It was the first day of the yellow phase of re-opening in Chester County and I decide to go to one of my “Happy Places”, Kennett Square. Off I went into the borough I so love and missed, armed with a list and determined to support the wonderful small- business community there that is so much like a family.
First, I needed a baby gift so I headed to Penny Lane Emporium, a truly delightful children’s shop. Outside stood a welcoming sign signaling the reality of safety measures including a large hand-sanitizer, request for use of masks, and store capacity. It was both welcoming and comforting. Inside, I wandered the adorable selections and was helped by owner Shannon and her equally adorable daughters. Soon they were beautifully wrapping the perfect, unique gift!
Heading across State Street I peeked into The Mushroom Cap. Kennett being the Mushroom Capital, it is almost a sin not to (over 60% of the nation’s mushroom crop is produced in the region FYI). A sign welcomes visitors, requests masks be worn and ends with the wish – GO AWAY COVID! I smile under my mask and am welcomed by Theresa, a long- time fixture at Mushroom Cap and helper to owner Kathi Lafferty. As luck would have it, the tiny button mushrooms needed for my mushroom salad (not quite as good as Kathi makes, but decent) are in stock. I left with 3 pounds of mushrooms and a cute baby card. The store has wonderful cards, gifts, cookbooks, etc.
I head back to the car to drop off the first round of purchases and say hello to Chris, proprietor of Philter Coffee. Philter is a super cool independent coffee house with a modern farmhouse vibe. Chris is preparing to open so a delicious coffee and snack from Philter will have to wait until my next visit.
Talula’s Table market has been open, as the in-dining remains suspended. I stared longingly at the empty corner banquette (my favorite seat) and the Chef’s Table of prepared, safely wrapped treats. Another full post would be needed to describe the amazing Chef Table experience at Talula’s – hopefully it will be available again soon. I depart with a sandwich for lunch and a loaf of artisanal bread for dinner.
Outside I bump into Chef Brett from Portabello’s – he and Sandra are two of my favorite people and the restaurant is fantastic. He is preparing for the first night of outdoor seating (they are fortunate to also have large windows that open completely to the outdoors). Staff is setting up the seating “at a distance” as we catch up, longing for the days of old (just a few months ago!) but counting our blessings as well. Living and working in this region, we agree, is a blessing in and of itself – we long to welcome the world back.
I could move into Mrs. Robinson’s Tea Shop. This cozy, colorful shop is so much more than a fantastic tea emporium. Don’t get me wrong, 150 varieties of loose and hand-bagged teas are in itself extraordinary, yet a wide array of gifts (not just tea-themed) can be found throughout the store. I pick an adorable necklace touting “One of a Kind” as a big sister gift to accompany the aforementioned baby gift, and of course hand-bagged tea. So many choices but I land on Kennett Square blend – it’s delicious and when in Rome!
There is a good chance I have never visited Kennett Square and not come away with La Michoacana ice cream – except maybe during off-season while they take a well-deserved break. I’m greeted with warm smiles from Noelia and staff, along with signs promoting safety measures and outdoor menus to make choosing easier. I order 3 quarts of ice cream to bring as a dinner guest. My choices: banana, rice pudding and corn ice cream (you heard right – corn – I promise it is outstanding). I am sure to be invited back to dinner after they taste La Michoacana ice cream.
So completes my first day of adventures, a mix of a familiar happy place in a time with so many unknowns. A step into “normal” as it were. Note that this is just a small sample of all Kennett Square has to offer in culinary and retail offerings, plus it’s a super brew town (home to Victory, Braeloch and Kennett Brewing).
Please visit this charming town, you won’t be disappointed. You will feel safe and welcomed by the wonderful people and their unique businesses. There are many more towns and main street communities in Chester County getting ready to welcome you, each with a unique story. Stay safe, be well and plan a visit soon.