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African American Business in Philadelphia

Among Philly’s destination-worthy black-owned businesses: high-end lingerie boutique Coeur, nerdy-cool hangout Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, healthful juice and açai bowls bar Stripp’d Juice, top-shelf nightclub Reserve, and and West Philadelphia’s inimitable arts space, the Tiberino Museum.

African American Business in Philadelphia (Photo: VisitPhilly)

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Philadelphia, PA - Shops, restaurants, galleries and bars owned and operated by African-Americans are abundant in Philadelphia.Philadelphia, PA - Shops, restaurants, galleries and bars owned and operated by African-Americans are abundant in Philadelphia.

Among Philly’s destination-worthy black-owned businesses: high-end lingerie boutique Coeur, nerdy-cool hangout Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse, healthful juice and açai bowls bar Stripp’d Juice, top-shelf nightclub Reserve, and and West Philadelphia’s inimitable arts space, the Tiberino Museum.

Here’s a traveler-tailored list of some of the city’s standout black-owned businesses.
Shops:

  • Amazulu Collections – Charita Powell, owner. Seven days a week and for more than 25 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 and sterling silver jewelry designed by Powell and made by Indonesian artisans. Her newer South Philly venture, Amazulu Living Room, is a gallery-boutique (with a natural hair salon in back) known for hosting special events. Collections, 12th & Filbert Streets, (215) 627-8667; Living Room, 1529 Reed Street, (215) 207-7986, amazulucollections.com
  • Charlie’s Jeans – Sebastian McCall, owner. This Old City spot is the city’s absolute go-to for fitting its customers in the perfect pair of jeans. Slim, distressed, dark, flare, pencil, straight, bootcut, styles for work or for play are all on the menu. Topping it are the store’s exclusive brand, Sebasitan McCall, named for its owner. 233 Market Street, (215) 923-9681, charliesjeans.net
  • Coeur – Mona Lisa Jackson, owner. Petite Ms. Jackson is not being nasty when she sizes up her guests—and gently informs them their bras don’t quite fit. The longtime owner of this exclusive, walk-up Rittenhouse Square lingerie shop is known for her no-nonsense ability to fit figures of all shapes and sizes in investment-worthy Chantelle, Aubade, Chantal Thomass, Janira, Falke, La Perla and more. 132 S. 17th Street, (215) 972-0373, coeurlingerie.com
  • Cultured Couture Vintage – Erik Honesty, owner. Now in its sixth year, this bastion of quality style on the edge of Kensington is best known for its stock of designer vintage menswear. In-the-know clients find well-priced Hermes scarves, ties, coats and shirts, Louis Vuitton and Gucci luggage, plus select women’s pieces. The destination-worthy boutique also hosts art shows and panel discussions. 703 W. Girard Avenue, culturedcouturegallery.com
  • De’Vilage – Owner, Nikki 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
  • Philadelphia Diamond Company – Kenyatta Black, owner. Visitors and locals can create custom engagement rings and wedding bands at this much-respected jeweler, located in the heart of the Historic District, just steps from the Liberty Bell. 111 Independence Hall East,
    (215) 987-1901, philadelphiadiamondco.com

Spas/Beauty:

  • 3rd Element Spa – Tomika Branch and Chyvonne Shackelford, owners. 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
  • About Phace – 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, (215) 557-1562, aboutphace201.com

Cafes/Hangouts:

  • Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse – Ariell R. Johnson, owner. The first African-American woman on the East Coast to own a comic book shop has created a venue along rising Frankford Avenue that’s welcoming to all. Amalgam 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) 472-3300, @amalgamphilly
  • 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
  • Stripp’d Juice – Khoran Horn, owner. At Old City’s cold-press juicery, everyone seems to have a fave: Jala At Ya Boy, Woodermelon, Wise Pine—all made from ingredients from local farms and purveyors. But the handsome, historic spot doesn’t stop there: It’s also known for making an outstanding açai and matcha bowls, brioche egg sandwiches, chipotle guac toast and nut milks. 263 N. 3rd Street, (267) 550-7877, strippdjuice.com

Bakeries:

  • 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/denises
  • Sweet Nectar Dessert Kitchen – Robin Broughton-Smith, owner. She’s gone from Jay-Z’s accountant to the creator of sticky buns, ginger cookies, carrot cakes, baked doughnuts, plus all manner of seasonal cupcakes and custom cakes in the Art Museum neighborhood. The shop also offers classes, demos and meetups. 547 N. 20th Street, (267) 318-7143, sweetnectardk.com

Restaurants:

  • 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—bring-your-own-bottle (BYOB) spot is known along the up-and-coming 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. There’s also a kids’ menu and weekend brunches that consist of sweet corn griddle cakes, Turkish scrambled eggs, shakshuka, Monte Cristo sandwiches and tofu scrambles. 4630 Baltimore Avenue, (267) 275-8195, aksumcafe.com
  • Dos Tacos – Sylva Senat, owner. When current-season “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. In March 2017, Senat plans to open Maison, serving new American French fare at 13th and Locust Streets. 120 S. 15th Street, (215) 567-8226, dostacosphilly.com
  • Keven Parker Soul Food Cafe – Owner, Keven Parker. Fried chicken, extra-cheesy macaroni and cheese, caramelized candied yams, collard greens and other feel-good, homestyle Southern fare doesn’t get any more convenient than 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

Art Galleries:

  • October Gallery – Mercer Redcross, owner. “African-American art is good for everyone” is the motto of this circa-1985 vast 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
  • Tiberino 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 allowed visitors to stroll through their artful residences. After patriarchs Joseph and Ellen Powell passed, their adult children continue their traditions, working in ceramics, stained glass, painting murals and figures, and holding alfresco Sunday art circles, where painters bring their easels; drummers bring their drums; poets, their poetry. 3819 Hamilton Street, (215) 386-3784, facebook.com/TiberinoMuseum

Clubs/Lounges:

  • Reef – Mike Clark, owner. Seven nights a week, this Queen Village spot turns out Philly-touched Jamaican fare—pepper shrimp, fried plantains and jerk chicken cheesesteaks. But it’s the upstairs lounge, where DJs spin hip hop, R&B and top 40 on Fridays and island rhythms on Saturdays, that patrons have loved longest. 605 S. 3rd Street, ((215) 629-0102, phillyreef.com
  • Reserve Lounge – Mike Clark, owner. Center City’s Reserve gives cocktail enthusiasts eight hours a week (10 p.m.-2 a.m., Friday and Saturday) and just enough elbow room to see and be seen, sip and dance. About that sipping: Bubbly, Hennessy, shots and such. 724 Arch Street, (267) 482-0724, reservelounge.com

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 plans to debut an adjacent beauty bar featuring stations for blow-outs and nail services. 7425 W. Chester Pike, Upper Darby, (484) 461-4693, facebook.com/GirlsAutoClinic

 

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