Chillin’ Wit’ Ken Weinstein, Developer and Restaurateur
Posted: Monday, November 11, 2013, 12:16 AM
by Dan Geringer. Philly.com
KEN WEINSTEIN spends Sunday morning at a charity chili cook-off, then heads over to his Trolley Car Cafe on South Ferry Road near Kelly Drive in East Falls for a pre-Eagles lunch.
Weinstein will be honored by the Philadelphia Parks Alliance on Sunday for transforming the long-abandoned Bathey House into his bustling cafe, turning an eyesore into an asset. His visitor considers ordering the challah French toast, but Weinstein says drily that it is served only to exhausted runners and cyclists who stumble in from Kelly Drive, because they’ve earned it.
So at Weinstein’s suggestion, we both order the Nutty Chicken Salad – nut-encrusted chicken breast over greens and dried cranberries, tossed in mandarin orange-sesame dressing – which he says he might not finish after sampling 12 bowls of competitive chili two hours earlier at a Cresheim Valley Church benefit in Chestnut Hill Academy.
Weinstein, 50, vows to work off the chili by running on his treadmill and lifting weights while watching the Eagles game on TV in his West Mount Airy home.
He says that when he leased the 1930s-era Bathey House from the Fairmount Park Historic Preservation Trust in 2010, it had been abandoned since 1958.
He developed the cafe in the former changing room and added a patio and a vegetable garden on the site of the old swimming pool.
Weinstein spends a lot of time tending that garden – “Five kinds of basil! Six kinds of peppers and tomatoes!” – and dropping in on his sister restaurant, the Trolley Car Diner in West Mount Airy, to bus tables and “get a feel for what’s going on.” Weinstein’s eateries have raised $150,000 for community groups and have given $50,000 to cash-strapped Philadelphia public-school teachers for supplies and field trips.
And despite his foodie success, he admits: “I’m no chef. You don’t want me in your kitchen.”