Friday, September 28, 2012

The Saint James Place Sets an Opening Date

It's October 9, and here's what you get to look forward to....


ARDMORE, PA – In early fall, two of the area’s top restaurateurs, Rob Wasserman and Chef Michael Schulson, will team up to debut The Saint James (30 Parking Plaza, 610-649-6200), an American bistro that brings exceptional food, drinks and hospitality to Suburban Square.  Featuring an affordable and contemporary menu of satisfying cuisine and three distinct dining areas, The Saint James will reflect the new standards for excellence in restaurants.  It will bring avid diners of the Main Line what they’ve been asking for:  a refined neighborhood restaurant with approachable food that is simply and perfectly prepared in a stylish and welcoming setting.
“Michael and I have known for a while that we wanted to open a restaurant together,” says Wasserman, who lived in Bala Cynwyd with deep family ties to the Main Line, and whose Rouge on Rittenhouse Square is a Philadelphia institution.  “When we found this space, we knew it was the right time and the right place.  For me, it’s good to be back and we’re both excited to be a part of this vibrant community.”
A television personality with all-American good looks, Chef Schulson is a gifted, Long Island-born chef who has earned a sterling reputation for his expert hand at modern Asian cooking at his restaurants Sampan in Center City, Philadelphia and Izakaya at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, NJ.
The Saint James menu will be Chef Schulson’s culinary return to his East Coast roots and the foods that inspire him to cook, every day.  It will be overseen by Executive Chef Matt Moon, who has worked in top kitchens in Philadelphia and, for the past year, alongside Chef Schulson.  Guests may enjoy hearty oven-roasted and grilled items along with a host of satisfying sides.  Dishes will include:  Trout Dip with “everything” bagel chips; Peekytoe Crab Toast with lemon aioli and dill; Grilled Flatiron Steak with shallot and compound butter; Grilled Tuna Steak with avocado, tomato and chili; Roasted Half-Chicken with lemon marmalade and celery; a variety of sandwiches such as Shrimp Roll with butter lettuce, lemon and tarragon, and The Saint James’ take on the iconic Philadelphia Pork Sandwich, with spicy kale and sharp provolone.  Delicious sides will include:  Cauliflower Gratin; Roasted Beets with horseradish; and Haricot Verts with house-made lemon vinaigrette.  There will also be an extensive Raw Bar, with Tuna Tartare, Oysters on the half shell, Crab Salad and more.  In addition to the regular menu, The Saint James will offer Daily Specials.  Dishes will range in price from $6 to $24.
“This is the kind of back-to-basics food that I prepare at home for my family and friends – grilled meat and fish that is juicy, vegetables at the height of their freshness with simple vinaigrettes and marinades that make the flavors of each ingredient sing,” adds Chef Schulson.
To complement the dishes, the knowledgeable and well-trained staff of The Saint James, operating under General Manager Ryan Reigel, will offer a variety of wines by-the-glass and in bottles, ranging in price from $8 to $12 for glass pours and mostly $30 to $60 for bottles.  A well-focused local craft beer list and a wealth of hand-crafted cocktails based on modern versions of classic drinks will also be served.  Beers and cocktails will range in price from $5 to $12
The welcoming, 120-seat restaurant is designed by Chris Sheffield of Philadelphia’s SLDesign.  The rustic-modern space has two expansive rooms separated by a skylit foyer:  the main dining room and the bar.  The main dining room is outlined with plush leather booths, wrapping around the entire space and enclosing a grouping of sturdy wooden tables and chairs in the center of the room.  In the bar, the showpiece is the 20-foot-long bar with comfortable leather-trimmed stools surrounded by ample booth seating.  Both rooms, fronted by floor-to-ceiling windows, are family-friendly and open, offering comfortable seating for groups of any size, including accommodations for private parties.  Detailed with elegant wooden moldings and skylights, each room has custom tiled floors and glossy white brick walls that pop in the ample natural light.
Expanding onto the Square’s stone courtyard is the restaurant’s 50-seat landscaped outdoor seating area.  Guided by Wasserman’s expertise at Rouge, one of Philadelphia’s best-loved and most enduring sidewalk cafes, the seasonal patio will be open throughout the warm weather months, sure to become the area’s top spot to see-and-be-seen.
Both Wasserman and Chef Schulson have traveled extensively across America and abroad, and they frequent the country’s most successful new restaurants.  Together with their team, they will bring the flawless service, thoughtful cooking, artful cocktails and casually elegant atmosphere that are the new standards of America’s dining scene to The Saint James.
The Saint James will be open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until midnight and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m.  Valet service will be available after 5 p.m.  For more information, or to make a reservation, please call (610) 649-6200, visit, follow them on Twitter (@St_JamesPhilly) and like them on Facebook (Saint James Philadelphia).

More From Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co Plus Playboy stops by to Party

All year long swarms of investigative reporters from Playboy ping-pong across the nation, hitting juke joints, mixology meccas, beach bars and dives by the dozen. "We look under every maraschino cherry, jotting down notes on wet napkins with steeled nerves and steady hands. To make our bar guide as definitive as possible, we spare lots of sleep and no expense. If you know of a drinking establishment that belongs on this list, clue us in."
Principal owners Chris Doggett and Chris Gali with friends at last week's Playboy party hosted by Tanqueray at The Franklin
— celebrating Playboy's Best Bars in America.

The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co. (Philadelphia)
Named for the company that served as the front for what was once the largest illicit booze ring in the country, this establishment (above right) is an homage to the pre-Prohibition era: the style, architecture, music, even the lightbulbs—and, yes, the drinks. (

 Justin Pizzi and guest
Chef Shola Olunloyo and Nicole Rossi stop by too
 Christian LeCornu [Gabello Studios] and guest
 Franklin GM Christina Rando
  Josh and Kristina Jenkins [Where Magazine]
Kylie Flett and Evan Connolly  

 Meredith Lindemon, Alexis Lerro, James Zeleniak of PUNCH Media
Folks from Playboy
Lots of smiles checking out the latest issues
The Franklin’s Al Sotack, Christina Rando and Aaron Siak
Yesterday I reported that Franklin was expanding into the upper floor of the building where they are located. A move much anticipated by everyone since the bar is just exploding with accolades every month. In the afternoon Eater's Colin Flatt posted an interview with  The Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. owner Mike Welsh "We're going to use the space for R&D, and we're also probably going to open a teaching environment, so people can learn about cocktails and liquor," Welsh told Eater, as well as a spill over waiting area for people cooling their heels to get into the main bar. No reason to have them freeze outside waiting to get into the party. Most importantly my article dispelled their original plan which was to open a noodle house in the space, which I always found to be odd. Maybe a story just to float out since we have such a ravenous foodie community. (eater)
 P.S. No one on this page tipped me off to the above story, which I sat on for about 2 weeks til I could shoot yesterdays photos.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Juliet Simms & Tony Vincent (& Andy Biersack) - Parx Casino Concert

After landing spots on the NBC hit singing competition "The Voice", Juliet Simms and Tony Vincent make their Parx Casino debut last Friday, September 21st – Juliet Simms, who killed it in her blind audition doing the Beatles "Oh Darling"; which she later told me was performed after a 3 hour sleep because she had to wait up til 2AM the night before to hear if she was picked for the show, and eventually she ended up being the second season runner-up, along with Broadway star and The Voice's famed contestant, Tony Vincent, took to the Parx Casino 360 stage for a live concert.

The show began at 8pm and attracted fans from around the region including NYC. DJ MARIA LAINA
did the hosting duties in her the beautiful and talented way she does things.

Tony Vincent sang his heart out. He reminds me of Rufus Wainwright with all the emotional and drama in his song choices.

 Juliet Simms reminds me of a kick ass rock star. She has amazing talent and stage presence.

Juliet Simms belted out one of her signature songs:  It's a Man's World
 After the performance there was a Q&A session that will focused on their experience with The Voice and they discussed their futures.Tony wants to move away from Broadway even though he found great success there with Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar and American Idiot in 2010

 The crowd was strong with lots of questions from their fans. Juliet Simms fans were out in droves.
 A meet and greet continued with guests in the 360 nightclub until 10pm.
 Fans of all ages
 I love how Parx Casino provided the photos to be autographed, very helpful.

 So excited to meet her idol.
I really have a lot of respect for the people who appear on The Voice. They've been in the business for awhile and most are at a crux in their career on whether to go forward or find an office job. They have paid their dues and for what ever reason the door to stardom did not open. I think even getting airplay and not getting selected at the Blind Audition is a success for that artist.
 Check out this rocker fur. She reminds me of a fiesty Janis Joplin. Juliet later told me that that was an honored comparison, but she was going to make a mark on the world all her own.
Andy Biersack of the  Black Veil Brides nearby his lady love Juliet Simms as Tony Vincent signs for a fan
 Tony Vincent and Juliet Simms post together in front of the step and repeat at Parx Casino
 See my signature here?  Parx Casino sometimes auctions these off for charity. How much would you pay for this one?
  Andy Biersack, Juliet Simms and I sat down (with Parx marketing & advertising director Carrie Nork Minelli) after the meet and greet and had a bite to eat. I found the duo to be fascinating, Mensa intelligent, and not too bad on the eyes. Tell me she doesn't look like a young Demi Moore here?
Juliet Simms and her boyfriend Andy Biersack of Black Veil Bride, who she had met on the Vans Warped Tour, 2010. Unlike American Idol, The Voice is for more seasoned performers, singers with a proven track record (she had been touring for several years with her band Automatic Loveletter) but ones that just haven't reached the next step yet. A singer songwriter, she was sought out to audition for The Voice (and encouraged to participate by Andy who had seen season one of "The Voice" while laid up in bed from jumping off a balcony and breaking nearly every rib on his left side, during a stage performance with his band), which was a 3 month process before "the blind audition" in front of judges Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, and Cee Lo Green. 

The show has the contestants review nearly 200 songs. They then pick 75 favorites in the order of their appeal. As they get closer to the "blind audition" everything happens in a frenetic pace; being moved from one hotel to another climbing the ladder closer to the "blind audition." You see they might bring several hundred people to Hollywood to audition, then they wittle it down to 200, then 148 then during the blind audition it gets down to the 48 individuals that must compete each other for the title.  After killing it with "Oh Darling", Cee Loo, Christina and Adam Levine turned around; She choose to work Cee Lo Green and picked up your life and move to Hollywood to obtain the title of "The Voice". It was a life changing experience for her, but also exhausting to the finale where she was fairly ill for her last performance when she sang "Free Bird," and when you see the video, triumphantly, and although she didn't win as the voice 2012, I would say 2013 looks to be a year of fantastic success for her, talent and the love and support of Andy Biersack.  And then lots of off the record conversation was held, but stay tune...

Parx Casino®, largest and most impressive Pennsylvania casino, is owned and operated by Greenwood Gaming and Entertainment, Inc. Parx Casino is conveniently located 20 minutes north of center city Philadelphia, I-95 exit 37 or PA Turnpike exit 351(westbound), exit 352 (eastbound) onto Street Road in Bensalem. Parx features 164,000 square feet of gaming; 3,500  slot machines; 120 live table games; 60 poker tables; live racing & simulcast action; Parxgrill, an upscale signature steakhouse; Foodies food court, Chickie’s & Pete’s, 360 bar and nightclub; Jax sports bar, Finish Line bar, SangKee Noodle Bar and complimentary parking for over 5,000 cars. For more information on Parx Casino, visit

Bar Notes: Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. On The Move

The accolades for

Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co. (112 S. 18th St.) keep rolling in, so it's not especially surprising that they changed their minds from opening a noodle restaurant in the old Liquid Hair Studios, above the bar, and instead just expanded the bar upwards into the space.








Word on the street is the opening is within a few weeks.
I stopped by Tuesday and found the place wrapped tight, but there was a little itty bitty rip in the paper near the door, but I was blinded by the light fixture that was shining brightly inside. Can't wait to see the place.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Party Notes: Jason Matthews & Knit Wit Celebrate Fashion Night Out

A few weeks ago Jason Matthew Salon and Knit Wit participated in Fashion Night Out
Christie Honigman, Melody Isis, and Jennifer Bisicchia

Ann Gitter- Knit Wit, Emily Goulet - Philadelphia Magazine, Melanie Johnson - City Rep of Philadelphia. - Melanie Johnson was key in creating the Philadelphia Collection, along with CCD's Michelle Shannon. It was marketing genius to marry the excitement of fashion and center city retail. It was Emily Goulet - Philadelphia Magazine and Rakia Reynolds persistence to bring "Fashion Night Out" to Philadelphia. Which was a few days before the Fashion Collection began, but the enthusiasm of the month made both events seem seamless.
Jill Snyder,  Sean McKeever, (are both styling apprentices at Jason Matthews) and Jessica Carfagno.
Jason Matthews recently relocated from Walnut Street to 1735 Chestnut Street  Philadelphia, PA
 Uri Jacobson, Jennifer Bisicchia and Uriel Tedg. Another famous Jennifer gets her hair done by Jennifer Bisicchia; none other than Jen Utley, who told me Sunday night that before she attended Style Wars she stopped by to get her hair done by Jen (she was with her when she was at Giovanni Pileggi too) Another tidbit, last night Jen Utley was feted by her girlfriends (Sabrina T, Nicole C and Lauren C) as they headed over to Hop Sing Laundromat
for a cocktail before heading to Vietnam for dinner. Jen is headed back to LA cause baseball season is over.

Then we headed downstairs to check out the latest in retail therapy at Knit Wit with  Katie Karlsen, Katie English, and Aaron Pierce, Commonwealth Proper

Whose Fall Social is Oct 4th, 5-7 PM

Join us at our Rittenhouse Showroom for a taste of whiskey and good company We look forward to seeing you.  Please RSVP here.
 Stephanie Davidow Schultz, Deb Avtaza, and Robin Gitzes.
 Nicole Allen and Debbie Chandler
 Kristin Munro - Philly Style Magazine, Jamie Reibenbach- Addison RE, and Paige Wolf - PR

 Angela Monaco of Concrete Polish Jewels.
Fashion plate on the town: Michelle Boyles - South Philly Fashionista, Brett Coppol - Metro Philly. Just walked in the Rittenhouse Row Fall Fashion show with South Moon Under duds. After a year with Where Magazine, he returned to his old stomping grounds, Metro Philly and was reunited with Boyles and it feels so good.
Kristine and Lindsy Ray of Church Street Studios

 Emilie Pitts, Lyndsy Vaul, Alexandra Sobol, and Tiffany Marini

 Alexis Udine, Laura Stortz, Mollie Elkman, and Becca Lehr. Another of my favorite stylists at Jason Matthews is Josh Demarco. Check him out, handsome and talented.

Taylor Ciallella and Ali Ciotto 
Coming up next for Christie & Katie is planning the Harry Potter week in Chestnut Hill.
A few of the highlights coming up in Chestnut Hill:
  • Book Festival September 30th (Ed Rendell is keynote)
  • Fall for the Arts Festival October 7th
  • Harry Potter Festival October 27th weekend

    Thanks to Mike Hirata for shooting this party for