The easiest way to be in the know.
It’s Friday, Mar. 3: You knew the cutting down of all those trees was a sign of something and now we know what it is. Residents near the old Burger King on High Street were notified last month plans are proceeding on the property. What’s happening and how to be the first to get all the details. Plus, Restaurant Inspection violations spike in February. You’ll never guess who’s out again. Probably because they are not even open yet – but Mayday is. I get a first look at West Chester’s newest coffee shop. Who’s ready? Let’s catch up.
Development Plans to Be Revealed for Burger King Property
You knew the cutting down of all those trees had to be a sign that something was in the works. Well, we are now a little bit closer to knowing exactly what that something will be. Last month residents living in the area surrounding the former Burger King property received a letter from Borough-based law firm, MacElree Harvey inviting them to attend an upcoming meeting of the Borough Council Planning Commission.
According to the letter, the property owner, High Street 410, LLC, “has filed a Land Development Application with the Borough of West Chester for the property located at 410 S. High Street (former Burger King site).” No details were provided about the proposed design other than to say it will be a mixed-use building including apartments and retail. Residents were then notified that the application will be considered at the next Borough Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, March 28, at 6:30 p.m.
This meeting is open to the public. Early reviews have been conducted by some Borough Commissions. However, no additional information about the project has yet been made public. I received a copy of the letter from some neighbors who thought “others may be interested in attending” the meeting. I am guessing they may be right about that.
Also, I wonder if these changes will jive with PennDOT’s planned High Street upgrades? One must assume a packed apartment complex is going to have significant impacts on area traffic – especially in considering the current empty lot situation.
Restaurant Inspection Reports: February
I don’t know if there has been a new more stringent inspector hired or if local restaurants are in a mid-winter lull, but health code violations are seemingly on the rise and not only among the usual suspects – Saucey’s – really? You’re not even open yet – but among many West Chester favorites as well.
West Chester Diner, out, 13 violations, including employees smoking inside (a cigarette butt was found in the “drip tray of the charbroiler”) and a laundry list of cleaning items. All food contact surfaces, table-mounted can openers, refrigerators, grills, microwaves, sinks, floors, and walls to name a few. On the bright side, ceilings seemed to be ok.
Poke Bros, out, 8 violations. Poke Bros got hit with a lot of the usual violations – scoops left in a bin without a handle out, not enough sanitizer test strips on hand, and an employee observed changing tasks without a proper hand wash in between. (Ever wonder when it says 10 and I list five examples, what the other violations were? It was likely one of those.) Also on the list, an employee who left raw egg stored above the carrots. Every now and then you’ll read about an employee stashing a fountain drink in the food prep area, a raw egg? That’s a first.
Cookie Dope, out, 6 violations, same three as above plus, cookie dough and ice cream coolers in need of a good cleaning.
7-Eleven, S. High St, out, 12 violations, including severely dented canned goods available for purchase and a number of cleaning tasks. Up first, the nozzles at the Big Gulp machine which were ordered to be cleaned and sanitized by end of the day.
Saucey’s Pizza, out, 10 violations. Out on the opening inspection. I am guessing this is not the comeback impression they wanted to make. Before they can open the following need to be cleaned: floors throughout, walls throughout, ductwork in the upstairs prep area, the ceiling in the basement, can opener, mixer, food storage containers, utensils, pizza pans, cutting boards, shelving in the food prep area, and coolers. So is it any wonder that “Rat droppings were observed in the basement”? Oh, wait, one more for the cleaning list: “Clean the droppings.”
Greystone Oyster Bar, out, 19 violations, An employee was observed touching raw oysters, a ready-to-eat food, with bare hands; a food mixer that was visibly dirty; and foods that were not being stored at a safe temperature. Compromised items were discarded onsite.
Stetson Middle School, out, 4 violations, including an employee observed touching his or her face without a glove change in between and vegetables and toppings not behind a sneeze guard.
Scoops & Smiles, out, 15 violations, including a long list detailing which items get washed in which sinks. Also, a broken freezer that left ice cream soft to the touch, and milkshake cups, straws, and lids stored behind the hand wash sink where they could be splashed by dirty water. All were discarded onsite and a new location was chosen for the cups.
Side Bar, out, 12 violations, including ice scoops and soda guns “observed to have residue and was not clean to sight and touch” and a lot of non-food contact areas that needed a good scrubbing.
Spence Cafe, out, 10 violations, including stored food inadequately labeled, an employee’s pain reliever left near food items, and residential pesticides in use in a commercial facility. “Residential pesticides aren’t to be used in food facilities,” the inspector wrote.
Sam’s Pizza Island, out, 17 violations, including sauce being stored uncovered in the cooler; a walk-in cooler with a spray foam ceiling, in other words, no ceiling at all; Raid and Ortho Home Defense pesticides being “applied in the food facility by a non-certified applicator;” and apparently nothing was properly washed. “All food contact utensils and equipment must be rewashed, rinsed, and sanitized,” the report read.
Tonito’s Pizza, Boot Road, out, 9 violations. Tonito’s Pizza recorded a whopping 28 violations during an inspection last month. A day later, they were down to nine, I don’t know if that constitutes a win. Still needed: a thorough cleaning of the shelves, equipment, microwave, sink, and meat slicer. Of the latter, the employees were instructed, “Slicer cannot be used until cleaned and sanitized.”
On a positive note – Limoncello, as well as your pizza favorites, Pizza West Chester, West Chester Pizza Cafe, and Lorenzo’s, were all out of compliance last month but they are all back in this month with nothing but a single infraction between the four. Pass the parmesan.
You can find all reports here. Search by location for more detail.
Cameron Mental Health Services
Your mental health may not be where you want it to be. That’s Ok. We’re here to help. We’re a small online private practice that is BIPOC and woman-owned. We specialize in the many forms that trauma presents itself. We know when to listen and when to gently encourage. We are passionate about working with the whole person, along with presenting issues. We’re also Spanish speaking and looking forward to working with the good folks of West Chester and beyond.
Visit Cameron Mental Health to learn more.
Stay back. Patrons of Good, Bad, Ugly on N. Darlington Street reported being threatened by a man with a knife just as the bar was getting ready to close on Saturday morning. Shortly after the incident, West Chester police released a photo of the alleged knife-man and thanks to you, the assailant was apprehended. “Due to the overwhelming assistance from our community, the person was identified and taken into custody,” West Chester Police shared via Facebook. Well done, super sleuths.
Do not pay this man. You did so well on that last one, West Chester police would like your help again. This time they are looking for any information relating to the whereabouts of James Naylor Small of Delaware. Mr. Small, owner-operator of Mid-Atlantic Home repair, is wanted for $30,000 in contractor fraud. Take a good look. Mr. Small has been wanted and avoiding arrest since 2020.
Do not take things that are not yours. And especially don’t do it if the police are in the building. Late last month West Chester police responded to three separate thefts – all within a 24-hour period. First, they were called out to Giant to investigate a reported theft. Then while there, they caught Mr. Nathan Hamilton of Philadelphia also trying to rip off the supermarket. The final incident involved an overnight break-in at Mabel’s BBQ. All incidents occurred on Feb. 23 (or early Feb. 24). If you have any information about incidents one or three, give the police a call at 610-696-2700.
Be careful where you put your trust. This week the Daily Local is reporting both the attorney and the bank managing the trust for the older brother of Scotty McMillian, the 3-year-old who was tortured and killed by his mother’s boyfriend, are stepping away from their duties. Earlier this year concerns were raised over the management of the fund and the boy’s ability to access the donated money.
Beware of the drama. Newish West Chester site DubC Bar Ratings has been stirring up Insta-drama thanks to a new game they are playing called “superlatives.” They name a bar and you fill in the blank for “most likely to” or “best place to.” Well, needless to say, the internet is brutal.
“Your ratings have always been wack but they were at least entertaining and usually kinda informative. These are mean-spirited,” one follower wrote. Split Rail also had enough. Calling it quits over not their superlative reckoning but the negative words dished against Slow Hands. “We love Slow Hand so… do your thing but, we out.”
In a punctuation lacking rebuttal, the individual behind the page responded to the criticism and defended the game. “Nobody’s name was called out and nothing said crossed a line other than being a bit harsh but that is life,” he (I am fairly certain it’s a he) wrote.
Who’s the best in the state? Rustin’s Girls Track team is! Congratulations to the Lady Knights on winning the PTFCA Indoor State Championship. The team competition came down to the final 4×400 relay. Rustin was trailing by one point to last year’s state champions Friends’ Central. The girls needed at least a seventh-place finish to secure the win. They did better than that, nabbing second place with a school record time of 3:56.34. Rustin was led by Ava Alexander, who ran the 4×400 and also took home second place in the 400 meters, the triple jump, and the 4×200 relay.
Also, a shout out to the Rustin Boys 4×200 relay which set a school record on their way to qualifying for the State Championship meet. Unfortunately, no additional accolades came during the meet.
Hoping to keep the headlines coming, Rustin’s Girls Basketball team takes on #3 seed Villa Maria at 12 p.m. Saturday at Temple in the finals of the PIAA District One 5A championships. The girls defeated #4 seed Gwynedd Mercy last Friday to advance. The Rustin boys didn’t fare so well. They lost to Radnor in the quarterfinal match-up and then again in their playback game on Wednesday – still, they finished fourth in the tournament. East boys rebounded to decidedly win both their playback games to secure fifth place. Henderson boys, who lost early in their tournament, have since strung together a couple of playback wins. They play 11th-seeded Coatesville tonight with a chance to secure a ninth-place finish in the tournament. Having entered as a 17th seed it’s not a bad showing.
Speaking of Warriors who can play, congratulations this week to Henderson’s Select Jazz Band which created quite the buzz at the Cavalcade Jazz Festival. Not only did the group impress as an ensemble (receiving the high score of the night), their sections were as strong as the whole, taking home best overall awards for their saxophone and trumpet sections, and for Caleb Fernandes who was named top soloist on his tenor sax.
Also this week:
- Shout out to Pine Street Carpenters which was given a Best of Houzz award for 2023. The 30-year-old, West Chester-based, design-build firm was recognized for exceptional design capabilities and customer service.
- High fives to Ground Provisions. Open only a month, West Chester’s (technically Dilworthtown’s) new “elegant” vegan restaurant is already grabbing regional attention earning a place on the Philadelphia Inquirer’s list of new suburban restaurants to try. Want in on that? Reservations for April dates opened earlier this week.
- Like your breakfasts sweet and deep fried? Well, you live in the right place. According to Main Line Today, all the Chester County donut shops worthy of regional attention lie right here in the Dub C. Just in case you couldn’t guess – Yori’s, the Amish Market’s Beiler’s Bakery, and Duck Donuts all made the cut.
I think it’s now official. We have a coffee shop in each quadrant of the Borough. When you walk in the doors of Mayday coffee – you are greeted by a lot of white (Alabaster, to be exact), beige, and peach. On your left is a mini-shop stocked with curated gift ideas and small-batch greeting cards. Behind that, you see the curvature of the waiting espresso bar and pour-over coffee area. There are stone tables shipped from San Diego and a smattering of plants. (More to come as Mayday is also part flower shop.) In the back, there is an event space that will soon be available to rent. Anyway, maybe it’s the peach but it doesn’t exactly feel like West Chester which, as I am to learn, is almost the point.
The goal here isn’t to bring you what you already have but to source things you don’t. Mayday owner Austin Piona, a Chester County native who spent the last seven years on the West Coast, wanted a little east meets West Chester. “It’s a bit of a West Coast vibe out here,” he told me as we looked at shelves of candles, soaps, and tiny floral-shaped sunglasses.
He also wanted to bring a craft coffee experience. Unlike Turks Head and Gryphon, Mayday is not a roaster. Instead, their focus is on the craft of constructing a good cup of coffee. “Coffee is 98 percent water,” said Austin. “So we are focused on what we can do with that other 2 percent.”
That means bean profiles, frothing techniques, house-made syrups, and high-quality “latte art.” There is a pour-over station where you can try beans from around the world. There is also a kitchen that will stock the cafe with toast, sandwiches, and bowls. “A lot of fresh and good-tasting food for the community,” Austin said.
The word “community” is repeated several times during our conversation. The name Mayday is a nod to the shop’s commitment to improving mental health, pulling both the term mayday and May, as in mental health awareness month. Mayday aims to be a safe place to hang with your friends and to feel inspired and welcomed. That applies to their employees as well. Austin says he gives priority to mental health days and providing a solid wage. According to Austin, who quit his own barista job late last year, Mayday is paying the highest wages among coffee shops in the Borough.
“If you give back to the community, the community will give back to you,” he said of his approach.
Before I left I had to test this craft coffee for myself. I ordered the Lavender-Honey Latte with house-made syrup. Not a fan of sweet drinks it was recommended I go half syrup and, with the alteration, the drink was delicious. The foam? Smooth and silky; the art? a solid tulip design; the coffee? delish. Will it replace my current go-to? It’s too soon to tell, but I was told by my barista that his specialty is a cappuccino, which is my favorite. So, I will definitely be back for that.
Mayday opens today. They are located at 123 N. High Street in the former home of Jane Chalfant.
Fans of West Chester University junior Josh Stehle and his brother Zach, or as they are known on TikTok, the Stehle Bros, can now learn more about the superhero-obsessed duo in a new book by Josh. “I am a Superhero Expert: Growing Up with my Autistic Brother,” chronicles life with Zach who is autistic. The brothers have accumulated over 93K followers on TikTok by challenging viewers to try to stump comic book expert Zach.
Get ready to say hello to construction crews on the West Chester Bypass. Not only is PennDOT tackling High Street, they are also spending $3 million to improve the nearly three-mile stretch of 322 from Downingtown Pike to Route 202. Outlined improvements include signal upgrades, new left turn lanes, and fixing the shoulder. According to Construction Journal, a contract has been awarded and construction is expected to start this year. (Maybe it already has? I haven’t gone that way in a while.)
Speaking of highway upgrades, West Goshen Police Department announced it added a second electric vehicle to its fleet – the zippy Ford Lightning F-150 XLT. The efficient Lightning can go from zero to 60 in under 4 seconds and is seen as a win-win for the township. “It will save money for Township taxpayers and provide pollution reduction for the overall benefit of our community,” Board of Supervisors Chair Shaun Walsh told the Daily Local.
Finally, while it might not feel like it today, why not pretend spring is here with a little water ice? That’s right, Rita’s is officially open for the season. Stop by for a treat and check out the new paint job. Not a radical difference but a nice refresh.
This week 400 Qurate employees said goodbye to their jobs as part of what the company is calling a “multi-year turnaround plan.” The layoff announcement, which was probably no surprise to those in the finance department, was made a day before the West Chester-based parent company of online retailers QVC and HSN announced its fourth quarter and full 2022 earnings report. The report reveals the company saw a 14 percent decrease in revenue compared to 2021. It was a year CEO David Rawlinson described as “challenging.” Unfortunately for a bunch of QVC employees, 2023 is starting to look that way too.
According to the latest figures I could find, Qurate employs 26,424 people so this layoff affected roughly 1.5 percent of their workforce.
Out with the old, in with the new at Oscar Lasko YMCA. Last Friday the site’s “Wellness Center,” (or the window-lined room that faces Chestnut Street) was briefly closed in preparation for the receipt of new equipment. This includes a bench press, cable crossovers, a squat rack, and two or three new machines. The investment was made in an effort to better meet members’ wants.
“We recently collected member feedback and monitored equipment usage in our Wellness Centers. We learned that we need to make some changes to ensure a positive member experience,” a statement from the Y read.
Those changes are now complete. The Airport Road YMCA also received new equipment.
This week the West Chester Area School Board announced it is saying goodbye to board member Dr. Kate Shaw. According to an article on her departure in the Daily Local, Dr. Shaw, who has served on the school board for the last eight years, is leaving due to her employment. Originally elected to the school board in 2015, her second term was set to expire at the end of this year.
The School Board is currently accepting applicants to fill the vacancy. Dr. Shaw represented WCASD Region 1 which includes parts of West Chester and West Goshen. The board must appoint a replacement in the next 30 days. That individual will serve through the end of the year. An election for a permanent replacement will be held in November.
And finally, farewell to Henderson grad, Houston Astro center fielder, (and World Series ring-wearer) Chas McCormick. After making a visit home where he took time to speak to and inspire the next generation of superstars, the West Chester native is back in Texas ready to defend his position in the outfield.
“Every spring training has competition, that’s what the big leagues is. It’s harder to stick in your position in the big leagues than actually make it up there,” Chas told the Houston Chronicle.
Houston manager Dusty Baker previously stated center field is an open competition between Chas and fellow third-year player Jake Meyers. Read the full article here.
Pay it forward.
This week a Pandemic-era boost to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) ends in 32 states including PA. Under the measure qualifying households were allowed an extra $95 a month to spend on food and while, we’d all love to put the pandemic behind us, there is real concern about ending the program while food prices remain high. I reached out to Fiona Allison at the West Chester Food Cupboard to get her view of the situation here.
HWC: Are you worried about the end of the extra SNAP benefit?
Fiona: Yes, we are very concerned. Prices for food continue to be high and rents in West Chester are soaring.
We were seeing an increased need even before these cuts. In January, we saw a 47% increase in the number of local people coming to the Food Cupboard for food compared to 2022. We have also served 733 shoppers in the newly opened Express Pantry and increased our off-site outreach efforts, providing food to 14 local agencies and groups in the West Chester area. (It’s good to see so many children, for example, enjoying healthy after-school snacks.)
HWC: Who is affected by the cuts?
Fiona: We fear that anyone who receives SNAP benefits (including families and the elderly) will be affected and will see a cut to the benefits they receive.
HWC: How are current food supplies?
Fiona: Thanks to the generosity of our community, our supplies of food and other necessary items are good. However, we continue to need these ongoing donations so that we can continue to provide the quality and quantity of food that we know our neighbors want and need.
HWC: How can people help?
Fiona: We are always grateful to receive donations of food including pasta and pasta sauce, cereal, canned meat and fish, dried beans, and personal care items. Financial donations and gift cards (to Giant or ShopRite) are always welcome too. We can use these gifts to purchase the items we most need, and often on sale too.
Thank you again so much for reaching out to us, it was good to hear from you!
If you would like to make a donation, you can drop off items at the back of their Bolmar Street location from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. any morning but Sunday.
The freakin’ weekend.
What are you up to this weekend? The West Chester Grower’s Market is back this weekend. I will be heading down for some eggs and maybe some of Yori’s donuts? They are now stuck in my head. Then on Sunday, we are going skiing. We are going to try Spring Mountain. It is not the Pocono vacation I had envisioned but since this is a family first, I think it will be a good starter mountain.
If you are around this weekend, note First Friday events have been canceled due to the weather but there is still plenty going on. West Chester University’s theater and dance department is presenting what looks like a charming rendition of Charlottle’s Web, Artillery Brewing is hosting 3-4-5 Jive with live music from four local bands and DJ Mojo Risin, and Restaurant Week still has 48 hours left in it. Plus, winter starting to feel a little routine? Brickette Lounge has something for that.
Also a very special thank you to SLA Financial for joining Hello, West Chester as our latest Community Sponsor. SLA Financial is a family-run financial planning firm whose mission it is to create a supportive environment where women can learn to manage their money independently, reach their retirement goals, and find their financial freedom. Bonus – they are conveniently located in West Chester! Visit their website to learn more.
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Mark your calendars:
- Mar. 3 – MayDay Coffee Grand Opening, MayDay Coffee (123 N. High St.) 6:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Mar. 3 – Irish Dancing for Preschoolers, West Chester Public Library, 10:30 – 11:15 a.m. Geared for children 3 to 5.
- CANCELED Mar. 3 – First Friday Downtown, 44 W. Plaza, enjoy Irish Dancing and complimentary face painting. Street parking free during First Fridays.
- Mar. 3 – Red Smith & Friends, Brickette Lounge, 9:00 p.m.
- Mar. 3 – 5 Charlotte’s Web, EO Bull Center for the Arts, Friday, 7:30 p.m. Sat. 2, 4, and 7:30 p.m, Sunday 2 and 4 p.m. Performances take place in the intimate 135-seat MainStage Theatre. General admission tickets are $14 for adults and $8 for children
- Mar. 4 – 3-4-5 Jive, Artillery Brewing, 5 – 10 p.m. Live music including Onyx & Honey, Willie and the G’s, Snooze, DJ Mojo Risin, and F.O.G.
- Mar. 4 – Uncle Jake & the 18 Wheel Gang, Brickette Lounge, 9 p.m.
- Mar. 6 – Line dancing lessons with Steve Carroll, Brickette Lounge,
- Mar. 8 – Walking Culture in China, Sykes Student Union 255 A/B or Zoom, 12 – 12:50 p.m. Presented by WCU faculty and at 50 minutes each, these seminars introduce an array of sustainability topics in easily digestible segments. Presentation are free and open to the public. For Zoom use the link above and passcode: 878376
- Mar. 9 – Race, Spirituality, & Food Justice, Sykes Theater, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Presented by Dr. Christopher Carter author of The Spirit of Soul Food. This event is free and open to all. For more information contact: Dr. Jea Oh at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mar. 10 – Sip and Style, Refinery Hair Studio (106 W. Market St.) 6 p.m. – Join for styling secrets, sips, light bites, live music, door prizes and more.
- Mar. 11 – President’s Speaker Series – Erin Brockovich, Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall, 8 p.m. Tickets – $32/orchestra; $27/balcony
- Mar. 12 – Kennett Symphony: Family Concert, Rustin High School Auditorium, 2 p.m. The symphony will be performing classics Ferdinand and the Bull and the Hummingbird and the Fire. Tickets are $10/each plus a $6 order fee (so $16/each).
- Mar. 14 – Science on Tap: Bees and Beer, Artillery Brewing, 7 – 9 p.m. Speakers, Russ Lux and Walt Talunas, from the Chester County Beekeepers Association, will discuss everything to do with bees. Registration is required. Space is limited.
- Mar. 22 – 25, 33rd Annual WCU Jazz Fest, Performances to be held at Madeleine Wing Adler Theatre, Swope Music Building and Performing Arts Center, 817 S. High Street, West Chester. Most are free and open to the public. Full listing of events and times can be found at www.wcupa.edu/jazzfest.
- Mar. 22 – How to Teach Conservation and Sustainable Use of the Oceans, Sykes Student Union 255 A/B or Zoom, 12 – 12:50 p.m. Presented by WCU faculty and at 50 minutes each, these seminars introduce an array of sustainability topics in easily digestible segments. Presentation are free and open to the public. For Zoom use the link above and passcode: 878376
- Mar. 25 – CRC’s 25th Annual Streams Cleanup, 9 – 11:30 a.m. Chose site 111 for West Goshe, 112 for West Chester Borough, or 113 for Goose Creek at Carter Dr. Registration required.
- Mar. 25 – West Chester Seed Swap, The Greimann House (781 Hillsdale Rd.) 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Bring any seeds you would like to share with other gardeners…vegetables, flowers, herbs, native plants, etc….and browse through seeds others have brought and take what you would like. Organizers ask that you package seeds into individual envelopes or bags for people to take.
- New show added! Mar. 25 – Alexandra Kay, Uptown, 8:30 p.m., and 3 p.m. Dust off your boots, Alexandra Kay (AK) is coming back to Chester County and this time she will be with her full band! General admission tickets $50; limited VIP tickets are $100. Proceeds benefit United Way of Chester County’s Community Impact & Innovation Fund. Tickets on sale now. Hurry, seating is limited!
That’s it. Stay safe, stay healthy and I’ll see you next week.
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