A walk along the tree-lined sidewalks of downtown Kennett Square will hold surprises for anyone who’s not visited in the past year or so. Over a dozen new surprises, in fact, counting new businesses that have opened here recently.
“New business is a sure sign of the lively economic development activity occurring downtown,” said Mary Hutchins, executive director of Historic Kennett Square, a nonprofit organization serving as the Main Street organization for the borough. And there are positive signs aplenty!
A common denominator among many of the new businesses is the seasoned experience of their owners—merchants who’ve had successful experience in other locations and chose to move their business or to open a new “branch” in the Kennett area. They’ve come from as far away as Avalon, New Jersey (Chef Brett Hulbert at Portabello Restaurant), or from as close as around the corner in Hockessin, Delaware (Liz Marden Bakery).
Find Your Favorite New Shop
Just opened in February, Mystique adds a new element to the high-end boutiques along State Street in Kennett, selling both women’s and men’s clothing. After considerable research, this shop moved here from Wilmington after more than two decades in Trolley Square.
Two businesses have come to Kennett Square to open their third branches. Greenable is a green building and design center that provides materials and finishes for building projects of all types. And Polished Nail Salon features healthy, natural nails in a safe, fume-free environment.
Another distinctive new business in Kennett is The Centre for Vibrant Living, working to provide a nurturing sanctuary for health and well-being through spiritual and emotional growth. And embracing a vintage theme is Scout & Annie, a new source of home goods that range from mission to mid-century to modern.
With the arrival of four new restaurants, Kennett Square continues to grow its reputation as a go-to destination for good eating. The new additions have a high bar to meet, set by Talula’s Table, recently awarded “four bells” from the Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LeBan.
Lily’s Asian Cuisine restaurant has created a wonderful buzz in town, especially with their all-you-can-eat sushi evenings on Tuesdays (see the review in this issue).
La Verona has stylishly replaced much-loved Newton’s on State Street with a fresh take on Northern Italian cuisine. La Michoacana, of the Mexican ice cream shop fame, has opened La Michoacana Grill and serves authentic burritos, quesadillas and tacos. The latest addition to the local eateries is Byrsa Bistro, which transformed a former shop into an intimate Mediterranean eatery.
Many new merchants cite the warm welcome they received from fellow business owners, the sense of community and collaboration, and the expertise of Historic Kennett Square’s Mary Hutchins as influencing their decision to settle in Kennett Square. From choosing colors for new signage to advising on municipal codes on renovations, there’s help and support for new businesses as they navigate their new town.
Kennett Square shop owners and restaurateurs have been collaborating on special events and promotions around town. Girls’ Night Out shopping events in the spring and fall are organized by several boutiques and offer shoppers extended shopping hours and provide live music, refreshments and discounts to entice customers.
Liz Marden Bakery now provides desserts for several local restaurants, introducing more diners to her renowned pastries. The bakery also serves fine teas from Mrs. Robinson’s Tea Room and together these two food purveyors offer a monthly English tea, for a touch of elegance in Kennett.
A chocolate-themed dinner was the inspiration for the partnering of the new owners of Portabello’s Restaurant, Flickerwood Wines, Liz Marden Bakery, Sweet Christine’s gluten-free bakery, and the organic fair trade chocolates from Eco Boutique. Working together on these projects is definitely enjoyable for the merchants, but ultimately is a key to their continuing success. “Rising tides float all boats,” says Portabello co-owner Brett Hurlbert.
More to Come & More to See
The trend of unique businesses seeking out Kennett Square is not over yet. There’s Reginajoans, an art gallery/gift shop with photography classes. And check back later this year for the long-awaited new project by local restaurateur Jack McFadden—a new wine bar and tapas restaurant.
That’s just a few recent additions to what makes Kennett Square small town friendly. And don’t miss the longtime businesses that have attracted visitors for decades. For 30 years, family-owned Country Butcher has brought the finest quality food in a warm and welcoming environment that reflects the best of Kennett. And though time has changed the original 1929 store, it’s not changed what Bove Jeweler’s clients have learned to expect: quality, service, selection. Go a bit out of the downtown district to find McLimans Furniture, where since 1976, they’ve offered 13,000 square feet of antiques and more. And that’s just a few.
But you have to come back often to see what you’ll discover the next time you visit one of the coolest small towns in America!
For more, visit the Historic Kennett Square Web site. -CL-
Events in Kennett Square
An all-ages concert venue where artists perform in an intimate setting. All genres of music—folk, rock, country, blues, jazz and family shows. Tues, Open Mic Nights. 102 Sycamore Alley, Kennett Square. 484-732-8295; KennettFlash.org.
Longwood Gardens Fireworks and Fountains
Through September 17
Swan Lake—May 26, July 21, 9:15; Sept. 1, 8:15.Stars & Stripes—July 3, 9:15. The Amazing 80s!—Aug. 11, 9:15, Sept. 29, 7:15. 1001 Longwood Rd. $22-$38. 610-388-1000; LongwoodGardens.org.
First Friday Art Strolls
April 6, May 4, June 1, July 6,
Aug. 3, Sept. 7
Arts community open house in downtown, 6 to 9 pm. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Performance is part of the Oxford Arts Alliance Performing Arts Series. Oxford Presbyterian Church, 6 Pine St., Oxford. 3 pm. $15-$20. 302-764-6338; Melomanie.org.
Farmers Market Opens
May 4 through October, Fridays
Fresh fruits, vegetables, artisan breads and home-baked goodies sold downtown. 2 to 6. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Members of the Chester Co. Astronomical Society bring their telescopes to Anson B. Nixon Park, N. Walnut St. 7:30 pm. AnsonBNixonPark.org.
Kennett Symphony, “Leopold’s Violin”
Mozart’s father’s 1680 Cremona violin belongs to violinist Christopher Collins Lee, who will perform Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 3 with the symphony. Exhibition Hall, 1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square. 7 pm. $5-$35. 610-444-6363; KennettSymphony.org.
Arts on the Square
KARMA sponsors this juried art festival along State Street, from Willow to Lafayette Sts., with tables and booths and lots of fun. Rain date, April 29. 9 to 4. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Kennett Beautification Plant Sale
Annuals, hanging baskets, perennials, herbs for sale and demonstrations. Brick Walkway at State & Union Sts. Proceeds go to downtown planting containers. 8 to 2. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Kennett YMCA: Healthy Kids Day
Promote healthy lifestyles, including a health fair, demonstrations, moonbounce and other kids activities. 10 to 1. South Broad St. 610-444-9622; Web site.
Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
Celebration of Mexican culture including food, music, entertainment and children’s activities. Noon to 5. Downtown Kennett. Web site.
17th Annual Trout Rodeo
Ponds will be stocked with 12-24-inch trout. Tagged fish, bait and fishing supplies, a raffle, prizes and more. Benefits Anson B. Nixon Park, N. Walnut St. 8 to 4. Tickets at Buck’s Hunting, 809 Gap-Newport Pk., Avondale. 610-444-0792. AnsonBNixonPark.org.
The 23rd Annual Kennett Run
For all ages. A 1-Mile Fun Walk, 1-Mile Kids Run, 5K Race Walk, 10K and 5K Runs and a PoweRun biathlon. Race at 9, post-race party on N. Walnut St. with refreshments, music and awards. Benefits local charities. 610-388-1556; KennettRun.net.
The Willowdale Steeplechase
Steeplechase, plus Terrier Races, Pony Races, tailgate competition, carriage parade, food, boutiques and antique cars. Benefits Quest Therapeutic Riding Services, Stroud Water Research Center and Univ. of PA School of Veterinary Medicine at New Bolton. Gates open at 10 am, first race, 1:30. Rt. 926 & Rt. 82. $25 in adv., $30 at gate. Reserved Rail Side or Hill Side Parking. 610-444-1582; Web site.
Memorial Day Parade
The parade honors local veterans and includes antique military vehicles, bag pipers, fife and drums and more. Cypress St. and Mill Rd. 10 am. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Fridays and Sundays
Spectators can picnic and tailgate at the grounds. Toughkenamon Exit, Rt. 1 S. Fri, 5:30; Sun, at 3. $10. Cancelled for rain or extreme heat. Phone, 610-268-8692; BrandywinePoloClub.com.
Longwood’s Wine & Jazz Festival
Live jazz, fine regional wines and local fresh fare. Longwood’s glorious outdoor stage overlooking the picturesque meadow comes alive at this annual event. 1001 Longwood Rd. $25-$40. 12 to 5:30. 610-388-1000; LongwoodGardens.org.
Longwood’s Summer Performances
June 13–August 23
June 13, Jonny Lang & Robert Randolph; June 19, David Sanborn & Brian Culbertson; July 7, Barbara Cook; July 10, The Bacon Brothers; July 11, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. 1001 Longwood Rd. $25-$40. 610-388-1000; LongwoodGardens.org.
Summer Concert Series at Anson B. Nixon Park
June 13-August 1, Wednesdays
Enjoy a free concert in the park, light supper available. Check the website for this year’s lineup. 7 to 9 pm. AnsonBNixonPark.org.
Kennett Symphony, “Guitarra!”
A tribute to the great Spanish writer and poet Garcia Lorca by Mexican composer Silvestre Revueltas, Rodrigo’s beloved guitar concerto, and Manuel de Falla’s Love, the Magician with Marija Temo and flamenco dancer Ulrika Frank. Longwood Gardens, Rt. 1. 7:30 pm. $5-$40, includes garden adm. Rain date, June 24. 610-444-6363; KennettSymphony.org.
Merchants set up tables outside their stores. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Brandywiners, Ltd. Perform “Hello Dolly”
July 26-28, August 2-4
Longwood Gardens Open Air Theatre, Rt. 1. $25-$30 includes garden adm; fountain display after the show. 8:30 pm. 302-478-3355; Brandywiners.org.
Family Art Day
Community event featuring artwork, hands-on activities, performance art, refreshments and more. 10 to 3. AnsonBNixonPark.org.
Murder Mystery Art Stroll
Kennett Amateur Theatrical Society presents a murder mystery where visitors solve the whodunnit. Families invited. Genesis Walkway, 101 E. State St. 6:30. 610-444-8188; Web site.
Kennett Symphony, “Water Music: Titanic 100 Years”
Celebrate music inspired by water: Handel’s Suite on the River Thames, a trip to the Blue Danube, Richard Rodgers’ WWII classic and the grand music from the film Titanic. The voyage ends with a spectacular Fountain Show. Longwood Gardens Open Air Theatre, Rt. 1 7:30. $5-$40, includes gardens admission. 610-444-6363; KennettSymphony.org.
27th Kennett Square Mushroom Festival
Annual festival attracts big crowds with mushroom-related events, most are free and all are fun. 888-440-9920; MushroomFest.com. -CL-
Welcome to Historic Downtown Oxford
Embrace the Charm!
Make plans to visit the historic village of Oxford. Named after Oxford, England, it’s served as the halfway point between Baltimore and Philadelphia for early travelers. Today, it’s an enchanting borough tucked among hearty cornfields and sprawling dairy farms deep in southern Chester County.
Marvel at the town’s two-century-old buildings on streets where everyone greets you with a friendly smile. Enjoy the sights and sound of Amish buggies. Shop at the weekly Village Farmers’ Market, where the sheer friendliness and simple lifestyle of the locals will captivate you. Imagine bright beautiful colors of fresh fruits and vegetables, smells of fresh baked goods and fragrances of fresh cut flowers—all harvested from area Amish farms that very morning.
Enjoy a live reading from a children’s author or leave an artistic creation on the chalkboard wall at Petey Possum’s Hangout at the center of town. Local artists beautify many shops offering “one of a kind” pieces on display. Stopping in at Oxford Art Alliance’s gallery, where you’ll find new art exhibits each month, as well as live performances for all ages.
You’ll find old and new riches from repurposed, shabby chic furniture and accessories to handmade soaps to high-end jewelry and gifts. If being kind to the environment is important to you, unique shops offer slightly touched treasures such as antiques and collectibles to fit every decorative style.
Plan on stopping in at Morning Glories Coffee & Tea Shop for a refreshing cup of tea and scrumptious scone. Don’t forget to hand scoop a pound of fresh gourmet coffee to take along!
Reserve your space at Muse, an upscale American restaurant where “farm to table” is their specialty, or enjoy an Italian feast at LaSicilia while you laugh with friends over a bottle of wine (BYO).
Just some of the reasons to discover Downtown Oxford, a treasure trove of fun. Visit soon!
~ Sue Cole