The easiest way to be in the know.
It’s Friday, May 6. I have some good news and I have some bad news. The good news is long-time West Chester coffee roasters Turk’s Head Roasters are planning to open their first shop in the borough. I have the scoop on where. The bad news? Downtown West Chester just lost a whole category of cuisine. Plus, did you notice? Plastic bags are out in West Goshen, Marshall Square has a new playground and it’s Mother’s Day weekend. Have a happy one, moms (I’ve included a mini Mother’s Day gift guide for all you procrastinators.) Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
“Thank you all for a great journey!! Farewell”Mom, Dad, Simi, B.J. Snena
After 30 years in the borough, the Star of India has closed its doors. Known for its vegetarian options as well as its heat, West Chester’s sole Indian option was rarely disappointing.
“It’s a small sketchy looking place but I have never been let down by their food. Seriously such a hidden gem,” one reviewer wrote on Yelp.
Adding to that feeling you just happened onto something special, they had little in the way of online presence, just a Facebook page created 12 years ago that I am not sure was ever updated and a picture of a paper menu uploaded to ZMenu.com. Once offering sit down dining options they moved to takeout-only during the pandemic and never returned.
“30 years strong. It’s been great! Thank you all for a great journey!! Farewell, Mom, Dad, Simi, B.J. Snena,” a sign in the window read.
Goodbye, Star of India, I wish we had visited you more. Now when someone asks, “What does downtown West Chester need?” I think we all know the answer.
West Chester, You Should be Proud of Yourself
Twenty years ago West Chester was bleeding residents (the borough actually shrank during the 1990s while the rest of the county was in full growth mode, seeing its population balloon by more than 15 percent) and its downtown was empty. Just a few retailers. No restaurant scene to speak of.
“It was almost like you’d expect tumbleweeds to blow down the street,” Iron Hill co-founder Kevin Finn told Preservation Magazine. That was 1997, days before he and business partners Mark Edelson and Kevin Davies would sign a lease for the former Woodworth’s building.
Fast forward a quarter-century later and nearly every day the borough bustles with families and students; young professionals and retirees. Streets are relatively clean, crime is at some of its lowest rates in decades, and more than 50 restaurants and just as many retail locations fill up downtown blocks. Today, West Chester is writing the book, an article really, on how to revitalize a town. Literally. Preservation Magazine, Spring 2022, “How West Chester, Pennsylvania, Turned its Sleepy Downtown into a Popular Destination.”
“This should be cause for celebration for all of us who have worked to revitalize downtown and support our community,” said Malcolm Johnstone who served as Business Improvement District Executive Director from 2000 to 2020 and now serves as Senior Program Officer at the Cultural Alliance of Chester County. That it should. A special thanks to all that recognized that pivotal moment in West Chester’s history, seized it and worked tirelessly to bring West Chester back to its full potential. Read the beautifully illustrated profile on just how great West Chester is here.
Preservation Magazine is published quarterly and distributed nationally by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to an estimated 300,000 readers. Fun fact from the article (and there are a few): More than 4,000 of West Chester’s 6,000 buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Bye, Bye, Baggies
Keep those reusable shopping bags stuffed in the back of your car handy. You are going to need them if you are shopping in West Chester, West Goshen, and soon maybe East Bradford as well. In January, West Chester’s long-anticipated single-use plastic bag and straw ban went into effect which was followed last month by West Goshen.
If you have been to ACME lately you’ve probably already noticed. Similar to the West Chester ban it permits the use of “any bag made predominantly of plastic that is made through a blown-film extrusion process.” It also prohibits the use of plastic straws. Exempt from the ban are product packaging, newspaper bags, pre-packaged trash, or pet waste bags. However, unlike West Chester which applied primarily to the town’s downtown boutiques, this one hits high-volume bag users like ACME and ShopRite, as well as the township’s pharmacies, convenience stores, retail establishments, and restaurants.
Much like others implementing these bans, reduction of litter and the environmental impacts are listed among the top concerns. Also mentioned, are the costs to residents related to the clean-up of the products and contamination caused during the recycling process.
But don’t worry if you left your bag stash at home, West Goshen businesses are still permitted to provide reusable bags or paper bags made of at least 40 percent post-consumer recycled material. And unlike in West Chester, businesses are not required to charge a five-cent bag fee. Some stores are reportedly charging, their choice, but it is not required.
East Bradford is considering a similar ban. Their Environment Advisory Committee has been busy drafting a proposal based on the West Chester and West Goshen ordinances and is planning to share that draft with the Board of Supervisors next month. East Goshen is also reportedly reviewing its options after a survey showed that 61 percent of respondents wanted retailers to eliminate plastic bags. However, don’t expect a ban. The township is not ready to go that far. For now, they plan to try the carrot rather than stick approach.
Finally, say hello to the Grower’s Market. Yes, I know it never fully goes away but starting
Avoid the upstairs men’s room at Ram’s Head. Chester County Restaurant Inspection reports are out for April and among the violators is Ram’s Head Bar and Grill on Market Street with five violations including, the smell in the men’s room.
“Urine odor has lessened-however-the odor is still present,” the inspector wrote (on the follow-up visit, apparently it was even worse earlier in the month). Probably not surprising to Saturday night visitors, they were also told to clean the floors throughout the basement.
Artillery Brewing on Granite Aly found itself out of compliance with six violations. The microbrewery was cited for improper food handling, specifically, the pork BBQ which was not properly reheated, and food items that were not cooled properly. Proper reheating and cooling are necessary to keep bacteria levels in check. High Street Cafe was out of compliance with eight violations including leaving the back door open. “The screen door in the kitchen does not protect against the entry of insects since the screen is torn,” the inspector wrote. Pepper Mill on N. Chester Road also had eight violations including improperly reheated marinara and a list of cleaning chores. Primo Hoagies on West Chester Pike six violations included directions to “clean and sanitize” the table-mounted can opener, spice shakers, and baking sheets.
You can find a complete list of inspection reports by going to the PA Food Safety website Chester County health records for the area.
What happens on social media, does not stay on social media (Reminder to you young readers out there – some of you older ones too.) Westtown-East Goshen police were called to Rustin High School this week to investigate a threat involving a weapon that was circulated via social media. According to the police report, the student behind the threat was identified and found not to have any weapons. Rustin Principal Dr. Michael Marano later sent an email to parents notifying them of the event and ensuring them safety was his top priority.
“Although there was no weapon on Rustin’s campus, any threats to the safety and security of students and staff will always be treated with the utmost seriousness,” he wrote.
Students, parents, or anyone who is witness to concerning acts are encouraged to report it through the Safe2Say platform.
You’ve had too many when your DUI arrest strikes you as funny. Right, Jonathon?
A round of applause to the doers out there. Last month the West Chester Area School District announced the winners of the 24th Annual Spellman Humanitarian Awards. The Spellman Awards, named after long-serving WCASD superintendent Dr. Elwood Spellman, recognizes students who exhibit exception in volunteerism and citizenship. These students tutor, coach, clean up, pack up, teach, organize, lead, raise money and most importantly inspire. There are a lot of opportunities for recognition when you perform in something (sports, music, theater, academics); it’s nice to see recognition for those who act.
East: Aravind Alwar, John Ammon, Abigail Criscuolo, Nikita Gandhi, Mauricio Hernandez, Grace Holland, Vanessa Levins, Chinonye Moneme, Aiden Nichols, and Eleana Rudderow
Henderson: Shruti Bedekar, Ethan Boughter, Julia P. Cuesta, Molly Dolan, Monica K. Dolan, Aamina Farooq, Sherin Georgy, Laiya Mathew, Amanda Nichter, and Arturo Reyes
Rustin: Samantha Bigioni, Natalie Hsing-Fu Chi, Wesley Greer, John Lyons, Dimitrios Makris, Alexys McClain, Shreya Sehgal, Kaaviya Senthil, William Van Cott, and Reagan Weldon Peri
Since there are 30 – I’m only giving names but, lucky you, the awards put together an entire program complete with student bios.
Also this week, a round of applause for Starkweather Elementary fifth grade teacher Jennifer Franz. Ms. Franz was selected as a 2021-2022 Citadel Heart of Learning finalist. While she did not receive this year’s grand prize, she did go home with a pretty hand-blown glass heart, $1000 to spend on classroom supplies, and a warm fuzzy feeling.
And finally, congratulations to the Rustin Marching Band which learned this week it will be representing the state of Pennsylvania at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade – in Waikiki, Hawaii!
I have some exciting news, coffee lovers. Turk’s Head Roasters, the West Chester coffee roaster that has been keeping borough residents caffeinated since 1956, is opening their own cafe – and you guessed it, it’s going to be in the borough! Details are still emerging but they will be setting up shop on Church Street in the very same location vacated by Fenn’s not too long ago. Renovation work is underway now and since it’s coffee house to coffee house, hopefully, it won’t take long to complete.
Say namaste to Yoga in the park. It’s back at Everhart every Wednesday in May, from 6-7 p.m. Cost is $5/class and all proceeds benefit West Chester Park & Rec.
Finally, say hello to the Grower’s Market. Yes, I know it never fully goes away but starting tomorrow I no longer have to remember if this is the weekend I can get fresh eggs. The Market is now open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday until December when it returns to the first, third and fifth Saturdays on the month.
Marshall Square Park is saying out with the old and in with the new. Gone are the swings that once lined the west side of the playground area and in their place new equipment specifically developed for two to five-year olds. This is the culmination of a multi-year journey initiated by West Chester resident Chantale Fieldhouse after she noticed the original playground upgrade completed in 2017 failed to provide a play option for the littlest park-goers. I have been told by teachers at the YMCA Oscar Lasko Child Care Center that they are not allowed to take children under five to that playground because of its lack of age-appropriate equipment. Well, that could all change today, if workers stay on schedule.
You can read more about the playground here.
While you’re at the park check out the beautiful fountain which is now on for the season. Originally turned on a couple of weeks ago, Friends of Marshall Square Park were forced to turn it off again after a glitch was found with the filter. Fortunately, everything has worked out and it is back flowing again.
And one more for MSP, the movie in the park scheduled for this Friday has been canceled (if you even knew this was happening you are better at this than me.) West Chester Parks and Recreation is planning on hosting three movie nights this year. One each at MSP, Greenfield Park, and John O’Green Park. Hopefully, we will learn about the next one before it is canceled.
Also, say goodbye to apartments at High Street and 202, currently home to a Quality Inn & Suites. Earlier this year the West Goshen Board of Supervisors reviewed a redevelopment proposal that called for replacing the aging hotel with an apartment complex consisting of 167 apartment units and a climatized storage facility.
While developers touted the development as a way to reduce crime in the area – apparently the Quality Inn has been the site of over 600 police calls in the past two years. Residents expressed concerns about traffic, excessive development, and lack of infrastructure in the area.
For this discussion to move to the next phase, the area would need to be rezoned residential which is not going to happen. Goshen supervisors voted unanimously against taking that step this week.
Also, say adios to West Chester Henderson basketball coach Rob Frattura. According to a tweet from Daily Local’s Pete DiGiovanni, he was relieved of his duties this week. The response on Twitter was one of shock and disappointment.
“Say it isn’t so. Rob is one of the most committed coaches I have known and worked with as an official,” said referee Scott Yard.
Just three years ago Coach Frat’s performance was named among the area’s best now he is out. No reason for the decision was given. The Warriors were 16-9 this year.
Pay it forward.
Last weekend the Brandywine Valley SPCA took in 90 sick, stray dogs from Philadelphia. The dogs were suffering from a virus that threatened to impact the entire Philadelphia shelter population so the BVSPCA offered to step in. The animals were safely transported to local facilities and are now undergoing a two to three-week quarantine period after which time they will hopefully be ready for adoption.
If you would like to support the efforts of the BVSPCA while running through colors and doing yoga with puppies, well it’s your lucky weekend. The BVSPCA is holding its annual Walk 4 Paws 5K event tomorrow at West Goshen Park. Registration opens at 9 a.m. Of course, you could just give directly.
Also, this weekend, the West Chester Business Improvement District along with the West Chester Green Team will be bringing in the bees. Ok, not exactly but they are completing the final stages of the new pollinator garden being installed on Prescott Alley next to the Chestnut Street Garage.
“We have two goals with this garden,” wrote BID Executive Director John O’Brien in his weekly newsletter. “The first is to make an ecologically sustainable garden that helps to spur more greenery in the downtown using native pollinating plants. The second is to create a visually appealing garden in an area that serves as a first touch for visitors to West Chester.”
Looking for something to do this weekend? This project needs volunteer help or the three that have registered so far are going to have a very long day ahead of them. If you can spare the time, sign up here.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? We are paying it forward Saturday by helping with the swim club clean-up. Then later my best friend is stopping by to regale me with the adventures of her latest trip. I had the Keller Pils last weekend at Wrong Crowd. It was a great warm-weather beer – I’m thinking the occasion may warrant a growler to share. I don’t know what is planned for Mother’s Day but I hope it involves someone making me breakfast.
If you are around this weekend, Friday is the Gallery Walk in town 18 locations are participating. Stroll, check out art, grab some snacks and a complimentary glass of wine (or two). If the weather cooperates, and it may not, it should be an enjoyable evening.
Plus, don’t forget Sunday is Mother’s Day. Mini gift guide for you procrastinators. For the mom: who loves the beach; who loves a bloom; who always has a hot beverage in hand; who always has a cold beverage in her hand; a mom with style; a mom with flair; a mom that just heard about all those plastic bag bans coming.
And to all you moms, I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day!
Finally, thank you to all of you who took the time to complete the reader survey last week. It was hugely informative and reassuring to know people are finding these updates helpful. There were also some good suggestions for future issues. For all of you that agreed to participate in the advisory panel, I will be in touch with details.
Mark your calendars:
- May 6 – West Chester Gallery Walk, downtown West Chester, 4 – 8 p.m. 18 local artists will be featured at various stops around the downtown business district. Part of First Friday, street parking is free during the event.
- May 7 – Walk 4 Paws 5K Event, West Goshen Community Park, 9:30 a.m., Color Run 5K, Yoga with Puppies, doggie obstacle courses, live music and more. Onsite registration available.
- May 8 – Mom, This Run’s For You 5K, Rustin High School, 9 a.m.
- May 8 – Free concert alert: High Street Harmonix a Capella Concert, WCU Asplundh Hall Arches, 2-3 p.m.
- May 10 – Mother’s Day Express, West Chester Railroad, 12 p.m. – 2 p.m., Tickets $20, adult; $15 kids 2-15; and special mom price of $5.
- May 11 – Yoga in the Park, Everhart Park, 6-7 p.m. Cost is $5/class and all proceeds benefit WC Park & Rec.
- May 12 – 14 – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rustin High School, 7 p.m. There will also be a matinee performance at 3 p.m. on May 14. Tickets $10
- May 12 – 15 WCU Commencement ceremonies;
- May 14 – Flaming Hot Market, Good Will Fire Company
- May 15 – Bubble Walk and Fun Day, West Goshen Community Park, 1K walk begins at 11:30. All proceeds support the Arc of Chester County.
- May 15 – Spring Clothes and Toy Swap, Pavilion at West Goshen, West Chester, 4 – 6 p.m.
- May 15 – Northbrook Canoe Challenge, Northbrook Canoe Company, check-in starts at 8 a.m.; race begins at noon. Registration required.
- May 21 – Porchfest, W. Union and Dean Streets, 1 – 7 p.m. Performers will set up on porches and lawns in the southwest quadrant of the borough from Church Street to Bradford Ave and Miner to Dean St.
- May 21 – Remake Learning Days Messy Science, West Chester Public Library, 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. Hands on science project open to children in grades 1 to 5. Registration required.
- May 22 – Unknown Bones – A Crossmen Alumni Benefit Concert, Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, 3-4:30 p.m. This is a free event.
- That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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