Around Town,  Real Estate,  Shopping

Fond Farewells, Friendly Hellos & A Focus On The Future: The May Edition Is Jam-Packed

With 5 new arrivals and 21+ projects in the works, like Aritzia, Figs, Levain, the new Stephen Starr restaurant, and more, the Rittenhouse area is blossoming.

We don’t know if it’s hard to get a construction team because, if you take a walk in the early morning or afternoon in Rittenhouse, there are men at work. So thinking, maybe?

Each month, in addition to our social blips and posts, we round up what’s closed, opened, and coming. Highlights since our last recap (so the past 30-ish days):

So read on to see why it may be hard to hire a local construction team this year.

Soon-To-Be A Fond Farewell:

Express Edit | 📍1521 Walnut St

It was a great run but we guess it had to end – Express, the fave of many a club fashionista in the 2000s, tried to make their outside-of-the-mall “curated” stores a thing but struggles at the brand level (bankruptcy – bad!) means that some stores across the country have to close. This Express Edit is running weekly sales as they try to empty the store before it shuts down in June.

Volver | 📍300 S Broad St

📸: Volver

Also, in good runs that come to an end: Volver, Jose Garces’ restaurant in The Kimmel Center will be closing after a decade. Per the article, their COO said the restaurant was shuttering as their contract “concluded.” Make of that what you will but Garces is pretty amazing so hoping he opens a new concept here in Rittenhouse. Until then, experience Volver before it closes on June 9th.

Fond Farewells:

Allbirds | 📍1709 Walnut St

As a brand, retail has never been an easy industry to navigate. For some direct-to-consumer brands, who made the transition from online only to brick and mortar, it’s been particularly challenging, and unfortunately, Allbirds fell into that category. It didn’t help that they have a King of Prussia location as well, which is still in business for now.

Ancient Spirits & Grille | 📍1726 Chestnut St

📸: Google

The block of Chestnut Street between 16th and 17th is a hotbed of pedestrian activity but Ancient Spirits and Grille had some challenges with keeping the neighborhood coming back for more. The few things that were always the most popular? Their cocktails and ambiance. Which may explain why the owners did a quick concept revamp, reincarnating Ancient Spirits and Grill to become Sura (more on that below!)

The Scaffolding @Saint Mark’s Church | 📍1625 Locust St

The Saint Mark’s Church on Locust was always well known for their lush gardens where fragrant flowers would spill onto the sidewalk, in addition to their two cute Golden Retrievers. Unfortunately, the gardens went away last year when a second scaffolding was erected as they had work done on the facade and what looked like plumbing or pipe work, which required them to remove all of the gardens.

So this is a bit of a bye to the scaffolding and hello to the return of their gardens. The first scaffolding over the street entrance is still there as they don’t have enough money for the repairs (hint) but the second one is gone (Hallelujah!) and the plants have been planted.

Friendly Hellos:

70SIX |📍 132 S 17th St

No one ever said Rittenhouse had too many boutique stores and we’re thrilled about that because how else could we possibly get 70SIX, an adorable boutique that originated from Northern Liberties? See our profile of Lindsey McKinney’s store here but better yet, do drop by to say hi and browse.

DaMò Pasta Lab | 📍100 S 21st St

Pretty sure that DaMò Pasta Lab is the ONLY pasta lab around here. An offshoot of the popular Washington Square West location, they make customized and personalized pasta dishes right in front of you. We covered their opening a bit ago as that stretch of 21st Street now has great food options, and HIGHLY recommend stopping by as the couple who own it are incredibly sweet.

Sura Indian Bistro |📍1726 Chestnut St

There’s an interesting trend happening in South Asian cuisine in Rittenhouse. First, Ateethi Indian closed back in January to (eventually) come back as Curry Leaf. Now Ancient Spirits and Grille has been reincarnated (sorry, couldn’t resist being punny) as Sura Indian Bistro. Based on what we’ve seen so far, they’ve kept the cool decor that defined Ancient Spirits and Grille, so you know what it’ll look/feel like.

Heard good things so far about the new Indian-forward menu: Ancient was fusion but it’s kind of hard to compete with Veda in that arena, so hoping this works out PLUS the happy hour should help.

The Ground CPG | 📍100 S 21st St

What’s not to love about CPG, i.e., coffee, plants, and gifts?! Ever since Olde Kensington’s The Ground CPG arrived in Rittenhouse it’s been non-stop busy as it fits in perfectly here: the vibes are cheerful, the coffee and other drinks (e.g., matcha, bubble tea) options are delicious and plentiful, and it’s simply a fun place to meet people and chill. We’d say stop by but, judging by the line that snaked outside this past weekend, we think you already have!

The Josephine | 📍1620 Sansom St

Good news: The Josephine aka 1620 Sansom Street is now ready for people looking for brand-new luxury living! Tours are open – not sure when move-ins begin but we hear it’s this summer, and floor plans plus pricing are live on their site. Want a refresher? We’ve covered its construction extensively here.

Focus on the Future:

Aritizia |📍1725 Walnut St

Would you believe that Aritizia‘s arrival was announced back in June of 2022? The fashionable Canadian brand that offers “beautiful clothes in aspirational places” (so you know it’s going to be a very beautiful space!) has a store in King of Prussia but this is Rittenhouse. Residents here love having great brands within walking distance of lunch, brunch, and dinner so we’re not kidding when we say that Aritzia’s and Reformation’s openings are going to be some of the biggest retail events this year. P.S. This location used to be a second H&M (the first was on Chestnut St).

Ayat |📍2021-23 Sansom St

The New York to Philly (and vice versa) love continues with the impending arrival of Ayat, a Palestinian restaurant, to the long-vacant Roxy Theatre space. This will be their seventh location, and second in Pennsylvania so … that makes it a franchise, right? There had been an attempt in the past to demolish the building but it’ll be good to have another restaurant on that stretch of Sansom near Bolo.

Borromini* |📍1809 Walnut St

We placed an asterisk by the Borromini name because it’s more commonly referred to as the new Stephen Starr restaurant and rightly so: it’s been a while since we had a new Starr restaurant in Philly, let alone Rittenhouse. And on the Square itself, replacing the local cultural icon that was Barnes & Noble?! This is a highly anticipated launch that sadly won’t be coming until 2025 which feels a long way off.

Chip City |📍1909 Walnut St

Not going to lie – Miel Patisserie is MISSED (ignore the 3 stars on Yelp). They had great croissants, cakes, coffee, macarons, and staff – what else could you possibly want? Guessing another spot for sweets because this NY-based and Bethenny Frankel-endorsed cookie company, Chip City is coming to town. Their cookie (per their site-going to have to do some research in person when it opens!) is a croissant baked with cookie dough so we’re going to proclaim Chip City as a worthy replacement for Miel. The tentative opening timeframe is mid-July.

Equinox |📍1909 Walnut St

A lot of New Yorkers’ favorite go-to gym for eucalyptus towels, Equinox, is finally opening up a Philly location in Rittenhouse (yeah, we’re biased, but this is 100% the correct place for them to be) and it looks hot! It’s opening this fall in the newish condo/rentals building The Laurel, and they’re offering virtual tours as construction progresses.

Figs |📍 1625 Walnut St

We shared the fact that Figs – the “cool” choice for scrubs – is finally coming to the town of Eds and Meds back in July. But now construction is WELL underway at the previous, lovely home of Free People who moved across the street, which is equally lovely. While they are considered the Lululemon of scrubs, the store may be more than just clothes: their first-ever retail store in Santa Monica is also a community hub which they plan to replicate here in Philly.

Fishtown Seafood |📍 333 S 22nd St

This one is coming from – you guessed it – Fishtown! Fishtown Seafood is going into the old Anima space at the corner of 22nd and Pine, opposite The Goddard School (so Rittenhouse adjacent). They bill themselves as a new school fish shop, and their Instagram is filled with helpful tips and knowledge for the home chef. phlspecial mentioned they will possibly be holding classes like oyster shucking 101, so if you’re looking for fun, foodie things to do, add this to your list.

Flight Club Darts |📍1417 Walnut St

Billed as an “eatertainment” the UK export Flight Club Darts is luckily coming to Rittenhouse. Luckily, because Philly IS fun but until the recent arrival of mini-golf’s Puttshack to join ping-pong brand Spin, and 5 Iron Golf, Rittenhouse hasn’t had many all-in-3, i.e., activity, food, and drink, places. Hoping that this is just the beginning of more to come.

Glowbar |📍42 S 17th St

There’s something really special happening in Rittenhouse where brands that are resonating with people we’ll call “hip” (for lack of a better word) are now opening up brick-and-mortar. In this case, it’s Glowbar, the hot fast facial chain that’ll deliver a custom facial while you grab coffee at the Swedish Konditori next door. Or a sub from Jimmy John’s – RTO demands sustenance, after all.

The team is aiming for an opening date of April 15th. You can find opening specials here and follow their Instagram for updates.

Jordan Brand’s World of Flight |📍1617 Walnut St

There’s a reason why Sneaker Con happens every year here in Philly as this city LOVES its sneakers. So when news dropped that the Jordan Brand was opening up its first US World of Flight store after Tokyo, Seoul, China, and Milan – let’s just say people got excited. There’s no open date that’s been announced BUT construction has begun. The store has been empty forever – Free People was supposed to move in after a NY investor bought the building but they ended up moving to 1632 Walnut. Fun fact: it looked pretty cool back in the day as Jack Wills. Watch the construction unfold here.

Levain |📍1518 Walnut St

Of the many cookie places hitting Rittenhouse, this is a crowd favorite! The New York staple that’s been slowly expanding across the country, Levain Bakery’s lusciously huge cookies will occupy the space formerly occupied by My.Suit, hopefully this fall.

Little Water 📍261 S 20th St

Foodies were caught off-guard when Twenty Manning announced they were closing. What was also surprising was the fact a brand new coastal restaurant called Little Water was going to open in its place, from hip restauranteurs Randy and Amanda Rucker who own East Passyunk restaurant, River Twice. The hype is real and the foodies are primed, so expect a mad rush when they open their doors.

Reformation |📍 1723 Walnut St

Imagine one area on Walnut and 18th in the city where Anthropologie, Artizia, Madewell, Lululemon, AND Reformation all exist by Rittenhouse Square. That’s what’s in play as construction is underway for the popular LA sustainable fashion. We’ll be doing our best to keep up, peek in, and share updates, promise!

Skin Laundry |📍 123 S 16th St

Rittenhouse denizens will have ZERO excuses to not have glowing skin as the neighborhood will have another facial option, joining the coming Glowbar, recent arrival LaserAway, Heyday, Rescue Spa, and more. Skin Laundry, a subscription laser facial chain from New York, will be coming to the store formerly occupied by Kimberly Boutique (RIP). Work has begun and they’re hiring so we’ll keep you posted!

Taylor Chip |📍1809 Chestnut St

Speaking of cookies, we dropped the ball on following up with Taylor Chip, the Lancaster-based cookie store that was supposed to open last year. But life is busy when you make the Forbes Under 30 list and opening a store in Rittenhouse is challenging, to say the least, so kudos to them! The cookies are probably amazing and we can’t wait to sample them in person.

Tequilas |📍1602 Locust St

📷: Google Maps

We’re still (now anxiously) waiting for Tequila’s, the only place you can find a rose margarita in the neighborhood, well over a year since it closed due to a bad fire. However, owner David Suro has been busy, doing incredible things: focusing on the family tequila brand, Siembra Spirits, and authoring the book Agave Spirits, among many other things we’re sure, one of which will be a Tequila’s that (literally) rises from the ashes.

The Sugary | 📍 251 S 21st St

Soon, everyone who lives near Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will have a very chic dessert boutique option in the neighborhood, The Sugary. It’s a custom dessert place from East Falls that is opening up its first storefront where Latimer Dry Cleaners was, and we’re down with it because they’ll be offering desserts, specialty treats, cakes, and coffee. And judging by their stunning cake designs, we’re 99.9% sure this will be a very popular place to find your holiday sweet treats.

Topside Tavern | 📍 10 S 20th St

We have many things in Rittenhouse but not too many rooftop restaurants: we have 2 Because you can never have enough of a good thing, the owners of Thanal Indian Tavern are transforming the long-closed Farmer’s Keep (RIP) into a tavern and aiming at a summer 2024 opening. The rooftop lends itself very well for casual or formal get-togethers, particularly with some of the Center City RTO mandates.

Undisclosed @The Bards | 📍 2013 Walnut St

It was in the neighborhood for 26 (!!!) years but hospitality is tough and the pandemic unfortunately forced The Bards to close. The Philadelphia Business Journal noted that the Bards’ building and the Irish Pub + Cafe were up for sale but no buyer was noted. Now there’s an alcohol application up and work is being done so we’re going to track this one (plus all the other things – it’s a busy 2024!)

Undisclosed @Vita | 📍 261 S 17th St

Our favorite gelato, sorbet, and all-around-awesome people Vita has been dropping hints on a MAJOR reveal that is getting everyone VERY excited! Our tip? Follow them on social.

Know of anything else coming or in the works? Shoot us an email here so we can watch their progress together.