If you, like me, have been jonesing for Alice Bakery & Confectionary’s bread and baked goodies since the close of the Ambler Farmers’ Market in October, the wait is over! Well almost over, as we still have to wait for fit out and opening day, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Alice will be opening (hopefully in March) at 95 E Butler Avenue, the former site of Caffe Maida, on the corner of Butler and N Ridge.
This will be the second location for Alice Bakery & Confectionary; owner, Dennis Darr (right), opened his first bakery in North Wales just three years ago. Darr was formally trained at the French Pastry School and has worked alongside renowned chefs, pastry and otherwise, throughout his career. His well honed skill did not remain a secret for long in the sleepy town of North Wales, as word of mouth traveled and gushing reviews abounded.
Lacking a savory baker in town, we were very fortunate to have ABC join the Ambler Farmers’ Market for the opening season in 2013, and again this past year. What a treat Alice proved to be, a huge anchor for the market and undoubtedly, one of the biggest draws. If you’ve shopped the famers’ market, then likely, you’ve met Dennis. He is the friendly, tall, bald guy who has been up hours before the crack of dawn shaping, proofing and baking your the bread. Of course, bread is not all ABC has to offer, in addition to amazing breads you will find assorted pastries (scones, muffins, croissants, danishes, sticky buns), cupcakes, cookies and the like. If you only know ABC from the market, then you may not realize that it is also a fabulous lunch spot. Think charming french cafe offering delicious homemade soups, wonderful salads and sandwiches, quiche of the day (typically two varieties), and more. I’m totally addicted to their portobello mushroom soup (accompanied by a perfect French baguette, of course) as well as their chicken salad (loads of fresh dill, MMMM!). If you’re smart, you’ll save room for something sweet after lunch, my favorite is the pineapple upside down cupcake, or as I call it, party in your mouth. Last, but not least, Darr is also a chocolatier, he creates beautiful and decadent chocolates, and they offer custom cakes, as well.
Alice will open early in the morning, serve lunch from 10:30-2:30pm and close @ 6pm. Eventually (hopefully by Spring), they will extend their hours and stay open late to accommodate the after theater and dinner crowds. It has been said that a bakery is the heart of a town, and I believe that having this keystone in place will be an important part of Ambler’s continued growth. ABC will be a wonderful addition to our town and I can’t wait for opening day!
Be sure to like their facebook page for updates.
This is an exciting time of year, and Ambler is celebrating! As you can see below, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy the holiday season in town. Ambler Main Street, our local theaters, shops, eateries, pubs and churches are all doing something to make the season extra special. Bring your family, invite your friends and celebrate with your neighbors!
December 4: Live Nativity at St. Anthony’s, 6-8pm. The Christmas Story is portrayed by over 100 parish volunteers, outdoors at St. Anthony of Padua, on Forest Avenue. Complete with live animals, this is a beautiful tradition that you don’t want to miss.
December 6: Ambler Main Street Annual Holiday Parade, updated time 11am. Make sure the little ones bring their letters for Santa!
December 6: Tree Lighting, 6pm. This is a new event this year, and hopefully one that will continue for years to come. The tree will be located in the grassy area next to Sweet Briar Cafe, on Lindenwold Ave. Presented by our friends on Lindenwold Ave, Sweet Briar Cafe, Tony Serrao, State Farm and Ambler Barber Shop.
December 9-28: Act II Playhouse is featuring three different holiday shows that are sure to please! ‘Making Spirits Bright‘ is a Holiday Comedy Cabaret (12/9-28). Murray the Elf returns in ‘Murray the Elf and the Case of the Stolen Sleighbells‘ which is a funny show geared towards families with children 5 years and older (12/20-26). Barrymore Award winning singer, Joilet Harris, returns for one night to perform ‘Joi to the World‘ an evening of Holiday Songs (12/21).
December 10: Holiday Sing-A-Long and IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE!, 6:30pm, at the Ambler Theater. The Ambler Symphony will perform a holiday concert, followed by a sing-a-long of familiar carols. Following the sing-a-long, the theater will screen the Frank Capra Christmas classic (and my favorite movie, yay!), It’s a Wonderful Life!!! If by some crazy chance, you have not seen this movie, you must see it on the big screen! If Ambler is near and dear to your heart, you will immediately feel a connection to Bedford Falls. This film will melt the heart of Mr. Grinch and even Scrooge.
December 11: Santa by Train, 7pm. Ambler Main Street brings Santa to Ambler once again! He is foregoing his sleigh, it’s only December 11th after all, and arriving at the Ambler Train Station to greet his friends and join them in walking to the Ambler Theater. Once they arrive, the theater will screen a Christmas classic for the kids to watch as they wait for their turn with the big guy.
December 12: Holiday Shopping Night, 5-9pm. Your favorite Ambler shops and eateries will be open until 9pm and offer exciting holiday specials. This is a great way to support our local businesses and cross those gifts off your list. Of course, you’re likely to find a few gifts for yourself, but that’s okay, you deserve it! While in town, enjoy the sound of carolers!
December 20: The castle at St. Mary’s will be open for tours, 11am-5pm. The castle will be dressed for Christmas and Santa will be there (pictures, noon-4pm)! Admission is a donation of your choice and the event benefits the students at The Villa.
December 23: Forest & Main presents, The Night Before Christmas. I believe this is the third year F&M has done this, and it is a wonderful tradition. There will be a 5pm reading for families, complimentary milk and cookies for the little ones, and the spicy, adult version of this classic poem will be performed at 10pm. And yes, mulled wine will be flowing. If we’re lucky, Christmas Karaoke will ensue!
December 24: The First Presbyterian Church of Ambler is holding a Traditional Candlelight Service at 9pm.
If you know of other Ambler holiday events that should be shared, let me know. Next stop, New Years Eve!
Two of Ambler’s most iconic properties are currently for sale, the Ambler Cabaret was listed back in April, and today 34 East Tavern (or The Wyndham, as I still like to call it) hit the market. The owners are asking $2,899,000 for the property, which includes the infamous historic building with full kitchen, bar and restaurant (second and third floors are currently shells), a liquor license, the adjacent parking lot, and the building that houses El Limon.
This property has had a troubled past; between several unsuccessful endeavors, a partial wall collapse, and other sordid events, it seems to carry a bit of a dark cloud. The MLS remarks state that the property is ideal for “a hands-on owner who can take this location to the next level,” I couldn’t agree more. Between the incredible architectural detail and the best patio in town, there is LOADS of potential here. I’ve heard it called the crown jewel of the town, I hope that someone will come along and truly make it shine.
UPDATE, January 15, 2015:
The listing for 34 East expired this past November. The property was re-listed today at a reduced price of $2,400,000.
|Home size||18,000 sq ft|
|Lot Size||15,475 sqft|
Turn-Key Operating Tavern(google 34easttavern) Completely Renovated - 18,000 SF Price: $2,400,000 with Liquor License, Fixtures, Furniture, & Equipment 80 Indoor Seating along with 54 Bar-Side Seating 44 Outdoor Patio Seats - only outdoor dining area within 5 miles,34 East Tavern (Building A) tenant occupies first floor and lower level only 2nd, 3rd, 4th floors available for lease (needs rehabilitation) Building B currently leased to El Limon/Mexican cuisine restaurant Excellent for User/Owner or Investor Lease Summary Available
Property Type(s): Commercial
|Year Built||1893||Community||Ambler Boro|
|Total Parking||n/a||Walk Score ®||94|
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
Listing with: Capital Commercial Real Estate Group
August 4th marks Cornerstone’s 3rd Annual Narnia in the Park! Cornerstone Presbyterian Church returns to Pickering Field for five nights, as Rev. Dr. Carl R. Trueman reads C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The nightly readings, August 4-8, will take you back into the world of Edmond, Lucy and Prince Caspian as they are joined by Eustace in the search for seven lost Lords of Narnia. Each evening will also feature mini concerts of folk and classical music, light refreshments and activities for the kids. This is a wonderful event for the entire family, but don’t stop there, invite your neighbors and friends as well! Bring your own blankets and chairs and sit back as Pickering Field becomes Narnia. The icing on the cake… this event is FREE!!! Be sure to give Cornerstone a big thank you for their hard work in bringing this to the community, once again!
In the case of inclement weather, the event will take place at Cornerstone Church, 211 W. Bethlehem Pike, adjacent to the Sons of Italy building.
Unfortunately, the Ambler Cabaret was before my time. I’ve heard so many stories of great bands who played there and good times a plenty over the years. As I’m sure you know, the Cabaret closed over 20 years ago and has been out of commission since. It changed hands last summer for the bargain price of $151,250. That price was not only for the cabaret space, but included 5 apartments, as well as 5 additional office spaces on the second and third floors. The sale was private and rather shocking considering Ambler values, even despite the poor condition. As of today, the property has been listed for sale at a mere $1,150,000. Pretty quick potential return on an investment, I’d say. According to the MLS listing, “the 5 apartments are clean and very close to having a U&O.” There could be potential for the office spaces to be converted into additional apartments, and the cabaret space needs complete renovation. Hmmmm, will be interesting to see what happens…
|Home size||15,000 sq ft|
|Lot Size||7,072 sqft|
Ambler Borough Landmark building. Turn of the century built for the Ambler Gazette. Recently the building was known as the Ambler Cabaret. Cabaret has been closed and vacant for many years. This space is approx. 5k sq. ft. Remainder of first floor was recently used as a flower shop and is approx. 2k sq.ft. for a total of approx. 7k sq. ft.on 1st floor. Full basement below accessed from rear at ground level. Located on busy downtown Butler Pike. Great sized first floor for restaurant or many other retail uses. Three stories tall and has large pent roof over the sidewalk. Six entry doors on sidewalk. Two separate entries for the 2nd & 3rd floor apartments/offices. Three doors go into each retail space. One door goes into full basement by concrete steps. Loading door in the rear is accessed from the rear ally way. Upstairs features 5 apartments. All have separate electric including electric heating. Fire alarm system and door intercoms recently installed. Metal Fire escapes are at rear of building for each. Newer windows throughout. Also recently replaced roof with transferable warranty. Most apartments have updated kitchens, baths and have been painted. There are also 5 rooms last used as offices and meeting rooms. They could be converted to 3 or 4 more apartments. Building needs work. Rents could be in the 15k to 20k range per month depending on your rehab. Many possibilities for the investor or a user.
Property Type(s): Commercial
|Year Built||1921||Community||Ambler Boro|
|Total Parking||n/a||Walk Score ®||95|
|BuildingFeatures||DisplayWndw, FireAlarm, FireEscape, JanitService, KitchenFacil, Refrigerator, SecurityLgt, SecuritySys, Walk-InBox|
|BuildingOrBusiness||Apartmnt Bld, Commercial, Office, Other, R&D Flex Space, Restaurant, Retail, VacantBldg|
|Exterior||Brick, Stucco, Vinyl Siding|
|ExteriorAmenities||HwyExposure, PubTransNear, RailSysExt|
|Floor||CarpetFlr, Tile/Brick, Vinyl, Wood|
|Utilities||CableTVAvail, ElectrcAvail, GasAvail, PhoneUtil, SewerAvail, WaterAvail|
Listing information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Read full disclaimer.
Listing with: Walter Studley Real Estate Sales Corp
If you are reading this, likely you are familiar with Ambler and have come to love its “old world charm” as I have. Boasting many turn of the century homes, some quite grand, new construction homes are few and far between in this town of ours. Typically, the 1950′s split levels are regarded as “new construction” by most Amblerites, which is why it is unusual that the majority of homes currently for sale in the borough have all been built within the past few years.
As you will see below*, four out of the nine available homes for sale, are 3-4 years old, with another two being only 11 and 25 years old (as stated earlier, they are still considered new by Ambler standards). The four newer homes are located in Station Square, the W.B. Homes community off of South Main Street. Station Square is comprised of 58, three story, luxury townhomes, averaging about 2,000 square feet. The community was a bit of an anomaly itself, as some would say that the odds were stacked against them when they broke ground. At the time, they would be among the most expensive homes for sale in the borough, situated next to the train tracks, and hitting the market during one of the worst real estate markets in U.S. history. They surprised many when they sold quickly, and then quickly sold out. Many naysayers made much ado about the proximity to the train, but that location was no accident. Station Square is a transit oriented development, and as such, it is built around the SEPTA line, using the regional rail as one of its main selling points. With many trying to reduce their carbon footprint, living here enables them to break the chains of the daily drive, particularly for those who work in the city.
Many people move to Ambler for the obvious reasons, proximity and walkability to a wonderful downtown, regional rail, great schools, and to be part of a tight knit community, most of them looking for a home that offers the craftsmanship and appeal of times past. These newer homes open Ambler up to a different pool of buyers, those who prefer more low maintenance, carefree living. New, high end apartments will soon be available in Ambler, as well. Times they are a changin’!
* If you cannot access the homes below, that means they’re no longer available for sale. Two of the six went under contract while writing this post, 115 Mary Ambler Way in 3 days and 210 E Mt Pleasant in 10 days! As you can see, it is a great time to sell your home in Ambler. If you are considering just that, I’d love to speak with you, send me a note. To see a complete list of homes currently for sale in the borough, visit this page. If you would like a broader view, here you can see all homes in the general Ambler 19002 area.
We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 6273682 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.
We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 6325955 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.
We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 6357526 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.
We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 6354901 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.
We're sorry, but we couldn't find MLS # 6350859 in our database. This property may be a new listing or possibly taken off the market. Please check back again.
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2013 was full of memorable moments in Ambler; some ground breaking, exciting and new, others struck a chord of despair and broke hearts. I feel that the moments below are worth revisiting as we bring this year to a close.
Wissahickon School Board votes to close Mattison Avenue Elementary. This decision was a blow to the Borough and so many who fought tooth and nail to keep the school open. Closing its doors once and for all in June marked the end of an era in Ambler. MAE was the last school left in the Borough, and one unlike any other. If you are like me and like to look for the silver lining, I believe that the fight to keep Mattison Avenue open brought people together. They forged bonds as they fought for their kids and their community, it caused many to “wake up” and be more aware and engaged. Following the closure, Ambler Borough went on to purchase the building; it will be the future Ambler Borough Municipal Building.
Mayor Bud Wahl announces that he will not seek another term. After twelve years of service, we wish Bud farewell with great admiration and respect. He accomplished much during his time in office and is a true champion for Ambler!
Forest & Main celebrate their first birthday. This made my list because it was one epic party. Think frat party, but without the crappy beer and bad behavior. F&M is a wonderful addition to Ambler and people came out of the woodwork to show their support. Safe to say, it was a good time had by all.
Opening day of the Ambler Farmers’ Market. This market was a long time coming and Ambler was ready for it! I’m fairly certain that my eyes sprang a leak as I looked up Butler Avenue and saw droves of people making their way down to the market. People of all ages, some with strollers, some with dogs; all of them, ready to shop and spend time with their neighbors. Farmers offering fresh, local food in town, what a sight it was!
The Ambler Arts & Music Festival takes over town! This Friday and Saturday festival was an incredible collaboration between Ambler Main Street, Ambler Rotary, and Ambler Borough. People enjoyed art and music, and partied in town all weekend. Top notch local artists displayed their talent and exciting headline musicians preformed on a state of the art stage in the Ambler Savings Bank parking lot. The highlight was Saturday night when the parking lot and streets were turned into a dance party as the Trammps took the stage. People are still talking about it!
The old Ambler Cabaret changed hands. While this may not mean anything in the immediate future, it has to be (please!!!), a step in the right direction. The Cabaret has laid dormant since 1994, but in it’s day, it was home to tons of great acts, including the Hooters, Tommy Conwell, Merl Saunders, and many, many more. I’ve not heard of any plans yet, but the potential here is HUGE!
El Limon (finally) opens. While Ambler saw several new openings in 2013, this one was highly anticipated (at least by me). We have some incredible restaurants in town, but are short on fast, easy, affordable options, and it’s Mexican! With free margaritas!
The first Ambler Candidate Community Meeting was held. This non-partisan meeting was an opportunity for constituents to meet those up for election, listen to their “stump speeches” and ask relevant questions. The vast majority of the candidates attended and there were no political overtones. This will undoubtedly become a regular event during election season.
Bottom Dollar opens for business. This was long awaited for many in Ambler, after being without a grocery store for more than four years. There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not Bottom Dollar is the “right fit” for Ambler, regardless of your opinion, it is here and open for business.
Proposed development at St Mary’s Villa was announced. While this has clearly been in the works for some time, the news and plans became public knowledge in late November. Naturally, the news was met with mixed emotions. There are still serious hurtles the developers must cross before this project moves forward. I realize that St. Mary’s is not part of Ambler proper, but the outcome greatly affects the Borough.
The annual Christmas Parade. What can I say? I’m a sucker for this parade. This year didn’t feature anything out of the ordinary, but it is so small town, so Ambler, that it makes my list.
Last, but not least…
Throughout the year, several precious little ones were brought into the world, including this cutie spotted at the parade! Congrats to all of Ambler’s new parents, especially my peeps, Marty and Rachel!
What am I missing? Chime in and tell me below!
Most importantly, Happy New Year, Ambler!
Save the date, January 13-20th!!! Participating restaurants, menus and pricing will be released immediately after the new year begins! In the mean time, RSVP to the event on facebook to be entered to win an Ambler Restaurant Week gift certificate!
Much to my surprise, I learned from a colleague at work last week that St. Mary’s Villa (and all 45+ acres of it) is under contract to be sold to a developer. I imagine that this would be of interest to anyone living in our area, as St. Mary’s (formerly “Lindenwold” the estate of Dr. Mattison) has a rich history that contributed to making the town of Ambler what it is today.
The property has been in the hands of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and managed by them until this past April, when Public Health Management Corporation took over operations. Per a recent letter from Upper Dublin Ward 2 Commissioner, there is less than two years left on the lease with PHMC and pending an approved zoning amendment, the contract of sale will go through when the lease is up.
According to an article today in the Philadelphia Business Journal, the property is under agreement with Endeavor Property Group, Guidi Homes and the Goldenberg Group. PBJ reports that “the developers are proposing to construct a mix of carriage homes, townhouses, condominiums and senior independent living apartments. They also intend to restore an existing “castle,” two gate houses and portions of the property’s formal gardens.”
This will be a hot button issue to say the least, as there are many factors to consider. St. Mary’s is currently zoned Institutional and is tax exempt, so developing the property could potentially help ease the burden for Upper Dublin tax payers. Of course, keeping the integrity of the castle, outbuildings, grounds (including the lake and the angel) will also be of paramount concern.
The Upper Dublin Historical Commission is asking people to attend their next meeting on Monday, November 25th, 7:30PM at the Upper Dublin Township Building to discuss preservation concerns and the future of St. Mary’s Villa. They are asking that you please spread the word and invite anyone who you think may be interested in this issue.
Update: A letter was delivered to homes bordering St. Mary’s yesterday, Novemeber 21, from the developers “The Mattison Estate” inviting residents to a discussion surrounding the developers ideas for the property. The letter states that questions, comments and feedback are welcome, although the letter also states that the meeting will last just one hour, which seems highly unlikely. The meeting will be held Tuesday, December 3rd, 7:00PM, also at the Upper Dublin Township Building.
To say that politics is not my cup of tea is putting it mildly. It is a topic of conversation that I often stray from, as I tend to keep those opinions to myself. I struggle with the “small fish in a big sea” feeling when it comes to national elections, which is why I focused on learning about our local candidates this year. After deliberation, and learning that Ambler elections often come down to just a few votes, I feel compelled to share my thoughts with you.
For the first time in 12 years, Ambler will have a new mayor. For a small town like ours, this is huge. Mayor Bud Wahl has served Ambler very well, and while it will be sad to see him go, it is important to see that the person who takes his spot will also serve Ambler well. I believe that Frank DeRuosi is that person.
The mayor is essentially the face of Ambler, the person who represents our town, interacts with residents and borough council, working to move our town forward in the best possible way. Frank DeRuosi is the best person to do this job, and he is already more than halfway there.
As you may know, I spend a good amount of time volunteering in Ambler and attend every event possible. I notice who is there. I see Frank and his family at every Ambler event; shopping at the farmers’ market each Saturday, First Friday’s, the Car Show, Oktoberfest; you name it, he is there. Seeing Frank and his wife chat with the local farmers whom they have come to know at the market, it is clear to me that he is not there to be seen, but because he truly loves and supports our community. This is also evident in his fight to keep Mattison Avenue Elementary from closing. As a resident, teacher, and parent, he understood the vital role that this school played in our community and worked tirelessly with several committed Ambler residents in an effort to keep the school open. I admire the respect that Frank showed when he approached Mayor Wahl years ago, letting him know that he wanted to step up and serve Ambler, when Mayor Wahl was ready to step down. Since declaring his candidacy, Frank has held several public meetings at Caffe Maida, giving everyone a chance to speak with him, share their concerns and learn what he is all about. Those who have been supporting Frank all along have told me that there has never been a request for funds, only boots on the ground. I appreciate that he is not a “politician,” but a humble individual with a desire to give back and help our community grow.
For mayoral candidates in Ambler, the issues are clear, hence the platforms are similar. This made it easy for me to focus on the person. On that note, you may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned Frank’s party affiliation, and that is because I couldn’t care less. Personally, those are my feelings in any race (small town or not), but seeing beyond party lines is critical thinking for those in a borough of less than one square mile.
One last thing that I’d like to share is that I first met Frank and his family seven years ago. He probably does not remember this, but being a new real estate agent on my first open house, I do. I studied those names on my open house sign in sheet and put them to memory. For that reason, I recognized Frank’s name the next time I did an open house in Ambler. By the third time he and his family visited an Ambler open, I recognized them immediately. Each time I would greet them and he would tell me that they already lived in town and are were just looking because they love Ambler and like to see the different homes and architecture. I do open houses all over the area, Upper Dublin, Whitpain, Lower Gwynedd, but I’ve never seen the DeRuosi’s at any of those open houses. To you, this may be weird, but to me, this is fantastic. To be so intrigued by your town that your quest to learn more involves spending precious Sunday time viewing Ambler homes, warms my heart. Although I must admit, I didn’t see Frank at my last Ambler open house a few weeks ago, but I’ll give him a pass, as it is campaign season.
If you are uncertain about voting, please remember that voting is your right and a chance to make your voice heard. Don’t waste your opportunity to contribute to Ambler’s future, vote on Tuesday!
Ward 1: Wissahickon Fire Company, 245 Race Street
Ward 2: SAAC Center, 45 Forest Avenue
Ward 3: Calvary Methodist Church, 16 East Park Avenue