Site icon Hello, West Chester

West Chester Weekly News Roundup: Feb. 2, 2023

The easiest way to be in the know.

It’s Friday, Feb. 2: Real-life Monopoly. Analysis of county data shows developers have been quietly buying up blocks of the Borough at a time. How this consolidation could change the look of downtown. Plus, Restaurant Health Inspection reports and happy news! Jess from Two Birds Cafe shares what it feels like to be among the best-loved in the nation, our friend Oliver gets a kidney, and some amazing events to get excited about. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up. 

Building Blocks: West Chester’s real-life Monopoly game

Al’s Automotive closed late last year.

Late last year, Al’s Automotive closed its doors. Al had been our mechanic for at least a decade and no mention had ever been made about an upcoming retirement. The surprise retirement plus a rumor something was in the works for 322 W. Market Street made me curious – could the two be related? So I began digging through County property records. What I found was the quiet consolidation of borough properties into the hands of a single owner. The game of Monopoly playing out in real life, if you will. 

The goal of Monopoly is to collect and trade properties until you gather all the properties of a particular color. With a color set in hand, you are free to add houses and hotels as your money allows. Analysis of county data shows a few local developers have been playing their own high-stakes version of Monopoly, patiently waiting out the Borough real estate market with the goal of purchasing up blocks at a time.

300 Block of W. Market Street

The shaded area represents properties under single ownership.

Description: Four plots of land, three situated on W. Market Street and one on S. Wayne Street. Together they form a continuous plot of land west from S. Wayne Street to Potter Ally and south from Market Street to Wollerton Alley.  

Zoning: Town Center (TC)

Owner: Khan Development


Overview: With a portfolio that already includes two vacant properties, Mitch’s Gym and Avis Rental, and the purchase of the block’s remaining two properties last year, this entire area is now owned by Malvern-based Khan Development. While we don’t have confirmation of what’s next, we do know Khan Development specializes in industrial, multi-family, office, and mixed-use properties. In West Chester, they already own 44 West and Chestnut Square Apartments and are currently in development on 250 E. Market St. (formerly Rubensteins) and 611 E. Nields (former Wyeth property).   

400 Block of E. Gay St.

The shaded area represents properties under single ownership.

Description: Nine properties including five on E. Gay St., one on N. Adams, and three on E. Market Street form a continuous property west from the edge of Tires Plus on Gay Street to Adams Street then south on Adams to Market and east to the edge of the KFC parking lot.

Zoning: Commercial Service; 75’ Overlay

Owner: Gunner Properties


Overview: After nearly two decades of purchases, Gunner Properties, a developer based out of Chester Springs, is in possession of a plot of land on West Chester’s eastside that is largely underutilized. It consists of an empty service building and multiple paved lots used for the seasonal sale of fireworks and Christmas trees.  

Fun fact: Gunner Properties was the developer behind Levante Stables in Chester Springs.

100 Block of N. Adams Street

The shaded area represents properties under single ownership.

Description: Four plots of land along N. Adams Street from E. Chestnut to E Gay Streets. Directly across the street from the Borough Building.  

Zoning: Commercial Service; 75’ Overlay

Owner: Khan Development


Overview: Already in possession of 314 E. Chestnut Street, Khan Development was able to complete the block with the addition of the Adams Street properties (home to the Parkway Cleaners processing facility) and the shops of Parkway Plaza.

With the closure of Core de Roma Trattoria (see Goodbye) and China King, only two businesses are actively operating in the plaza but likely not for much longer. When I spoke to Luigi Pinti at Core De Roma about the closure of his restaurant he said, “You know why we closed don’t you?” When I admitted I didn’t. He replied, “They’re tearing down the building.” 

West Chester Restaurant Reports: January 2023

Teca on E. Gay Street.

Solid reviews from a notorious frat boy apparently won’t win you any bonus points with the Chester County Health Inspector. Both Pizza West Chester and West Chester Pizza Cafe are out of compliance this month. Also, heading out to Teca? Stick to the wine.  

Here’s your Restaurant Inspection review for January: 

On the upside? Wasabi is back in the Inspector’s good graces (a personal relief).  You can find all reports here. Search by location for more detail. 

The warnings.

Kids on top of the activity building at Everhart Park.

Hey, get down from there. Climbing onto the roof of the Everhart Park activity building will get the cops called on you. Every. Time. (and no, it was not by me.)

Pick your poison. West Chester resident and convicted felon Guy Denis was recently found to have significant quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine, codeine, and marijuana stashed in his car – plus, enough syringes to stock a small doctor’s office and a loaded firearm. Guy was taken into custody by the West Chester Police Department and is now thinking over his actions in Chester County Prison as he awaits a preliminary hearing.   

You can not park here. This week Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department issued a warning to all of you who thought you found a parking loophole at the Westtown Amish Market. You did not. “The white striped section located next to a signed handicap parking spot is not for parking,” the statement read. So let’s not go pretending it is. This includes those of you with a handicapped parking permit.

Be careful whom you trust. This week Daily Local reporter Michael Rellahan shared a concerning report about the distribution of a victim’s fund set up for the brother of Scott ‘Scotty’ McMillan. In 2014, both brothers suffered significant abuse at the hands of their mother and stepfather, so bad Scotty did not survive. However, nearly ten years after its formation a trust set up for the brother has yet to pay out any money to the boy or his adoptive family, the paper has found. Read the full investigation here.

“It’s surreal.”

Two Birds Cafe owner Jess Minchak on being named one of Yelp’s 100 best places to eat for 2023


Congratulations to Two Birds Cafe on being named a Yelp “Top 100 Places to Eat” – in the country(!) The Downingtown Pike cafe, which specializes in breakfast and lunch classics adapted for seasonal freshness, made the review site list at #51 thanks to a slew of five-star reviews.  

“It’s surreal. We were definitely surprised,” said a still-processing Jess Minchak. “I would say surprised would be a good word.” 

Jess, who co-owns Two Birds with her husband Justin, said they were surprised but not surprised, attributing the cafe’s high marks to an amazing staff and a supportive community. (It certainly has nothing to do with those mouth watering cinnamon rolls or the dreamy Benedicts.)

“I can’t say it enough, it’s the staff,” she said. “At the end of the day, they are the ones representing us and they really do a phenomenal job.” 

“When I envisioned it, this is what I wanted it to be,” she said about the restaurant the couple started just three years ago. “I wanted to be a neighbor. We have a community table and I just love when people just sit down there and start talking together.” 

She does caution patience as the couple and the staff figure out what national fame looks like for the cafe – “The wait times are getting a little longer, but each day we go out and do our best.” 

The annual Yelp list is based on the analysis of millions of user reviews.

Also, high fives to West Chester University’s Women’s Soccer star Maggie Lena on signing her first pro contract. Maggie joined WCU as a graduate student and has played the last two seasons with the Golden Rams including during last year’s national championship run. Maggie memorably scored the game-winner in the semifinal victory over Ferris State. Now, beginning this month, she will be playing for F.C. Kiryat Gat a member of the Israeli First League.  

And finally, very special congratulations to Oliver Mayer. Last month the 22-year-old Henderson graduate who had been getting dangerously close to kidney failure got his kidney! And the donor was from right here in this area, actually a member of the Mayer’s church. (Shout out to Christ Church West Chester!) According to Tammy, Ollie’s mom, everyone is doing well. 

“Ollie’s labs are great, he looks great, and he feels great!  And Jeff, Ollie’s gracious kidney Donor, is also recovering well – he’s taking a 2-mile walk every day, and he’s eager to get back to teaching soon,” she shared via email. 

She also asked that I remind everyone that there are still 90,000 people in need of a Living Kidney Donor. Remember, donors can come from anywhere. “Thanks to improved medications, a genetic link between the donor and recipient is no longer required to ensure a successful transplant,” the National Kidney Foundation states on its website.  

“While I wouldn’t wish anyone to experience such a gut-wrenching trial, I must admit that the outpouring of love and concern from family, friends, and complete strangers is something we will treasure in our hearts forever!” Tammy shared on the Kidney4oliver Instagram page. 


A generous donation will help WCU continue the work of Frederick Douglass.

Say hello again to Buy Nothing West Chester Borough. The group specializing in limiting waste by finding new homes for old or unappreciated items renamed itself “Gifting in West Chester Borough, PA” earlier this year. The change was made after it was reported that the original Buy Nothing Project had trademarked the name and was asking other groups to stop using it. Except maybe that never happened?

“Sorry if this feels like whiplash, but apparently the whole ‘copyright infringement’ worry was fake news. After speaking with the Buy Nothing corporate people we’ve updated our descriptions and rules… and we get our old name back!” site admin April Joy Carter shared via the group’s Facebook page earlier this week.

Note: Buy Nothing is a neighborhood-based project so there are several in this area.

West Chester University learned this week it would be coming into some more cash. The University announced the receipt of a $112,000 donation in the form of a Diversity and Inclusion fund established by former State Senator Andy Dinniman. The money will be used to “promote diversity and equity through a renewed emphasis on common humanity,” a release announcing the donation states.  

The generous gift was made to coincide with the anniversary of abolitionist leader Federick Douglass’s final public speech which was made on the campus of the West Chester State Normal School (now WCU) on Feb. 1, 1895.

Also, hello to a little national love for four local pups set to make their small-screen debut. Tia and Ireland along with two other pups from the Brandywine SPCA will join 122 puppies from across the country at Puppy Bowl XIX. The Animal Planet production airs at 2 p.m. just before the human version and serves to promote rescue adoptions.( Seriously, how cute is Bryan? If he’s not adopted yet, we may need to bring him home.)

Also, stay tuned for West Chester’s own Puppy Bowl which is planned for Salty Paws on Saturday, Feb. 11. 

Finally, veggie fans, the news you have all been waiting for – Ground Provisions, the country complement to Philadelphia’s Vedge, is accepting reservations for March dining. (Vedge, for those not up on the Philly dining scene, is a vegan restaurant from James Beard-nominated chefs Rick Landau and Kate Jacoby.) Their Chester County vision consists of a wine store, a market and a restaurant. The Market opened in January and they are now preparing to open the companion restaurant which will feature Prix Fixe dining – five courses at $75/person. The menus are “hyper-seasonal” – which means expect frequent changes. Early menus are teasing Hungarian potato bread, family-style roasted scarlet carrot and turnips, Corzetti pasta, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, and Pineapple Lush for dessert. 

If you would like to give them a try, plan ahead. Dining is by reservation only. Reservations will become available for the following month on the first of the month.


It’s now official. The long abandoned properties at the corner of Gay and Walnut Street have been razed and the block is preparing to return to its roots. According to an article in the Daily Local, the site’s first known establishment was the Spread Eagle Tavern (perhaps that had another meaning in 1803) before becoming the Eagle Hotel. Then at the start of the 20th Century, the block was home to a theater. Sometime around mid-century, the theater was removed and a new building erected. For the next 30 years, that building would house Thatcher’s Drug, a local drug store owned by the late Stan Zukin. Now the family’s realty company is a partner in a deal that will return a hotel to the property.

“He would be proud of what the family has done,” Stan’s widow Elsa Zukin told the paper about the new direction for the property.

Coming late 2024 – the much more appealingly-named Hotel Indigo is described as a boutique hotel expected to have 108 rooms in six stories with space for a 6,000 sq foot seafood restaurant on the first floor. The project is expected to take 16 to 18 months to complete. You can read more about the hotel and the history of the block here.  

Also, an interesting backstory on the neighboring Spence Building for those of you curious about what’s going on

As mentioned above, goodbye to Core de Roma Trattoria which closed last month after 11 years anchoring the Parkway Plaza. The Italian restaurant was as recently as 2020 named an Open Table Diner’s Choice award winner unfortunately problems with staffing and the building being torn down forced the couple to close. 

“Judy and I want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your loyalty, friendship, and love that you have shown us all these years. A big hug to all of you!!!” owner Luigi Pinti posted on the website. The couple still has a Bala Cynwyd location.

Finally, this week we say goodbye to long-serving West Goshen police officer Gordon “Gordie” Smith who passed away over the weekend. Lt. Smith served the West Goshen community for more than 30 years prior to his retirement in 1996. 

“Gordie had a way of always making you feel special. He was the one who was so special,” one commenter wrote on Facebook. 

Pay it forward.

“Dapper” Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin has his story told in the PBS Documentary Brother Outsider.

Looking for a way to get more involved in the community that doesn’t require collecting items or heavy lifting? (If you were hoping for heavy lifting, see below). Uptown Theater is doing a really cool thing. On Monday, Feb. 6 the performing arts center on Church St. will be airing a free screening of Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin.

The movie tells the story of the West Chester civil rights leader whose 60-year career as an activist placed him at some of the most defining moments of the last century including at the side of Martin Luther King Jr. during the historic March on Washington. However, his open homosexuality kept his story mostly in the shadows for another 60. The film which was produced by PBS  will be introduced by Mayor Lillian DeBaptiste, who met the Civil Rights leader on several occasions.

“Our family had been friends,” she said of Mr. Rustin and while his body of work is built on his actions what the Mayor remembers most vividly is his presence.

“You were struck by his sophistication, his elegance,” she shared. She remembers walking down the street with him later in his life. He was impeccably dressed, always, and carried a carved walking stick. “He was just dapper.”

“He learned to embrace who he was through his pain,” she said. “He walked as he was in dignity. People made a big deal of his homosexualty but it was just who he was.”

“I think it’s important we all embrace who we are with the elegance and grace he did.”

The mayor will share more stories on Monday including the first time she heard him speak publicly. “Just wow,” she said. 
Reservations are not required but are encouraged.  Note: to register you will need to select “purchase” and complete an account with the site.

Reservations are not required but are encouraged.  Note: to register you will need to select “purchase” and complete an account with the site. 

For those of you actually looking to do some heavy lifting the Community Warehouse Project could use your help. Send a message or call 484-473-4360.  

Still not feeling me? Then how about caffeine with a cause? Turks Head Cafe is donating 50 percent of the proceeds from sales of its Dulce Leonard’s Guatemalan coffee to Safe Harbor of Chester County through the first quarter (that’s March if you are not on Q-speak). Sorry, to-go-cups don’t count. 

Also, Elevate Hair Studio is back with its Community Cuts. On February 26 they are offering free haircuts to anyone in the community who may need one and cannot afford one. To participate give them a call at 610-696-9100 and reserve your spot.  

And finally, for all you musically-inclined people out there, Porchfest organizers are looking for a few more bands and performers to fill out the lineup for the second annual West Chester Porchfest. If you did not attend last year’s event, Porchfest is a neighborhood event that started in Ithaca, NY and consists of homeowners letting local musicians set up and play music on their front porches. If you did attend, you’ll remember it was a lot of fun, if not bizarrely hot for May.

Well, it’s back, and if you are interested in sharing your talents (classical to country and all family-friendly styles in between are welcome) or providing a porch (the event will again be centered in the southwest corner of the Borough), fill out the appropriate form and someone will be in touch. 

Event is May 20. Rain date is May 21. Deadline to register is April 1. 

The freakin’ weekend.

Messages of love fill a painted heart outside of Pine + Quill.

What are you up to this weekend? In a rare bout of sophistication, we will be heading downtown this weekend for dinner and a show. I am very excited. We have tickets to the award-winning The Mountaintop now playing at Uptown. If you are not familiar, the play reimagines what may have happened to Martin Luther King during the missing minutes a day before his assassination. I have read nothing but good things. The Guardian called it “a bold shape-shifter of a play.”

If you are hanging around town this weekend, don’t forget tonight is First Friday Downtown. Street parking is free, which may be handy since it’s supposed to be cold this weekend. On Saturday West Chester hosts its annual Miss WCU pageant and Good Good Chocolates will be a guest vendor at the West Chester Growers Market. Don’t those chocolates look fabulous?

Plus, if you are looking to expand your Eagles wardrobe before next Sunday you may need to look beyond Rally House. Malena’s has a vintage take on Eagles’ green, local Etsy house Rhoadside Boutique has some statement earrings (if you are local, let them know. You can save $2 on shipping by picking up), and Brows by Tara is pushing a less is more embroidered approach. If you’re feeling lucky, Benchmark Credit Union is giving away a Conference Champ hat and t combo. You just need to like and follow them on social – and do it before 3 p.m. today.

And for all you gamblers out there, Monkey Fish Toys has sleds buy one – get one free.

And this week a very special thank you to Dunbar Fence for joining Hello, West Chester as our latest Community Sponsor. Dunbar Fence provides custom fence solutions that will enhance the beauty of your outdoor space. This West Chester-based family business believes success is built through superior craftsmanship, genuine customer care, and long-lasting client relationships. They are also active community supporters! Visit their website to browse their portfolio of gorgeous fencing options.

Dunbar Fence, Inc. is a family-owned and operated, local small business that focuses on working with clients who value and appreciate the safety, security, appearance, and functionality that fences can bring to their lives. We operate through and live by five main principals: integrity, safety, communication, teamwork, and pride. Connect with us at to make your fence dreams a reality!

View a list of all our amazing Community Sponsors here. Thinking of joining this amazing community? Act now. Only 2 spots remain for 2023! See, you’re amazing. Learn more here.

Don’t have a business and still want to support? You’re amazing too! I figure if everyone who reads donated just $10 a year we could keep this thing free of pop ads and other intrusive advertisements used to get your attention.

Mark your calendars:

That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you in two. I’m taking next week off to catch up on some other writing. Got a great story coming in our Benchmark entrprenuer series of a local newscaster who found a way to tell stories on her terms. Stay tuned!

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. 

And hey, if you’re that friend? So nice to see you! You can subscribe here.

Exit mobile version