staff “for enduring more than most people could in the fight for progressive values.” Leach has vehemently denied former staffers’ accusations of sexually suggestive jokes and inappropriate touching and has sued the Inky for defamation.
Say yes to the dress – with a mask on. Van Cleve Bridal has reopened in Paoli with the following protocols:
- Only two bridal suites and one Special Occasion/Mother of the Bride suite will be in use at the same time, with appointments highly suggested.
- Brides can bring along no more than two guests and MOBs just one.
- Clients will have temperatures taken upon arrival and must wear masks at all time.
- Garments will be steam-cleaned and hit with UV light after try-ons. All tools and spaces will be sanitized between appointments.
Meanwhile, it’s personal shopping by appointment only at the Bryn Mawr fashion boutique, Grove 1.2.1. “Safety over sales for now,” says owner and avowed “germaphobe” Sandy Edelstein. “I’m going back to what my name stands for: 1.2.1 personal styling.” Shoppers may bring along only one shopping buddy and checkout is now touch-free. After dresses are tried on, they’re taken out of circulation for 24 hours and steam-cleaned. And for now, Edelstein will be the only stylist. “The less people in the store, the safer the environment,” she says.
In Lower Merion, the Millrood brothers, aka The Shopping Bros, are out wheeling carts and running errands so you don’t have to. For $15 a trip, paid on Venmo, Tulane sophomore Zeke 19, and Josh, 17, a rising senior at Harriton, will shop at your local market or drugstore and deliver to your door. Now in its third month, the bros are busy, handling two or three shopping trips a day. While the brothers acknowledge some risk they’ll bring the virus home, it’s a risk their parents can live with. In fact, the two say they’re only following their mom’s example of putting the community’s health before her own. For the last month, Benna Millrood has run the coronavirus testing site at Gladwyne Pharamacy.
Main Point Books in Wayne is now allowing limited, in-person browsing by appointment, touch-free checkout and curbside pickup. Restrooms remain closed.
Main Line School Night has cancelled all in-person classes and special events through the fall. Reopening with social distancing rules in place simply didn’t make sense, says MLSN Executive Director Wendy Greenfield, because classes would have shrunk to 3 or 4 students. MLSN has successfully pivoted to online classes and will stay virtual through the fall, she says.
Wayne Art Center has cancelled its summer art camp and adult classes through mid-August. Executive Director Wendy Campbell reports WAC’s virtual offerings have been well-received.
A Philadelphia Eagle landed in Berwyn a few weeks ago. Star center Jason Kelce picked up a lawnmower at Main Line Line Mower, graciously posing for photos with owner Bill Neff (below). A Delco-proud guy, Kelce was wearing a Havertown Grille t-shirt.
Drool over cool kitchens from the comfort of home. A major fundraiser for Ardmore Library for 14 years, Ardmore Kitchen Tour is virtual this year.
Tredyffrin and Radnor have cancelled Fourth of July festivities. Sigh.
Pandemic-proof graduation parades have been sprouting up around town for weeks. Nearly 500 turned out for Conestoga Woodlea Neighborhood Association’s honk fest. Check out these beaming mugs:
Hear ye. Hear ye: Special deals and updates from our SAVVY advertisers:
- Stationer/gift shop Kramer Drive in Berwyn is open and offering 20-percent off. Just tell them SAVVY sent you.
- Now’s the time to get that new door or windows. Austin Hepburn Installs Windows & Doors is offering 10% discounts to SAVVY readers.
- Restore Chiropractic in Wayne is open for pain management, acute injury and other medically-related reasons.
- Vaughan Building Company is back building fine custom homes to suit Main Line lifestyles in a range of current styles, with virtual meetings upon request.
- Construction has resumed and homesites are selling fast at Berwyn Village and Hamlet, two new subdivisions from Stonehaven Homes.
- Village Wellness is open for in-person private acupuncture and select wellness services.
- Strafford Chiropractic and Healing Center has reopened for therapeutic massage along with chiropractic services.
- Spring and summer merchandise (excluding skincare) in the spa and gift boutique at Day Spa by Zsuzsanna is 20% off. Visit weekdays, 11 – 4.
- Back to business as usual at our realtor advertisers, Mulholland-Peracchia Group, Sue McNamara and Lynise Caruso. All of them have been safely showing properties for the last several weeks.
- Home and office organizer Anna Sicalides and her team at Your Organizing Consultants continue to offer virtual consultations.
- Walter J. Cook Jewelers in Paoli has reopened with slightly shorter hours as well as shopping by appointments.
- Valley Forge Flowers in Strafford and Mason Grey Interiors in Newtown Square are open for in-person shopping.
- David Campli is welcoming clients back to his Malvern studio. To keep your appointment socially distant, bring a family member to help with hair and clothing adjustments.
- Rescheduling an event, party or wedding? The Inn at Villanova has dates available.
- Dr. Brannon Claytor and the aesthetic team at Claytor-Noone Plastic Surgery in Bryn Mawr have resumed in-office and hospital procedures.
***And finally, a gift from on high. We’re honored to share wondrous words from acclaimed novelist and longtime Devon resident Beth Kephart, who, in her quarantine wanderings, tells us she “sort of fell in love with this place” all over again. Enjoy!***
Foreign Country: A love letter to suburbia
By Beth Kephart
All these years I have lived where I have lived—in the same small house on the same quiet street, where sometimes, in May, horse-show horses roam, and sometimes, during a storm, the wind separates the trees, and sometimes the heat of a neighbor’s grill smokes an SOS to the sky.
I have lived here and I have walked here, day upon day, uncountable miles. The air of it. The exercise. Turn left. Turn right. And walk.
Then came the suburban quarantine—the opportunistic terror of the virus; the exponential news of the sick and dying; the desperate need for apolitical truth and unprivileged care. Time turned in on itself. We turned and, in dark, insomniac hours, we saw ourselves.
Outside the streets I’d daily walked, those circular miles I’d never counted, became streaming boulevards.
Stroller brigades and funny hats.
Couples arm-in-arm with their face masks on.
The units of one or two or many engaged in the new six-footer dance.
From faraway the walkers came. From right across the street.
Conversation arced curb to curb: Worry. Netflix. No yeast. No flour. Puppies.
Out on the streets there were no TVs. Out on the streets we were not tempted by the cakes we’d baked. Out there we were not dressed in our PJs. Out there became new, and beautiful, and strange—the creeks high in their beds, the hawks building their nest, the bees full of their buzz, the miles yielding to miles, to roundabouts, until we were far from home, or far from what we’d thought of as home, among the plunge of cliffs and minor waterfalls, cemeteries and church yards, abandoned houses, a street like the street of an English village, a street like a running river of color, a street like our childhoods, the edge of a hill, the abrupt entrance to a garden.
Had it been there all along? Was it the daytime dream of the nighttime insomniac?
What was normal is not normal.
What is hope is our own neighborhoods—our eyes opened to each other, our feet on the ground, our hearts searching.
What was yesterday was the fawn I found—brand new, big eyed, and freshly spotted.
Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of more than thirty books, an award-winning teacher at Penn, and the co-founder of Juncture Workshops. Cloud Hopper, her last novel, is due out from Penny Candy Books in September. More at bethkephartbooks.com.