FYI Philly tours Vegans are Us, Los Gio's Smoke & Grill, new W Hotel Philadelphia

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Monday, October 18, 2021
Oct. 17 FYI Philly: Tour new W Hotel, Vegans are Us, Philly Film Fest
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This week on FYI Philly, we fire up the grill for some smoky fusion, tour the new W Hotel and AC's first vegan restaurant.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Fishtown is home to "sushi whisperer's" Izakaya by Yanaga

A local top chef is taking his sushi skills and a brand-new concept to one of Philly's hottest neighborhoods.

Executive Chef Kevin Yanaga is dubbed the "sushi whisperer" and is known for working at some of the city's top restaurants.

At his latest venture, Izakaya by Yanaga, Kevin brings the flavors of his hometown in Kawasaki, Japan, and merges it with Western influences.

You'll find classic sushi dishes, but the menu is geared more towards comfort food; Think ramen and Japanese fried chicken.

Izakaya is Japanese for pub. A vibe Kevin and his partner, Glu Hospitality, wanted to bring to Fishtown.

They highlight hand-crafted cocktails and a wide range of Japanese whiskey. Plus, it's the only place you'll find 10 different varieties of sakes in the city.

The layout is a dual concept, with the front side more causal, offering small plates. The second part of the concept is an upscale tasting room, an Omakase sushi bar, opening later this fall. Also launching this fall, is happy hour and weekend brunch.

Izakaya by Yanaga | Instagram

1832 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19125

Hours: Wed-Sun 5-10PM

Ma Lessie's replaces Reading Terminal soul food staple

With more people heading back to work in the city, both commuters and tourists alike will want to check out this bustling new spot for soul food that has a connection to the one that came before it.

Ma Lessie's Chicken & Waffles now occupies the stall held by KeVen Parker's Soul Food Cafe.

Owner Perry Ison had a longstanding connection to the previous owner, as the shop's former manager.

When Parker passed away earlier this year, Ison took over the spot and named it after his great-grandmother, Lessie Collins.

Their spotlight dish is chicken and waffles, but all the soul food favorites are lined up and ready to go.

Ma Lessie's Chicken & Waffles | Instagram | Facebook

Reading Terminal Market (12th Street side)

51 N. 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

open daily, 11am-6pm

Los Gios blends Giovanni Gonzalez's Mexican culture with smoky BBQ

Giovanni Gonzalez and his wife Kristen had a busy 2020.

They were both furloughed from their jobs. They welcomed their first child, Little Gio. And, they started a home-based cooking business, Los Gio's Smoke and Grill.

Gio has spent the last 15 years cooking in local restaurants. When the pandemic hit, him and his wife decided to build a commercial kitchen in their house. It includes a half dozen smokers on the patio and a full kitchen in the garage. They added a food truck to the operation shortly after launch.

The menu blends Gio's Mexican culture with his love of BBQ. He smokes ribs, pork, brisket, chicken and sausage, among other things. He uses rubs and sauces infused with chili peppers and spices traditionally found in Mexican food. He also creates more traditional BBQ sauces and rubs. The dishes he creates include nachos, tacos, samplers and sandwiches.

They serve takeout from the home kitchen. Guests order Monday through Wednesday for appointment pick up Friday through Saturday. They roll the truck out for local events, catering and private parties.

The family launched the business with hopes to build something they can all do together.

Los Gio's Smoke & Grill | Facebook | Instagram

214 Woodbridge Lane

Douglassville, Pa 19518

323-302-7995

Vegans Are Us in AC is serving up healthy eats with a touch of soul

At Atlantic City's Vegans Are Us you can find everyday dishes prepared in vegan form, 100% plant-based, no animal product, no byproduct.

Popular dishes include the Ultimate Beast Beet Burger topped with vegan mac and cheese, Vegan Chicken Cheesesteak and Jackfruit Burger.

The touch of soul starts at the line of homemade sauces and extends to the fresh herbs and seasonings.

Owner Sharonda Harris first opened in Vineland, New Jersey, after experiencing personal tragedy that transformed her life. In response, she dedicated her life to wellness. She is also the first African American to open a business in the Tanger Outlets.

Vegans Are Us hopes to franchise internationally, but for now, you can find them in both the Atlantic City and Vineland, open for breakfast through dinner.

Vegans Are Us

Atlantic City, New Jersey Location: 122 North Michigan Avenue, Unit 200, Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401

Vineland, New Jersey Location: 636 East Landis Avenue, Vineland, New Jersey 08360

Van Leeuwen scoops up finely crafted ice cream from fancy to fun

There's a new ice cream shop in Midtown Village, taking sweet treats to a whole new level.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is the 25th scoop shop in the country for this artisan designer of frozen treats.

Founding partner and CEO Ben Van Leeuwen crafts unique flavors like Apple Bourbon Crisp and Royal Wedding Cake, and sources ingredients from places like Sicily and Vietnam.

They focus on using very few ingredients, and vegan options are as prominent on the menu as dairy items.

They also make milkshakes, cookie sandwiches made with vegan chocolate chip cookies and sundaes.

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream | Facebook | Instagram

119 S. 13th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107

215-309-5414

hours: 11am-11pm Sunday-Thursday, until midnight Friday-Saturday

Clay's Bakery in Berwyn celebrates 31 years of making specialty cakes

When it comes to sweet treats from the Main Line, Clay's Creative Corner Bakery has been the area's premier one-stop-shop for 31 years.

The scratch bakery makes an array of pastries, cupcakes, brownies, decorated cookies, ready-made, and specialty cakes.

Some of their popular sweets are the tollhouse chocolate chip cookies and their chocolate chip pound cake.

Denise Bones and her husband Bill have owned and operated the family bakery since 1990 and walking through the doors you are made to feel like a part of their family.

"All of my children are involved in the business. I have five children and now my granddaughter is involved," Denise says.

Clay's offers layered and pound cakes with specialty fillings, toppings, and colors to create cakes for every occasion. Denise says she's seen it all from making cakes for weddings to divorces. The bakery is open Wednesday to Friday from 10 am-6 pm and Saturdays from 8 am-4 pm.

Clay's Creative Corner Bakery | Instagram | Facebook

700 Lancaster Avenue, Berwyn, PA 19312

610-647-2119

The W Hotel Philadelphia makes its mark in Center City

The brand-new W Philadelphia is the newest addition to Philly's skyline.

The hotel opened its doors this summer on Chestnut Street in Center City. The 51-story skyscraper is in celebration of Philadelphia from the art to the cocktails.

The hotel has 295 guest rooms featuring 39 suites with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the city.

On the 7th floor is the WET Deck, a year-round pool with cabanas and its own eatery.

You'll also find the Secret Garden with lush greenspace and illuminated statues of Benjamin Franklin and Marie Antoinette, a nod to their believed secret romance.

Also on the floor is the AWAY Spa complete with a Detox menu, treatment rooms, lounge, and beauty bar to the color palette of Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

The main floor features a large lobby with nods to Philadelphia's City grid and the historic gardens of Fairmount Park.

The lobby bar called the Living Room serves up a specialty food menu and curated cocktails including the Kumo Sumo, Stripp'd and Ready, and the Italian Market Espresso Martini. Hidden behind the Living Room bar's two-way mirror is Stevens' Prophecy, a salon adorned with artwork celebrating Philadelphia and Hollywood royalty Grace Kelly. The speakeasy is a feature of the W brand.

W Philadelphia | Instagram | Facebook

1439 Chestnut St. Philadelphia PA 19102

215-709-8000

30th annual Philadelphia Film Festival

From Spencer, a movie about the end of Princess Diana's marriage, to the sci-fi thriller Encounter and the Electrical Life of the English artist Louis Wain, this year's Philadelphia Film Festival is a "triumphant return to the cinemas" with more than 140 movies over 11 days.

After an entirely virtual festival last year, PFS wanted butts back in cinema seats for its 30th anniversary. For the first time ever, all films will be screened at PFS venues-The Philadelphia Film Center in Center City, PFS at the Bourse in Old City and, for those reluctant to venture indoors, the new PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard.

The indoor venues will be capped at 50% capacity with every other seat kept empty along with mandatory masks and proof of vaccination.

The festival opens Oct. 20 with Belfast, a film set in Ireland during the decades-long period known as The Troubles.

There are horror flicks, a Philly-centric section and whole new categories on documentaries and on environmental films.

King Richard, starring Philadelphia's own Will Smith as the father and coach of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams is sure to be an Oscar contender, and PFS Artistic Director Michael Lerman calls it "the inspiring story we need right now."

PFS Film Festival | Website |Binge Badges | Facebook | Instagram

October 20-31, 2021

Philadelphia Film Society requires masks as well as proof of vaccination for all badge and ticket holders attending the Film Festival.

Philadelphia Film Center

1412 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19102

215-422-4580

PFS at the Bourse

400 Ranstead Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19106

215-422-4600

PFS Drive-In at the Navy Yard

Admiral Peary Way &, League Island Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19112

267-239-2941

FYI Show Extras

The Audi Feastival celebrates its 12th year of bringing Philadelphia's culinary culture together on Thursday, October 21. More than 40 restaurants and bars develop a menu for the special event that raises money for FringeArts.

This year's event will take place at The Budd, a new space in East Falls with enough room to socially distance and still enjoy the company, the food and live performances. Proof of vaccine is required.

Audi Feastival at The Budd | Facebook | Instagram

3431 Fox St, Philadelphia, Pa. 19129

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Pop-Up Marketplace at Love Park is a collaboration of diverse retailers from Greater Philadelphia's African-American and Hispanic Chambers Of Commerce. The pop-up market is open on weekends from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.through October 24.

Enjoy live music, free yoga and family activities along with vendors like Sable Collective, Gynger Tea, Nubian K. Essentials and She's Phenomenal Fashions.

Pop-Up Marketplace at Love Park | Facebook | Instagram

1600 JFK Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pa. 19103

The Masonic Temple in Center City has a free art exhibition open to the public through Oct. 30. The Grand Exhibition includes 23 pieces that arrived from as far away as Ukraine. The artists were asked to interpret freemasonry in one of five mediums.

Among the works, paintings done by a local artist who works with red wine.

Most of the artworks are for sale with 80% of the proceeds going to the artist and the remaining 20%, benefitting the Masonic Temple's Library and Museum.

Masonic Temple, Library & Museum

1 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

215-988-1977

The Wilma Theater is back with a live in-person play for the first time since the pandemic.

Suli Holum, fresh off her role in The Mare of Easttown, is one of the comedic characters in Minor Character, an adaption of the Anton Chekhov, Uncle Vanya. In this version, Uncle Vanya is played by a woman, in a production full of zany surprises.

Wilma Theater: Minor Characters: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time

Wilma Theater | Tickets |Facebook | Instagram
Minor Character, on stage through October 25
266 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 19107

Stream on demand Oct. 25-Nov. 7 |
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