SUN Exclusive: Supper Sessions Replaces Street Fare in West Mount Airy, business owners weigh in on both events
(The event is also offering paid positions for youth workers, apply here)
By Monica Peters
Will Street Fare ever return to Mt. Airy?
The highly anticipated Street Fare in West Mount Airy won’t be returning this year. However, another exciting event with more local “flava” will replace it.
But don’t worry, residents from Mt. Airy and the Philadelphia region can still sip, dine and stroll through the street and enjoy activities while supporting local businesses.
A new format called Supper Sessions on the Avenue will take Street Fare’s place. Every Wednesday in September, restaurants on the 7100 block of Germantown Avenue will offer outside dining from 5 to 11 p.m. and community organizations including Mt. Airy Art Garage will be spotlighted.
The event is presented by Mt. Airy USA, the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District (BID), and the Business Association of Mt. Airy (BAM).
“We are hoping that people will come out and have a good time on the avenue and enjoy our homegrown talent in Mt. Airy,” says Kim Massare, Mt. Airy USA’s Director of Development and Community Programs.
The 7100 block of Germantown boasts critically acclaimed restaurants including Chef Ken’s soul food which was featured on Travel Channel’s The Layover show hosted by Anthony Bourdain. Other eateries on that unit block include McMenamin’s Tavern, Trattoria Moma, Mi Pueblo Restaurant and Bakery, Jyoti Indian Bistro, Earth Bread and Brewery, Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange and more.
Supper Sessions is kid-friendly too. There will be chalking in the middle of the street, story time, face painting and more activities to keep the children entertained.
Businesses on “the ave” that offer services other than grub, will also have skin in the game during Supper Sessions. Ryan Foster Inc., a new multicultural hair salon on the 7100 block, will offer free outdoor beauty workshops during the weekly September event.
“It’s been an amazing experience to be a part of the heartbeat of Germantown Avenue,” says the salon’s owner Anika Lee Thompson.
“It’s my neighborhood, I’ve grown up in my entire life. It should be a great way to engage with everyone new and old,” continued Thompson, who is looking forward to reconnecting with folks during the Super Sessions.
Thompson’s sentiment is what Super Sessions on the Avenue organizers wish to tap into.
“Our intent was to make an event that is much more rooted in our community,” says Massare.
“While Street Fare was a popular event, some local businesses on ‘the ave’ and residents felt it wasn’t really of benefit to our local business community.”
Jessica Graaf, owner of Cresheim Valley Exchange agrees.
“It [Street Fare] absolutely hurt our business,” says Graaf.
“We have big windows in the front of our building. We would have a food truck park right in front of our restaurant and their exhaust fumes would fill up our dining room.”
“We had to close the doors because people wouldn’t come in and because they were eating the food off the street,” continued Graaf.
Chef Ken’s Manager, Hassan Smith, says Street Fare has been good for his restaurant.
“It was spectacular! I had a line out the door. I always sellout,” says Smith.
“As long they don’t park their trucks directly in front of my business, blocking [my business] it’s not a problem. Besides that, it was a wonderful event.”
However, Smith looks forward to the new Supper Sessions taking Street Fare’s place.
“I think it’s great,” says Smith.
Supper Sessions event goers will also see some of their favorite eateries from further down Germantown Avenue converge on the 7100 block. This includes Little Jimmie’s Bakery Café which will set up shop with his delectable treats.
“We actually have been really excited that so many other businesses have been contacting us wanting to be a part of Supper Sessions,” says Mussare.
Mussare says, the event was scaled down to one block this year because of resident concerns about traffic and parking.
“We decided to make it less of a stretch this time around because it would create less issues of re-routing buses and traffic.”
Since Street Fare was popular and attracted hundreds from the Philadelphia region, can there be both a Street Fare and a Supper Sessions on the Avenue?
“We would love to be able to do both. Unfortunately, we are unable to,” says Mussare.
“We would like to do a similar event opening the street to pedestrians along different sections of the avenue throughout the year. We have started talking to other businesses,” says Mussare looking possibly at expanding Supper Sessions next year.
So, is Street Fare officially a thing of the past? Not necessarily.
“I don’t know that either of us feel confident in saying that,” says Mussare referring to herself and Mt. Airy USA Managing Director Sarajane Blair.
We would like to see how this [Supper Sessions] goes this year and see if there is some good momentum that this event creates…and think about that as we go forward for planning future events.”
Mt. Airy USA is also seeking to fill paid positions for youth event assistants ages 18-24 to help with set up for Supper Sessions.
To sign up for youth event assistant positions go here. For questions contact Kim Massare at 215-844-6021 ext. 225, [email protected]. For more information on Supper Sessions on the Avenue go to www.gomtairy.com