In six years, Ashley Meyers has ricocheted from restless – OK, bored – Berwyn housewife to multi-platform fashion influencer to beauty queen.
“If you dream it, you can do it,” says Meyers, aka Main Line Fashionista, of her swift ascent.
In September, she was crowned Mrs. Pennsylvania. Next month in Vegas, she might just win it all: the tiara, sash, and title: Mrs. America 2021.
The Radnor High School Class of ‘97 alum has dreamed plenty in her 42 years, but did she ever see herself sashaying onstage in a swimsuit with her three teenage kids cheering her on?
Not for a second.
The competition wasn’t even on her radar. She was tapped for the tiara by the pageant’s state director, Susan Liebesman, a few months ago. “I thought Ashley would be a great contestant because she’s active in the community, has a positive outlook, and works hard for the success she’s had,” Liebeman tells SAVVY.
COVID convinced Meyers to say yes – to the dress, the swimsuit, all of it.
“I’m such a people person – I felt like a little part of me had died during the lockdown,” Meyers recalls. “I couldn’t wait to be part of the world again so I swore to myself I’d say yes to everything and really put myself out there.”
She sent in her $600 fee, took classes to perfect her walk and her wave, found a sparkly red fishtail gown, then headed to the Venice Island Performing Arts Center in Manayunk where she captured the crown on September 26.
Meyers entered as “Mrs. Main Line,” one of six “city queens” selected for the finals. Each was judged on beauty and poise: 25 percent evening gown, 25 percent “fitness” (aka swimsuit) and 50 percent personal interview.
Easiest for Meyers was the four-minute, closed-door Q and A. As a QVC on-air ambassador for fashion accessory brands Frye, Foster Grant and Acorn, she’s comfortable speaking off the cuff.
“My QVC work really helped,” she says. “I tapped into just remembering to be myself, make eye contact, and answer the question that’s asked because when you get nervous you tend to just chitchat.”
Not that she wasn’t nervous.
“There’s a moment I can’t rid of before it’s go time that you feel like you’re going to vomit.”
Her work as a paid influencer often involves modeling but strutting around onstage was no cakewalk. Pageant walks take practice. “I thought I’d trip on my face. I was so scared for how slow the walk is and how straight your shoulders have to be.”
A supporter of local boutiques, Meyers had hoped to compete in an evening gown from the Paoli boutique Van Cleve Collection, but the sample-size gown she was offered was too big. She ended up picking up a glittery number at Formals XO, a prom shop at the mall. “I felt like a zillion dollars in it but it cost less than 400 bucks.”
Meyers says her “biggest hurdle” by far was the swimsuit competition.
She’d watched her diet and stepped up her workouts – she runs and plays tennis and paddle – but nothing quite prepared her for baring almost all onstage, she says.
“There’s so little to wear so the only thing you can sell is yourself and your personality, in that moment. I was like, ‘Look at my face; see how much fun I’m having!’”
Contestants wear the same one-piece suit, which the pageant provides.
With her family cheering her on, it turned out to be her favorite walk of the night. “That’s probably where I had the most self-growth – just getting over myself.”
But isn’t a bathing suit contest a tad out of step with the times?
Not at all, says Liebesman, the director. “The pageant promotes body positivity,” she says. “Past titleholders have ranged from size 4 to 16 and contestants do have the option to wear a sarong over their suits.”
While she’d never set foot on a pageant stage, Meyers has always shined in the spotlight.
At Radnor Middle School, she won the best “best smile” award. Her senior award from the Class of ’97 at Radnor High School: “Never Wore the Same Outfit Twice.”
At Penn State, she made the homecoming court, played lacrosse and majored in broadcast journalism.
She married Penn State classmate Drew Meyers in 2003 and had three kids in six years. In 2014, she launched her personal styling, brand ambassador and Instagram influencer company. She called it “Main Line Fashionista” – her childhood nickname.
“Honestly, six years ago, I was making peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and driving my kids to school,” Meyers recalls.
Her daughter, Ava, a sophomore at Conestoga, has just signed with Elite Models. A second daughter and son are at T/E Middle School. “I wanted to show my kids that life doesn’t end when you’re a mom, that you should continue to grow and try new things and say yes.”
Today Meyers has her own publicist and three stylists on staff, gets paid to plug local businesses, and talks fashion on Instagram, TV news, podcasts and QVC.
Someday, she’d like to write a book about “my insider fashion tips and tricks.”
But for now, she’s focusing on packing her bags for Mrs. America. She needs to choose “high fashion outfits” for 11 days of events and appearances. “They say you’re judged the entire time and it’s super intense.”
Meyers will also need a PA state costume. One of her ideas: a play on the state bird, the ruffled grouse. “It’ll be a surprise,” she says.
But if anyone knows how to dress the part, then sell it – and herself – with a radiant smile and the right words, it’s our homegrown Main Line Fashionista.
So our money’s on Meyers to take the crown on November 20 and advance to Mrs. World in January.
If that happens, we can all say we knew her when.
Steady progress – and setbacks – for electrocuted T/E teen
This was supposed to be a big week for Austin Beltrante.
After more than five months at St. Christopher’s and Shriner’s hospitals, the 14-year-old was finally coming home. The wheelchair ramp was built, the hospital bed ordered.
Shriner’s was set to discharge him Tuesday, in time for Austin to roll into the Conestoga football game Friday night. The Pioneers were playing at Marple Newtown, where his father is principal. Billed the “Austin’s Army game,” the Pioneers would sport power purple socks, Austin’s favorite color. Austin might even get on the field for the coin toss or at halftime.
Alas, the big week was not to be; his discharge was delayed.
After calling 50 agencies, Shriner’s couldn’t find the home nurses he’d need seven days a week. And Austin had just broken an arm after his wheelchair fell on him. He’d been kicking a soccer ball on the hospital roof and the ball got stuck under a wheel.
Though he’d made great strides in recent weeks, he still wasn’t ready to come home.
“He’s kind of bummed out – he was excited to see his friends and the dog – but he’s not depressed or mad,” reports his stepmom Deanna Golden.
Five months in, the blended Beltrante/Golden family has learned to take life a day at a time.
So has Austin.
It’s been a long, treacherous road since the May 16 accident, the day his foot hit a live wire on a local train trestle bridge and his body caught fire.
Austin has survived multiple surgeries, three amputations and infections. He can sit up now and is learning to propel himself in a special walker and move from his bed to his wheelchair and back again on his own.
“He’s 99 percent of the way there and that’s huge because he doesn’t have hands to push off to stand up,” Golden notes.
Special wrapping allows Austin to work a stylus on his iPad.
In occupational therapy, he uses his mouth to paint and make brownies.
While the 9th grade coursework he would have taken at Conestoga will have to wait, he is taking an English literature class online.
When you have third-degree burns on three-quarters of your body, healing takes time. Austin’s skin still blisters and scabs. He will soon need surgery to release skin that’s pulling on an eye. He needs to build foot strength before he can be fitted for a prosthesis for his other leg and foot. The prosthesis will cost up to $100,000, Golden says, and will need to be replaced as he grows. Hand prostheses or possibly transplanted hands would come next. A hand transplant surgeon has told the family that Austin is a candidate.
Austin’s medical bills will be enormous; his personal challenges just as daunting.
And that’s where Austin’s Army has come in – the T/E and Marple Newtown communities, his teammates, care team, friends and strangers. For five months they’ve sent prayers, cards, texts and meals. They host fundraisers and sell t-shirts. They arranged for 50 celebrities to send personal video greetings including sports stars Brian Dawkins, Jay Wright, Phil Martelli, Brandon Graham, Matt Ryan and Rob Gronkowski. A favorite video came from former Stoga standout Mark Herzlich who overcame bone cancer to play for Austin’s favorite NFL team, the New York Giants.
On Oct. 30, Austin’s Army will stage its biggest fundraiser yet – a ticketed music festival – in Rose Tree Park in Media. The lineup includes comedian Joe Conklin, former “America’s Got Talent” winner Joe Downs, rock tribute bands, and student groups from Stoga and Marple Newtown. If his doctors allow it, Austin might just make an appearance. There’s talk of a police escort to the music festival and maybe one day – the day he finally comes home to Berwyn – a parade.
Nearly half a year after the accident, Golden attributes Austin’s steady progress to three things: Divine intervention, the unflagging support of Austin’s Army, and Austin himself.
The public is drawn to his story because of “his resilience, his persistence, his positivity, his fight,” she says. “He’s a 14-year-old kid trapped in his body and he does inspiring things.” When he transferred out of St. Christopher’s, his nurses cried.
“Austin seemingly accepts the position that he’s in. I’m not saying he’s OK with it but he’s accepting of it. The same kind of persistence that got him through the hard part is going to help him navigate his new life.”
DanDan debuts with a bang in Suburban Square
The curse is broken.
It’s only been open six weeks but it sure looks like DanDan will do what its predecessors – The St. James and Parlor – never could: stick around in the heart of Suburban Square.
The place has been so slammed, it’s had to cut off takeout orders at 6 p.m. on weekends.
Owner Cat Huang, who was born in Taiwan and lives in Devon, tells us she and her staff are busting their tails seven nights a week. Instead of schmoozing with guests, Huang is running food out of the kitchen and bussing tables herself – whatever it takes.
Why so bonkers? Pent-up cabin-fever? The decent fall weather? A shortage of refined Chinese food in Lower Merion?
Or maybe it’s the Adam Sandler effect.
The star was staying in Gladwyne during recent filming of his new movie, Hustle, and dined at the Wayne DanDan three times and ordered takeout once. To thank Sandler, the Huangs added his favorite soup, chicken wonton, to the Ardmore menu and named it Happy Madison.
On the menu: Authentic, wokked-to-order Sichuan and Taiwanese dishes and delicacies, each rated on a 0-to-5 spiciness scale. “We have more than 100 items and every dish tastes different,” Huang says. By contrast, Americanized Chinese kitchens rely on two sauces “and everything tastes the same,” she says. Among our favorites: Soup Dumplings ($9.95), signature DanDan noodles in chili oil ($9.95), Long hot pepper chicken ($14.75), Ginger-shredded duck ($22.95) and the Sizzling Wonton Platter ($29.45).
The vibe: Upscale “West meets East,” courtesy of Strada Architecture. No red fans, pagodas or paper lanterns; the Asian influence is subtle. The Ardmore DanDan seats 120, slightly smaller than Wayne but larger than DanDan in Center City.
Unlike Devon, the Ardmore Dandan attracts a late-night bar crowd. Customers are spending more in Ardmore, especially on drinks, Huang tells us.
Like everywhere else, DanDan Ardmore has had trouble finding help. Four months behind schedule and with bills piling up, the restaurant was only half-staffed when it opened. Luckily for the Huangs, most customers were patient through the early service hiccups. “We just didn’t expect it would be so crazy,” says Huang.
DanDan, 30 Parking Plaza, Suburban Square (in the main courtyard between the Times Building and Lola’s Garden), 484-412-8178, is open Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., Fri. 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Sat. 11:30 to 10:30 and Sun. 11:30 to 9:30.
Luxury life-care complex planned in Radnor
Count on seeing more seniors at Valley Forge Military Academy in a few years.
Not seniors as in upperclassmen, seniors as in older folk.
A local developer wants to build what appears to be a first for Radnor Township: a high-end residential community for locals to live out their golden years.
Think Beaumont or Waverly Heights but about half the size and overlooking St. David’s Golf Club.
Wayne resident Greg Lingo of Rockwell Custom is under agreement to buy 23 acres from VFMA, which is selling off excess land due to declining enrollment.
Lingo wants to knock down a few mostly unused campus buildings and 21 of the 26 modest homes nearby that have housed VFMA staff.
In their place, he plans to build a complex of seven, three-story buildings (300 beds) for independent and assisted living and communal amenities. Five nearby homes would be renovated for employee housing.
“Because of where we are, adjacent and overlooking a beautiful golf club, and being in Radnor with this great proximity to downtown Wayne, we see this as a high-end life care residence where people that are from here would love to spend their remaining years,” Lingo tells SAVVY.
Senior living is a departure for Rockwell Custom. To date, the company has only built luxury homes. Current projects include a carriage home community at the old Edgemont Country Club and townhomes at Ellis Preserve in Newtown Square. Smaller townhome enclaves in Devon and downtown Wayne are also on the company’s drawing board.
Why senior living in Radnor? Lingo says “a light went off” when he couldn’t find a suitable facility for his ailing father that was close to his Wayne home.
“This is something that’s desperately needed here. People want their loved ones nearby.” Rockwell will bring in an experienced senior-living company – still TBD – to run day-to-day operations.
Lingo expects smooth sailing with the township. A life-care residence conforms to the property’s current “Planned Institutional” zoning.
His project adds stormwater controls to a parcel that had none and more than two acres of open space and keeps most of the existing trees.
He calls his life-care residences a “low-impact use with no school-age kids and a low-crime demographic” but wouldn’t speculate on the potential burden to EMT and ambulance services, Lingo says.
After sharing his plans with neighbors and other stakeholders, Lingo tweaked his plans. He moved the main buildings farther from Eagle Road, decreased impervious surface area, and agreed to run employee shuttles to the train station so as not to clog local roads. “We took their feedback to heart,” Lingo says. “They helped us come up with a better plan.”
Now percolating in Paoli: Cup of Dreams Coffee and Tea
Yo, Paoli Starbucks, there’s a new coffee shop in town. And this one’s 100 percent locally owned and operated.
“Cup of Dreams has been my dream for a long time,” says T/E mom Jian Zhou, a former software engineer who emigrated from Shanghai 25 years ago. “If my American dream can come true, everyone’s dream can come true.”
Zhou designed the space to encourage customers to spread out and stay awhile.
A corner nook with a cushy couch and overstuffed chairs is perfect for a powwow with a pal.
Tables in the main room has a USB/electrical outlet and are widely spaced. (A local author pounds away on his laptop most afternoons.)
There’s even a private meeting room that can be rented for a nominal fee.
On the menu: espressos, lattes, cold brews, micro-brewed teas along with a full line of sweet bubble teas – a first for Paoli – and yogurt drinks. Pastries from LeBus are delivered daily.
Beans are organic, fair trade and single origin from Audubon micro-roaster Valerio Coffee. Current pours include a Mexican dark brew, a lighter Costa Rican roast, and Jazzy Java, Valerio’s popular flavored blend.
The proud mother of a Conestoga senior, Zhou gives discounts to T/E teachers and staff to thank the district for the “awesome education” her daughter has received.
She chose Paoli Village Shoppes because it’s convenient to train commuters and to her Berwyn home – she plans to be a hands-on owner.
Cup of Dreams, 5 Paoli Plaza, Paoli, is open weekdays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekends 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Dinner? Done! For 15 years, HomeCooked has simplified meals and holidays for local families
If cooking dinner has become a chore, let someone else wear the apron.
You’ll have plenty of company.
Paoli’s HomeCooked has been bringing healthy, ready-to-cook meals to a growing list of Main Line tables for 15 years.
Unlike Hello Fresh and Blue Apron where food comes from Who Knows Where, HomeCooked is an entirely local operation.
No shopping. No chopping. No messy kitchen to clean later.
Just save space in your fridge or freezer, then heat according to the clear instructions on the package.
Local mom Claire Guarino and her team make everything from scratch. You won’t find unpronounceable preservatives and additives in her tried-and-true recipes.
Orders can be tailored to your family’s tastes and special diets and prices are reasonable. Other plusses: easy online ordering and curbside pickup in Paoli or home delivery for about $10. Trucks traverse the entire Main Line and far beyond.
Need a last-minute meal? Simply stop in and choose tonight’s dinner from the grab-and-go fridge.
Have a picky eater at home, someone who hates, say, onions? “No problem,” Guarino says. “We can accommodate most requests.”
Like most seasoned businesses, HomeCooked has evolved with the times.
There are more gluten-free, low-fat and vegetarian choices. This fall, Guarino is testing vegan recipes for her famous chili and Mexican lasagna.
Technology has also had an impact. In this age of Amazon, 60 percent of HomeCooked’s customers now opt for home delivery.
And more and more, Guarino finds herself in the gifting business, thanks to websites like Meal Train that make it easy to organize meals for friends in need. People who lack confidence in their cooking or simply don’t have the time can always find tasty gift options in HomeCooked’s refrigerated cases. “People really like to give and receive food from us,” Guarino says.
Another change: all those kids having fun in HomeCooked’s kitchen. After a COVID pause, Guarino has restarted her popular birthday parties. Summer camps have grown from a single session in 2007 to 10 sessions in 2021. Last summer’s sessions sold out months in advance.
And luckily for HomeCooked, outsourcing is more accepted that it was 15 years ago. “It’s almost become a badge of honor that they found great food and didn’t have to make it themselves,” Guarino says.
That’s one reason holidays remain huge at HomeCooked.
Other reasons: Guarino’s perfect turkey gravy, herb multigrain stuffing and time-tested side dishes. Customers would revolt if she did much tinkering.
“Our customers don’t want to be peeling potatoes or worrying about lumps in their gravy,” Guarinoa says.“They’d rather enjoy their guests and spend time with kids home from college.”
HomeCooked has options for smaller or larger gatherings. And you can order the full feast, just the sides, or a la carte.
While COVID clobbered many restaurants, HomeCooked has been fortunate. Thanksgiving 2020 was its busiest to date.
Not that there haven’t been speed bumps. Supply chain issues have stalled shipments this fall and food costs are going through the roof.
“It’s been maddening,” says Guarino, who started ordering Thanksgiving turkeys weeks earlier than last year but has only “inched up” prices.
Despite the hassles, HomeCooked isn’t going anywhere. Guarino continues to enjoy serving and supporting the community, partnering with T & E Care to provide meals for local families, and sponsoring Give T/E. It’s the least she can do, she says, for the community that’s kept her business going – and growing – for 15 years.
HomeCooked, 1 Paoli Plaza, across N. Valley Rd. from Paoli Train Station, 610-647-1002. www.HomeCooked.net. Order online or by phone. Thanksgiving order deadline is Nov 17 unless items sell out sooner. Grab-and-go holiday items available while supplies last.
***SAVVY Special FREE Apple & Pear Crisp. YUM! Stop by HomeCooked, mention SAVVY & take home a delicious fall fruit crisp (serves 2 – 3). No purchase necessary. To get a free crisp in your pick-up or delivery order, simply type “SAVVY Crisp” in the special instructions (NOT the promo code space) in the online order form. Offer expires 11/12/21. ***
For the last month, we’ve been trying to decipher the new forces in play in local school board races.
It hasn’t been easy.
We sought answers from four new groups: Reimagine Radnor PAC, Back to School PA PAC, Pioneer PAC and Neighbors United PA. In an age when campaigns clamor for “transparency,” our questions were straightforward: Who are you? Do you have ties to statewide or national groups? How are you funded? What is your purpose?
At the same time, we reached out repeatedly to Conservative Women of the Main Line (CWML), a one-year-old PAC with T/E roots that hosts monthly speakers for paid members.
CWML’s September speaker was high-profile Stop the Steal activist Scott Presler, who’s been traveling the country helping the GOP “take back the school boards.” A lightning rod for progressives, Presler has been blasted for his work supporting the anti-Muslim group, Act! for America, and for calling the January 6 insurrection “the largest civil rights protest in American history.”
We were curious: Do GOP leaders and school board candidate who posed with him endorse his positions? After a string of local GOP defeats, we wanted to know if a group like CWML was still aboard the Trump train. Was Tredyffrin’s GOP tacking rightward, too? We believe these are fair questions.
It’s true that these new groups all back Republicans. We weren’t aware of any new or outside groups backing Democratic candidates. If we had, we would have looked into them, too.
For weeks, we didn’t know if we’d even run a story. We were simply gathering information to see if there was a story worth reporting.
And then a few days ago, we received this from an encrypted – and therefore, untraceable – IP address. A pre-emptive strike to scare us off the story? You decide. Here it is, copy-pasted, unedited and word-for-word:
You have been on a witch hunt with Republican groups around T/E/Radnor for your November piece. Your publication is as liberal as they come. A number of the parent’s mudslinging with you and the name-calling has gotten out of hand, these are your friends. You have many advertisers; I would assume a number of them will not agree with your stance. It would help if you stuck to writing about derby hats, and your writing is poor. Our areas need more than one voice, school board, and bipartisan boards.
Sent with ProtonMail Secure Email.
Fun stuff, right? Although you didn’t ask for it, Chesterconcerenedparents, here’s this Witch Hunter’s response:
1. How is SAVVY “as liberal as they come” when about 95 percent of our content isn’t remotely political? If you actually read our publication, you’ll find we write mostly about local businesses (we champion them), interesting people (we like them, too) and notable real estate deals and events. If we report on elections at all, it’s usually after they’re over and only then if they reveal a trend in the electorate. We accept no political ads. We make no endorsements.
2. “Mudslinging” and “name-calling”? Not by us. Since we hadn’t written a story or even decided to write one, you must be referring to our questions, which were pointed, yes, but 100 percent respectful.
3. Not that we should have to say this, but we have just as many conservative friends as liberal friends. We treasure them all.
4. We’re not worried about advertisers reacting to “our stance” because we haven’t taken one, nor do we plan to.
5. We are sorry that you find our writing poor. Oh, and for the record, we’ve never written about Kentucky Derby hats.
OK, that feels better. Now back to the school board stuff. Here’s what we’ve learned.
About that photo with far right activist Scott Presler:
Tredyffrin Republicans Chair Raffi Terzian and CWML President/Tredyffrin Republicans Vice Chair Rosanna Hagg ignored our repeated questions. We tried three times.
We did, however, hear back from T/E’s best-funded school board candidate, Deana Wang, who was also pictured with Presler. Wang said she was “not aware of any of those events associated with Scott Presler” and attended the CWML event “to meet more voters.”
When we asked in a follow-up email if she regretted posing with Presler, Wang suggested that Presler may have been mistreated by the press. “We should stop basing all our opinions about a person … based on what the media publishes,” she said.
We also took the opportunity to ask about her funding. Wang had already amassed $16,000 in the spring and who-knows-how-much since then – huge dollars for a school board candidate. Hence, her omnipresent yard signs and polished mailers. We wanted to know: Had she accepted money from any PACs? “All donations I received are from individuals,” Wang said.
We also asked why her campaign materials don’t mention her party? “As a school board candidate, party affiliation is not important to me. Our community is divided enough…” On the national level, however, we found that Wang is GOP all the way, donating to Trump two days after the election, Lindsey Graham, Thom Tillis and Kelly Loeffler.
We never did make contact with Pioneer PAC, which backs T/E candidates (but presumably, not Wang) because, well, we haven’t been able to find them. We know Pioneer PAC applied for and received $10,000 from Back to School PA only because Back to School founder Clarice Schillinger told us so. She promised to ask Pioneer PAC if they would reveal themselves to SAVVY so we might pose a few questions. So far: crickets.
On the third try, we did hear back from Reimagine Radnor (RR).
Our questions: Your critics want to know how a group that calls itself a nonpartisan, local, grassroots effort ends up endorsing only Republican candidates and takes money from Back to School PA, a PAC primarily funded by a GOP mega-donor?
You champion transparency; why won’t you name your full board?
Critics claim questions about mask mandates and Critical Race Theory are ignored on your Facebook page. Do you stand with the GOP and your GOP candidates on these culture-wars issues?
If you’re non-partisan, why did you bring in an out-of-state right-wing strategist?
And finally, kids are back in school, in Radnor and everywhere else. Radnor, in fact, was the first district in the area to bring them back and it was just ranked the #1 school district in the state. Why, then, are you reimagining it?
- According to RR media contact Laura Lebaudy, RR won’t disclose its full board because its two founders, both Democrats, received “disturbing emails,” causing one of them, Anne Moreland, to contact police. RR’s board has four Democrats, one Independent and three Republicans.
- Why all Republican endorsements? “We believe that restoring balance of thought to our board is the best way to serve our children, our schools and our community.”
- No direct answer about RR’s stance on GOP culture-wars issues and whether they’re dodging questions on Facebook. “We encourage you to view the Reimagine Radnor Facebook page – you’ll see there is no right-wing agenda,” Lebaudy said.
- RR did indeed hire right-wing strategist Patrick Krason but only to help grow its Facebook page. RR claims it “didn’t know anything about his politics because we don’t ask about political affiliations.” They never paid him and he was never active, Lebaudy said.
- While it took money from a statewide PAC, Lebaudy said most of its funding came from individual voters who gave $100 or less. Back to School PA’s Schillinger told us her PAC gave $15,000 to Reimagine Radnor – one of 65 donations to PACs across PA. (RR sent us a news release about the initial donation of $10K but the extra $5K was news to us.)
- Both PACs say they’re fueled by the fear that schools could close again. RR says flatly that keeping kids out of classrooms was “wrong” and ”should never be an option again.” Period. New variant outbreak or not. They no longer “trust [the current board] with their children’s education,” pledging to restore “fiscal sanity” and “full transparency.” Schillinger at Back to School PAC also worries about a provision in the Pa. school code (Section 3.1) that she says allows school boards to keep schools closed up to four years in an emergency. “I do fear what will happen with the next variant, the next COVID-19 outbreak,” she says.
Meanwhile, Radnor Democrats are blasting Reimagine Radnor, charging that the PAC is distorting and outright lying about the current board’s record on spending, taxes, the new mascot, the ADA project at the high school, responsiveness to the community, you name it. Who’s right? We invite you to take a look at the Reimagine Radnor site and Radnor Democrats for School Board’s ‘truth’ page and judge for yourself.
And how about the Radnor debate that wasn’t? In what may be a township first, the Radnor school board and commissioner debates set for Zoom last Sunday never happened. The night before, the League of Women Voters notified Radnor Democrats that “the Republican candidates will not participate” and the League called it off, saying it was “unable to hold an empty chair forum.” Republicans claim they never came to terms with the League; Democrats claim that’s a lie and they have emails to prove it. Democrats have asked the League to hold an empty chair debate as it did for two commissioner races in 2017.
Meanwhile, back in T/E, another new group, Neighbors United PA, joined the scrum last Friday, sending a detailed email blast to an undetermined number of residents with the subject line: “Difficult years for the TE School District.” What followed was a detailed critique of the current T/E board and administration. Basically, a campaign attack ad in narrative form.
It appears the blast went to registered Republicans and those who’ve recently donated to Republican campaigns. Its sender raised eyebrows: the personal email account of a Tredyffrin GOP leader. But no sooner had the email gone out than Neighbors United retracted the name, later explaining to us that it was “a marketing mistake.” The GOP leader, in fact, has “no affiliation” with their group, they said.
While the people behind Neighbors United won’t share their names, they did reply to our email in general terms.
“We’re a group of non-political neighbors that found common ground on issues,” they wrote. The articles, videos and events posted on their website include a Stop Critical Race Theory Toolkit, an Audit the Vote rally in Gettysburg, a Conservative Activists Bootcamp, a symposium by Mike Lindell (the My Pillow guy), two Conservative Women of the Main Line events and an Easttown GOP fundraiser.
Non-political? We’ll leave that for you to decide, too.
The story behind The Story, Ardmore’s new café/book shop
In a town with its fair share of quirky businesses, The Story may be Ardmore’s quirkiest.
The place just opened but nothing here is new. Not the espresso machine, the lion-head bar front, the ceiling mural, the lighting or the furniture. It’s all been salvaged, foraged, refurbished or donated – recruited characters in The Story.
“There’s just something magical about all these discarded, broken, imperfect things coming together to make something beautiful that captures the heart of The Story,” says founder Anna Walker-Roberts (below), who also leads Calvary Chapel of Delaware County’s Sunday night services a few doors down.
Walker-Roberts wanted to create a place that would strengthen her congregation’s ties to each other and to the Ardmore community, a place for sharing stories written and spoken. “There’s an interesting energy in Ardmore,” she says. “It feels like we’re on the edge of a ton of growth here.”
She tapped congregant Andrea Cummins-Disbro of Lost Orchid Interiors. Could she turn a nondescript former VFW hall into a singular gathering spot and do it for, well, a song?
She could. And she did.
Although it’s supported by the church, The Story is open to the public and proceeds from coffee, pastry and book sales will be donated to area charities, still TBD, that help people in difficult chapters of their own stories.
The Story, 45 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, 610-649-1235, is open Wed. to Sat. 9 to 3 and Sundays, 2 to 6:30 p.m.
With cookie swaps, office parties, girls nights and family get-togethers, the holidays can seem like one big fat fest.
How to stay on the straight and narrow?
According to the area’s premier weight-loss physician/counselor, Dr. Janine Darby, MD, you need to plan ahead. Among Dr. Darby’s top tips for avoiding holiday weight gain:
- Game plan your trigger foods. If you can’t resist pumpkin pie, promise yourself you’ll take just a sliver. If you have a soft spot for sweet potato casserole, vow to take just one tablespoon. Tell yourself a small portion will satisfy you.
- Keep a food diary. Your trusty, nonjudgmental food log will show your pitfalls in black and white and inform wiser choices in future. It will keep you accountable.
- Fill your party plate with vegetables. Instead of one-third veg, one third starchy carb, one third protein, go two-thirds veg and one-third protein. And no poured-over cheese sauces or creamy dressings; a little dip will do ya.
- Drink a glass of water and eat a high-protein snack before you go. Try Greek yogurt, a handful of nuts, a hard-boiled egg. Train yourself to choose protein over the carby dinner rolls and yam casserole.
- Drink smart. Champagne has fewer calories than wine, which has fewer calories than fruit-juice cocktails. A vodka/club soda has negligible calories. Walk into the party knowing you’ll have just one, then switch to a fizzy water.
- Instead of a drinking buddy, enlist an “accountability partner” to keep you honest. Find someone going to the same gathering, share your food goals and rules in advance, and tell her to give you the stink eye if you start giving in to temptation.
- And finally, start moving. No excuses. Make the time – at least 30 minutes a day to move alone or with friends. Find what you love – power walks, dancing, yoga – and just do it already.
Great tips, right?
But what if you need a little more handholding? OK, a lot more handholding?
Consider signing on for three months with Dr. Darby, who’s board-certified in both family and obesity medicine. She’ll do a comprehensive evaluation of your medical history and lifestyle, then create a meal plan and program customized to your body and situation.
Because she’s an MD, she can tweak meds and prescribe a stimulant to kickstart your metabolism. She can suggest supplements to balance hormones and support the sleep that’s vital to weight loss. She can identify and tackle underlying illnesses and psychosocial stressors that keep the pounds on. “I don’t just look at the person for weight loss, I look at the whole picture.”
A patient on steroids who couldn’t lose more than 10 pounds has lost 25 and counting with Darby. Another patient with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome is down 20 pounds in three months. Lab tests on a third patient revealed an autoimmune disease that was keeping the weight on. “If you go to any other program, no one would ever know that,” Darby says. Many of her patients are physicians and nurses who trust her background in obesity medicine.
Work with Dr. Darby and you won’t even need to leave your house. She sees patients via secured video chat, monitors patient vitals via smartphone, and makes house calls as needed.
Patients find Darby approachable, someone you can talk to because she’s been there herself.
Eating “on the run” as a Penn Medicine family-practice physician and mother of four busy kids, she’d packed 40 pounds on her 5-ft. frame. A few years back, she dropped the weight in four months and has kept it off.
“I understand the process,” Darby says. “I’m not just throwing out food or restricting your calories. I’m also making sure you’re able to live the rest of your life with this new lifestyle.”
Lifestyle Changes LLC/Dr. Janine Darby, author of the bestselling Get Your Sexy Back: A Guide to Bouncing Back after Pregnancy and the Lifestyle Changes Journal, can be reached by phone at 484-685-0033 or email [email protected] for an appointment.
Medicine meets beauty at Ardmore’s Revitalize Aesthetics
When you’re performing advanced services like Botox, microneedling facials, body contouring and IV drips, best have a doctor in the house.
You’ll always have one at Revitalize Aesthetics in Ardmore.
Locally owned by Drs. April and Tom Papa, husband-and-wife physicians with certifications in medical aesthetics, Revitalize offers a curated array of proven treatments in a friendly, low-key setting.
And with monthly specials and member discounts, the price is always right.
At most medspas, physician “medical directors” (required by PA law) are AWOL, on call rather than on-site.
At Revitalize, patients are assured that a Dr. Papa – one or the other – is always in the building.
The Papas and their all-pro team of physician assistants, registered nurses and medical aestheticians believe that skincare is health care. Safety protocols are stringent and their procedures are all backed by science.
Revitalize’s retention numbers tell the story. About 95 percent of patients return for additional treatments.
A free consultation – in office or virtual – lets clinicians get to know your skin, understand your goals, and create a custom treatment plan.
- Sometimes, your personal skin Rx means an intense anti-aging or HydroGlow facial, dermaplaning, microdermabrasion, hydrodermabrasion, LED Light Therapy, and/or medical-grade chemical peel by master aesthetician Casey Lynch. Patients swear by Casey’s dermaplaning and customized combo treatments.
- Sometimes microneedling (with or without PRP) might be recommended to build collagen, reduce wrinkling, fade scars and stretch marks, and improve tone or texture.
- Patients looking for body contouring and less puffy eyes might opt for pain-free, state-of-the-art ultrasound/radio frequency “warm sculpting” treatments to tighten skin and destroy fat cells.
- For others, injectable fillers and wrinkle erasers provide a quick lift. Unlike most practices, Revitalize keeps three neurotoxins in its needle arsenal – Botox, slightly less pricey Xeomin, and newer Jeuveau, which is geared to millennials looking to prevent lines and wrinkles. Also unique to Revitalize: First-time patients get a free check-in/touchup two weeks after their injections.
- Because the Papas believe beauty and wellness come from the inside out, their medspa also offers a menu of IV nutrient drips for hangovers, immunity, disease prevention, beauty, athletic performance and more.
Revitalize keeps prices competitive with special offers and optional $110 monthly memberships that include customized facials and discounted add-on treatments, services and products.
“A monthly facial keeps your skin in shape,” says Dr. April Papa. “We’re like the gym for your skin. You have to put the time in.”
Consistency is key, agrees Dr. Tom Papa. “We aren’t a revolving door. Patients who jump around are the ones who end up with one eyebrow here and the other there or a smile that looks a lot different.”
At Revitalize, the goal is always a natural, refreshed look – you, but better.
“If you’re in your 40s and 50s, you don’t want to look like you’re 20,” says Dr. April Papa. “Fillers are great but you don’t always need two full syringes. We’re not trying to take your money; we want you to be happy.”
Revitalize Aesthetics, 20 Greenfield Ave., Ardmore (free parking across the street). Call 484-413-2011. Follow @Revitalizeaestheticspa on Instagram and Facebook. $110 monthly membership option includes customized facial and heavily discounted add-on treatments, plus 10 % off all other services and skincare products.
**** SPECIAL OFFER FOR SAVVY READERS. MENTION SAVVY MAIN LINE WHEN BOOKING AND GET 15% OFF ANY FIRST SERVICE THROUGH DEC. 31, 2021. (CANNOT BE COMBINED WITH OTHER OFFERS.)****
DayDream Kreative Studios: Affordable new gathering space in Ardmore
Never a dull moment with Renaissance Man Nahjee Grant.
The Lower Merion alum, community organizer and prolific children’s book author (15 titles and counting) is now a perfume maker, fashion designer, Bryn Mawr boutique owner, and, as of August, an event venue/creative space operator in Ardmore.
Not bad for a 32-year-old.
Grant began branching out when he was stuck in his apartment during COVID lockdown. Some people binged on Netflix; Grant tinkered with perfumes and t-shirt designs.
In April, he opened Epiphani near Bryn Mawr Hospital, a boutique where he sells his own and other artisans’ wares.
In August, he took over the old Living Room space near Ardmore Music Hall. Christened it DayDream Kreative Studios, Grant calls it “a safe and creative space for creatives and small businesses to grow and expand their work.”
Priced out of other Main Line venues for his own book signings and community events, Grant is keeping rental rates low.
So far, the studio has been tapped for entrepreneurship, writing and art workshops, Grant’s own after-school enrichment program, podcasting and video editing, yoga, CPR and Hip Hop Cardio classes, a baby shower, a book drive, a police recruitment day, and more. One family is renting the place for Thanksgiving dinner.
“This isn’t about my dream,” Grant explains. “It’s about yours. That’s the whole point. We’re trying to reach for a higher self, a higher dream. If we can be a catalyst for that, we’re doing our job. We’re just a platform for your dreams and your purpose.“
This and That
Bull’s eye marks the spot. The new “small format” Target opens in the old Acme space in Wynnewood this Sunday, Oct. 24.
Tails are wagging with news that another White Dog Café is coming to the western burbs. Fearless Restaurants is buying the historic Vickers Restaurant/Bar in Lionville and converting it to White Dog Café Chester Springs. “Best case scenario is a late 2022 opening,” Fearless owner Marty Grims tells SAVVY. On the Main Line, Grims’ group operates Rosalie and Autograph in Wayne as well as White Dog Cafés in Haverford and Wayne.
Pizzeria Vetri is coming back to King of Prussia – possibly in time for the holidays. This time, the award-winning pizzeria will be in the KOP Town Center, not the Mall, in the former Davio’s Café space. The Main Line’s first Pizzeria Vetri also opened in Devon Yard in August.
That was quick. Up to Eleven, the cool new cafe/e-bike shop in Ardmore’s Cricket Flats that opened in August, closed last week. No word yet on why.
It won’t be long before heiress Dodo Hamilton’s Strafford estate completely bites the dust. Earlier this fall, the mansion was stripped to its studs. Everything was up for grabs: the drapes, chandeliers and scones, garden plantings, flagstone, flooring and windows. Next come the bulldozers, the builders and the townhomes. Oh my.
Lark will serve its first dinners at the Ironworks at Pencoyd Landing in Bala Cynwyd this Saturday, Oct. 23. Naturally, we’ll check it out for the next SAVVY.
Proof that opening during a global pandemic is a crapshoot: Royal Café in Narberth closed a few weeks ago. An Instagram post blamed staffing shortages and supply chain issues but calls the closure “temporary.” We shall see.
Coco Thai Bistro in Narberth is checking vaccine cards for indoor and outdoor dining, joining Cornerstone Bistro in Wayne. If you know of other eateries asking for vax proof, do drop us a line.
Chester County just adopted an ambitious Climate Action Plan which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, increase green buildings, and speed the transition to renewable energy sources. The county can only control facilities it owns but expects to coordinate with local municipalities, businesses and other stakeholders.
If you’re a Devon Horse Show devotée, you know their names from the winner’s circle: Laura Chapot, McClain Ward, Michael Matz, Donald Rosato et. al. Now they’re legends, honored with medals instead of blue ribbons. The Devon Horse Show and Country Fair installed its inaugural class of Devon Legends – champions in and outside the ring – at a black-tie gala at Merion Cricket Club Oct. 8. The party was a warm-up for Devon’s COVID-delayed 125th Anniversary Gala, now set for April 22, 2022.
With an estimated net worth of $12 billion, Haverford’s Jeff Yass of Susquehanna International Group is still the Main Line’s richest human. So says Forbes which placed him 58th on its latest list of richest Americans. Tied for second: e-commerce entrepreneur and 76ers minority owner Michael Rubin of Bryn Mawr and candy queen Victoria Mars, both with estimated net worths of $8 billion. Eagles’ owner and Wynnewood homeowner Jeff Lurie is 333rd with $3.5 billion and Phillies owner John Middleton is #340 with $3.4 billion.
In Ardmore, another sign that retail isn’t what it used to be. The family-owned five-and-dime Mapes on Rittenhouse Place will be replaced by hipster delivery company Gopuff. Started by two Drexel sophomores, Gopuff delivers beer, snacks and sundries in more than 1,000 U.S. cities for a flat $1.95 delivery fee. The Ardmore store will serve walk-in and online customers.
From Berwyn to the big time for JDog Junk Removal & Hauling. The veteran-owned company is a regular feature on the new Discovery Channel show, “Operation Hidden Treasures.” Based in Berwyn, 250 JDog franchises employ veterans and military families. The TV show follows JDog employees as they try to find new homes for stuff they’ve hauled away.
COVID’s tentacles have touched school cafeterias. Pleading for patience, Lower Merion School District sent out a note apologizing for the “variety and selection” of its meals this fall. Seems one week the district couldn’t get apples, another week, carrots. Parents were told supply chain disruptions have impacted “everything we purchase, including food, paper products and equipment.” Compounding the headaches: staff shortages exacerbated by the need to serve food in different locations within schools so students can socially distance. Oy.
As if this school year weren’t challenging enough, educators had to deal with an insidious TikTok challenge to students this fall: Vandalize your school, then brag about it on social media. After bathrooms were vandalized at Harriton, Principal Scott Weinstein sent a note to parents alerting them to the challenge and the possibility of criminal charges for vandals.
Count on slower-going on a local stretch of the PA Turnpike for the foreseeable future. The first phase of the Turnpike widening – from the Valley Forge Service Plaza to the Valley Forge Interchange – will continue until summer of 2025. The second phase, from Valley Forge to the Rt. 29 Interchange, will begin sometime after that.
A source tells us Burlington Coat Factory has taken space between Old Navy and Michael’s at the Main Street at Exton shopping center.
Ardmore’s Blue Pearl Café is now Juice Dr., renamed for the line of organic, cold-pressed raw juices the café pours. Owner FJ Leto has also redecorated and expanded the café’s plant-based menu. The Rittenhouse Place café serves toasts, bowls, salads, smoothies and juices for dine-in or takeout.
Have a child at Carroll or Shanahan? The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and Rosemont College just announced $10,000 grants to graduates of Archdiocesan high schools who commit to living on campus as Rosemont students. The grants cut Rosemont’s tuition in half, to just under $10K a year. Sweet.
Bookworm alert. Easttown Library will host Temple professor Liz Moore, author of Long Bright River, the bestselling literary crime thriller set in Philadelphia, on Friday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. Yours truly loved the book and will moderate the discussion. Register here for this free event on Zoom.
Steals and deals in Radnor this weekend. The Radnor Conservancy is giving away 500 native shade trees at the township building Oct. 23 and Oct. 24. Register here ASAP. And Friends of Radnor Library will host its first “Big Book Sale” since 2019. With so many folks clearing shelves during COVID, count on a huge selection. The sale runs 5 p.m. to 8:30 Oct 22, 9 to 4:30 on Oct. 23., and 1 to 4:30 on Oct. 24. Masks required.
And finally, Happy 1st Birthday to The Philadelphia Print Shop. The purveyor of antique prints, maps and rare books celebrated its one-year anniversary in downtown Wayne last week.