Omicron-Philly welcomes you to yet another pandemic year-end holiday with new ailments pairing with societal ills in the same way you’d pair dense red wines with a hearty porterhouse. That goes across the entire spectrum of winter holy holidays just passed and still incoming: Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah.
Oh, Ok. Maybe we shouldn’t have expected the still-fresh-paint smelling Philadelphia Commerce Director Michael Rashid, now gone, to celebrate that last Jewish holiday, noted raving anti-Semitic social media commentator that he is. Then again, an equal opportunity hater such as Rashid, who supposedly also disses white Christians, Black women, his office’s employees and writes aloud how getting married and having kids is a way for Black Americans to end poverty, who knows what holiday Rashid might celebrate without dissing or reprimanding his fellow man, woman and person? Point is don’t expect any winter holiday cards from Rashid, who resigned his Commerce post on Sunday, along with apologizing for “previous comments which were inappropriate and insensitive.”
Add Rashid to the list of city government employees leaving the building – on their own or otherwise, like recently convicted Councilmember Bobby Henon – and the decked City Hall filled with boughs and holly won’t have anyone left to enjoy its mistletoe. Then again, nothing says Christmas, sadly, like a bloodletting. Ask Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault, who found his eight-game losing streak followed by a release from Philly’s hockey pucks.
Speaking of our holiday-cheery City Council having less fun and frolic during the Christmas break: they have just a few sessions left before leaving to don elf ears and red noses. A Rudolf thing? A liquor thing? That’s on them. Either way, who could blame them, with legislation to follow focused on blocking any of its membership’s potential for financial conflicts of interest (blame Henon for killing that gold egg-laying goose). There’s nothing catchy about calling this a “Transparent Twelve Days of Christmas,” or caroling a “God Rest Ye Fair and Fiduciary Centered Gentlepeople,” but at least we know the Council is at least pretending to be discreet going forward.
You know that Chef Phila Lorn became part of Jose Garces still-new and ever-continuing revolving door Chef in Residency program created for the post-still-here-COVID reopening of Volvér on Broad Street’s Kimmel Cultural Campus. While Lorn’s residency will run until Jan. 17, seeking cash to open his first self-owned restaurant showcasing Cambodian food and drink, Chef Phila did tell me that he’s found a location for his restaurant, and its 1700 block of West Passyunk Avenue address. Good on Lorn. And while I’m strolling along the expanse of the Avenue, the decidedly un-Breyers-like North Kensington-based small batch ice cream business, Milk Jawn, is moving its production onto East Passyunk (1303) as well as its fresh storefront (1439). Amy Wilson, Cathryn Sanderson and Ryan Miller will take over the free space next to East Passyunk’s Essen Bakery, therefore turning that strip across the street from the ACME into a sweet tooth fiend’s paradise and a dentist’s dream. Also just reopened along the EPX, after two years – that’s pandemic time plus, man – is Chef/Owner Townsend Wentz’s Townsend and its fresh prix fixe tasting menu format. Fine.
Philly’s longtime new music ensemble Relâche just welcomed a new managing director to its contemporary fold in Alyse Saltzman Flowers; just in time for the modernist electronic group to join forces with you – the public, hanging around Rittenhouse Square to start – for its rendition of composer Phil Kline’s Unsilent Night and its parade of homemade instruments on Dec. 10, starting the Square at 6:30. Don’t ask questions. Just be prepared to promenade.
Fish in Fishtown
“Bringing the Fish back to Fishtown.” You knew the tagline was coming when you heard that Frankford Avenue was getting red snapper, lobsters and salmon. At The Fin, starting this weekend when it finally opens to the public. (Philly Weekly got a rare preview when it held a book release party for scribe Stu Bykofsky’s first set-in-the-70s Philly-centric novel, Press Card). Executive chef Vlentin Bay previously worked the kitchens at Citron + Rose and Brauhaus Schmitz and is now bringing his “European point of view, the way I learned to love it” to The Fin’s still building menu of whole grilled rockfish and its corn + crab bisque, a nifty Surf and Turf Charcuterie tray and, even a fishy dessert in Cajun Crab Cheesecake. To go with a fishy restaurant, The Fin is hook (line and sinker)ing up with bar industry veteran (and the owner of/roaster from Mutiny Coffee Company) Philip Search. Just as he has at Bahn Mi and Bottles, expect the cocktail program and wine list to be exxxxxxxxxxtensive.
Music from Doylestown
Doylestown. When was the last time anyone spoke of Doylestown? What’s even there beyond the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa? (I grew up Catholic in an all Polish neighborhood in SW Philly, so I know about these things). Ceramic Animal and the Brothers Regan is in Doylestown. And soon the local indie ensemble will be world-wide signed as they are for an album (Sweet Unknown, released in March), a new producer (Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach) and a new record label (his Easy Eye Sound). Congrats.
MASKED PHILLY: Dana Canalichio
In Icepack’s way too-long, way overly complex and continuing saga of asking mask-donning local celebrities what they’ve been up to, beyond the pale, during C-19 – from lockdown to the current reopening, present-day unmasking and re-masking, worrying about Delta variants, freaking out about Fauci’s call for a potential third round of vax shots mere five months after the last, new mask and vax card mandates, ignored or not ignored (I mean why did I wait in line at the Convention Center if you’re not asking to see my card?), the possibility of mix-and-matching vaccines which is weird, AND NOW, YEAH OF COURSE, the whole worldwide B.1.1.529 Omicron variant scare, so welcome to ROUND THREE, I reached out this week to Dana Canalichio.
Being the director of operations and development at Four Corners Management Hospitality – Avram Hornik’s food and beverage venue umbrella – means holding court over everything from turning Broad Street’s The Dolphin from a dive bar into a hi-tech dance lounge, getting Rosy’s Taco Bars handmade shells filled with designer pork belly and working on everything for FCM joints Morgan’s Pier, Lola’s Garden, Concourse Dance Bar, Craft Hall, Harper’s Garden, Juno, Parks on Tap, The Garden at Cherry Street Pier and Trails on Tap.
Not a big television person before C-19’s slowdown, Dana Netflix-binged her heart out, starting with Ozark, Queen’s Gambit and Tiger King. “For once I got to be trendy like everyone else and watch things in real time, a novelty when you are in the hospitality business,” she says. “I did spend a lot of time wishing I took up cooking but never got to that place as I was still working and opening outdoor spots but the nature of the work just changed.” Dana did, however, support her restaurant friends and colleagues at Uptown Beer Garden, Radicchio, Philadium, Barcelona, Stogie Joes, and others. “I also dreamt of full-service meals and a great steak dinner, so found myself being a fan of the Steak 48.”
Dana is cool with vaxxes and masks, and got her face covering from Riviera Maya, Mexico during Halloween weekend. “FCM Hospitality took our entire staff to Mexico as a thank you reward for all they did for us and the entire community over the pandemic. The mask represents such a special trip with our giant team and hundreds of employees as over the pandemic we weathered so many things together.” The vax? Dana just got her booster and FCM is incentivizing all employees to get their booster shot.
Along with looking forward to wearing lipstick, traveling to Vegas and screaming her face off at an Eagles game without masks (“I can’t wait to bleed green all season long. I even started hitting away Eagles games! I went to four already”) FCM has many exciting projects and will continue to open new restaurants and outdoor spaces next year. “Including Philadelphia’s single largest outdoor restaurant ever on the Waterfront. I am thrilled to have the greenhouses back at Juno and Harper’s Garden, and I absolutely love the new patio and covered vibes in Ardmore at Lola’s – its our first season on the Main Line and it’s going to be really amazing to experience with my team and our Main Line guests.”