A MATCH MADE IN…….POTTSTOWN!

#1In the fall of 2008 Ron Garza, chef-proprietor of Juan Carlos Fine Mexican Cuisine on High Street in Pottstown, was scouting locations to realize his dream of opening a fine dining restaurant.  Classical guitarist Russell Ferrara was, at that time, in the eighth year of disability from his lifelong music career. He was taking baby steps, post spinal surgery, to reactivate his performance activities.  He had just accepted an invitation join the music faculty of the soon to be opened Steel River Playhouse.

In early 2009 Ferrara began to notice construction activity at the northwest corner of High and Penn Streets just three doors down from Steel River Playhouse.  Spring brought signage which indicated that the storefront was becoming a Mexican restaurant. When work was nearly complete he walked in unannounced and began playing amidst the construction. Garza hired him on the spot and the two have remained close since.  Ferrara returned to Juan Carlos on Friday nights a few weeks ago after an eight-month absence during which he was on the road with his group Lackawanna Sky featuring Native American Flute player David Rose. Lackawanna Sky broke out at the April 2014 Launch Festival in Lancaster, PA where they were signed by Spirit Wind Records.  They subsequently toured in Georgia and Wisconsin, returning to PA to perform at the Kipona and Spirit of Oneness festivals in Harrisburg and in a continuing series of weekend performances in the Central Market of Lancaster. They are finishing up their first album and will return to Georgia in June.  Surprisingly, Ferrara credits much of this success to his tenure at Juan Carlos.

“I was introduced to the Native American flute at Juan Carlos,” Ferrara states. “On a quiet night I noticed a woman had lingered long past dessert. She approached me asking if I could wait ten minutes until she returned. She returned with a case full of flutes, chose one, announced the key and off we went!”  Within three weeks, the duo had made a demo and been accepted to perform at the 2010 International Native American Flute Association festival.”  That partnership did not work out long term but the recordings circulated and came to the attention of David Rose of Elizabethtown. Ferrara again: “David contacted me in June of 2013 as I was leaving for a tour with Candace Keach, Principal Flute of the Macon Symphony. Not long after I returned David and I gave our first ever performance at Juan Carlos.”

For his part, Garza was busy during Ferrara’s absence as well. Juan Carlos was nominated in two categories of the WPHL 17 ‘Hot List’ competition.  Garza brought home a win in the “Best Mexican” category as well as a second place in the “Best BYOB” category.  In addition, Garza collaborated with Steve Armstrong of Armstrong Ales in East Pikeland to create the first ever Mexican-style lager brewed in Pennsylvania.  Garza credits Ferrara with lending a hand in the first year the restaurant was open. “I guess we were a little green when we first opened.” Garza stated. “Russ introduced me to Anthony Bellapigna of sister restaurants Ariano and Fellini’s in Media, PA.  We met with him on a night that Russ was playing at Ariano.  Anthony helped me to streamline the menu.  He sent one of his best managers to Juan Carlos and made lots of great suggestions. Russ has been with me since the beginning.”

The two often talk about their goals and display a genuine regard for each other’s artistry. “I’m a foody,” Ferrara states. “My father owned restaurants and cooking is my hobby. I immediately noticed the passion and creativity that Ron displays in the kitchen.” Garza’s response to that was simply, “Yes, Russ and I are the same in that way.”

Juan Carlos, 235 E High St. Pottstown is open 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday. Catering is available anytime in the Wine Cellar.  Ferrara holds forth every Friday night.

From Beers To Burritos, Cinco De Mayo A Big Boost For Restaurant Owners In York County

Cinco de Mayo may be a relatively minor holiday in Mexico. But for restaurants in York County, the holiday is a big boost to the bottom line.

El Serrano’s two locations in Springettsbury Township and Lancaster, for example, are expected to do three to four times the business they do on a typical Tuesday, said Melanie Torres, who manages the Lancaster location.

Read about Cinco de Mayo celebrations in our area.

Mexitaly, a Springettsbury Township eatery whose menu features Mexican food, pizza and craft beer made on the premises, is bringing in extra help for Cinco de Mayo and ordering 20 percent more food ingredients than usual, owner Greg Skirboll said.

Read more: http://www.ydr.com/local/ci_28047513/from-beers-burritos-cinco-de-mayo-big-boost

Event Packed Weekend In Pottstown

Every now and then there are those weekends that are jam-packed with activities.  This warm and sunny weekend was just such a time.  If you live in the TriCounty Area here’s what went on.

Saturday and Sunday in Memorial Park a Native American Powwow took place.  There was music, dancing, food etc…  Nice write up in the Mercury about it with pictures:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/general-news/20150502/pottstown-jam-packed-with-saturday-full-of-fun

Saturday night was the first Nostalgia Night of the season on High Street, downtown Pottsown.  The first Saturday of May, June, July, August and September you can find hundreds of classic cars downtown along with music and food.  To learn more about Nostagia Nights, click here:

http://www.pottstownclassics.com/

This weekend was the opening weekend for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” at the Steel River Playhouse in downtown Pottstown.  The show continues next weekend.  Click here for details and to buy tickets: http://www.steelriver.org/current-season/4438-2/

Today, Sly Fox Brewing Company held their annual Bock Fest and Goat Races in Pottstown at the site of their brewery on the Circle of Progress.  Thousands of people attended.  The event featured live music, food, beer and goat races.  Here are some pictures from this afternoon:

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Three Pop-Up Beer Gardens This Year From PHS

The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Pop-Up Garden has been annual warm-weather hit – what with the transformation of a vacant lot into an urban oasis, complete with beer and great food.

Why not do three of them this year?

PHS plans to set up in new spots in East Passyunk and Logan Square and to return to 1438 South St., starting the first week of June. The closing date for each beer garden is October 1.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/the-insider/Three-pop-up-beer-gardens-from-PHS.html#eLQfqpkxFaEqp1Mz.99

New ‘Flagship’ Wawa In Center City To Have Seating

Wawa will open its first store with interior seating in Center City Philadelphia this year, the company announced Thursday as it celebrated its 51st anniversary by giving away free coffee.

Work on the store at South Broad and Walnut Streets should begin in May and be finished in time for a Thanksgiving opening, said Lori Bruce, a Wawa spokeswoman.

Wawas in Florida and several other locations have outside seating, but not indoors.

Bruce said besides the seating the “new flagship store … will feature many new design concepts.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150417_Wawa_celebrates_anniversary_with_free_coffee.html#L3Rq2Z2yXVzmS5Lj.99

Submissions For Wilkes-Barre Fine Arts Fiesta Due Saturday

WILKES-BARRE, PA — Wilkes-Barre’s 60th Fine Arts Fiesta “A Diamond in the Square” will once again bring a sense of culture and beauty to public square May 14-17.

Gary T. Womelsdorf, a board member and visual arts chairman, is busy preparing for the event’s adult and student juried art exhibitions and wants to remind artists that delivery of artwork is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Fiesta Central, Midtown Village, 41 S. Main St. near Katana Restaurant.

Any artist living within a radius of 100 miles is eligible to compete.

Artwork can be submitted and judged in six specific categories: crafts, graphics, paintings, photography, sculpture/construction and water color.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/home_top-local-news/152894100/

26 Free Eats In Easton On Saturday

Looking to enjoy the sunny forecast on Saturday?

Spring into Easton returns noon to 4 p.m. The free event welcomes visitors to peruse Downtown Easton’s shops. Each participating shop will be partnered with an Easton restaurant that will be offering samples.

According to a news release, 26 participating shops will also have game cards that visitors can pick up and get stamped throughout the day at each shop. A full card can be dropped off at a concierge booth in Centre Square to be eligible to win Downtown Easton Gift Cards.

Check out the participating shops and figure out where to go for your favorite restaurant’s samples.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2015/04/17_free_eats_in_easton_on_satu.html

Owners Of Burned-Out McDonald’s In Ephrata To Begin Rebuilding

The owners of a burned-out McDonald’s in Ephrata plan to soon begin tearing down the old restaurant and building a new one that could be open by mid-July.

The McDonald’s at 140 N. Reading Road in the Cloister Shopping center was destroyed by a fire last June.

Read more:

http://lancasteronline.com/business/local_business/owners-of-burned-out-mcdonald-s-in-ephrata-to-begin/article_38b10996-df7e-11e4-b95b-c30bb5aceab5.html

Vote Clears The Way For Food Trucks In York City

Free-market ideology narrowly overpowered fears of the unknown Tuesday with the York City Council’s 3-2 vote to legalize and regulate food trucks on city streets.

The decision marks the end of a long and sometimes divisive debate over the financial impact roving restaurants could have on traditional brick-and-mortar establishments.

Where some saw food trucks as a potential boon for a growing downtown business landscape, others saw a potentially diluted customer base wreaking havoc on profit margins.

In the end, mobile food proponents got what they’d asked for and more.

Read more: http://www.yorkdispatch.com/ci_27869256/vote-clears-way-food-trucks-york-city

Food Truck And Wine Festival Cruising Back Go Pohatcong Township

Editor’s note:  This is near Phillipsburg, NJ, right across the river from Easton, PA. Can’t go wrong with food trucks and wine ;).

Searching for food trucks?

You won’t have to go far. Alba Vineyard is hosting a Food Truck and Wine Festival later this month.

The Pohatcong Township vineyard hosted a food truck festival in November 2014, and will bring it back noon to 5 p.m. April 25-26.

Admission costs $10 for adults 21 and over, $5 for ages 13-20 and is free for children under 12. Parking is free; food prices will vary by the truck, according to a news release.

Read more:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/food/index.ssf/2015/04/food_truck_and_wine_festival_c_1.html

Heroin Found In Dough At Hazle Township Commercial Bakery

HAZLE TOWNSHIP, PA — Heroin packets were found on dough being processed on a production line at Aryzta, a commercial baker of breads and donuts, earlier this week, state police at Hazleton said.

State police in a news release said an employee checking dough on a production line to a sheet dough machine found a suspected heroin packet at about 6 p.m. Monday.

The employee notified a shift supervisor as production was stopped and inspected. Other suspected heroin packets and drug paraphernalia were found inside the dough machine, state police said.

State police said Aryzta, based in Zurich, Switzerland, stopped production on the dough machine and destroyed all the products.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/local-news/152605611/

Aldi To Reopen 30 Of 66 Shut Bottom Dollar Stores

Discount grocer Aldi said Friday that it will reopen 30 of the 66 former Bottom Dollar stores it took over in Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and northeast Ohio after the previous owner, the Delhaize Group, shut Bottom Dollar last year.

Five ex-Bottom Dollar stores in Philadelphia and 14 in the suburbs will reopen. Four Philadelphia stores will stay shut, along with 13 in the suburbs.

Aldi, an Illinois-based U.S. arm of Germany’s Albrecht family grocery conglomerate, said in 2013 it planned a $3 billion expansion, and Friday’s announcement is part of that effort.

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/business/20150328_Aldi_to_reopen_30_of_66_shut_Bottom_Dollar_stores.html#PzL7PW1CHTgYrswX.99

Additional article about Lehigh Valley locations:

http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/breaking-news/index.ssf/2015/03/aldi_to_convert_2_of_8_bottom.html

The Harlem Wizards Are Coming To Pottstown

SAVE THE DATE!

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2015
GAME @ 6:30 P.M.

The Foundation for Pottstown Education is hosting a fundraising event in the Strom Gymnasium at Pottstown High School on Friday, March 27, 2015.  The HARLEM WIZARDS Basketball Team is coming to town!

Members of our staff, alumni and students are being recruited to play against the Wizards.  There will be plenty of fun, food, and prizes!

The elementary school that sells the most tickets to the event (over 200) will receive $1,000 from the Foundation! Either the Middle School or High School will receive $1,500 from the Foundation for selling the most tickets (over 250)! The checks for the winning two schools will be presented on Friday, March 27 at the game!

Please click on the links below to see what the evening will be like.  Schools from Ohio, Red Lion, PA, and Ardmore, Pa are represented.

We will have food trucks as well as food sold at the concession stand.  Come and eat your dinner and then enjoy the game!

We hope to see you there!

PURCHASE TICKETS!

With New Owners, Haines Shoe House Becomes Bakery & Treat Shop

Where else in the world can you eat cake pops from inside a gigantic work boot?

Probably nowhere.

Melanie Schmuck is banking on that novelty, as she and her husband, Jeff Schmuck, convert the ground floor of the Haines Shoe House into a bakery and dine-in treat shop.

“We wanted something quirky,” Jeff said. “Something that would stand out.”

Read more:

http://www.ydr.com/business/ci_27751427/new-owners-haines-shoe-house-becomes-bakery-treat

iCreate Café Draws People To Pottstown With Healthy, Plant-Based Meals

icreatelogojanuaryPottstown, PA – “Vegiterranean” might not be an official word in the dictionary but it’s the word iCreate Café owner Ashraf Khalil uses to describe his dishes that are a combination of vegetarian and Mediterranean food.

The café at 130 King St. may seem like just another building from the outside but once customers walk in, they are greeted with a variety of colors, comfortable couches and plenty of seating. The small café does a lot with a little including also being a computer training center. But in recent years, it’s been the vegetarian fare that keeps people coming back.

Khalil, or Ash as most customers know him, said Mediterranean fare uses a lot of legumes such as chickpeas, fava beans and lentils. As a native of Syria, he grew up on dishes that included more plant-based foods than meat. He said there were very little animal sources in meals, partly because it’s very expensive to buy overseas.

“That’s one of the reasons we love hummus. We grew up eating it back in Syria, not knowing it has all this protein but because it’s cheap and affordable,” he said during a recent cooking demonstration at the café.

Read more:

http://www.pottsmerc.com/lifestyle/20150323/icreate-cafxe9-draws-people-to-pottstown-with-healthy-plant-based-meals

Mosaic Community Land Trust Community Gardens 3rd Annual Garden Contest

Calling all gardeners!

Mosaic Community Land Trust Community Gardens is hosting its 3rd Annual Garden Contest!

This year, the contest is BIGGER and BETTER than ever, offering up more than $2,500 is cash prizes and other gifts!  More categories = more chances to take home a top prize!  Newly added is our Neighborhood category where three or more houses can work on a garden project together for a change to win up to $800!  And our Junior Gardener category (for entrants under 18 years old), giving them a chance to win up to $100 cash!

And best of all, we are pleased to announce that this year’s contest is open to all borough residents! Anyone living in the Borough of Pottstown can enter for a chance to win BIG!

Check out the Garden Contest Flyer and the Registration Form for more information.

14-0332 PAHWF HomeGardenContest_RegForm_31115WKG14-0332 PAHWF HomeGardenContest_Flyer_31115

A warm thanks to our sponsors, including Dick and Sally Heylmun of Pine Hill Tree Farms, Colonial Gardens and the Pottstown Health and Wellness Foundation!

Sheetz To Add Food-Only Stores To Promote Growth In Urban Areas, Exec Woodley Says

Family-owned convenience store chain Sheetz Inc. crossed a milestone last month when it opened its 500th store, one of about 30 the Altoona-based company plans to open this year.

Known for its large gas stations with myriad fresh made-to-order food choices that are popular with travelers, the company grew to $6.9 billion in sales last year, up nearly 5 percent from the previous year.

In a bid to expand into urban markets, the company, which employs more than 16,000 people, is pushing a new store model — one without the gas pumps that focuses on higher-margin sales of food and beverages, said Dave Woodley, the company’s executive vice president of sales and marketing.

Read more: http://triblive.com/business/headlines/7934196-74/woodley-trib-stores#ixzz3UktblLyN
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