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Jan 22, 2014 07:24 AM

Eli Kulp: "People in New York just don't go to Philadelphia"

Some interesting commentary from Kulp and Serpico in this article and a unique perspective from chefs who are relocating down here from New York. I understand this article is in a NYC-centric blog, but the content still kind of rubbed me the wrong way...I understand there are some truths in what they are saying but it still comes off as elitist and if I was Kulp I would have refrained from saying something like "People in New York just don't go to Philadelphia", regardless of the context.

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  1. I get my Indonesian, Vietnamese and some sandwich fixes in Philly. Not to mention, photographing SEPTA stations is a chilling hoot.

    I'm a New Yorker, but the rest of the world also exists...


    1 Reply
    1. re: BuildingMyBento

      I went to John's on Snyder a couple of weeks ago. Oh, that's good stuff, though the plastic factory across the street might make you nauseous.

    2. An amazingly ignorant thing to put ones name to. Hardly even worthy of a reply.

      1. I don't take offense. It sounds like an observation of NYer behavior with no implied judgement on either city.

        Is it correct? I don't know. Might be.

        1. I read the article from beginning to end. I don't take offense of that sentence. The two cities are different. NYorkers are more willing to spend more, and are willing to chase the new hype and buzz compare to Philadelphians.

          As for "People in New York just don't go to Philadelphia" statement, it can mean so many things. Most likely an exaggeration anyway.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I am going to Philadelphia tomorrow! And I am from NY (Brooklyn really)

            1. re: Mangita

              I'm on my way right now (NJ Transit) from NYC (with a stop over at The Borgata in AC) to dine tonight at Serpico. From everything I'm reading, Philadelphia is an exciting dining destination (and very convenient from NYC).

              1. re: ellenost

                Cool. I hope Mangita and you have a wonderful time in Philly. You may not able to find many high end restaurants like NYC, but there are many good quality restaurants at reasonable price range.

                <very convenient from NYC>

                Now, that I don't see. It is like what? 3 hours drive?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  are you serious? it's like 1:45 to nyc.

                  it's almost exactly 100 miles.

                  1. re: alex1018

                    depends on traffic..........

                    And frankly driving to trenton and taking NJT is so much nicer.(Or spring for Amtrak).

                    1. re: alex1018

                      I think it depends how you measure it. If you mean like no traffic and getting from the edge of NY to the edge of PA, then you are absolutely correct. On the other hand, I like to measure from "the time I get out of my house/apartment in NYC" to "the time I park my car in Philadelphia and get out of my car".

                      (I don't live in NYC, but just an example.)

                    2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Via Amtrak it's less than 90 minutes. (Hate driving!)

                        1. re: ellenost

                          But are you counting the just the Amtrak time or are you counting the time from your house to your final destination.

                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Regular Amtrak ride from NY Penn Station to Philadelphia 30th Street Station. Not too expensive either. Taxi ride from some of my favorite restaurants in downtown Manhattan to my apartment on the upper east side costs $25.

                        2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          Just 90 minutes by train and I am going to enjoy the food for sure! I love different takes on food and how it is expressed in different cities. We should be able to appreciate it all- it would be boring otherwise!

                      1. re: Mangita

                        And we're going next weekend to relax and yes to eat great food! It takes us between 1.45 and 2.5 hours to drive depending on traffic. Can't wait!

                    3. The original comment has been removed
                      1. So many of our restaurants are challenging the tops in NY? ?????? Are you serious?

                        At best Vetri .. .everything else is second tier restaurants which are a dime a dozen in NY.

                        The only other category I would give Philadelphia is they have more BYOBs, which is not a good thing... Philadelphia is the king of the less profitable restaurants. That is nothing to write home about.

                        NY has fine dining comparable to any city in the world. You cannot say that about Philadelphia.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          I love Philly, but I don't think Philly food scene is quiet the same as many other places, especially New York. I was in Vancouver and Toronto just a year ago, and both Canadian cities have better food scene than Philly in my personal opinion. I was originally from California, and I will also say the Bay Area food scene is better than Philly in my opinion.

                          This may just be the kind of food I enjoy.

                          On the other hand, Philly foods are affordable, and very resistance against hype -- which is a good thing, but a bad thing as well.

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            Sorry, but we'll have to disagree on Philly BYOBs.

                            The BYOB scene here is something to be very proud of, and it is pretty much unique. You can enjoy fantastic food in many cities around the world, but only in Philly do we have so many excellent places, spanning the spectrum, with free or virtually free BYOB.

                            I travel a fair bit overseas and around the US for business, and I try to organize a wine dinner with my online wine friends whenever I can. It makes a boring business trip a LOT more interesting, and is a great way to make new friends and learn about a new city. Depending on where you are going, it can be done, but the scarcity of good BYOBs in many other cities always makes it a bit of a challenge.

                            You can argue about where Philly ranks among the great cities for it's food scene (and I think it's not as widely appreciated as it should be), but for someone like me for whom the wine is equally as important as the food, Philly jumps 10 spots just because of all our BYOBs.

                            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                              BTW, I also frequent several online wine boards populated by wine geeks like myself.

                              A popular activity on these boards is to organize so-called "Offline" wine dinners where everyone brings a bottle (or 3) to share, often with people they've only met online.

                              [Actually, my friend Ron from Boston, who has been known to post on Chowhound, actually claims to have invented the term "Offline" way back in the era of Prodigy, before AOL,, wineberserkers and all the rest.]

                              Anyway, watching people in other cities try to organize these dinners is always a little depressing for me...they sometimes have so few places to choose from or have to go to the same place over and over, that I fear I'll never be able to live anywhere else after being so spoiled by Philly BYOBs!

                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                I just joined wine berserkers. are you on it?

                              2. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                Even more important to me than the corkage is the fact that a chef here can affordably open their own their restaurant without having to deal with lot investors. That means the chef runs the place the way he or she sees fit. That's much harder in NYC

                                And of course people from New York visit philly, Tyler post on here all the time. The rest of the article seems accurate.

                                1. re: barryg

                                  They may be able to open it on a shoestring, but the failure rate for BYos is much greater, and why any decent chef ultimately needs to get a liquor license.

                                  BYOs are on average at least 50% less profitable than restaurants with liquor licenses. As someone who wants to see a thriving high end dining scene in Philadelphia, I long for the day when the BYO is a dinosaur. And the only way that will happen is when we change our antiquated liquor laws.

                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                    I'd be interested in what evidence supports your conclusion of a higher failure rate for BYOs relative to restaurants with liquor licenses, or is that just your gut feeling (it isn't mine, but I'm open to hear about actual data to support that contention). All restaurants have a very high failure rate. Looking at the list of restaurants that closed last year, it doesn't seem to have an disproportionate number of BYOBs on it.


                                    No one is questioning that there is more money to be made with a liquor license than without one. But Blackfish wouldn't still be BYOBs unless there was a decent profit to be made without a licence that outweights the risk to their business from loosing their loyal BYOing customer base.

                                    As far as I'm concerned, Philly does have a thriving high-end dining scene, and this is increasingly being recognized outside Philly (we are no longer just a sandwich and beer city). Is there a better up-and-coming food city on the east coast?

                                    I know the most about cities I've lived in for long periods of time (Chicago, Seattle, Boston and Philly). Chicago is obviously not comparable, but as I've said before, although relatively small Boston is much more famous nationally for it's dining scene, I much prefer Philly, and think it is ultimately better (and not just because I prefer to dine at BYOBs).

                                    I bet, if you took a poll of people who frequent fine dining establishments in Philly, and asked them if they would change our liquor laws if it also meant no more BYOBs, the majority wouldn't vote for change. There are few people like myself who truely pine for small mom-and-pop wine shops featuring Sardinian orange wines, or want to import cases of wine direct from Cali vineyards. Most people just want wine/beer to be a little cheaper, and more conveniently available. But Philadelphians do by and large like our BYOB culture. It's what makes us unique.

                                    I want to see the liquor laws change, but I have to admitt that propper change would also involve making it much easier and cheaper to get a liquor license (why should it be so hard for a young chef to open her own business?), and that would be the deathnell of our BYOB culture.

                                    But we BYOBed fairly regularly in Boston, where BYOBing is illegal, so we'd probably survive.

                                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                      Weirdly, there seems to be no more restriction of liquor licenses here than in Boston, where there's a cap of 650 licenses for the city.

                                      1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

                                        Your right, I remember a story from a couple of years ago for Brookline MA where they were hitting the limit on liquor licenses. Typical political BS: let's make it hard to open business that will actually employee people!

                                        As I understand it, in Philly the issue is not the number of licenses, but the high cost of the licenses, and maybe the lenght of time it can take?

                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                          I believe the issue is the same in both cities: licenses capped for each city (proportionately to population) by the state.

                                          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                            As with nearly all things, the scarcity of licenses is the primary reason they are so expensive. Since we're at the limit, a new restaurant doesn't get a "new license" from the state, it buys one from a pre-existing business.

                                            1. re: caganer

                                              Ah, that explains it.

                                              $1.6M for a liquor license? Those must have been some swanky bubbles.

                                      2. re: cwdonald

                                        Do you think that will happen in the next decade cwdonald? Beer at Wegmans is a start but I want me some three buck chuck.

                                        1. re: givemecarbs

                                          Tell your legislators you want liberalized liquor laws. The last go at it, every single Democrat in the state legislator voted against liberalization -- hardly in line with the vast majority of their constituents I would suspect.