The easiest way to be in the know.
It’s Friday, February 25. Happy Friday! West Chester’s new Restaurant Week is almost here. How it works and who’s participating. Plus, a West Chester student sends out a survey that enrages the internet – fortunately most of West Chester manages to keep calm and carry on, the consequences of West Chester’s vaccine mandate, and hey sir, why are you picking on the West Chester Railroad? It’s been an interesting week. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
Restaurant Week is here.
Last month the West Chester Business Improvement District announced it would be hosting a full-fledged West Chester Restaurant Week. The event which starts on Sunday and runs through March 6 is being billed as a chance to “support some of the restaurants you know and love” or as an opportunity “to try something new!” all for a pre-set price. Sounds exciting, right?
Sorry, I still have pandemic-brain. Remind me, what is Restaurant Week again?
Good question. I thought I knew too but then I was not so sure. I know Philly holds a big one. I am even pretty sure, I took advantage of it a lifetime ago when I still met friends out for dinner after work, but as I started to summarize this week for you I realized I had some pretty big knowledge gaps. So, I reached out to Erin Taggert at Mae’s West Chester and she helped walk me through the basics.
Me: So, how does it work? Do I need tickets or do I just show up at my favorite place and say I am here for Restaurant Week?
Erin explained, very politely, Restaurant Week is more like a week-long special menu, like the kind you saw for Valentine’s Day. It is an option to try several dishes prepared by the restaurant for a set price. You don’t need tickets but she would recommend reservations.
“I would recommend reservations. It just gives restaurants a chance to staff appropriately,” Erin said. But if you do make reservations, keep your reservations. There have been several incidents reported of restaurants being stood up with last minute cancellations or no shows. Hard at the best of times, detrimental with things already so tight.
“The summer is great and then you get hit with the cold weather months and Omicron,” Erin said. “The restaurants are just getting killed again.”
Me: What do I get if I choose the RW menu?
The specific offerings will, of course, vary by restaurant but all participating restaurants have agreed to provide a “multi-course” meal for a prixe fixe, or set amount. Meal costs are set at $30, $40 or $50 depending on establishment but the number of courses can vary. At Mae’s for example you will get a choice of an app, main course and dessert for $40. At MeatballU, it’s an app to share and two dinners for $30.
“The price is nice. The portions might be smaller but you get the concept and feel of what the restaurant is trying to do,” Erin says.
Me: What if someone in my party can’t have something on the RW menu or would prefer to stick with their usual?
Mae’s is offering a couple of choices per course – including one vegetarian option. The Social Lounge lists three different options for its app and three options for its main, with a whiskey bread pudding nightcap. Regular menu options will also be available for patrons who prefer not to participate.
“We tried to provide different options on the prix fixe menu but if you have a dietary restriction, if you are gluten free, for example, – Josh can usually accommodate it,” Erin said of Mae’s Executive Chef Josh Taggert. Remember that is at Mae’s. I am not sure if all restaurants are able to make substitutions.
Me: So how many restaurants are participating?
Erin told me there are currently 25 downtown restaurants participating. This is a great turnout but I did a little research and there are a couple notable exceptions – Andiario for one. If you had been hoping to try West Chester’s critical darling (see below), this is not that chance. However, Spence Café, another nationally acclaimed WC restaurant, is participating. (Although, not the whole week. According to a sign on their door they have been closed the past week for kitchen renovations and won’t reopen until March 2.)
Bar Avalon is not participating, sharing on Instagram, “We don’t need a restaurant week to offer value. We do it every Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday with our Plate Dujour Price Fix.” So, you can always try to squeeze them in on Wednesday, Thursday or Sunday and pretend they are participating. Also, out Teca, Roots, and Tsunami. Otherwise, the West Chester restaurant world is your oyster – yes, they are participating too.
“I think it’s a great time to try someplace new. Step out of your box. When we worked in Philly, despite being slammed, we would always pick someplace new to try. Experience something we might not otherwise get to,” Erin said.
So there you go. Get out there and get your reservations. Just remember to keep those reservations and rejoice in all the many ways you can dine out in West Chester.
Careful what you ask for in your research survey. The people of the internet will be outraged. This week West Chester Area School District shared it had taken down a student survey after the political nature of the questions were found to be concerning to some parents – or rather, some people on the internet. The survey, which somehow found its way onto “LibsofTikTok”, a West Chester-based news organization… I’m kidding. It’s not. LibsofTikTok, ironically on Twitter, is run by an “independent” yet anonymous “journalist” based-out of California, who has run up quite the following finding things to be outraged about on the internet. Well, this week she was tipped off to a survey sent out by a West Chester student to classmates asking questions such as “To the best of your knowledge, in the most recent 2020 presidential election who was your father most likely to vote for.”
A screenshot of the survey was promptly shared by the Twitter account with the following tweet:
Students at @WestChesterASD were given a detailed survey inquiring about their parents’ political views including who they voted for in 2020 and where they get their news from. Why would the school need to know this?
Of course, the school didn’t need to know it because they were not the ones asking, but let’s not let the truth get in the way – people were very concerned.
Mike Nalett from Phoenix tweeted, “How was this allowed in the first place. Investigation needs to be done. They only motivations behind this have to be Bad.”
And Z from Colorado also via Twitter insisted, “Someone needs to step down for this. It’s not acceptable.”
The West Chester Area School District did eventually respond to the concerns of these random people. Clarifying that, “The survey being shared was created as part of a student’s advanced placement project & intended only to assist with the student’s research. All AP surveys are completely voluntary & anonymous.” They also stated that the survey was removed, the responses deleted and that they would review their procedures to “ensure that future student research projects and distribution occur in a fashion consistent with Board policy.”
However, Sue from Chattanooga, was not convinced, “This was a minimum effort answer no one believes. We see you. Everyone sees you.”
Apparently, Sue. Apparently. Well, personally I think Zach Tolsdorf, a senior at Rustin, said it best.
“I am in the class where this survey was made, it was student-created and made to research how parent’s political affiliation influences the politics of their children. Chill with the inflated sense of self-importance and realize nobody is out to get your “sensitive” information.”
Especially as none of you appear to be from around here. Also this week…
Better to enrage the internet, than the West Chester PD. West Chester police apprehended three minors after it was discovered they stole a vehicle from the 200 block of East Chestnut Street. The vehicle was returned and the kids released to their parents.
Always check your surroundings. Police are looking for three men wanted in connection with a robbery that took place at the Sharpless Street parking garage on Saturday. Sharpless Street garage is a pass-only garage on the WCU campus, no daily or hourly parking is allowed at the facility. WCU police are handling the investigation. If you have any information, please let them know at 610-436-3311.
The West Chester railroad has enough problems, let it be. Ricardo Ferrer-Cruz of West Chester was arrested last week after it was discovered 35 steel railroad-track tie plates had been stolen from the West Chester Railroad. He is being charged with removing the ties and trying to sell them for scrap. Seems like a lot of work to me.
Finally, have you seen these men? West Chester police are seeking assistance in locating two similarly-styled gentlemen (suspect A, suspect B) wanted for the theft of credit cards from a patron at a West Chester restaurant last summer. They are also seeking assistance in identifying a porch bandit that struck the 100 block of W. Barnard Street. If you know any of their whereabouts contact the West Chester Police Department at 610-436-1337.
How about this one? West Chester University Police are looking for Freddie Nunez, 24, wanted for questioning in a domestic assault incident that took place on campus on Tuesday. Mr. Nunez is not a WCU student.
Congratulations to Anthony Andiario, of West Chester’s own Andiario’s. Mr. Andiario has been named a semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region. The 20 semifinalists in the competitive Mid-Atlantic division, which also includes chefs from Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and D.C., will be winnowed down by James Beard voters and the winners announced at a ceremony this summer in Chicago. Mr. Andiario is not exactly new to the prestigious James Beard Foundation. He previously worked under James Beard award-winner Chris Bianco in Arizona and in 2019, Andiario, was named a semi-finalist for best new restaurant.
Also, a shout out to all the West Chester track and field athletes that have qualified for the PTFCA Indoor State Championships this Sunday at Penn State. West Chester had more than 20 athletes qualify in 16 events. You can find the full list of participants here.
Also, this weekend state tournaments in wrestling and swimming. Good luck runners, jumpers, swimmers and wrestlers. Here’s hoping to see your name here next week!
Say hello to the light. Last week the borough announced it had finally begun work on its street light upgrade project. After more than a year of planning, ordering and aligning Lenni Electric has begun installing new nodes on the borough’s approximately 1000 street lights.
The installation is expected to be completed in five months. At which time the borough should once again have control of its street lights and can turn them on and off to its heart’s desire.
While we’re here, let’s also welcome Isabelle Marrone at Awaken Permanent Cosmetics. Isabelle, a certified permanent makeup artist, recently opened her ode to low-maintenance living (after a few enhancing procedures, of course) on E. Gay Street. Swing by to say hi and get a free brow consultation.
Finally, say hello to a little extra cash in the borough coffers. Last week, Borough Council decided by a vote of 6 to 1 to deny Chester County’s request for partial exoneration of real estate taxes required on a property purchased last year. After the county closed on 313 W. Market Street they promptly filed for tax-exempt status which was granted in May but under PA law that status does not go into effect until the following year. Chester County was hoping West Chester would waive the $79,148.14 due in taxes from the purchase date until the tax exempt status went into effect on January 1. They would not, but don’t feel too bad for the county. That $80K is the last tax revenue we will be collecting on that property for quite some time.
Former West Chester Mayor and current PA State Representative Dianne Herrin announced this week she is ready to say goodbye to public life. In an interview with the Daily Local she shared her frustrations with legislating at the state level. “There are essentially two people — the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader, both with the majority party — who completely control the movement of all proposed legislation. So, even if a bill has solid bipartisan support, it is not likely to go anywhere,” she told the paper. Hours after her official announcement not to seek a second term, two new candidates shared they were ready to step up to the challenge.
While her time in Harrisburg was short, her run will likely have a long-term effect on the borough. Currently making its way through Borough Council and likely onto the spring ballot are changes to the borough’s home rule charter that would limit the number of elected offices a West Chester official can hold. Currently there are no such restrictions and this led to both Carolyn Comitta and Diane Herrin holding two offices simultaneously. Both served as State Representative and Mayor of West Chester for a short period before resigning their positions as mayor.
Both chose to hold off on resigning because resigning prior to being sworn in would have in their view led to a confusing number of interim mayors leading the Borough. However, not all were satisfied with this response. Opponents to the decision called the holding of multiple offices at worst a conflict of interest and at best a time strain on the office holder. They have asked that the Charter be amended to keep this from happening again. This position has gained support and Council Members and their legal council are in the process of trying to resolve the issue while also simplifying the transition process (aka the number of interim mayors needed). More clarity around a final solution is expected soon at which time we can all enjoy a fun Borough civics lesson. Stay tuned.
Also, say goodbye to (most) West Chester teams in the basketball postseason. Perhaps it was a case of too much excitement but after riding a high last week – both Rustin girls and East boys claimed the top spot in their respective Ches-Mont postseason, while Henderson boys pulled off an upset win on Friday over Great Valley – things did not go as planned this week. East boys, Henderson boys, Rustin boys, and Rustin girls all lost. Rustin girls will have another shot on Saturday where they will face Methacton.
Finally, we also have to say goodbye to an undisclosed number of borough employees who chose not to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Last fall Borough Council voted unanimously to institute a vaccine mandate giving employees until the end of the year to get their COVID-19 vaccine shots. Last week we learned that officer Lt. Chris Daly was suspended indefinitely now we know why. The Daily Local is also reporting “An unknown number of officers represented by the union [also refused and] are now fighting the rule.” Borough employees from other departments were also reportedly suspended as a result of the mandate; however, the total number of employees affected by the policy has not been released by the borough.
Pay it forward.
The West Chester Food Cupboard sent a thank you out last week via their Instagram account to all that participated in their blanket drive that began last fall after a child asked what he wanted for Christmas, responded with “a warm blanket.”
“We collected an amazing 525 blankets and sleeping bags, which were distributed to neighbors who come to the Cupboard here in West Chester, as well as those we serve in our outreach programs throughout the county,” West Chester Food Cupboard shared in an email. That’s 525 people and many more hearts warmed this winter.
Know of any families still struggling to find access to free COVID-19 home test kits, perhaps because they lack proper insurance? Community Volunteers in Medicine, a West Chester-based nonprofit that helps provide high-quality healthcare to uninsured individuals working in Chester County, recently received a donation of 5,000 kits that they are looking to distribute in the coming weeks. If you would like more information about how to obtain a test-kit, contact CVIM here.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? I missed National Margarita Day on Tuesday, so I am excited to celebrate tonight. And maybe pretend, I am not surrounded by this ice-on-the-trees, rain-in-the-air, sunny-by-5, crazy wintery mix?
Also, this weekend East High School Theatre Company is putting on “The Little Mermaid, the Musical.” I am thinking about taking our 4 year-old mermaid to catch the matinee tomorrow. Rammy’s celebrating his birthday with a family-friendly event sandwiched between two basketball games Saturday at WCU’s Hollinger Field House. And the Chester County Art Association has two new exhibits “bringing vivid new perspectives.” The exhibits showcase local black artists as part of a Black History Month celebration – and looks really cool.
And of course, Restaurant Week begins on Sunday.
Mark your calendars:
- February 25 – Whiskey Logic, Kildares, 7 p.m.
- February 25-26 – The Little Mermaid, the Musical, shows each night at 7 p.m. with a 1:30 matinee on Saturday. Tickets $15/general admission; $12/students/seniors.
- February 26 – Fire Pit Social, Marshall Square Park neighborhood, 4 – 7 p.m. Outdoor dining experience presented by Friends of Marshall Square Park. Tickets $25.
- February 26 – Rammy’s Birthday Party during the WCU men’s and women’s basketball games, Hollinger Fieldhouse, 2 – 4 p.m. includes game access plus, bounce house, face painting, balloon artists and photo booth. Adults $8; kids 12 and under free.
- February 26 – 3rd Annual Orchestra Festival Concert, WCU Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, 7:30 – 9 p.m. Event is free and open to the public.
- February 27 – Chester County Youth Orchestra, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $15 in advance; $20 at the door; students: $10.
- March 2: Lecture: Climate Crisis Impact on Cultural Heritage Resources. 12 p.m. Weekly sustainability discussion from the WCU Office of Sustainability. Lectures are free and open to the public and can be attended in person at Sykes 255 A/B or via Zoom.
- March 3 – Black History Month Art Exhibits closing reception, Chester County Art Association, 6 – 8 p.m. The event which includes a poetry reading and light refreshments in addition to access to the exhibits is free and open to the public.
- March 3 – Operation Tilted Axes, Tilted Axes, 6 – 10 p.m, This is a HicksStrong fundraiser. Support our military members while throwing a few axes.
- March 3 – Winter Choral Festival, WCU Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, 8:15 – 9:45 p.m. Event is free and open to the public.
- March 3 – First Ladies of the United States, virtual, 7 p.m. Join local historian Jim Segrave-Daly for a discussion of the ever-changing role of America’s First Ladies. This event is brought to you by the West Chester Public Library. Registration is required.
- March 4 – Johnny Peers & the Muttvill Comix, WCU Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 7 p.m. Tickets $22/adult; $17/student.
- March 5 – Oscar Nominated Short Films 2022 – Live Action/Animation, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m. Tickets: $20
- March 6 – Oscar Nominated Short Films 2022 – Documentary, Uptown Theater, 7:00 p.m. Tickets: $20
- March 9: Lecture: Rethinking Consumerism and the Environment. 12 p.m. Weekly sustainability discussion from the WCU Office of Sustainability. Lectures are free and open to the public and can be attended in person at Sykes 255 A/B or via Zoom.
- March 9: Novel Tea with Erik Larson, 7 p.m. This event is virtual. Tickets are $35 that includes admission and a signed copy of Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. When purchasing, choose West Chester Public Library as the library you would like your ticket proceeds to support.
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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