It is almost impossible to believe that Labor Day is less than one week away, kids are going back to school and summer has come to a close. Each summer seems to fly by faster and faster, and they say that’s what happens as you age, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept. Despite my grumblings regarding summers end, I must say, that it has been a fantastic couple of months. Our wonderful town has offered so much (First Fridays, the Ambler Farmers’ Market, the Ambler Arts & Music Festival, Restaurant Week, Dog Days, and more), and I’ve collected many great memories to reflect upon.
Without question, the best thing that happened to me this summer is the opening of the Ambler Farmers’ Market. As one of the founders, I have been working on this project since July of 2012, and have spent months wondering what the market would be like and how the community would respond. In my wildest dreams, I don’t think I could have imagined the reality of the market. We opened June 1st to an AMAZING crowd, the community came out in droves to support the market, and were thrilled to be able to shop for fresh, local food in downtown Ambler. I quickly realized that not only was the market a place to shop for food, but a community gathering place. Countless people were greeting one another and embracing; I commonly overheard “Oh my gosh, I haven’t seen you in years!” Members of our community talked and caught up with one another, meeting newest the members of the family (sometimes four legged) and made plans to meet later in town for dinner or a drink. Folks were just plain happy to be there.
As you probably know, the market offers a place for kids to hang out and do activities, live music and an educational series each week. Seeing children reconnect with school friends on the kids quilt, as well as making new ones, has been priceless. I have also learned quite a bit from the various speakers we have had thus far. A hay garden was introduced to me while learning about composting, both I hope to incorporate at my home next year. Meeting Theo, the six week old “kid” from our goat farm, holding baby chicks and being mesmerized by the sweetest baby gosling (in Marie’s arms, left) were certainly highlights, as well. Music is a big part of my life and I am so moved that our wonderful musicians graciously volunteer their time each week to make for a more enjoyable shopping experience. Our farmers and vendors are all so wonderful, knowledgeable and friendly. In fact, shopping at the market in and of itself can be an education! Learning about how the crops are grown and the animals raised, you can really feel the love that goes into the product that they bring to market. Shopping there has also exposed me to some foods that I’ve never tried before resulting in exciting culinary adventures in my kitchen. I may have put on a few extra lbs eating blueberry scones for breakfast every weekend, but it was worth every bite!
Another wonderful aspect of the market is our relationship with the Mattie Dixon Community Cupboard. Each Saturday at the close of the market, Mattie Dixon volunteers arrive to pick up very generous amounts of food donated by our farmers. The cupboard commonly gets canned goods and non-perishable items, but with the market in town, they are able to offer their customers a great variety of fresh produce, breads and more!
On a more personal note, working on (and at) the market has been one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever been a part of. Witnessing the benefit and life that it has brought to the community and being a part of something that I feel is vital to Ambler’s continued growth brings me a tremendous amount of joy. I have also made some incredible friendships along the way that I know will stand the test of time. Speaking not as an Ambler Main Street volunteer, but as someone who has come to appreciate the value of being involved in our community, I encourage you to think about how and where you can engage.
Although there is no denying the end of summer, fortunately, the market will be open for a few more months and I look forward to seeing you there!
It looks like Cornerstone Presbyterian Church is making Narnia in the Park an annual tradition, and it’s that time of year again! If you missed it last year, you missed out. Last August, Cornerstone brought us a week long celebration of the C.S. Lewis classic, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and a great time was had by all, young and old. Mark your calendars, as this summer they are doing it again!
July 29 – August 2, you can enjoy nightly readings from another C.S.Lewis children’s classic, Prince Caspian. Dr. Carl R. Trueman will take you into Narnia on the continued journey of Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy. The evenings will also feature mini concerts and light refreshments. This is a wonderful event that the entire family will enjoy; invite your neighbors and friends as well! Bring your own blankets and chairs and sit back as Pickering Field is transformed into the Dancing Lawn. This event is FREE, so be sure to show your appreciation and give Cornerstone a big thank you for their hard work in bringing this to the community!
Narnia in The Park
Pickering Field, Park & Highland Avenues
July 29 – August 2, 6:45-8pm each night
In the case of rain the reading will be held at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, 211 W. Butler Ave, adjacent to the Sons of Italy Building.
Summer is off to a fantastic start in Ambler! So far we’ve had the return of First Fridays, the debut of the Ambler Farmers’ Market, the Ambler Arts & Music Festival, and now Ambler Restaurant Week is on tap. All this activity is the reason I’ve been so absent from my blog, but I wanted to take a moment to share the Restaurant Week link with you so you have plenty of time to make your plans!
The menus are slowly rolling in, but there are a few restaurants who have already submitted amazing menus. Several restaurants are offering lunch menus and additional beverage pairings, lots of options to please everyone. Check out the details at www.AmblerRestaurantWeek.com. Menus, pricing and other information will be continuously updated as we get closer. July 21-28, promises to be another great Ambler Restaurant Week, see you in town!
Tucked away on Forest Avenue is the Senior Adult Activity Center of Montgomery County. This very active organization is asking for our help; they need runners, walkers and volunteers for “Outrunning Senior Hunger… One Meal at a Time,” a 5K Walk and 3K Run! This event will help raise awareness of senior hunger, the need for volunteers to deliver meals, and funds to help sustain the program, Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels delivered over 120,000 meals last year to homebound seniors in Ambler, Glenside, Norristown and surrounding communities, and this program continues to grow as the population ages and more individuals remain in their own home with support from agencies like this one.
The 5K Walk and 3K Run will take place on the Campus of Montgomery County Community College on Saturday, April 13, 2013. Registration is $20 and can be handled online or by mail, payable to Montco SAAC at Ambler Senior Adult Activity Center, 45 Forest Avenue, Ambler. Prizes will be awarded in several categories. Please help spread the word about the event!
If you’d like to help, but aren’t to run, walk, volunteer or donate at this time, volunteers are always needed to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Meals on Wheels volunteers can choose the location they would like to serve, and with an SAAC hub in Ambler, it’s easy to make a difference right in our community. Volunteers can either assemble meal packets, drive or partner with a driver. Meal packing starts at 8:00 AM so that drivers / partners can pick up and deliver meals starting at 10 AM. Volunteer schedules and day(s) of week are flexible and a weekly or bi-weekly commitment can be accommodated. The delivery of meals relies solely on volunteers, and they desperately need your help!
Contact the Senior Adult Activity Center in Ambler at 215-619-8863.
Forest & Main Brewing Company is about to celebrate their one year anniversary in April, and boy, has their first year been phenomenal! After a much delayed opening, they opened to instant fan fare and gained a devoted customer base immediately. It didn’t take long for word to spread in the beer community, F&M fans are not just coming from Ambler, but from all over the area, some traveling quite a distance to enjoy their craft beers and tasty pub fare.
Being featured on the front page of the Inquirer, receiving praise from Craig Laban (which is not easy to come by!) and taking home the coveted Best of Philly Brewpub in 2013 highlight a few of their “first year” accomplishments. Just last week they were featured on a 6abc show called, FYI Philly (see link below). The F&M coverage begins at about 9:50 into the show, and is well worth watching. Owners, Gerard and Daniel, give a fantastic peek into the brewery, as well as providing great press for our beloved town!
Check out the video below and be sure to celebrate Forest & Main’s exciting first anniversary at the pub, Saturday, April 13th. There will be live music on the porch, 4-7pm, and undoubtedly a good time had by all.
Forest & Main Brewing Company 61 N.Main Street facebook
As many of you have heard, On Tap Philly is taking over the former Finn McCool’s (YES!). I spoke with both new partners two weeks ago and was waiting to find the time to put together a cohesive piece, but judging by all the emails and inquiry’s, it’s clear that you just want the deets, so let’s have at it!
The bad news is that I have a page of notes, but am limited to share only a few details at this point. Both partners and their chef (yes, I said, chef!) will be revealed at a future date, as they have a lot of work ahead of them at that is their focus at this time. It’s safe to say that Finn’s had a bad rap in town, so my first question was not about the beer, but about service, and then immediately followed by food. I was thrilled to hear that hiring top notch service staff with a focus on customer service is paramount to them. Their general manager and staff will be hand picked, well trained, and part of the On Tap Philly family. As for the food, they are still in menu development, but it will be a healthy, American menu with a farm to table feel. It was nice to hear one of the partners say that he would never serve anything that he’s not proud of and doesn’t want to eat himself. This individual is vegan, so he feels the pain of most menus having limited options, and that will not be the case at On Tap Philly. To the extent possible, they will source their food from natural sources and local farms. Knowing what is in your food and where it comes from was a point well stressed, AMEN to that! He did give me a few menu teases, to which I’m pretty excited about. What about the beer you ask? On Tap Philly will have a mere 72 beers on tap, featuring an in depth craft selection.
Their “gold” as I call it, is the patio, and if all goes according to plan, you should be able to enjoy a cold one out there sometime in mid April. We know how restaurant openings go in this town, so while I hope they can make that date, we shouldn’t hold our breath. Once open, they will serve lunch and dinner, seven days a week, and offer take out as well. They are currently hiring, so if you’ve got “the right stuff” get in touch with them, [email protected] Also, be sure to follow their updates on facebook!
To sum it up, I was told that they want to offer a really fun place that serves really good food. If they can pull it off, I’m sure this town will wholeheartedly support them!
Back in September many of you took the time to fill out a survey and sign a petition with regard to bringing a Farmers’ Market to Ambler, and I am thrilled to say that your voice was heard! The results of the petition and survey painted a very clear picture; not only are residents in favor of a market, but desperately desire access to local, farm fresh food.
This past August, a small committee within Ambler Main Street began working to bring a Farmers’ Market to Ambler; based on the overwhelming response from the community, the efforts kicked into overdrive. There has been a ton of behind the scenes work over the past several months, including writing a business plan that proved the Ambler community could support a market. There is still a lot of work to be done, but knowing that the market is a go is one of the most exciting things I’ve been a part of, ever. Although many hurtles have been crossed, we still need your support to help bring this market to fruition, please consider donating to the Ambler Farmers’ Market so that Ambler Main Street can bring you the best possible market!
Ambler Main Street will be working in concert with Farm to City, an organization whose goal is to unite communities, families, and farmers through good locally grown food. The market will open Saturdays, beginning in May and run through November, in the SEPTA parking lot adjacent to Trax Restaurant & Cafe. For now, please visit the facebook page and like the Ambler Farmers’ Market to keep up to date; there is a website and lots of information to come! Thank you for being a part of this!
Last month I eluded to another restaurant opening in town, but I didn’t want to spill the beans until I knew it was 100%. I just got it from the horses mouth, and I can’t wait to share the news with you! As is seen on the Ambler facebook page, we are a very opinionated bunch, so I’m sure there will be someone who is not thrilled, but I couldn’t be more excited! Welcome El Limon!
You may have visited their Conshohocken location, which opened just two years ago, and quickly grew in popularity. Two important things that make El Limon so popular are the food, of course, and the prices! You can easily have a quick snack or a great meal for $10 or less.
El Limon is pared down, affordable, authentic Mexican food; expect to see, tacos, quesadillas, sopes, tortas, fajitas and more. The ambiance, if you will, is not all that exciting, but everything is fresh and made to order. There will be table seating, and I imagine it will be somewhat limited as they are opening in the former Sherwin Williams space. El Limon is BYO, but they offer delicious free margaritas, all you have to do is bring the tequila!
El Limon will be open for lunch and dinner, along with some late night weekend hours (open till 3am on Friday and Saturday in Conshohocken!). Unlike Ambler, Conshohocken has a huge late night bar crowd which makes 2am a very busy time for them. Ambler is a bit sleepier so we’ll see how they adjust, either way, I’m looking forward to having a great spot open later than all the rest.
Construction is just now getting underway and they plan to open sometime in February, which in restaurant speak probably means at least March, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed! They don’t have a website, but check out their Yelp reviews for a taste of what’s to come. I’ll be sure to keep you updated along the way!
I’m hoping this will be the case come January when the Holiday Window Display Contest winner is announced! There are several really wonderful displays in town this year, and sure, I could be politically correct and keep quiet about my favorite, but that’s just not me. If you haven’t been to the Ambler Skate Shop this month, then I suggest you get your hiney there ASAP! They have done an awesome job decorating their store for the contest; it is totally unique and creative, and not to be missed!
I was out the night of the parade taking pictures to post here, as I’ve done in years past, but after leaving the Skate Shop that night I realized that what I needed to write about was not only their fantastic effort, but what these guys are all about. Owned by Sean Khathavong, Mike McGuire and Craig Lutz, the Skate Shop is so much more than a shop. These three have created a place that encourages growth and community. Sure, they teach kids how to skate, but moreover, they teach kids respect and understanding. Reflecting on my childhood, I know that important life lessons are often learned when you don’t realize you’re learning them. This happens all the time at the shop, as the “teachers” are their buddies and role models; the kids are learning while having fun, building skills in not only physical, but mental acuity. Most of the guys at the shop are quite innovative and some posses amazing artistic talents, exposing kids to yet another creative outlet. McGuire is the one who did the holiday display, as well as all of the original Ambler Skate Shop gear that you’ll find in the store.
Spend a few moments talking with anyone associated with the shop and it is clear to see what a positive force they are within our community. I always enjoy seeing my friend Brittany’s photos from her sons Sunday morning classes at the skate park, so I asked her if she’d like to comment on her experience; as you’ll see below, she was thrilled to do so!
“The SkateShop! I LOVE the skate shop and the masterminds behind the operation!
I remember in middle school and high school, any of my friends who skated seemed to be automatically thrown into the “Punk” category by almost all adults! I have seen and heard Sean make so many strides to keep our Skaters from automatically being thrown into that category… I LOVE that a kid can walk into the Skate Shop without a dollar, ask for a bottle of water and Sean will hand him a broom or a bottle of windex and let him or her work for that bottle of water. ‘Nothing is free in this world, but you can work for what you want’, Sean lets them know.
I was so very pleasantly surprised, at our first Sunday morning Skate lesson, when I realized that my son wasn’t just being taught how to get around the park on the board.
He was learning:
1) how important it was for his body to stretch before any kind of physical activity
2) how to safely fall (WHAT A DIFFERENCE THAT HAS MADE IN ANTONIO’S EVERYDAY LIFE!)
3) proper skate park etiquette
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I met Sean about 12 years ago, we worked at Bennigan’s in Willow Grove together. Skating, snowboarding, fashion and the importance of being a respectable human being were CLEARLY his passion. I see him even more passionate about all of these things now. Lucky for us parents in the Ambler Area, Sean has set up shop to provide us great service and wonderful products but more importantly the wealth of his passions are offered and presented to our young ones with the best intentions.
I’m excited you are writing about the shop! I hope we can keep them for many many years!” – Brittany Javier Craveiro
Brittany’s comments really sum up what the Skate Shop is all about, and I’m sure you’d get a similar response from any parent who is involved with the organization. Although the kids may phrase it differently, it goes without saying that they have an equally ecstatic response when asked about their classes and friends at the shop. Whether you or your child have moderate ability, or have never stepped foot on a board in your life, there is a class, and gear, to accommodate you. I strongly encourage you to visit the Skate Shop and see for yourself, be sure to say hi to ShopCat!
This December marks the 4th annual Holiday Window Display contest and several of Ambler’s finest are all dressed up! Between the businesses who have decorated and the borough, who has hung garland and lights throughout town, it is certainly feels a lot like Christmas! If you happen to be in the right place at the right time, you can even enjoy Christmas music playing downtown on Butler Avenue through the borough sound system!
There were two big changes to the contest this year; the first being that the sponsor who originated the contest pulled out. Without this individuals backing the contest almost came to and end, but fortunately Ambler Main Street stepped in and took over! AMS organized the event as well as put up the money for the winners (first, second and third place). The second major difference is how the winners are selected. In years past, the participating businesses were the ones who voted (not being able to vote for themselves), this year voting is open to everyone! There are two ways to vote, online or in person at one of three locations; Sew Vintage Boutique, Tony Laguda Formal Wear or Toto’s Gelateria & Caffe. The businesses who responded in time are on the ballot, but there is also a space for a write in vote, as there are several great displays that didn’t get in in time. Voting is open for the entire month of December, the winners will be announced and presented with their winnings at the Ambler Main Street meeting on January 29th at 5:30pm.
Hopefully you’ve spent some time in town this month and have had a chance to see how wonderful Ambler looks this time of year! If not, now is a great time to get out there, help support our local businesses and decide which display is deserving of your vote! Below are a few pictures from the night of the parade, many more windows have been done since then, so visit downtown Ambler and take a look!