Tag: Hill

New business on Hill, thanks to vacation down south

by Len Lear

Walter Lapidus, 50, a Wyndmoor resident, his wife, Margie Scherzer, and daughters, Daria, 18, and Jordan, 16, went on vacation a couple years ago to Nashville and New Orleans. “My daughters ate at a place that serves fruit bowls and smoothies,” said Walter, “and they loved it. I figured that if they liked it so much, there must be a demand for that type of place, so when we got home, I did some research and found the nearest place like it was on Route 63, but nothing in Chestnut Hill or Mt. Airy, so I decided to open one.”

Walter learned about Bahia Bowls Açaí Café, a franchise operation founded in 2017 in Southwest Florida in the “fast casual” healthy dining space. Its stores offer an assortment of all-natural “Superfruit” bowls, Smoothies and other specialty products. (The açaí palm is a species of South American palm tree cultivated for its fruit, hearts of palm, leaves and wood. Global demand for the fruit, which is sweet, tasty and full of fiber and antioxidants, has expanded rapidly in the 21st century.)

So Walter and two partners, Michael Dvorkin and Boris Karol, decided to buy a franchise from Bahia Bowls. (All three partners are originally from the former Soviet Union, and Dvorkin and Lapidus are partners in another business, Anchor Realty, based in Northeast Philadelphia.)

In August of last year the Chestnut Hill Community Association voted to officially support the variance for a Bahia Bowls takeout operation at 8136 Germantown Ave., formerly the site of a sit-down restaurant that closed a few years ago.

Bahia Bowls opened to the public on July 10 with mostly curbside pickup or delivery by Grubhub or Doordash. “It is not something people will drive a long distance for,” said Lapidus. “We figure that customers come from two-and-a-half miles in either direction. We are actively looking at another location. The area has to be walkable and densely populated, like Chestnut Hill or Manayunk. We have no competition nearby.

“We will start serving waffles soon, made by my wife. Waffles did not work in Florida because of the warm weather, but now that cold weather is coming, we think it will work here. We are the only Bahia Bowls store in the Northeastern U.S. The pandemic has not really hurt us because we are not an in-store dining operation. It’s take-out-and-go. I love the product. It is not a snack or dessert. It is a full meal.” (As a customer, I can vouch for that. The bowls are inexpensive, less than $10, delicious and very filling. Each one is literally a meal in itself.)

Almost every review on yelp.com so far has been five stars. The latest one was by Jeff H. of Chestnut Hill, on Nov. 11: “The bowls and Smoothies are a perfect light lunch or snack. I especially like the fruit bowls with the Pitaya Bowl being my favorite. It is so tasty … As Bahia Bowls is only a very short

Continue reading

What it’s like to spend the night in a shipping container hotel in the Texas Hill Country

It started out as an intriguing opportunity to spend the night inside a quirky shipping container hotel tucked in the Texas Hill Country.

A good friend tipped me off to it. I had to go there, out of sheer curiosity.

“Let’s just get out there and explore this place,” I told my friend, Emma. “Why not? Life is short. There’s a whole world out there for adventure. Let’s go.”

Both of us had raised kids who were now teens, and we needed a break.

Step inside one of the creatively decorated

Step inside one of the creatively decorated “houzes” at FlopHouze Hotel in Round Top, Texas.

Flophouze Hotel Instagram/Matt White

She hesitated at first, but finally caved after I sent her the details about FlopHouze.

BREAKFAST, RANKED: 5 boudin kolaches that are the epitome of Houston’s culinary fusion

I’d heard a lot about this unconventional hotel just a few minutes from Round Top, Texas. One of the things that attracted me was its lack of televisions, leaving only time to soak in the Texas countryside and take in the breathtaking Round Top sunsets. Even better, each room has old-school record players with a handpicked vinyl collection.

First things first: I put a Van Morrison record on to get the ambience just right.

If you want a refreshing break from the heat and antique hunting, take a dip in the FlopHouze Hotel pool.

If you want a refreshing break from the heat and antique hunting, take a dip in the FlopHouze Hotel pool.

Flophouze Hotel Instagram/Matt White

I was deeply curious about the FlopHouze shipping container cabins. Don’t worry that you’ll simply be stuck in some metal box. Once I walked into my room, I was struck by the cabin’s interiors, which were creatively decorated with original artwork and reclaimed lumber. Before my stay, I thought the place might be too small. But the funky decor and the flow of natural light give the space an open feel. If imaginative recycling and upcycling is your thing, this hotel is worth a visit. Even the kitchen counter tops are made of reclaimed wood from Texas bowling alley floors.

A look inside my spot,

A look inside my spot, “Houze 3.”

Flophouze Hotel Instagram/Matt White

Yes, there are cows, cats and critters meandering about the place. But that was fine by me. FlopHouze is located next to an active ranch, which added to the feel of the vast Texas countryside for me. No trip to FlopHouze is complete without visiting with the hotel’s coolest, happiest cat of all, Bob.

FlopHouze fixture Bob, sunning outside the hotel.

FlopHouze fixture Bob, sunning outside the hotel.

Alison Medley

Each “houze,” as they are called, features a queen bed in a far bedroom, a mid-ships bathroom with a shower, and a kitchenette open to a living room space with a couch that doubles as a second bed. Outside, a small deck and yard feature much-needed hammocks, a fire pit and deck chairs.  A common area provides a grill.

A note to travelers: don’t expect a lap pool when you roll in. There is a diminutive little pool that you can take a dip in to cool off called the Modpool.

Peering into the back bedroom with expansive windows.

Peering into the back bedroom with

Continue reading