Some of our brightest minds aren’t wowing their “Challenge” teachers in T/E, skipping grades in Lower Merion, or acing their APs at Agnes Irwin.
They’ve left our vaunted public and private schools to enroll in a largely unknown startup: The Grayson School, the only independent, non-profit school in PA created specifically for gifted learners in grades Pre-K through 12.
“All Gifted, All Day” is the school’s tagline.
And surprise, surprise: It’s right in Radnor.
Founded by women in education who believed traditional schools were failing gifted kids, Grayson does just about everything differently:
- Students at every grade level take deep dives into areas of personal interest through yearly “Projects” classes. Last spring, a science-minded junior replicated a landmark CRISPR (DNA-editing) study of butterfly wings. A business-oriented student focused on the economics of cryptocurrencies.
- There are no textbooks. Students consult primary and secondary source materials.
- Classes typically top out at 8 or 10. The student-staff ratio is an enviable 4 to 1.
- There are no grades or GPAs. Report cards are narrative. Portfolios assess strengths and students acquire “mastery credits.” Mastery Transcripts are sent to colleges.
Families gravitate to Grayson because their children were bored, acting out, coasting or just plain lonely at their old schools.
“Because gifted kids tend to know everything, they’re allowed to sit in the back of the classroom and read,” says Amy Stoios, Director of Education at Grayson. “That starts to create this separation from their peers. Some are bullied. Some start misbehaving because they’re frustrated and their intellectual needs aren’t being addressed. We often see a completely different child once they’re here.”
Students become “immersed in the curriculum,” she says. “It’s purposeful, meaningful and projects-based. These kids want to be challenged. They want their questions answered.”
Learning is accelerated at every level. For example, Biology is studied in middle school. “We don’t prepare you to be a scientist in middle school,” Stoios says. “We make you a scientist.”
Although students choose to take Advanced Placement exams, there are no AP classes per se – every course is “advanced” at Grayson.
Bryn Mawr mom Lynn LaFiandra stumbled on Grayson when she googled “anxiety and gifted.” Her extroverted older daughter thrived in Radnor schools but her introverted younger daughter, Wren, was struggling.
“Being gifted comes with challenges you need to manage,” LaFiandra says. “Grayson has been a game changer. The culture is so accepting. There are no mean girls and no popular girls. None of the toxic things that might occur in a bigger school or a school without this kind of supportive culture.”
LaFiandra gives the academics equally high marks. “The intellectual curiosity of these kids is immense. Grayson is so good at getting dream teachers. The way they extract the thinking from the kids is remarkable. They really get them talking in-depth about what they’ve read.”
Now a junior, “Wren has never been happier,” her mom reports. “She hasn’t missed a day of school since she’s been at Grayson.”
Villanova mom Lainey McMahon tells us Grayson has been a “godsend” for her daughter, Masie, who entered in fifth grade. Masie is “braver and she embraces uncertainty, taking risks and learning from failure.”
The McMahons appreciate the challenging, projects-based curriculum, the individualized attention from dedicated teachers, and the “tight-knit community” that provides “constant support and feedback.” The narrative report cards are “so touching and intimate,” McMahon says. “I get the good, the bad and the ugly. I learn how to deal with Masie and how she learns. They’re such a gift for parents.”
Grayson was also a perfect fit for Wynnewood native Haley B. who graduated last June.
“I needed a school that understood and appreciated kids who are different,” says Haley, now a freshman at Smith College. “I definitely do not fit any standard mold.”
During her admissions visit, she turned to her mom with tears in her eyes. “This is where I need to be,” she said. Hearing about students’ personal projects was “a bit intimidating,” Haley admits. She feared she wasn’t smart enough. But over time she came to realize that “we all have our own giftedness” and contribute in different ways. She calls the friendships forged at Grayson “amazing… Our unique passions are what drew us to each other.” Grayson, she says, was a “safe space that allowed us to thrive and be exactly who we are.”
Stoios, the education director, says Haley’s experience is not uncommon. “Parents are always telling us their children “developed a group of friends, something they never had. They found their tribe.”
Grayson’s teachers tell us they’re keenly attuned to the perfectionism and anxiety that often comes with giftedness.
That’s why they “teach failure” from the youngest grades, says O’Rourke-Barrett, the Projects and history teacher, who admits to sometimes sabotaging the work of hyper-perfectionists so they can experience failure. She might remove a crucial Lego piece or tell a student her measurements are wrong – even when they’re right.
“We’re super ‘pro-failure’ here,” she says. “We call it the F word and we say it a lot. We want our kids to fail often and fail spectacularly, then bounce back from it. If you’re a very high-achieving person and the first time you get a C is in college, it can be catastrophic … If we start them “failing” in Pre-K, they buy failure in a hot second, It’s no big deal.”
Grayson was founded by education advocate Melissa Bilash and an all-female, all-volunteer startup team who believed suburban Philadelphia’s schools weren’t meeting gifted learners’ needs for more individualized programs.
“Gifted education is state-mandated but zero dollars go to it,” explains Stoios. “So you’re only as good as the program in your school. Most are just an hour or two a week. But you’re gifted 24 hours a day.”
Bilash and her team spent three years researching best practices in gifted education and calling or visiting every gifted school in the U.S. They submitted “26 pounds” of application documents to the Pa. Dept. of Education for licensing and accreditation, says O’Rourke-Barrett, who served on the founding team. “There is nothing in the world like this place.”
The Grayson School opened with 12 students in 2015 at a Broomall church and moved to a vacant wing of Archbishop Carroll High School in Radnor in 2019.
Today, Grayson has 180 students from pre-K through 12th grade and is searching for its forever home – a campus that can one day house 300 or even 400 students.
Tuition is in the ballpark of many Main Line private schools: $26,300 for PreK to $35,300 for high school.
Students come from 53 zip codes. Many are from the Main Line, others commute from as far as Cherry Hill, Reading and Lancaster.
About 40 percent are on “some kind of scholarship” and 33 percent are non-white, reports Nancy De Bellis, Director of Marketing and Communications. “Giftedness is under-identified in communities of color. We’re trying to reach out to those communities.”
Admissions are need-blind. All prospective students submit IQ tests and spend a day at the school with their parents. “You have to be a good fit,” says Stoios. “Some kids may want a bigger school or, say, cheerleading. This has to feel good for them too.”
But doesn’t a gifted curriculum for preschoolers seem, well, premature?
Not at all, says De Bellis. “Parents recognize there’s something different about their child. They’re doing math in the grocery store. They’re making connections. When they come here, you see that incredible spark, that joy of learning in a 3- or 4-year-old. They just dive right into an archeological dig or creating a worm composting hotel.”
Grayson may be one of the Main Line’s best-kept secrets but the biggest names in gifted education in North America have taken notice. The team tapped a veritable Who’s Who in the field to serve on the school’s research advisory board, which serves as a hands-on brain trust. “They come in and observe teachers in our classrooms and make suggestions,” says Stoios, the education director. “They’re so excited about what we’re doing here.”
And they’re not the only ones. According to Stoios, parents are always telling teachers they wish Grayson had been around when they were young.
At the end of the day, Grayson fills a distinct void, she says.
“The gifted community is hungry for alternatives to what the public school offers. They’re willing to take a leap of faith and go to this crazy small, startup school. That says something.”
The Grayson School, 211 Matsonford Rd., Radnor, 484-428-3241, [email protected]
Big plans for downtown Wayne: the old Gap and a nearby stretch of Rte. 30
A significant stretch of Lancaster Ave. in downtown Wayne could look mighty different in a few years.
Plans are afoot to raze, replace or significantly remodel buildings that house seven storefronts – from the old Gap to pink-awninged Gingy’s. Only the three-story brick building between Gap and Playa Bowls would be left untouched.
Berger Rental Communities proposes to demolish the dated retail/apartment complex at the corner of Lancaster and Louella Aves. (above) and build the three-story mixed-use building depicted in the rendering below in its place.
Berger bought 150-168 E. Lancaster Ave. for $4.35 million last spring, according to documents filed with Radnor Township, which we reviewed after filing a Right to Know request.
Six Wayne businesses would be impacted by the proposal: Gingy’s Boutique, PRO Martial Arts, Aux Petites Delices bakery, Bliss Nails, Integrity Eye Associates and Playa Bowls.
“We are early in the planning phase, but should we move forward with a redevelopment, we will work with the existing retail tenants … to help relocate or temporarily suspend operations while the new building is constructed,” said Berger, in a statement to SAVVY. “As with all of our developments, we are committed to serving the Wayne community and to ensuring that our residents and tenants are happy and cared for.”
The new building would have 10,400 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail (there are 8,700 sq. ft. of retail now) and a total of 24 one-and-two-bedroom apartments on two floors above.
A 34-space parking garage for residential use would be built below grade.
The current plan – which Berger cautions could change – would require zoning variances related to building setbacks, off-street parking, off-street loading and a rear buffer strip.
Berger is set to unveil its redevelopment plans and take questions from neighbors and stakeholders at town hall set for Thursday, Sept. 29 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The meeting was organized by Ward Commissioner AnnaMarie Jones.
Meanwhile, practically next door, the old Gap/Woolworth’s building (below) is in line for big changes, too. Vacant since Gap closed a few years ago, the old store has had plenty of tire kickers but no takers.
Home builder Todd Pohlig and the building’s owner, Martin Marshall, are partnering on the redevelopment. Plans submitted to the township (below) show a three-story brick building with ground floor retail, a total of 15 apartments on the two floors above, and below-grade parking.
The traditional architecture would “fit right in with downtown Wayne and I don’t see needing zoning relief,” Pohlig tells SAVVY. “We looked at Radnor’s comprehensive plan for the Wayne Business Overlay District and thought the one-story Gap building was underutilized and a mixed-use building made sense there.” The plan would boost foot traffic to local stores, Pohlig says. “Hopefully, it’s a plus for Wayne.”
Pohlig is scheduled to present his plans at the Radnor Planning Commission meeting on October 3.
Iron Chef José Garces rolls into Radnor with beachy keen taqueria Buena Onda
Summer’s over but you can still smell the salt air and hear Cabo calling at Buena Onda, José Garces’ new fast-casual taqueria in Radnor.
OK, we exaggerate.
But the old Jimmy John’s near Estia is now surf-shack casual, the house specialty happens to be sustainably-sourced fish tacos, and Garces’ inspiration is indeed Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.
So if the flipflops fit…
This is the Garces’ third Buena Onda and his first Main Line venture.
After he cut a 5 ft. burrito on opening day, he sounded positively tickled to be here – even if supply-chain snags delayed his debut by several months.
“This is a big deal for us. I can’t tell you how many people from the Main Line have come in and eaten in my restaurants in the last 15 years and said, ‘Hey, José, when are you going to bring what you do to the Main Line?’”
Garces told us he’d been eyeing our fair ’burbs for years but the pandemic sealed the deal. “Our typical guest might not be going to the city all the time. So we wanted to bring our product to the area where our guests are.”
Garces chose the Mexican beach-bum theme because, well, he’s a fan. “Who isn’t? There’s something about the beach vibes – what it does to you psychologically. You feel relaxed, like ‘Let’s slow down a little bit.’”
On the menu: Starters (guacamole, salsa, nachos & such) $5 – $17; Sides (plantains, beans, sweet corn) $3 – $5; Fresh fish or shrimp tacos, batter-fried or grilled with tequila-lime glaze $4.50 ea.; Classic tacos $4 ea.; Burritos and Buena Bowls $10 – $14.
At Garces’ suggestion, we tried a fresh fish taco (perch was that day’s fresh catch) and the smoked tuna starter, which he calls a “sleeper hit.” Both were outstanding.
A sideboard displays grab-and-go Mexican snacks and sodas and Buena Onda merch. A rotating array of Agua Fresca slushies are dispensed behind the counter.
Liquor approvals are still tangled in red tape but we’re told sangria, margaritas, tequilas and beer will arrive in a few weeks.
With just 50 seats and 2,000 square feet, Garces expects the bulk of Buena Onda’s business to be takeout.
Count on seeing more Buena Ondas in the near future. A fourth outpost will soon open in the Comcast Center and Garces’ company has already sold five franchises.
For now, the Iron Chef and James Beard award-winner is focusing on serving the Main Line. “I’m excited about getting our flavors out here. We take a lot of pride in what we do.”
Buena Onda, 226 Radnor Chester Rd., Radnor, is open for lunch and dinner for dine in, takeout or delivery, order in-person or online. Mobile app coming soon.
And Buena Onda won’t be Garces’ only Radnor restaurant…
…In fact, he’ll have another one right down the street.
SAVVY has learned that Garces has inked a deal for the former Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar space in the Radnor Financial Center. Sources tell us he plans to convert it to another Amada, the Spanish tapas restaurant and bar concept the Iron Chef brought to Old City 18 years ago.
While Garces wouldn’t “confirm or deny” directly – he was shocked we already had the scoop – he did say, with a twinkle in his eye: “It’s going to be really exciting. Circle back with me. There’s a lot to tell about that. It’s going to be an evolution.”
The move makes sense.
Garces and his family now live in Manayunk and he tells us he’s “been getting to know the Main Line.” He and his wife have long enjoyed the Ardmore Farmer’s Market and the Whole Foods and Philadelphia Lobster & Fish in Wynnewood. In recent weeks, Garces tells us he’s visited the Lancaster County Farmer’s Market (V’s Empanadas are “fantastic”) and DiBruno Bros. in Wayne and professes to “love Rosalie” at the Wayne Hotel.
And of the 19 restaurant concepts he’s had over the years, Amada is his favorite, Garces tells us. “It’s the one that got it started for me, the one that kicked off my entrepreneurial career.”
Plus, as far as we know, there are no Andalusian tapas restaurants anywhere near Radnor.
The pieces fit together nicely, right?
So let’s see. “Top Chef” Nick Elmi opened Lark and Landing Kitchen in Bala Cynwyd in 2021.
James Beard award-winning chef Marc Vetri fired up Fiore Rosso in Bryn Mawr in late June.
And “Iron Chef” José Garces will bring Amada to Radnor in 2023.
Keep this up and we may never schlep to the city again.
Family-owned high-fashion emporium Boyds debuts at the old Anthropologie in Wayne
For the first time in, well, forever, luxury retail has ventured across the Blue Route and settled in Wayne.
“We’re going to set that mall down the road on its ear,” proclaimed GM Missy Dietz at Boyds’ ribbon cutting last week.
Take THAT, Neiman Marcus.
Dietz makes a good point. Why must exceptionally well-heeled Main Liners deal with mall traffic, parking and crowds when they can get their Louboutins, Zegnas and McQueens right up the road?
Frankly, we weren’t sure what Boyds might do to the 92-year-old Art Deco beauty that once housed the world’s first Anthropologie. We knew the exterior of the circa-1931 Ford dealership wouldn’t be touched, but the inside was going to be gutted.
Would Boyds insist on an ultra-sleek slate for its cutting-edge clothes? At this high-fashion temple, would the old gal’s vintage charms – her steel trusses, skylights, brick walls and plank ceiling – be sacrificed on the altar of modernity?
We needn’t have worried.
Thanks to CANNOdesign and the crackerjack contractors at Terra Firma, the new Boyds is a stunner – in fact, the grand dame has never looked better.
Like the best facelift, she’s been brightened and refreshed but isn’t trying to hide her age. The brick walls and ceiling, now whitewashed, are still cracked and uneven, their new creaminess throwing into sharper relief the steel trusses and exposed air ducts. The worn-out wood floor is now polished concrete. Puffed leather walls surround the industrial-chic selling floor with softness.
A giant marble-esque check-out desk evenly divides the 11,000 sq. ft. space between men’s and women’s fashions. Overlooking it all, a glass-walled “tailor’s loft” puts Boyds’ focus on customer service on full display. “Departments” are delineated by mesh screens.
For those unfamiliar, Boyds blends the customer service of a boutique – personal styling and free alterations – with the selection of a small department store.
More than 250 designers from around the world are featured, names you know and up-and-comers and cult brands you never heard of. Need a cool pair of kicks, the latest booties, an elegant suit, a new overcoat, an on-trend sweater or the latest in denim AND you’re feeling flush? Boyds has you covered.
Boyds has planted its first permanent suburban flag in the (arguably) more preppy part of the Main Line but don’t come looking for Lilly. The aesthetic here is fashion-forward. Even traditional styles are updated with on-trend twists.
“We decided to stay true to the brand,” says Boyds owner Kent Gushner, whose grandfather first opened Boyds, then a men’s shop, in 1938. “We’re confident there are enough people to support what we’re doing here.”
The Wayne outpost will carry the same designers as the Center City flagship and the now-shuttered Ardmore popup. But the selection won’t be quite as broad – the Wayne Boyds is about a third of the size of the Boyds on Chestnut Street.
Three years ago, the Gushners were content to “have one great store” in town.
“Then the virus came and the floor got pulled out from beneath us,” Kent Gushner told well-wishers at the ribbon-cutting.
With Center City offices empty and business at a standstill, Boyds followed its customers to the burbs, taking a 6-month lease on popup space in Suburban Square, focusing more on athleisure and loungewear and less on the suits that no one was wearing anymore.
The gamble paid off and six-months became two years.
When a survey of his Ardmore customers revealed nearly three-quarters had never shopped at the city store, Gushner started scouting permanent space on the Main Line.
“I’ve lived my whole life here,” Gushner said. “I raised my family here but I never appreciated the number of people who came into [the Ardmore Boyds} and said, ‘I don’t go into the city. I live out here. I eat out here. I shop out here.’”
He focused on Wayne from the start, calling it accessible to city dwellers, eastern Main Liners and “a whole new clientele base that has never shopped with us.”
Boyds is just the latest in a growing list of big city names like La Colombe, Marc Vetri and José Garces that have expanded their reach with outposts on the Main Line.
Boyds, 201 W. Lancaster Ave. Wayne, 610-726-0036 is open Mon. to Sat. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sundays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Need new windows or doors? Friendly, artistic and exacting, Austin Hepburn’s your man
“The best window installed incorrectly is not as good as the worst window properly installed.” So says the Main Line’s foremost window and door specialist, Austin Hepburn.
In business for more than 30 years, Hepburn competes with the big boys – Home Depot, Lowe’s, Renewal by Anderson, Window World, etc. – and consistently comes out on top.
“Each of those big companies has someone in sales who’s looking to make a nice commission,” Hepburn says. “He’s well-dressed and persuasive but he’s never measured or installed a window before.” If a new window is even a smidge off, “it becomes a challenge to make it fit. You can’t stretch or shrink a window.”
A consummate craftsman and master carpenter himself, he’s a perfectionist about measuring, installing, trimming and finishing.
And in his line of work – with the constant threat of moisture and energy loss – being a perfectionist is a very good thing.
“What I bring to the table is 30 years worth of installations. I understand how a window or door is going to look. I know what size, what parts, accessories and trim features to order with it.”
Hepburn is a walking encyclopedia of doors and windows. “My philosophy is to listen to the customer, find out what’s appropriate for them and their budget, then give a proposal.” He might recommend Pella’s high-end line, Architect Reserve, or Pella’s more affordable, but just as energy-efficient Lifestyles line. “They’re designed dollar for dollar to be competitive with Anderson but be a better window,” Hepburn says.
He’s a Pella Elite Platinum Certified Contractor – one of just 45 in the U.S. – and is bullish on the brand but can install other manufacturers, too. On occasion, he employs local craftsmen to make custom wood doors. (We can personally vouch for them.)
First honed in studio art classes at the Haverford School (Class of ’75), Hepburn also brings an artist’s eye to his work. He instinctively knows which windows and doors will best complement your home’s architecture.
“I love to create beauty and value while serving the community,” says Hepburn, who has no plans to move or retire anytime soon.
His knack for carpentry showed up even earlier. At age 10, he was helping his dad build a boat in his family’s Ardmore basement. Before long, he was crafting cages for his pet mice, hamsters and flying squirrels.
After college and grad school – Hepburn has an MBA from UNC – he tried working behind a desk as a stockbroker. No thanks. He enjoyed the sales side but was itching to work outside with his hands and to be his own boss. For a few years, he framed houses with Pohlig Builders and apprenticed under the exacting eye of master carpenter John Falcone. “He yelled at me all day long but I took it in stride and got better.”
When the homebuilding business dried up during the Gulf War, Hepburn found his way to windows and doors via Pella’s certified contractor program. He established his own business in 1990, one satisfied customer at a time.
“Life is all about relationships,” Hepburn says. “I have a lot of really cool friends around the Main Line and we met through the sales or installation process.”
He’ll even do interior millwork and carpentry jobs for established customers and friends. “I enjoy it. I get a lot of satisfaction out of a well-done carpentry project.”
If you’ve been putting off new windows, what are you waiting for? With the advent of Low-E glass, advanced weather-stripping and maintenance-free materials, today’s windows are a smart investment in your biggest investment – your home. According to Hepburn’s analysis, new windows pay for themselves in energy savings in 15 to 20 years.
And the Main Line has just the guy to install them for you.
For a free estimate, contact Austin Hepburn Installs Windows and Doors, Radnor, 610-585-7683, [email protected].
Local post offices are on the USPS “conversion” list. Are they closing?
The seismic shakeup of the U. S. Postal Service is hitting close to home.
Six area post offices – Ardmore, Broomall, Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Newtown Square and Phoenixville – are on the USPS 200+ hit list.
Contrary to what’s been whispered, that doesn’t mean they’re closing. But they will be shedding back-end delivery functions, according to Paul Smith, USPS spokesman for eastern PA.
Smith’s replies to our questions were short on specifics but here’s what we were able to glean:
Bryn Mawr, Gladwyne, Ardmore, etc. are being converted to “retail units” only, which means you will still be able to buy stamps, send packages and check your PO Box.
Under Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan, mail handling will move to large Sorting and Delivery Centers (S&DCs) where mail carriers will pick up mail for their routes. DeJoy has called some existing post offices outmoded “dungeons” not built to efficiently process the huge volume of packages that passes through them.
Although Smith wouldn’t confirm it, smart money says the region’s S&DC will be the giant USPS Southeastern facility in Tredyffrin.
Smith wouldn’t say whether any of our local postal clerks, postmasters and carriers will lose their jobs in the consolidation.
But he did say the new system will make the USPS greener. SD&Cs will be wired for charging stations, enabling the USPS to use more electric vehicles. Plus, USPS trucks won’t be shuttling between community post offices.
The nation’s first S&DC will be operational in Athens, Georgia this fall, but Smith wouldn’t specify when the changeover will happen here. The USPS is still evaluating locations for 100 new S&DCs. “This process will take time,” he said.
Beth (Shak) Silverberg’s newest gamble: Foraging for ‘Exceptional Finds’
She gave away her celebrated shoe collection and retired from the pro poker circuit.
These days, the high-profile, poker-faced fashionista formerly known as Beth Shak goes by a new moniker: Beth Silverberg, Bryn Mawr shopkeeper.
“I’m going to be 55. I’m so over heels,” says Silverberg, who welcomed us to her new store, Exceptional Finds, in sensible, low-heeled cowboy booties.
Silverberg has taken her lifelong pursuit of designer goodies and made a bricks-and-mortar business out of it.
She sells a curated mix of accessories, gifts and notions: some vintage, some new, most of it rare, quirky or limited edition – in a word, exceptional. Nothing is sold on consignment. Silverberg owns everything in the store.
Circular cases display fine jewelry lines like Adina Reyter, Alison Lou, Cadar and the equestrian favorite, Horsenbuhs – many of them new to the Main Line.
Not ready to drop thousands? There’s a nice selection of sparkling “travel jewelry” – for those afraid to pack the real thing – priced in the low hundreds.
Tall etageres showcase luxury handbags like museum pieces: a Dior bag from Paris, a Gucci from London, a vintage Hermes from Germany. Each is a hard-to-find or limited-edition piece. Silverberg says she buys most bags at online auctions and resells them at lower-than-going-rate prices. For example, the Chanel bakelite mini-box bag (below) sells for $14,500 at Sotheby’s. At Exceptional Finds, it’s $8,500.
There’s even a display case for the guy who has everything except, say, a Cartier bookmark, a Rolex ashtray or a Marilyn Monroe lighter. You can spend $20 on your man – or several times that.
“I don’t want people to walk in and feel they can’t buy anything,” says Silverberg, pointing to her $60 vegan totes, distinctive greeting cards and candles. “I want to be accessible.”
She’s been selling online but Exceptional Finds is Silverberg’s first physical store. She says having a presence in Bryn Mawr gives her credibility with high-end jewelry lines. “You’re not taken seriously without a bricks-and-mortar,” she says. She also fell in love with the building’s charms – she’s in the old Agostino space next to Kindred.
In a way, Silverberg has come full circle – 20 years ago, she was scouring the globe for high-end vintage fashions for private clients. She detoured into pro poker, turning a hobby into a lucrative 14-year career. “I’m good at reading people,” she explains. “I can tell when they’re lying.”
But it was her bulging shoe closets back in Bryn Mawr that brought her the most fame. At one point she had more than 1,200 pairs, including 600 ruby-soled Louboutins.
Silverberg has donated most of her shoes and some of her winnings to charity and retired from poker five years ago. But she tired of her “quiet life on the Main Line” and was itching for a new challenge. Once a gamer, always a gamer, right?
Exceptional Finds, 840 W. Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, 610-492-9220, [email protected], is open Wed – Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and by appointment.
Happy Being might just be the world’s healthiest drink. And guess what? All three flavors – blueberry, peach rose and cucumber mint – taste great! Created in Wayne, Happy Being is a “functional beverage” – an organic white tea – that’s unlike anything else in the market. Each tea is infused with huge amounts of polyphenols, the key phytonutrients naturally found in fruits and vegetables. They fight inflammation, repair cells, boost immunity and energy, and promote gut health. You’d have to eat 962 blueberries to get the phytonutrients found in just one bottle of Happy Being. Use code SAVVY to get 15% off a first-time online purchase or 30% off the first month of a new subscription. Order here.
Intimidated by yoga? Not if you practice at Tejas Yoga Collective, an intimate new Berwyn studio that welcomes all shapes, sizes, ages and experience levels, whether you show up in old sweats or the latest from Lululemon. Two instructors are the head field hockey and girls’ lacrosse coaches at Conestoga so they know a thing or two about making you feel like part of the team. Tejas offers a range of styles from heated Power Yoga and All Levels Flow to Gentle (geared to seniors), Yin, Prenatal, Teen and Toddler classes. Special events, too! Use code Firstfree to try any Tejas class for free.
Happy 2nd Birthday to Clark’s Manor, which is proving to be a lifeline for adults with stable bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other chronic mental illnesses. Named for its first resident, Clark Widger (Stoga ’02), Clark’s Manor in Media is the first and only therapeutic residential program of its kind between Boston and Baltimore. Residents enjoy the safety, comfort, camaraderie and responsibilities of a real home – plus on- and off-site personalized activities – but also receive individualized therapy and a level of care previously unavailable in our area. Says Director of Operations Art Fastman: “Clark’s Manor is living proof ‘the milieu model’ allows our residents to live their best lives.” Contact [email protected] or call 610-675-7669.
Remember those orange Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes? There’s a new way to support the lifesaving children’s charity that’s way more entertaining: a “World Music Benefit” for UNICEF, hosted by Malvern-based wireless network pioneer Rajant Corp. and its philanthropic founder/CEO Robert Schena. Regional acts donating their talents to the Nov. 8 show at City Winery include Donn T and singer-songwriter Jake Morelli, Tequila Rock Revolution, acclaimed opera tenor James Valenti, Asbury Park’s James Pace Band, Rocker Walt Lafty, bluegrass legend Ray McClain, Opera Philadelphia singers and more. Former GMA correspondent and 20-year host of PBS’ “The Pledge Drive” Denise Richardson will emcee. $125 ticket includes seated dinner, the show, auction and a moving spotlight on Philly’s own “Orange Box Kids.” Order yours today.
***SAVVY Picks are shoutouts & promos on behalf of our sponsors. To learn more about becoming a SAVVY Pick, email [email protected]
Main Line accessories designer Lisi Lerch launches her own store close to home
For 21 years, preppie-chic Lisi Lerch earrings, bags and bangles were only sold online or in other stores – hundreds of them from Maine to Maui.
As for Lisi herself, she was holed up at home, running her fashion empire from her Newtown Square basement.
Well, not any more.
Last month, she moved her corporate offices to Villanova and opened her first physical store out front to help defray the rent. “It would be a dumb move not to,” Lerch tells SAVVY.
For now, Lisi Lerch Bungalow Boutique will only carry her own brand – affordable statement earrings, jewelry, handbags and hats – and her new clothing and shoe label, LibbyKat, geared to young adults and priced under $100.
But that may change, too. “I have so many creative brand friends,” Lerch says. “I hope to host popup trunk shows for them once a week.”
Who knows? Maybe one of those Housewives or Hiltons who like to sport Lerch’s sparklers might pop up one day, too.
Lisi Lerch Bungalow Boutique, 615 Conestoga Rd., Villanova, is open Tues. – Sat, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., 484-580-8840.
The As have it! Addison Bay activewear expands from Addison Street to Avalon to Ardmore
Add another sporty shop to the multitude of athletic offerings in Suburban Square. Addison Bay opened to long lines of eager shoppers a few weeks ago.
Ardmore is the four-year-old company’s second physical store. An AB boutique opened in Avalon in 2021.
In the early days, Addison Bay strictly sold other high-end athleisure labels online. Now it private labels its wares: colorful, elevated varsity/prep-style workout and sportswear for “girls on the go” of all ages.
The brand’s founder is one of those girls.
A lacrosse player at Penn Charter and UVA, Marguerite Adzick left a job at Lilly Pulitzer when she was six months pregnant with her first child to start a company that would merge her passions for fitness and fashion. “Addison” refers to her charming Philadelphia street and “Bay” is her fave swimming hole: 7th Street bay in Avalon.
Four years later, she’s about to have her third child.
Let’s see: that’s one new fashion brand and online shop, two boutiques and three babies in four years. Such an under-achiever.
Addison Bay, 40 Coulter Ave., Suburban Square Ardmore, is open daily 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sundays 12 to 6.
A bittersweet ending for beloved Berwyn bakery
Sweet Jazmine’s is about to bake its last cake.
The Berwyn Village bakery – a 23-year mainstay on Bridge Ave. – will stop taking orders in mid November and close for good on Nov. 23.
Berwyn Fire Company, the sweet shop’s landlord and next-door neighbor, needs the property for its new, state-of-the-art fire station.
The bakery building could be razed as early as January, Berwyn Fire Co. President Tom Torreson tells SAVVY. Torreson wasn’t sure how Sweet Jazmine’s owner would take the news but he needn’t have worried.
“It’s not like we’re getting kicked out,” says baker Kim Cuthbert. “We knew this was coming in the next few years.”
In fact, Cuthbert sounds positively pumped for her next chapter.
After working 12-hour days for more than two decades, she’s “ready to see what weekends are like.” At 53, she wants to spend more time with her husband, her son and her parents, who are “a young 80,” she says.
And it’s not like she’ll be hanging up her apron altogether.
Cuthbert plans to write a cookbook and hopes to sell her famed sweet potato muffin mix nationally – she’s already scouting commercial kitchen space.
She’s considering calling her muffin company Sweet Jazmine’s Too. So the bakery’s name might just outlive us all.
Rodeo Drive meets Lancaster Ave. in Wayne
Boyds isn’t the only new higher-end fashion house in Wayne. JWH Boutique debuted in mid-summer at the old Mattress Factory/Tehrani Bros. rug showroom.
“We’re bringing Beverly Hills to the Main Line,” enthuses Haitian-born owner Hillary White Jean, who operated a much smaller shop a block away for several months last year and moved for the added space and visibility.
In the process, she changed the store’s name from HJ Boutique to JWH Boutique – a backward play on her initials – and no longer sells vintage clothing and accessories.
What she does carry are higher-end designer labels new to the Main Line: Camilla Australia, Anne Fontaine Paris, Mestiza New York, and Project Runway’s Caycee Black.
And to ensure you won’t see your twin at the party, JWH Boutique only stocks two sizes of each style.
The nearly 4,000 sq. ft. store has room for a menswear section, a smattering of kiddie clothes, and few racks of discounted duds bearing designer labels like Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta that Jean says she scored at their NYC showrooms.
Prices run the gamut. Some fashion jewelry is well under $100 while many dresses are $600 and up.
JWH Boutique, 209 E. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-321-3434.
This and That
A second outpost of West Chester’s Mercato Ristorante and Bar just opened near the Regal Cinemas in Edgemont.
The western Main Line is mourning the loss of the extraordinarily talented Everett Beauregard, 23. The Great Valley grad and Temple alum was senselessly shot and killed near Drexel’s campus last week. A nature enthusiast, birder, music lover and National Merit Scholar who ran track and participated in the U.S. Geography Olympiad, National History Bee and Quiz Bowl in high school, Beauregard was attacked by a lone gunman at 34th and Market just before 12:30 a.m. last Thursday. After viewing surveillance video, police believe this was a random shooting – not an attempted robbery – and are offering a $20,000 reward in the case. Drexel police have stepped up patrols in the area and suggest students use their campus escort service at night. Beauregard’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 30 at St. Francis in the Fields in Malvern. See his full obituary here.
After nine years, 30 Main in Berwyn is a bistro and bar no longer. It closed for renovations over the summer and reopened in September as a two-level private event and entertainment venue. Coming soon: Ladies nights, comedy shows and live music.
After a slew of negative emails which they called “vitriolic” and “hate-filled”, West Chester officials cancelled what would have been the borough’s first OUTFest on Oct. 1, National Coming Out Day. Critics, including the Chesco Republican Committee, opposed the appearance of drag queens on borough streets. The President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, which was involved in planning the event, got an earful, too. In an extraordinary “open letter to our community,” CEO Denise Day called the emails she received “disconcerting” and “hurtful” and said “canceling events, boycotting people or organizations or sending hateful emails does not facilitate growth or change – it simply polarizes us.” Area YMCAs will make DEI a key component of their yearlong Kindness Initiative, Day wrote. West Chester plans a much smaller celebration on Oct. 1: a 2 p.m. rally on the courthouse steps and an after-party – with drag queens – at the Split Rail Tavern.
In a move that will impact Main Line Health’s ERs, Delaware County Memorial Hospital is set to close in two months. The 95-year-old hospital will become a 100-bed behavioral health center with acute psychiatric care, acute detox/rehab, geriatric psychiatry and crisis care services. It’s part of a system-wide restructuring by Crozer Health. Delco Memorial’s patient counts have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Tredyffrin is talking trash. The township is looking into switching to a single waste/recycling hauler now that Republic Services has pulled out of town. (Current haulers are A.J. Blosenski, which was recently bought out, and Whitetail Disposal.) The township believes moving to a municipal system could provide economies of scale and lower costs to residents.
Tredyffrin also just hopped on the plastic ban-wagon. Supervisors voted 5 to 1 for a new ordinance that penalizes merchants for dispensing single-use plastic bags. The ban goes into effect in six months.
While we’re on the subject, be sure to bring your own bags to Wegmans. If you forget, you’ll be charged five cents per paper bag. (Proceeds go to United Way.) Wegmans stopped plastic-bag use in its PA stores on Sept. 22.
Lights out for Bed Bath & Beyond in Wynnewood. The store is on a list of 56 BB&Bs slated for closure. Exton and King of Prussia stores are safe … for now.
Calling all blazer mavens. Veronica Beard – the label known for its well-cut women’s jackets – is opening in Suburban Square across from Lululemon.
More Anglophiles will enjoy A Taste of Britain now that the popular Wayne tea room/market has expanded into the old Ellie’s space. If construction wraps up on time, you’ll be able to sit down for a cuppa beginning Saturday, Oct. 1.
Lower Merion patrol officers and sergeants have lost faith in their chief. All 73 active members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 28 passed a no-confidence vote against Superintendent Michael McGrath. A 40-year veteran of the force, McGrath has been top dog since 2009. According to an Inky report, morale is low and officers believe McGrath plays favorites and protects command staff loyal to him. McGrath has denied the charges.
Bryn Mawr’s Kirna Zabête announced plans for three new stores in the next 15 months: on the Upper East Side, Nashville and Miami. The Soho-chic, high-end designer boutique opened in Bryn Mawr Village six years ago.
For 36 years it was Michael’s Deli, a King of Prussia mainstay. In 2021, it became the KOP Diner. Now, it’s the bi-level KOP Tavern: dining and drinking on the top floor, game room below – pool tables, darts, pinball, air hockey and PA Skills games.
The Upper Main Line Y is again offering free memberships to 7th-graders.
St. Monica’s in Berwyn rings in 125 years with a Fall Fest Sunday, Oct. 2, noon to 4. All the Village favorites will be on hand, including Handel’s Ice Cream, La Cabra Brewing, Berwyn Tavern and more. Live music, kids’ games, bounce house, balloons and more. And for bigger kids: the Eagles game will be livestreamed. St. Monica’s original church, built in 1897, was destroyed by fire in 1991. The parish school closed ten years ago. About 1,000 families are registered parishioners.
While a teen-led campaign to put a bicycle pump track gains speed in Tredyffrin’s Wilson Farm Park, some Malvern neighbors hope to stall a pump track in the borough. A residents group is circulating a petition opposing plans to clear cut part of Randolph Woods to create the bicycle course. The group believes an alternative site nearby would save the trees and cost less.
Sustainable fashion is hot hot hot. Hence the recent openings of surfer-chic Faherty in Suburban Square next to Warby Parker and ethically-sourced Everlane at the KOP Mall near Pottery Barn.
Montco native and CNBC “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer will be signing bottles of his wife’s Fósforo Mezcal Tobala at the Ardmore Fine Wine & Good Spirits store Saturday, Oct. 1 from noon to 2. Jim and Nancy Cramer have become so loco for the smoky Mexican spirit, they bottled their own.
Don’t you be dissin’ my high school. That, in effect, was CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s hot take on PA gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s claim that Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr (formerly Akiba} was “one of the most privileged schools in the nation” and “an exclusive elite” school.
“Philadelphia has a ton of fancy prep schools but Akiba … is not one of them,” said Tapper, a proud Class of ’87 alum who pointed out that more than 60% of Barrack students get help with tuition and the school welcomes students of all socio-economic backgrounds. Mastriano called out the Jewish school as elitist because his opponent, Josh Shapiro, is an alum (Class of ’91) and has sent his four kids there.
And finally, a cool new spot to get your scare on. Deluged by Hurricane Ida last September, the old Mad River Bar & Grille building in Manayunk is returning from the dead as a large-scale Halloween attraction. Open from Oct. 7 to Nov. 5, Lincoln Mill Haunted House will feature 40 creepy actors, production-quality sets and props, animatronics and whiz-bang special effects. A $29 ticket will scare you silly.
Joanne Fabrizio says
West Chester was touting the OUTFest as family friendly. That is the only reason people had an issue.
Regarding the use of plastic trash bags …. the sales of GLAD and HEFTY and Dollar store suppliers of small bags has gone thru the roof .. all those Single use from the stores had a PURPOSE… including doggie ” walking” clean up …we are now going to be buying box after box of smaller sized bags for our trash cans, bathroom buckets / etc etc and the jobs lost at those plastic bag factories !!! ?? where is the sense in this?
Lisa and Caroline says
Interesting point. Like you, our household “recycled” plastic bags for assorted other uses.
Please stop now says
You had me until:
“””That’s why they “teach failure” from the youngest grades, says O’Rourke-Barrett, the Projects and history teacher, who admits to sometimes sabotaging the work of hyper-perfectionists so they can experience failure. She might remove a crucial Lego piece or tell a student her measurements are wrong – even when they’re right.””
This is called gas lighting. It’s extremely damaging, especially to young children. It causes confusion and leads children to doubt themselves and their reality. The resulting cognitive dissonance makes kids feel unworthy and creates anxiety and depression.
You have a great product, but this tactic is a real show stopper.
Amy Stoios says
Thank you so much for your comment and the opportunity to provide some context about how we teach resilience and celebrate failure at Grayson.
Many gifted children can be perfectionists, and may have never experienced great challenges, never had to ask for help, or never had to put significant effort into school as they are able to be successful in (what for them may be) nominal work.
With the support and guidance of our faculty, our students are challenged, and at times provided obstacles, to allow them to take tremendous risks and try audacious things. By supporting and strengthening their cognitive and social-emotional skills to deal with failure — our students learn resilience — which is of course the result of overcoming failure.
Our focus on authentic practice provides our gifted students with the experience of not always having the resources or tools to easily achieve a goal, not to create doubt or anxiety, but to build self-esteem, deal with change in a positive way, and expand their thinking to consider new ideas and possibilities. We prepare our students for the real-world challenges they will face as life-long learners, business leaders, scientists, mathematicians, designers, builders, and innovators.
Please stop now says
Thank-you so much for your reply.
Sabotaging the work of students so they can experience failure is not an authentic practice which provides gifted students with the experience of not always having the resources or tools to easily achieve a goal. Removing a crucial Lego piece or telling a student her measurements are wrong – even when they’re right does not build self-esteem, or deal with change in a positive way. It doesn’t expand their thinking to consider new ideas and possibilities. It makes them feel confused and it makes them focus on trying to get a right answer when they already have the right answer yet they’re being told they don’t have the right answer. This does not prepare students for the real-world challenges they will face as life-long learners, business leaders, scientists, mathematicians, designers, builders, and innovators. It sets them up for feeling lost and confused which leads to anxiety and depression.
You don’t need to trick kids into learning about failure. Everyone gifted or not learns failure on their own through everyday life.
You say in the article above:
“Families gravitate to Grayson because their children were bored, acting out, coasting or just plain lonely at their old schools.
“Because gifted kids tend to know everything, they’re allowed to sit in the back of the classroom and read,” says Amy Stoios, Director of Education at Grayson. “That starts to create this separation from their peers. Some are bullied. Some start misbehaving because they’re frustrated and their intellectual needs aren’t being addressed. We often see a completely different child once they’re here.”
It doesn’t sound like your students need to be taught failure. It’s why they’re at Grayson. Give them encouragement and praise them for their strengths instead of making them question what they know is right which teaches kids to feel helpless and doubt themselves.