The easiest way to be in the know.
It’s Friday, Nov. 4. This week, the Melton Center dreams big with plans for a cafe and new daycare center. A Right to Know Request reveals the emails that led to the Borough’s Outfest cancellation and Philly restaurateurs Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby are set to bring their latest vegan concept to Dilworthtown. Plus, movie sets on High Street, Saucey’s is closed and Restaurant Inspection reports for October. This is what I get for taking a week off. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
The Melton Center’s Grand Vision
A decade ago the Melton Center was a sleepy community center struggling financially and trying to re-establish its once-lauded role in the community. Less than five years ago, its future seemed to hinge on the revitalization and return of its pool – already closed 15 years at that time. Only the pool didn’t happen. Instead in a not entirely popular move, the swimming hole was filled in and in its place the 10-townhome, 41-apartment Pinckney Hill Commons grew. And so, as it turns out, did the center’s ability to attract funding.
“It’s our neighborhood that’s our strong piece,” said Melton Center Executive Director Ken Winston, when it comes to securing grant funding. The Melton Center serves a neighborhood located in the lowest-income census tract but is surrounded by those in the richest. Location, however, would not be enough if you didn’t also know the needs of the neighborhood and there too, the Melton Center works to stand out.
“We are looking at things that we can do that are impactful but are different from what everyone else is doing,” said Ken.
It’s an approach that seems to be working. Not only did the Melton Center, in partnership with Church Housing Corp. open its $15 million housing project this summer, they recently announced $2.06 million in ARPA funding. The money is to be used to create (and expand) a series of programs targeting marginalized and underserved populations with nonprofit partner Two Fish and Five Loaves Community Cafe – and a whole lot of others. It’s a far cry from the days of collecting $20 donations toward the reopening of the swimming pool.
Perhaps, then it’s time to stop thinking of the Melton Center as a gym and a series of community rooms to rent and think of it as it dreams to be – a holistic wellness hub with a vibrant after-school community where kids can get academic help and mentoring guidance, find a basketball game, learn to dance, or pick vegetables from the community garden. A training ground providing marketable professional culinary and barista skills for recent parolees with an active cafe where visitors can stop for a cup of coffee or a fresh-made snack before attending a financial literacy presentation. Think of it as a health support center providing education, counseling, and health check clinics or a place to attend a recovery meeting. Think of it as a place you can find free or low-cost childcare – a huge new undertaking that is still in its earliest conversations.
If that sounds ambitious. That’s because it intentionally is. According to 2Fish CEO Lisa Morris, the idea is to provide a holistic solution to the many factors that can weigh on a community. Think academic disadvantages, drug abuse, incarceration, housing insecurity, and, huge in this area, lack of child care. To reach these goals 2Fish and the Melton Center are bringing in numerous local partners – Chester County Hospital and Penn Medicine, CCIU and the West Chester Area School District, Chester County Adult Probation, Lavazza Coffee, Home Depot, and Sunrise Rotary.
“It’s a collective impact project that we hope will serve as a model. It doesn’t just include one or two organizations collaborating, it’s a matrix,” said Lisa.
Don’t however, equate understanding what is needed with ease of execution. “It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s going to be a lot of hard work,” she said. The things that are really worth it, usually are.
Restaurant Inspection Reports – Halloween edition – Bahahaha
In honor of Halloween earlier this week I am going to start the monthly review of Restaurant Inspection reports with Slow Hand’s no good, very bad day. Earlier this month the Church Street eatery chalked up 12 violations and a little forced house cleaning –
- “Spatulas used for cooking are in disrepair.” “Discard today.”
- “Foods are not being discarded after 7 days of being opened and/or made. These foods were discarded on site.” Examples: Ricotta cheese dated 10/2; Lemon Aoli with Mayo 9/14; Blue Cheese 10/3; Sausage Gravy 9/29.
- “Buttermilk Batter is being left on the counter at room temperature.” “The buttermilk was discarded on site.”
- “Linens and/or napkins being used in contact with potentially hazardous foods- the storage of cooked egg whites. This was explained and linens removed on site.”
This report was logged two weeks ago, so hopefully after the purging and some highly encouraged cleaning: “The interior of the ice machine-drop plate-was observed with mold-like growth and a slimy residue” things are now back in sanitary shape.
Perhaps, you don’t think 7-Eleven and culinary greatness, but in case you are tempted. The 7-Eleven on West Chester Pike (in the Sunoco station) was visited by the Health Inspector this month and wracked quite a list of violations including spoiled and expired milk, old, unpackaged baked goods, dirty hot dog roller units and matching tongs, beverage dispenser and food dispensers in need of cleaning and a good counter to floor scrubbing.
Also, out of compliance this month the Rustin Cafeteria after sausage at the pizza station was found being held at unsafe temps (neither hot nor cold) and dirty conditions were found in the dry storage and walk-in refrigerator areas. “Clean the shelves,” and “Maintain in clean condition,” the inspector wrote.
Atexquita Mexican Restaurant in the Gay Street Plaza was hit with six violations and an out-of-compliance distinction after several ready-to-eat foods were found without date markings, several others were not chilled properly, there was no running water in the men’s room, and a large gap noted in the rear exit door. It “does not protect against the entry of insects, rodents, and other animals.” Fortunately, no evidence of vermin was noted.
Comedy for a Cause: Bacon Gives Back
What’s better than bacon? How about enjoying it guilt-free with a side of laughs! Next Friday, November 11th, local comedy troupe, Better than Bacon (fun fact: 5 of the 10 members are from West Chester), is back at it with a special Bacon Gives Back/Comedy for a Cause performance. The same zany performances, the same great energy, the same side-splitting laughter – all to benefit the local community.
Join the fun on Nov. 11 at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center and show your support for Safe Harbor, ACT in Faith – and the local comedy arts scene. The evening starts with the fabulous dork rock duo from Delaware, Hot Breakfast, followed by a short intermission, then your favorite improv comedy specialists will take the stage bringing you a series of unscripted improvisational games all driven by your suggestions.
Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door). Show starts at 7:30 p.m.
If this post has you thinking of actual, delicious, crispy bacon – don’t worry. There’s plenty of time for a beer and burger beforehand. See you at the show!
A special thank you to Better Than Bacon for their support of Hello, West Chester!
This community cares. After two scary days, 6-year-old Zoe Moss was on her way home last Thursday.
“We are so relieved to have Zoe returned home safely and are incredibly grateful to all of the amazing first responders and our community for their diligent work and care during this situation,” West Chester Area School District shared on their Facebook page.
The Hillsdale first-grader was abducted by her biological mother during a somewhat-supervised October 25 visit in Downingtown. During her court-mandated visit Vanessa Gutshall, who was supposedly being watched by Chester County Children, Youth and Family Services, put her daughter in her gray Volkswagen Jetta and drove away triggering a regionwide search.
Fortunately, the search ended happily, two days, and several states later when the child and car were located unharmed in McLean, Va. Zoe is currently living with a foster family. Vanessa, who has no custody rights to the child, is believed to be homeless and suffering from psychological issues. It is a sad situation that fortunately ended as best it could. Word of the missing child was shared far and wide. Social posts including details of the Amber alert were shared more than 1600 times locally. CCCYF site visit processes could probably use a review. Like maybe if your subject’s a flight risk, you hold the car keys until the end of the visit?
This community cares, part 2. “A huge thank you to the people who helped my 17-year-old daughter last Thursday evening at the Dilworthtown Crossing Giant,” Elisa Considine shared via Nextdoor this week. As it turns out Miss Considine, who suffers from type 1 diabetes passed out in the store as a result of low blood sugar. Quick-acting shoppers contacted the paramedics and made sure the Considine family made it to the correct hospital. “We are so grateful to you!” she wrote.
Not everything you read on the internet is true. “We are open!” Thistle Be Perfect, the downtown West Chester boutique reminded shoppers earlier this week after the site’s Instagram account was unexpectedly disabled. Not only is the shop open, but they are celebrating their third anniversary in West Chester. Next time you are in town, stop in and say, “hi.”
Beware of deer. The West Goshen police department took to Facebook this week to remind us it is whitetail deer breeding season. The officers with assistance from the West Goshen public works department freed a buck from a fence and warned of increased activity over the next few weeks. “If you have the unfortunate luck to strike one pull your vehicle off the roadway to a safe location and call us,” they shared.
The win will not come in Philly but (fingers crossed) it will come. This week West Chester Police Department and the Mayor’s office put out a joint letter to local the West Chester student community. It read in part:
“The West Chester Police Department will have extra patrols monitoring the bars in town, as well as those neighborhoods where we typically see an increase in activity. Should you behave in a way that warrants the intervention of police because of misconduct, you will face potential criminal liability and your name will be shared with the Dean of Students.” Except for that dean part, I would assume that goes for all residents and visitors. Go Phills!
Please, don’t kick the windows. If you know this guy, West Chester Police would like a word.
As the fall sports season comes to a close, there have not been too West Chester moments to celebrate. At least not major moments, the Rustin Boys and Girls soccer programs both won their respective Ches-Mont American Conference titles and then lost in district playoffs. East Volleyball team put up good regular season numbers but it too fell early in tournament play. Rustin’s football team is playing well and looking to make a tournament run (they take on Radnor tonight at home), but the other area teams have struggled. So in lieu of the obvious celebrations, I am sharing a different perspective.
“So West Chester East football this season had a tough year…” Joy Vining Crozier wrote on the West Chester Area School District Parents Facebook page. Going into their second to last game of the season the Vikings were 0 and 8. “Not for lack of heart or attempt. These guys showed up every game and the scores never reflected their effort and dedication,” she wrote. Well, on October 21 they finally got that W in the final seconds of a hard-fought match against Oxford.
“Some plays need another look and a separate post…with 3 seconds left on the clock in a tied game @natederosa_3 connects a 25yd pass to @brady_laird who laterals the ball to @tyler.wileczek who turns on the jets for a 40yd touchdown thanks to a downfield block from @landongoodwin12. Vikings win!!”West Chester East Football on Instagram.
So a shout-out this week to West Chester East for never giving up and avoiding a winless season. Sadly, they would lose their final game to Henderson – but hey, a win is a win.
Finally a shout out to The Shop on Market Street and Sunset Hill Jewelers & Fine Arts Gallery, West Chester’s only selections in the Daily Local News 2022 “Best of Chester County” readers’ poll.
Listen up, foodies! After more than three and a half years sitting vacant, we will soon say hello to new culinary life at the former Innkeeper’s Kitchen in Dilworthtown. According to the Philadephia Inquirer, Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby, of Philadelphia’s Vedge fame are bringing their plant-based prowess northbound. The duo is planning to open Ground Provisions, a 24-seat vegan restaurant with an adjacent country store and wine shop later this month. Housing just eight tables the restaurant is promising a “modern fine-dining menu that will be approachable in both cost and atmosphere.” There will be two seatings a night- four to five nights a week at a cost of $75 a plate prix fixe menu.
Also, and this will come as no surprise to anyone who follows the Bar Avalon Instagram account, but the American Helicopter Museum will be featured on an upcoming episode of “Pawn Stars.” The November 17 episode was filmed at the West Chester-based aviation museum earlier this summer. If you would like to really get in on the action you can join the viewing party planned at the museum. The event is free for members, $10 for everyone else, and includes a complimentary glass of beer or wine. Cheers to the Helicopter Museum!
Speaking of future fame, film crews were spotted blocking South High Street last weekend. Word on the street (and from the borough) is they were shooting scenes for a new M. Night Shyamalan movie.
Finally, Westtown gets a new playground. Located at Larchbourne Park behind the Quality Inn off of 202 the playground features a slide, climbing apparatus, and a set of swings. Nothing too groundbreaking but worthy of a few minutes of fun (see above). The new playground was funded in part by PECO’s Green Region grant program.
Say goodbye to Saucey’s. I personally have been avoiding E. Market Street pizzeria since their not-so-good (cough) rats in the kitchen (cough) Restaurant Inspection report earlier this summer but it appears there was no need as they have been closed since around the same time. According to an Instagram post dated July 28, they were closing until Sunday for some R&R (and hopefully some deep cleaning) but that was more than three months ago and they have yet to reopen and now the building is for sale. There are some rumors that there will be a management change and a reopening, (they did have and pass a health inspection on Oct. 7) but as of now, all signs point to a permanent closure.
Despite their recent health crisis and a “love it or hate it” following, Saucey’s did bring us the “Hot Pepper Challenge,” a 1.5 million Scovill unit eating challenge and has been a West Chester fixture, in one iteration or another, for over a decade now.
Also, this week I would like to take a minute to say goodbye to the mess that turned out to be the well-intentioned OutFest by taking a quick look at what happened in hopes of it not repeating itself this spring. As you’ll recall community outrage was triggered after the event was canceled due to “dozens” “overwhelming” a “ton” of “hate-filled” and “vitriolic” emails that were received by organizers and Borough Council members.
Except maybe that wasn’t the whole story.
After the event application was withdrawn, West Chester resident Beth Ann Rosica filed a Right to Know Request for the emails that led to the cancellation. She has since made the emails – and the full 458-page request – available to the press. Most have at this point chose not to revisit this story and I have my own hesitations but this is our community and our neighbors, so I thought it important to review.
The details of the request: According to Beth Ann – two requests were submitted. They concern the emails sent to and from the members of Borough Council and Mayor Lilian DeBaptiste during the time frame of Sept. 1 through Sept. 27 that included the words, “Community” “Outfest” and/or “drag queens.” For reference the event application was pulled on Sept. 20. The first emails voicing concerns about the event were sent on Sept. 19.
What we know:
Eight emails were sent asking that the event – or at least the drag show portion – be canceled or moved inside – technically nine but the ninth person was not local so I’m not counting it. The tone of the emails varies from questioning to aggressive but no threats are made. Two came from the same household, a husband and wife concerned about their seventh-month-old son.
Nearly three times as many emails were sent in support. After the event was canceled 32 emails were received voicing support for the event and/or dismay over the event’s cancelation.
This request does not include online “hate.” There are reports from both sides that threats were made online against both those scheduled to perform at the event and those questioning their right to be there. No evidence I saw shows these threats to be local. Certainly, they did not take the time to go through the proper channels. And while this shouldn’t have to be stated, I will anyway, threats of violence shouldn’t be tolerated no matter what your position on the matter.
In the end, I am not sure how eight emails got the traction they did. Maybe it was the passing of emails back and forth among Council Members and event organizers that made them seem to be more than they were, or maybe it was online chatter that wasn’t captured by the request, but it is hard to believe that if those 32 emails and other gestures of support had come first, that these emails would not have left the mark they did.
“Our words fall short of our actions. We can do better,” the Business Improvement District wrote in its statement publicly announcing the cancelation of the event. OutFest will be back and when it comes, it will need our support.
Finally, on a much lighter note, say goodbye to the Marshall Square Park Fountain, after another gorgeous year, it has been turned off for the season.
Pay it forward.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac extended forecast, “this winter season will have plenty of snow, rain, and mush—as well as some record-breaking cold temperatures.” Now I am not sure how much trust you should put into the 230-year-old weather prediction publication, but just in case, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is now accepting applications for its Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Accepted applicants could receive $300 to $1,000 to use towards heating costs. Note: the income limit on the program is low – just 150% of the federal poverty limit or $41,625 for a family of four. Know someone who may qualify? They can apply here.
Hey, all you Veterans out there with a car, here’s one for you. In honor of Veteran’s Day next Friday, Fred Beans of West Chester will be performing free oil changes all day for military personnel. If you are a Veteran you will need to bring your vehicle, military ID, and coupon to a Fred Bean dealership on Nov. 11 to qualify for the free service. New this year, all other services will be 30 percent off with proper documentation on both Friday and Saturday.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? We are going to The Great DuBois show at West Chester University. I am not exactly sure what to expect but I am excited for the show described as, “the most unique 2-person circus show you will ever see!” Hope it lives up to the hype.
If you are hanging around town this weekend, it’s First Friday Downtown. Nothing special seems to be planned but there will be free street parking. The West Chester University Criterions are hosting a concert at the Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre. The event is free but tickets need to be reserved in advance. And of course, Saturday is game six of the World Series. Levante is hosting a watch party with specials on their Philly Twist Pretzel Lager.
And don’t forget, Tuesday is Election Day. Find your polling place here.
New this week, I am introducing a new Community Sponsor Section. These are local businesses that support Hello, West Chester, and the greater West Chester community. Support them if you are able! Up first:
A special thanks to The Lorgus Company for coming on as our first Community Sponsor. The Lorgus Company manages the beautiful Greek Revival building at 103 S. High Street – home to 19 office suites and, once, 19th-century impressionist artist Mary Cassatt. In the entrance hall, you will find a Janet Reed mural rescued from 120 N. Church Street. (You learn something new every day.)
If you too would like to support Hello, West Chester here are three easy ideas:
- Tell your friends and neighbors.
- Help spread the word on social media. (Just leaving a comment really helps increase reach.)
- Or click the button above to make a small donation of thanks. (Venmo works too if that’s easier.)
Mark your calendars:
- Nov. 4 – First Friday, Downtown West Chester, free metered parking.
- Nov. 4 – The Great DuBois: Masters of Variety, Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 7 p.m. Fast-paced, high-energy circus for all ages. Tickets – $25/adults; $20/students
- Nov. 4 – Criterions Jazz Ensemble conducted by Bob Curnow, Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Tickets are FREE but must be reserved. This special performance will feature music from Curnow’s Sierra Music Publications library.
- Nov. 4 – WCPL Trivia Night, Virtual, 7 p.m. A Zoom link will be sent out an hour before the event. Registration required.
- Nov. 5 – Craft Fair, East High School, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
- Nov. 5. – Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers, Uptown Theater, 2 p.m. View one of the country’s premier contemporary Asian-American dance companies, described as “deeply spiritual” by Dance Magazine. Tickets $35 in advance; $40 at the door.
- Nov. 6 – Fall Foliage Express, West Chester Railroad, 12 or 2 p.m. 90-minute historic train ride through the picturesque Chester Creek Valley; Adults – $20; kids 2-12 – $18; kids under 2 are free.
- Nov. 7 – Fun with STEAM – Candy edition, Virtual, 5 p.m. Join West Chester Public Library’s Miss Meg as you take advantage of leftover Halloween candy to craft catapults and design brightly colored pictures. Geared toward ages 5+. Registration required.
- Nov. 7 – $5 Monday Night Movie – Captain America First Avenger, Uptown Theater, 7 p.m. Tickets $5, includes free popcorn
- Nov. 8 – Election Day, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. Find your polling place here.
- Nov. 10 – Give a Veteran a Smile Day, Community Volunteer in Medicine, 300 B Lawrence Dr., 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. This event is open to Veterans only. Veterans without dental insurance qualify for a totally FREE dental check-up. Call 610-836-5590 to schedule an appointment.
- Nov. 10-12 – Much Ado About Nothing, East High School, 7 p.m. (There will also be a matinee showing at 1 p.m. on Saturday). Tickets are $10 and available at the door.
- Nov. 11 – Zia Yoga Storytime, West Chester Public Library, Community Room, 10:30 – 11 a.m. Geared toward families with kids 2 to 6. This is a free event. Registration required.
- Nov. 11 – Better Than Bacon: Improv Comedy for a Cause, Uptown Theater, 7:30 p.m. Performance will open with Hot Breakfast a dork rock band from Wilmington. A portion of the proceeds will go benefit ACT in Faith and Safe Harbor. Tickets $25 in advance; $30 at the door.
- Nov. 11, 12 – Multiplicity Dance Concert, Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, 7:30 p.m. There will also be a 2:30 p.m. performance on Saturday. General admission: $12/adults; $7/kids
- Nov. 13 – 2022 WCU Harp Festival, Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, 3 – 4:30 p.m. This energetic harp orchestra is a fifteen-member ensemble. This is a free public event.
- Nov. 14 – WCU Faculty Recital: In Young Lee, soprano, Madeleine Wing Adler Theater, 8 – 9:30 p.m. Tickets are not required. This is a free public event.
- Nov. 15 – 2022 Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Awards, Uptown Theater, 3 – 6 p.m. Preservation Pennsylvania will honor excellence and innovation in preservation practice. Tickets are $75.
- Nov. 18 – Whiskey Logic, Kildare’s Irish Pub, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. Local cover band playing hits from the 60s to the 90s. This is a free show.
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
Oh, one more thing, if you think one or more of your friends would like Hello, West Chester, too, please forward this newsletter and tell them to come and join us.
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