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December 5, 2011

Philly Chefs And Restaurateurs Expanding: Garces Goes West, Starr To D.C., Zama To Miami, La Colombe To Chicago And Vetri To New Jersey

We're psyched to see Philly chefs and restaurateurs on the move — they're Philadelphia's ambassadors for all the awesome things going on in the Philly food scene, which is more robust than ever before. (Photo credits clockwise from top left: courtesy Parc, courtesy Osteria, G. Widman for GPTMC, courtesy Distrito)

In recent weeks, there’s been a few big pieces of news hitting, in which well established Philadelphia chefs, restaurateurs and entrepreneurs are making plans to expand or else are actively expanding their operations across the country and, in some cases, across the globe.

We’re psyched to see Philly chefs and restaurateurs on the move — they’re Philadelphia’s ambassadors for all the awesome things going on in the Philly food scene, which is more robust than ever before, earning accolades left and right.

Below is a quick recap of some of the most recent and notable chef and restaurateur expansion news; and don’t worry — none of these champions will forget that Philadelphia loved them first:

Stephen Starr, Starr Restaurant Group
Target: Washington, DC

Starr already has multiple restaurants in New York, Atlantic City and Florida to complement his restaurant stronghold here in Philadelphia (now at 20 strong, after the recent openings of Il Pittore and Route 6). Just last month, Stephen Starr confirmed that he’ll be expanding to the nation’s capital, bringing a Parc-like restaurant to D.C. Good choice.

Chef Jose Garces of Garces Restaurant Group;
Target: Arizona and now Palm Springs, California and Atlantic City

Just last month, Garces opened the first two of three restaurants that he will be bringing to the The The Saguaro in Scottsdale, Arizona: Old Town Whiskey, a saloon modeled after Village Whiskey, and Garces Trading Company (GTC) Coffee To-Go. The third restaurant will be a branch of Distrito.

Now comes word from Grubstreet L.A. he’ll be headed even further west to Palm Springs, California. Rumor is Garces’ venture in the Golden State will be something similar to what he’s doing in Arizona.

And, the Inquirer reports that Garces will also be opening three restaurants at Revel Atlantic City, the $2.4 billion megacasino scheduled to open in the spring.

Marc Vetri, Vetri Restaurant Family
Target: New Jersey

Moorestown Mall owner PREIT, in an effort to upgrade the mall with high-end dining spots, has signed a letter of intent with Chef Marc Vetri to open a restaurant at the mall. Michael Klein reports it would be a smaller-scale version of Osteria.

La Colombe and Zama details below.

Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti of La Colombe Torrefaction: Chicago

Carmichael (an American) and Iberti (a Frenchman) conceived of their “culinary coffee” concept — the skills of the European coffee roaster meeting the fine cuisine of America — in 1985. Since then, they’ve opened three cafes, their flagship in Rittenhouse Square and two more in New York City, and have just this year opened three more: a Dilworth Plaza location in Philadelphia, another New York cafe in NOHO, and — new geographic territory for the pair — a Chicago West Loop site. Those Midwesterners are in for a treat, what with La Colombe’s irresistibly rich, fresh brews that are so tasty they’re available wholesale and at markets like Whole Foods.

Chef Zama of Zama Restaurant: South Beach

One of Philadelphia’s most accomplished sushi chefs, having cut his teeth at Pod and Morimoto, Chef Hiroyuki “Zama” Tanaka is opening a sushi bar, titled, effectively, Zama Sushi Bar, in the lobby of the Shelborne South Beach Hotel. The hotel’s multi-million dollar renovations are expected to be completed soon.

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Oh no! Hopefully they don’t lose interest in Philly!