February 26, 2018

Black-Owned Shops, Restaurants, Day Spas & More Boom In Philadelphia

Visitors To Philly Can Support Independent, Brick-And-Mortar African-American Businesses

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Owner Blew Kind stands in Franny Lou's Porch, her a cozy, community-minded Kensington cafe. Photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Youma brings a taste of Dakar with dibi (grilled lampchops), fatata (beef patties), aloco (fried plantains) and more flavorful African cuisine. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Cultured Couture is best known for its designer vintage: Hermes scarves, ties and coats and Louis Vuitton and Gucci luggage. Photo by M. Fischetti for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
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Philadelphia is rich in Black culture, heritage and history. The tradition carries on in Philly’s array of Black-owned and -operated shops, restaurants, galleries and bars. Need some serious comics? Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse. A made-to-measure suit with Super Bowl cred? Damari Savile. Unforgettable cultural experience? West Philadelphia’s inimitable arts space, the Tiberino Museum. Have a long list of great people to gift shop for? Options for the perfect something abound. Here’s a traveler-tailored list of some of the city’s standout Black-owned businesses:


  • Black and Nobel – Hakim Hopkins, owner. This independently owned store, almost exactly where Broad Street and Germantown Avenue meet, serves one of the region’s largest cultural centers. Beyond African-American books and DVDs, Black and Nobel’s original art and live music create a creative atmosphere, while delivery—on electric bikes—make this spot more convenient than any online bookseller. 1409 W. Erie Avenue, (215) 965-1559, blackandnobel.com
  • Hakim’s Bookstore & Gift Shop – Yvonne Blake, owner. One of the country’s oldest Black-owned bookstores resides at the same West Philly address where Dawud Hakim founded it nearly 60 years ago. Rich in history, proudly activist and entirely family-friendly, the bright shop belongs to Hakim’s daughter and feels just like a neighborhood shop should: welcoming, old-school and on point. 210 S. 52nd Street, (215) 474-9495, hakimsbookstore.com
  • Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books – Marc Lamont Hill, owner. The CNN commentator and Temple prof’s thoughtful hangout is a bookstore that features both works for children and by ancient philosophers, a living room, a La Colombe coffee bar and a cozy restaurant. The spot takes its name from Lamont Hill’s favorite uncle, who nurtured his love of reading. Inspired by Hakim’s and Black and Nobel, the shop resides next door to the Germantown Historical Society in the heart of the neighborhood. 5445 Germantown Avenue, (215) 403-7058, unclebobbies.com

Boutiques & Shops:

  • Amazulu Collections – Charita Powell, owner. Seven days a week and for nearly 30 years, this popular Reading Terminal Market stand has represented artists from all over the world and lived the motto, “where cultures meet.” For sale: handmade folk dolls, original paintings, body care, cultural clothing—including Urban Karma, Powell’s pattern-rich clothing collection for women and men—and her signature sterling silver jewelry of her own design, made by Indonesian artisans. 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 627-8667, @amazulucollections
  • Charlie’s Jeans – Sebastian McCall, owner. This Old City spot is known and loved for its staff of fit experts. Slim, distressed, dark, flare, pencil, straight, bootcut, styles for work or for play are all on the menu, so is the store’s American-made denim brand, Sebastian McCall Jeans, named for its owner. 233 Market Street, (215) 923-9681, charliesjeans.net
  • Cultured Couture Vintage – Erik Honesty, owner. This Mount Airy bastion of quality style is best known for its stock of designer vintage menswear— well-priced Hermes scarves, ties, coats and shirts, Louis Vuitton and Gucci luggage, select women’s pieces and Honesty’s own line of royalty-inspired, sui generis capes. In other words, the selection is a little bit Jidenna with a dash of Fonzworth Bentley. The destination-worthy boutique also hosts art shows and panel discussions. 6379 Germantown Avenue, culturedcouturegallery.com
  • Damari Savile – Malcolm Jenkins and Jay Amin, owners. Eagles standout Malcolm Jenkins and business partner Jay Amin opened up their menswear shop along Jewelers’ Row. When the Super Bowl LII safety, named “Best Suit Style” in Sports Illustrated’s “Fashionable 50,” isn’t at practice or working toward social justice, he chills among his boutique’s bespoke, made-to-measure and off-the-rack suits, each one named for a Philly street, and priced from $500. Also in stock: bowties galore. 709 Walnut Street, (267) 218-5760, damarisavile.com
  • De’Vilage – Owners, Nikki Parks and Joycelyn Parks. Natural stone and wooden jewelry, Shea butter, natural soaps and body washes come from Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria to this standout Reading Terminal Market veteran. 12th & Filbert Streets, (215) 923-9860, readingterminalmarket.org
  • Perfectly Flawless Boutique – Crystal Jackson, owner. More than just edgy jumpsuits, rompers, bodysuits and going-out wear, this personal stylist boutique doubles as a one-stop shop for beauty. The airy and welcoming Germantown space offers manicures onsite, full makeup by aesthetician Sade Johnson and Brianna King’s Epiphany Beauty Salon for beautiful braids, extensions or affordable wash and curls. 5312 Germantown Avenue, (814) 232-0805, perfectlyflawlessboutique.com
  • Philadelphia Diamond Company – Kenyatta Black, owner. Visitors and locals can create custom engagement and wedding rings and get appraisals at this much-respected jeweler, located in the heart of the Historic District, just steps from the Liberty Bell. 111 S. Independence Mall East, Suite 612, (215) 607-6700, philadelphiadiamondco.com
  • The Sable Collective (TSC) – Shanti Mayers and Syreeta Scott, owners. More than a shop, this North Philly spot is a resource for women of color. The warm, chic storefront sells holistic body care, new and used books, Ankara-print socks, eclectic housewares, affirmation flag pennants (“I Am Brave” and “I Am Magic”), South African jewelry and Cuban leather bags. TSC also holds book clubs and yoga workshops—and serves as the hangout for clients from next-door-neighbor Duafe Holistic Hair Care, which belongs to Syreeta Scott, stylist to Jill Scott, Ava DuVernay, Questlove, Janet Jackson and others. 3133 N. 22nd Street, (267) 666-0126, thesablecollective.com
  • Snapdragon Flowers & Gifts – Tolani Lightfoot, owner. Eco-conscious Baltimore Avenue gem features a range of hard-to-find, botanicals, candles and Insta-worthy arrangements for homes and events. Lightfoot and company are known for their terrariums and vertical gardens and have a way with succulents and herbs. 5015 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 209-6066, snapdragonphilly.com
  • Yowie – Shannon Maldonado, owner and curator. This gallery-esque shop feels right at home along Queen Village’s Fabric Row, which lately has been changing from garment district to chic retail corridor. Former fashion designer Maldonado makes sure each piece in her distinctive and fun minimalist space is made independently and feels like the work of art that it is, a rule that applies to her limited edition stock of Ashley Hardy mugs, Doucement throw pillows and Cold Picnic bathmats. 716 S. 4th Street, shopyowie.com


  • 3rd Element Spa – Tomika Branch and Chyvonne Shackelford, owners. Proving sisters make the best small business partners, this nail specialist and esthetician established their busy, full-service day spa in the West Oak Lane community where they grew up. Popular here: Oxygen facials, gel manicures, detox pedicures, plush waxing, lash and brow enhancements, massages and 3rd Element lip balm and body butter and wash. 7175 Ogontz Avenue, (215) 276-2633, @3rdelementspa
  • Ursula’s About Phace Rittenhouse Studio – Ursula Augustine, owner. This by-appointment-only spot belongs to an industry vet whose 25-plus years in the business include stints with Bobbi Brown, Francois Nars, Aveda and Jeanine Lobell of Stila. Devoted clients swear by her lash lifts, Sensei Peel, sugaring—but especially her note-perfect makeup applications. 1700 Sansom Street, Suite 201, (215) 557-1562, aboutphace201.com
  • Body Cycle Studio – Russell Carter, owner. The founder of one of the city’s preeminent indoor cycling studios first came to Philly on a football scholarship at Temple University. Today, Carter and his team of a dozen instructors put exercisers through fast-paced yet accessible interval-style training in mostly 45-minute to hour-and-a-half-long classes. 1923 Chestnut Street, (215) 563-3663, bodycyclestudio.com
  • Push Universal “Push U” Training – Troy Hayward and Justin Taylor, owners. This industrial-cool studio specializes in customized cross training to improve muscle tone, decrease fat, build endurance—and keep clients healthy after their workouts. Each affordable group and personal training session—including $5 classes on Saturdays—is “always a fresh workout,” says Hayward. 930 N. 8th Street, (215) 995-3815, pushutraining.com
  • BeautifitStrong – Audra Anusionwu, owner. Anusionwu, a wellness coach and health advocate, helps bodybuilders and all her clients achieve their ideal physique. Her intimate East Falls studio offers small group and personal training. 3510 Scotts Lane, Suite 3018, (215) 432-0414, beautifitstrong.com
  • HolNest – Shannan Reese, owner. This co-op of licensed bodywork therapists offers holistic relaxation and rejuvenation inside a private fitness center in the busiest part of Center City. Reasonably priced Swedish, deep tissue, sports and hot stone massages are the specialty here, and an aromatherapist and esthetician are available too—for those who book ahead. 1835 Market Street, 2nd Floor, (215) 668-5403, holnestcoop.com


  • Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse – Ariell R. Johnson, owner. Johnson is the first African-American woman on the East Coast to own a comic book shop. The venue, on Frankford Avenue, stocks Marvel, DC, big-time and self-published books for grown-ups, kids and everyone in-between—and serves up coffee drinks and locally made pastries, including comic-book-hero-themed cupcakes. 2578 Frankford Avenue, (215) 427-3300, amalgamphilly.com
  • Atomic City Comics – Darryl Jones, owner. Classic comic book store known for dollar comics, manga, back issues, horror, sci-fi and old-school Arcade games such as Street Fighter has been a South Street mainstay since 2001. 638 South Street, (215) 625-9613 @atomiccitycomics
  • Franny Lou’s Porch – Blew Kind, owner. This cozy, plant-filled Kensington cafe offers locals-inspired espresso drinks, plus teas, smoothies, focaccia sandwiches, biscuits and muffins with a side of activism, readings and drum class—effectively transforming the spot into both a literal and a figurative source of community sustenance. 2400 Coral Street, (215) 739-2357, frannylousporch.org
  • Rose Petals Cafe & Lounge – Jania and Desmin Daniels, owners. Rose petals- and whipped cream-topped strawberry waffles? Yes, please, in this cozy Germantown refuge, serving breakfast and lunch six days a week. Other reasons to trek to Northwest Philly include free Wi-Fi, a child-centered entertainment room, croque monsieurs, salads and tropical smoothies. 322 W. Chelten Avenue, (267) 388-1150


  • Denise’s Bakery – Denise Gause, owner. After a fire closed her 25-year-old North Philly homage to sugar, eggs and flour, she did what any strong baker would do: She rebuilt it. Today, lines once again form out the door and the phone rings off the hook for Denise’s pound cake, pies, brownies, doughnuts, cookies and wedding cakes. 2916 N. 22nd Street, (215) 225-5425, cakesbydenises.com
  • Sweet Nectar Dessert Kitchen – Robin Broughton-Smith, owner. She’s gone from Jay-Z’s accountant to the creator of cookies, cakes, baked donuts, cupcakes and all manner of seasonal specialties in the Art Museum neighborhood. The shop also offers classes and private parties. 547 N. 20th Street, (267) 318-7143, sweetnectardk.com

Restaurants & Bars:

  • 48th Street Grille – Carl Lewis, Sr., owner. Customers with a taste for the perfect combo of soul, Caribbean and American cuisines—at low prices—meet up to chow down at this beloved destination. Hearty portions of blackened wings, jerk turkey with stuffing, baby back ribs and more are worth the trip to West Philly. 310 S. 48th Street, (267) 244-4764, 48thstreetgrille.com
  • Aksum Cafe – Saba Tedla, owner. This Mediterranean—North African, European, Middle Eastern—BYOB spot is known along the Baltimore Avenue corridor for its vegetable tajines, Lebanese lemon chicken and shrimp, Greek lamb chops and tapas like kale spanikopita, roasted garlic hummus and roasted beet salad. Also on offer: a kids’ menu and weekend brunches that of sweet corn griddlecakes, Turkish scrambled eggs, shakshuka and Monte Cristo sandwiches. In 2017, OpenTable rated Aksum one of the “Top 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America.” 4630 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 275-8195, aksumcafe.com
  • Barkley’s BBQ – Tank and Nicole Barkley, owners. Heaping platters of comfort soul food and barbecue come made daily—and never from a can. The menu includes hickory-smoked, sauce-slathered slabs of ribs; apple-studded yams; five-cheese mac; garlicky collards; grandma’s recipe potato salad; fried fresh fish; green beans and, on occasion, pig’s trotters. 2017 N. 29th Street, (215) 763-7427, @tankbarkleysbbq
  • Booker’s Restaurant and Bar – Saba Tedla, owner (also owns Aksum). Serving up comfort food, yummy coconut rice, pan-seared salmon and some amazing Buffalo cauliflower, this fun West Philly restaurant—with both a kids’ menu and a cool bar scene—is named for Booker Wright, a server who risked—and later lost—his life for voicing what it was like to be a black waiter in the 1960s in an all-white restaurant in Mississippi. 5021 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 883-0960, bookersrestaurantandbar.com
  • Butter’s Soul Food – Kevin Bell, owner. This charming Brewerytown soul food eatery got its name from the idea that their food is so good it melts in your mouth (like butter). Traditional items include fried wings and sides known for selling out fast. Specialties include home-baked cakes and pies directly from Bell’s mother’s oven. 2730 W. Girard Avenue, (215) 235-4724, buttersoulfood.com
  • Country Cookin’ Restaurant & Catering – Saudia “Saud” Shuler, owner. With an Instagram following bigger than her North Philly restaurant—more than 100,000 followers—Shuler does down-home, all-love takeout. Featuring some of the tastiest soul food around, the spot draws in-person fans from far and wide for jerk chicken, buffalo shrimp, mac and cheese, fried fish, banana pudding and oxtail. 2836 N. 22nd Street, (267) 625-3664, @countrycookin1
  • Dos Tacos – Sylva Senat, owner. When “Top Chef” contestant Senat temporarily left Philly for Savannah, Georgia, he at least left the city with five-chili pastrami, queso- and chipotle-cream-topped yucca fries, and the most loaded nachos ever. All this from a shoebox-size eatery in the heart of Center City. 120 S. 15th Street, (215) 567-8226, dostacosphilly.com
  • Green Soul, Paris Bistro, Relish, South Kitchen & Jazz Bar & Warmdaddy’s – Robert and Benjamin Bynum, owners. Two prolific brothers own not one but five dope venues. Chestnut Hill’s fast-casual Green Soul serves healthful, soulful comfort food such as mango jerk salmon, black bean veggie burgers and roasted herb chicken. Right next door, Paris Bistro has an elegant dinner menu that offers escargot and French onion soup—and live jazz sets four evenings a week. West Oak Lane’s Relish offers modern Southern cuisine, live jazz Thursday through Saturday and a 40-foot brunch buffet on Saturday and Sunday. Just north of City Hall, spare and chic South dishes up Lowcountry fare (chicken-fried oysters, lobster and grits, hush puppies), old-fashioned hospitality, live jazz six nights a week and a 50-bottle bourbon and whiskey program. Warmdaddy’s is the spot for New Orleans jazz, acoustic soul—Urban Guerilla Orchestra, Jeff Bradshaw, Zeek, Point Blank or Amazin Grace Little perform here—and the food to go with it—a massive menu of barbecue short ribs, skillet mac and cheese, gumbo Ya Ya and more. Green Soul, 8229 Germantown Avenue, (215) 242-2300, greensoulliving.com; Paris Bistro, 8229 Germantown Avenue, (215) 242-6200, parisbistro.net; Relish, 7152 Ogontz Avenue, (215) 276-0170, relishphiladelphia.com; South, 600 N. Broad Street, (215) 600-0220, southrestaurant.net; Warmdaddy’s, Riverview Plaza, 1400 S. Columbus Boulevard, (215) 462-2000, warmdaddys.com
  • iMunch Café – Roger Powe, owner. Chef Nicquan Church has created the good-for-you menu at this popular morning-through-afternoon Brewerytown spot. On the menu: stuffed omelets, French toast, breakfast sandwiches, salmon patties, avocado or turkey BLTs, fruit smoothies, big salads and panini—including Halal and non-dairy options. 1233 N. 31st Street, (215) 236-8624, imunchcafe.com
  • Jamaican Jerk Hut – Lisa Wilson, owner. One of the city’s favorite casual BYOBs has been serving up famous jerk chicken, oxtail, curry shrimp with sides of roti, cornbread and johnny cakes since 1994. 1436 South Street, (215) 545-8644, jajerkhut.com
  • Keven Parker Soul Food Cafe – Owner, Keven Parker. Fried chicken, extra-cheesy mac and cheese, caramelized candied yams, collard greens, Southern-fried chicken wings, smothered turkey wings and other feel good, soul food comes from this simmering stall in the historic Reading Terminal Market. Parker’s sit-down spot, complete with a stylish lounge, is a few blocks South, the much-loved Ms. Tootsie’s. Soul Food Café, 12th & Arch Streets, (215) 625-0650; Ms. Tootsie’s, 1312 South Street, (215) 731-9045, kevenparker.net
  • New Barber’s Hall Restaurant & Lounge – Jake Adams, owner. The New Barber’s Hall operates in a building that housed a 19th-century cycling clubhouse and then a 20th-century music hotspot where legends John Coltrane, Grover Washington, Jr. and The Temptations performed. Today, the Cecil B. Moore landmark is a diverse bar and event space that serves lunch, dinner and drink specials daily. 1402 W. Oxford Street, (215) 763-0369, @Barbers-Hall
  • Reggae Reggae Vibes – Denice Moore, owner. This total find serves Jamaican and American fusion in the form of flaky chicken patties, homebrewed ginger beer and even jerk chicken cheesesteak on the edge of Kensington. 517 W. Girard Avenue, (267) 457-2970, reggaereggaevibes.com
  • Shrimp Express II – Tom Smart, owner. This small, family-owned spot preps all kinds of seafood favorites—crabs, steamed combos, pasta and, of course, shrimp—lunch special, platter or sandwich style. 2205 W. Indiana Avenue, (215) 228-3336
  • Youma – Youma Ba, owner. The African cuisine scene is especially rich in West Philly. One notable newcomer is this Senegalese spot, whose Fulani owner brings a taste of Dakar with dibi (grilled lambchops), yassa (spicy grilled chicken with habanero and green pepper), fatata (beef patties), aloco (fried plantains), thieboudienne (fried rice with vegetables and fish) and ginger juice blended with mango, strawberry, grenadine or peach. 4519 Baltimore Avenue, (215) 386-2025, youmarestaurant.com

Art Galleries:

  • The Bazemore Gallery – Lenny Bazemore, owner. A heavyweight in the local art and real estate scene laid out his Manayunk gallery to conform to the principles of Feng Shui, then invited in artists such as Susan Beard, Stephen Bruce, James Brantley and John Stango to add life. 4339 Main Street, (215) 482-1119, thebazemoregallery.com
  • October Gallery – Mercer Redcross, owner. “African-American art is good for everyone” is the motto of this longstanding repository of mostly contemporary black art. This elder statesman of creativity has shared its mission from its Germantown flagships through kiosks and shows across town, long before pop-ups were cool. 6353 Greene Street, (215) 352-3114, octobergallery.com
  • Rush Arts Philly (RAP) – Danny Simmons, owner. After the elder brother of the Reverend Run and Russell Simmons relocated to Philly, he established an outpost of his famed art gallery and community space at the very top of Broad Street. RAP for short opened with the acclaimed show Guerillas In The Midst, and continues to put on top-notch shows. 4954 Old York Road, rushphilanthropic.org
  • The Ellen Powell Tiberino Memorial Museum – Ellen, Raphael and Gabriel Tiberino, owners. Known as “the West Philly Wyeths,” the artistic Tiberino family has long occupied five homes that overlook a common courtyard—and, spring through fall, allowed tours through their art-filled residences. After patriarchs Joseph and Ellen Powell passed, their adult children continued their traditions, working in ceramics, stained glass, mural and figure painting, and holding alfresco summertime painting and drawing sessions along with other artistic events. 3819 Hamilton Street, (215) 386-3784, tiberinomuseum.org

Just Outside The City:

  • Girls’ Auto Clinic Repair Center – Patrice Banks, owner. Engineer turned mechanic (and author of Girls Auto Clinic Glovebox Guide) has established the city’s first and only women-run garage and has debuted Clutch Beauty Bar, featuring stations for hair and nail services. 7425 W. Chester Pike, Upper Darby, (484) 461-4693, girlsautoclinic.com

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On Greater Philadelphia’s official visitor website and blog, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com, visitors can explore things to do, upcoming events, themed itineraries and hotel packages. Compelling photography and videos, interactive maps and detailed visitor information make the sites effective trip-planning tools. Along with Visit Philly social media channels, the online platforms communicate directly with consumers. Travelers can also call and stop into the Independence Visitor Center for additional information and tickets.