July 9, 2009


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New TV series filmed at historic Mt. Airy site
Culinary revolution makes history at City Tavern

John Mariani, famed food/restaurant critic for Esquire magazine, once warned his readers to avoid at all cost any restaurant that uses the words “Ye Olde” in its name. Otherwise, he   said, you’ll probably wind up ordering dishes like “Liberty burgers” or “Poor Richard’s tuna melt”that taste more like cardboard than food. And you’ll probably be served by young   people in stockings and breeches announcing, “Would anyone care for a libation?”

Up until 1992 this might have been an apt description of City Tavern, the 10-room, 300-seat restaurant at 138 S. 2nd St. which opened in 1773. According to the National Park Service, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, Dr. Benjamin Rush, John Adams and other historical luminaries were regular customers. (Adams called it “the most genteel tavern in America.”) Members of the First Continental Congress held frequent meetings there, and the Constitutional Convention held its closing banquet there in 1789.

80 years on the Avenue for Bugay’s Jewelers
Hiller runs fundraising triathlons for his late mom

This is from the Washington, D.C., Marathon in 2002, when Bugay (runner in front) set a personal record (still standing) of 3 hours, 57 minutes, which he insists will be broken this fall when he runs in the Johnstown and Philadelphia Marathons.

Ed. Note: Samuel Bugay opened Bugay’s Jewelers in South Philadelphia in 1912 and moved it with his wife, Rose, in 1929 to 8638 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut Hill, where it is still going strong after 80 years. In 1946 Sam died, and the store was taken over by his son, Milt. In 1958 Milt’s wife, Margaret, took over the operation. Milt, who will be 89 in September, has also played the piano for decades at area clubs and restaurants. He still plays Bach everyday on his 100-year-old Steinway. Margaret Bugay died at 83 on August 8, 2008, from diabetes. Arthur L. Bugay, 46, the son of Milt and Margaret, is an attorney who grew up in Wyndmoor and attended Springfield Township High School. Arthur, who literally bicycles to and from work in center city every day, has run in six marathon races, always raising money for a charity in the process. This year he is raising money for the American Diabetes Association in honor of his mom, whom he calls “a strong and lovely lady who fought bravely in the face of difficult odds.” Arthur’s sister, Rosalind, who now runs the jewelry store with Marianne Bartman, Margaret’s best friend, also has diabetes. On July 26, Arthur will race at the 11th Annual Lake Placid Ford Ironman Triathlon, an endurance event that consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle race and a 26.2-mile marathon run. So far he has raised over $8000 from many people, even opposing lawyers, who have contributed large and small amounts. Following is an account by Arthur of his participation on June 28 in the Philadelphia Triathlon.

Actually, yesterday’s triathlon had great weather.  It was a blast with, as usual, more than a few stories by the end of the day, but for me the next four weeks will be hard ones. I will be riding and running long miles. Last week, I swam two miles non-stop in the pool.  And I’ve added an event. On July 12, I’m swimming three miles in Lake Nockamixon in an open water swimming event. So, this is no longer a drill.

New barbecue place a spicy addition to Roxborough

Anastasio “Stas” Botsaris, 28, who has owned and operated Phoebe’s Bar-B-Q at 2214 South St. for five years, just opened his second Phoebe’s on April 19 at 5002 Umbria St. (Photos by Len Lear)

Almost everyone is looking for ways to beat the recession, which is undoubtedly why there was a long line of customers ahead of us waiting to order last Tuesday evening at Phoebe’s Bar-B-Q, which opened to the public April 19 at 5002 Umbria St. in Roxborough, about 10 minutes from Chestnut Hill.

“We have been blessed because it’s been like this since day one,” said owner Anastasio “Stas” Botsaris, 28, who also owns a sister restaurant of the same name that has been at 2214 South St. for 15 years. “We’re in it to win it. A restaurant can have a great food, but what’s the point if people can’t afford it? You can come in here and feed 10 people dinner for less than a ‘Ben’ (a $100 bill, called a ‘Ben’ because of the picture of Benjamin Franklin on it).”

Don’t you wish you had kept taking music lessons?

Janet hopes it’s never too late to learn to play a musical instrument. It comes in handy at birthday parties.

Nobody ever says, “Whew! I’m glad I don’t play a musical instrument; I’m sure happy my parents let me quit the minute I didn’t want to practice.” Instead, people often say (at least to themselves), “I wish I had stuck with it. I wish I could play the (fill in name of the musical instrument) now.”

I myself am a piano-quitter with regrets.

“So what in the world made you buy a ukulele?” asked my son, Andrew, last Monday.

“Well, your Grandpop used to stop at a junk shop in Germantown called ‘Bill Has It’ on his way home from work, and he came home with all kinds of things. One day he brought home a ukulele. He and I both learned to play a little, and we sang. It wasn’t really music, but it was a lot of fun. One day Johnny Bitman, the kid next door, tightened the ukulele strings, more from curiosity than malice, until the neck snapped, and we never replaced it.