an old faithful spot gets updated: eagle tavern and taproom

“Let’s go have brunch.” I said.

So my husband decided we should try the Eagle Taproom & Tavern in Eagle. (now they say Chester Springs, but it is Eagle happily to me!)

The old gal has had a change of ownership and attitude. Completely refreshed and lovely inside, with a terrific updated and tweaked menu.

We had a great time. The food was delicious and for two it was about $50.

I can’t wait to try dinner and guess what? Music a few nights a week!

Give it a try!

Eagle Taproom & Tavern

123 Pottstown Pike

Eagle/Chester Springs

the death of traditions in chester county


One of the things I have always loved about Chester County are the traditions. Things like the horse shows and horses, the farms, the carriaging, the crafters and artists, barn sales, flea markets and church sales, ballooning, and the independent spirits.

But today I mourn the loss of those things. They haven’t all disappeared over night, but if we as residents don’t start standing up in our communities and telling municipal governments to pay attention to us and not just the developers, we will lose what helps make Chester County so special.

I am going to re-visit the case of Upper Uwchlan and the Smithfield Barn. I will note in case Upper Uwchlan’s manager is feeling vindictive after this post that I have NOT spoken to the Smith family about this situation in a while, it is merely that people are TALKING.

I have been told that the manager (who came from Coatesville and why do I point that out? Well Coatesville always ends up in the news for not so nice things, don’t they?), met with the Smith family finally after the media picked up on the story at the start of the new year? I had heard that and was hopeful, and well what did I hear recently? That the manager had not seemed to follow through on what they had discussed? What do kids still call someone like that? A welcher? Do I have that right? Or is this just a rumor and he really likes the Smithfiled Barn and acknowledges how much his township folks go there and to places like that Carmine’s , right? Maybe they will have a new rule against pizza and wings down the road too?

So what does this manager named Cary Vargos, get out of this? Is he doing this doing this for the developer coming back to his township which shall remain nameless? The developer who will share borders with the Smithfield Barn Farm? How are those bog turtles and percing stuff going?

Of course then there are the rumors bandying about concerning municipalities that want to tell people how, when, and what time they can hold the humble garage sale and isn’t that just crazy here in the land of the free?

So I have to ask who would be hurt by allowing Smithfield Barn to have a set number of barn sales a year? Is it possible that this township manager doesn’t know barn sales are rural America’s garage sale and a deep rooted tradition? Is Upper Uwchlan going to morph into one of those individual freedoms stomping municipalities that next puts a million rules on garage sales? Auctions?

I mean obviously Upper Uwchlan government has some sort of identity crisis because they allowed the crossroads village of Eagle to grow up to be Barbie’s Lego dream village didn’t they? This is their jurisdiction right? I mean it is good to know CVS can do other architecture, but still.

When you go through there you are also reminded of the development when you look at Upper Uwchlan’s shiny newish township building. It is not as grandiose as some I have seen, but it is a testament to the present and all that developments have built isn’t it?

I hate to pick on this township manager, but I just don’t get why he wants to be the squasher of local traditions do you?

The reality is Smithfield Barn is beloved by locals and those farther afield. Barn sales are a real part of country history and tradition. That makes them a positive ambassador for their municipality. Townships can’t buy the good publicity and PR generated by happy people and goodwill towards neighbors, can they?

But the country isn’t so country any longer is it? The country has been taken over by developers who don’t plant crops in the beautiful farm fields of Chester County, just plastic mushroom houses that give off the smell of hot plastic in the summer.

Take for example another sad thing: has anyone been by what was that huge empty former working farm on White Horse Road in Charlestown Township I guess it is?

I was a passenger in a car going past that last Saturday and it made me want to cry. It is slated to be a new development and it looked like a battlefield. Demolition equipment on site and they had just basically raped the landscape and all you saw were felled trees lined up like dead soldiers from a Civil War battlefield reenactment. It was shocking and sad.

The pace of development in Chester County is somewhat terrifying at times. Nothing ever seems to be a restrained size or scope. These projects are huge and homes squished so city close together that you know residents will live crammed in like lemmings. And the crime of it is, these people don’t seem to know any better.

Then there are the things that amuse me. Like for example when people in developments in Upper Uwchlan refer to themselves as living “on the Main Line” or being from the Main Line. Uhhh no, I actually grew up on the Main Line and these people are actually living in Downingtown. And it is o.k. to say you live in Downingtown. These are like the people who say they live in Chester Springs because that is how the developer marketed certain developments, only are they Chester Springs? Not so much.

Developments change the landscape and the attitudes. Do any of these people really know the satisfaction and joy of planting their own gardens? Or do they in fact live in Stepford where all geraniums must match and grass must be “just so”? Do these people know the joy of standing outside and watching the hawks circle and cry out to one and other? And they all say they love horses, but then they don’t want to live near barns, stables, and local horse show grounds do they? And don’t get me started on traditions like skeet shooting, trap shooting, and sporting clays shooting. And hunting and fox hunting is best kept to those countrified wallpapers, right?

I love what makes Chester County just what she is. I am sad that traditions seem as if they are disappearing one by one.

I really hope people wake up before it is too late. Once the woods and fields and farms are gone, they aren’t coming back. Same with barn sales, country auctions, and honor stands at the edge of your local farm.

As good weather seems to finally be here, I encourage all of you to let people know about fun things happening in Chester County. Traditional things.

One thing I will not be encouraging people to be part of or attend is Upper Uwchlan’s “block party” on June 14th. Why support their efforts when all they do is kowtow to developers and sanitize communities against country traditions like barn picking and barn sales? Sounds mean to some, but I think they are being mean spirited to tradition.

But please if you have something fun you want to tell people about, let this blog know. Things I love are farm events, art shows, flea markets, First Fridays, barn sales, even swap meets and garage sales. Other things like strawberry and similar festivals, farmers markets, small businesses celebrating something.

Enjoy the day. It is simply beautiful out. Find your magic in everyday life.


define estate sale

chester springs houseWhen I lived on the Main Line once upon a time there were genuine estate sales.  My favorites were those run by antiques dealer Susan Vitale. Why? Simple, they were legitimate. They were sales run to satisfy estates.

At a Susan Vitale Estate Sale, things were fairly priced and priced to sell.   The items originated in the home she was running the sale in, they weren’t bought in to pad a sale with.  Susan’s staff as well as herself were incredibly knowledgeable – Susan was also an antiques dealer.

Susan made a terrific business out of her sales because she was honest and fair. Things were what they were.

As Susan’s reputation grew, others seemed to begin “estate sale” businesses.  Some people were utterly inept, others successful. Some people staged sales that were a bit fake – they brought in goods from the outside to sell at the “estate sales” they were holding.

One woman, named Helen, has moved up the estate sale ladder quite remarkably.  her business is called Sales by Helen. I have only bought at one of her sales, although I have been to quite a few.  She does Main Line and Delco mostly.  I know to get to sales like this early and when I go to hers half the time I don’t even see what she advertised as being in the sale.  Her prices are not that good, and I wonder, is a fair portion being done on a pre-sell basis?  I bought a couple things at one sale about five years ago, and I paid way too much for what it was, but it happened to be something I wanted.

So anyway, Sales By Helen announced a sale in Chester Springs of all places.  To me that seemed a little too far afield for a gal from Havertown.  It starts today at 8 Ivy Lane Chester Springs, PA 19425.

chester springs sale notice1

Do all the items match the house? Hard to say but possible as this is a pretty basic developers special.  But what got me really curious were my friends out in that neck of the woods who told me the people purportedly selling the house seem to be professional house flippers.  Amusingly enough the wife of this married couple team needs to tout her lineage as well:

….is a triple blood line DAR (Daughter of the American Revolution) which means three out of four of her ancestral blood lines fought in the revolution. Her family has lived on the same land since 1751.

The funny thing about the DAR or FFV of it all is the people I have known with lineage like this (a) never use it as a selling point (b) don’t have to talk about it. So I don’t know, maybe that is a weird  selling point in house flipping 101.

8 Ivy Lane is either for sale or has a sale pending.  And there is a company x 3 registered to it:

chester springs house 2chester springs house 3chester springs house 4

Mind you I have no problem with people flipping houses even if I will note that the economy over the past few years has left terrific opportunity for those buying up foreclosures and short sales.

My feelings on predatory lending and banks that lead to such a surge in this kind of real estate availability is a topic for another day.  Suffice it to say those I hope there is a special place in hell for banks and others who profit off the misery of others. I also of course marvel at how many major banks let so many people purchase way beyond their earning power and safety nets and are still in business.  But again, another topic for another day.

This company which has it’s corporate address at this estate sale location by their own description:

LointerHOME, LLC,  a real estate company committed to restoring blighted foreclosed  properties in emerging neighborhoods and ensuring that the homes they bring to market are strong, reliable, and self-sustaining.

This company has rehabbed and flipped in Pottstown and West Chester.

But back to the estate sale of it all.  Are people really so disposable that they are divesting themselves of EVERYTHING now when they move or is it something else? And how can you call these house content sales estate sales if no one has died?

I guess that is at the heart of my questions: is it legitimately an ESTATE sale if no one has died? Are some of these sales now not estates but maybe staged homes that once under contract need the staging items sold? Or the other thing is if it is a foreclosure and the house is left full of stuff is that and estate sale?

Anyway, given that this Chester Springs “estate sale” may be in the glorious hamlet of West Vincent, here is hoping they get their piece of the estate sale pie to satisfy their taxpayers, right?

forgotten farmhouse


Yesterday we stopped at the Smithfield Barn for a little treasure hunting and then wound our way back through Chester Springs to do other stuff.  We decided to take some twisty windy country roads for the heck of it and ended up on one of the many dirt roads in Chester County after going by a barn I had photographed in 2009 but had not been able to back track and rediscover since!4046706748_c3c86eaa15_n

The irony is yesterday I still did not know where exactly I was, or in what municipality (I should have written down roads!), but as we came out of the dirt part of this particular road we happened upon a forgotten farmhouse. It also had crumbling ruins of barns and outbuildings.

Can anyone tell me where I was and what the deal is with this boarded up farmhouse? I would love to know the history here. I have been told that I was at “Eagle Farms” and it all used to be working farms back there.  I was also told just today that open space beauty killer Toll Brothers bought back there and other entities like Pulte and Jack Lowe and wow really?  Is it that I got a photo of what might not exist much longer and be replaced by more plastic houses?

Oh ok let me know what else I need to know or what fellow readers might find interesting.

gone but not forgotten

On February 19th, 2013 this blog broke the story of intolerable cruelty in West Vincent Township.  It was about the unwarranted shooting of two puppies named Argus & Fiona by a man named Gabe Pilotti in West Vincent Township. Since that time there has been much back and forth and legal hop scotch as people wait for a trial date so justice may be done the right way through our legal system.

This morning was supposed to have been the court date at the Chester County Courthouse in downtown West Chester, PA.  These were the charges levied back in February by the Chester County District Attorney’s Office:


1 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

2 M1 18 § 5511 §§A2.1IA Cruelty To Animals 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

3 M2 18 § 2705 Recklessly Endangering Another Person 02/12/2013 T 295420-6

argus and fiona

But according to my sources, no court date took place earlier this morning.  (I am sick or I would have been at the courthouse, truthfully.)

The Bock family has suffered through the loss of their dogs and the ups and downs of the justice system, and I feel really badly for them and the memory of Argus & Fiona.  No one has asked for the sun, moon, or stars.  No one has condoned or asked for vigilante justice.  All anyone has asked for is that the justice system see this through and for lawmakers to consider strengthening dog laws in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania so families and pets in this state not only have legal recourse, but laws that aren’t antiquated and might actually protect innocent pet owners and their domestic animals.

We’re still waiting.  And we want everyone to know we have not forgotten Argus & Fiona.  And neither should you.

I know that West Vincent Township would love everyone to forget about Argus  & Fiona because it happened in that warped Mayberry.  And like everything else that happens in West Vincent, it seems to be a bit of a hot mess still doesn’t it?  After all, why is it months ago when the charges were announced, why is it that West Vincent Township PD couldn’t confiscate one shotgun pending the outcome of the legal proceedings?

Mary Bock commented the other day on the Justice for Argus & Fiona Facebook page:

To all the wonderful people who have been supporting us and this fight for justice for Argus and Fiona, I wanted to give you a little update as to where we stand.  Because the defense has control over  the dates for court appearances, our initial main concern was having the gun removed from Pilotti’s possession….but because he has an “emotional attachment” to the gun it wasn’t that easy…..The DA suggested…that the gun be placed in a lock box at his neighbor’s house. The background checks were done on the neighbor and the gun was handed over….Sometimes it’s very hard to get any information…Thank you everyone for the continued support and all of your kind words

Again, I am not having a gun debate here (nor am I deliberately slamming or questioning the Chester County District Attorney’s office ) but I still fail to understand that since there has been a reckless endangerment charge pending why West Vincent didn’t pick up that gun and simply lock it up for safekeeping when those charges landed months ago? I have been told that is common practice when there are legal proceedings pending so I have always found this back and forth on what should be fairly cut and dry confusing.  I also do not get how you could have an emotional attachment to a shotgun, do you? I sure hope that West Vincent has periodically checked to see that this gun is in fact locked up  in this neighbor’s gun safe don’t you?

I do know that people in West Vincent are holding their breath still on this and let me be abundantly clear, I embrace responsible dog ownership just like I embrace responsible gun ownership.  I also respect the farmers’ rights to defend their livestock in crisis situation, but this was never a crisis situation because these puppies never attacked anything did they? I am also still at sixes and sevens as to whether or not Gabe Pilotti is actually a farmer or truly a hobbyist?  There is a difference.

I will also state again for the record that despising what Mr. Pilotti did in February is honest human emotion.  However I do not condone the behavior of people who stood in the middle of roads shouting with bullhorns or trespassed on people’s property or threatening him.  That is all wrong.

I post today to reaffirm that  people have not forgotten these poor dogs and what fate befell them and to remind lawmakers that they can’t just talk a good game when it comes to protecting our domestic pets like dogs.  They actually have to get off their duffs and DO something.  These pets aren’t property like an azalea bush or an ear of corn, they are part of our families. And since Argus & Fiona were shot to death we have heard of other cases of intolerable cruelty like this in Pennsylvania and other states.

Please contact your lawmakers again about Justice for Argus & Fiona and for changes to the dog laws and animal cruelty laws so animals are properly protected. I would also go as far as to suggest not only contacting your state elected officials (as in State Representatives and State Senators) but your U.S. Congressman as well for stronger Federal laws.  For most of us in Chester County, we are either served by Pat Meehan or Jim Gerlach.

And I really hope some day that Mr. Pilotti can express remorse to the Bocks eye to eye, don’t you? After all how will that man ever have peace in his own world without doing that?

I will close this post with a Buddhist prayer I find oddly apropos here today (yes I know not the norm you expect from a Catholic but never the less):

By the power and truth of this practice:
May all beings have happiness and the cause of happiness
May all beings be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrow less
And may all live in equanimity without too much attachment and too much aversion
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.

-The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying


if you love yellow springs inn this is très important! please read today! and act!

yellow springs innSo many know my complete love and adoration of the Yellow Springs Inn in the historic village of Yellow Springs in West Pikeland Township.  I have been going to Yellow Springs Inn as have my friends and family since they were in what the village now calls the The Washington – i.e. that large pretty building at the end of the village. You know that building that sits mostly empty now except for the occasional rental?

My friends, myself and family were introduced to Chef/Owner Charlie Orlando   via wine brokers he knows.

When Charlie and his wife took on the gargantuan task of restoring the Jenny Lind House after they moved the business out of its first village location they decided they would try to just have a restaurant as a BYOB.  But now that they have been open for a while, they have decided to go liquor license.

Getting a liquor license in PA is a bit of a process.  There are only so many per county, and within that only so many per municipality.  I know people who have gone through this process in other municipalities and it  involves municipal approval and public approval in addition to approval from the state itself.

This is why I am writing this post.  A mailing went out to Yellow Springs Inn customers asking for letters of support in favor of the Orlandos pursuing a liquor license ASAP – they need to grow their business to keep the customer base growing and the business growing as well.    The success of the Yellow Springs Inn is also quite frankly essential to the survival of the historic village itself.

Why would I make such a bold statement? Because it is the truth.  The first thing that drew me to the village years ago was the Yellow Springs Inn itself.  The bucolic and historic setting then captured my imagination and I began to return for village events like the art show and now defunct antique show (the antique show was quite fabulous in fact).

When Yellow Springs Inn closed due to its impending move a couple of years ago and the Jenny Lind House was under renovation (it needed SERIOUS work!) I stopped going to the village as often.  At that time it was more than an hour’s drive for me, so I just did not have the impetus to go out there as often.

So last year when I began my full-time transition to Chester County I realized that Yellow Springs Inn was  not just a catering entity as it had been during renovation of the Jenny Lind House, but was back as a restaurant.

Going back to the Yellow Springs Inn that first evening in early 2012 for dinner was like visiting old family friends in a new home.  And the magic was still there – and remarkably most of the old staff.  If you know anything about the restaurant business you know how transient staff can be.  So if staff comes back like that after a major renovation it says something about the business itself and the owners – all positive.

When I returned to the Inn, it once again drew me back to the village itself.  I am quite frankly worried for the village.  It is starting to show serious wear and tear and they did things like dropped the antique show.  Yes there is the art show and a smattering of other events to entice people to this historically preserved jewel of a village, but those are occasional events.  The village in order to sustain also needs The Yellow Springs Inn to make it more of a destination. It is a simple fact of life.

I want Yellow Springs Inn to remain, but I am no fool – if they say they need a liquor license to grow and thrive, they need one.  This is not an impetuous decision.

So that brings me to the request of the Yellow Springs Inn for people ESPECIALLY in West Pikeland to take five minutes this holiday weekend and contact the West Pikeland Board of Supervisors.

In the event something  else should be lurking about regarding this whole scenario (as in village not municipal politics) may I quote Cher from the movie “Moonstruck” when she says to Nicholas Cage’s character “snap out of it!!!” (and no I won’t be slapping anyone LOL..)

Yellow Springs as a village needs to come together here and the people in and around West Pikeland need to help ALL parties concerned see the forest for the trees. The village needs this restaurant. It has a proven history of excellence and you have a Chef/Owner who is indeed invested in the community because face it, if he did not love the village he could have made it easier on himself by choosing a different location and not sinking so much money into a historic building restoration, right?

The village of Yellow Springs in my humble opinion needs the restaurant to survive.  Yellow Springs Inn provides a lot of the reason people come to the village, and they have through two locations.  And the village itself should not be in the restaurant business as they have enough on their plate with the village itself.  I don’t know that the village which is run as a historic site can really handle its business now, so that is why I said that.  And yes, the village itself also needs to grow too, but that is a separate conversation from this one.

Keeping the Yellow Springs Inn where it is will help ensure the future of the village. And that is indeed part of this whole conversation.  So let’s encourage all parties concerned to put aside whatever it is that may lurk and look to the big picture. They need to look at the big picture, and in my humble opinion a big picture simple must contain the Yellow Springs Inn!

Here is the letter from Yellow Springs to their customers and let’s git r’ done people – besides the more profitable this restaurant is the more money that comes into this little municipality, right?

Yellow Springs Inn is one of the best places in the world to hold a special moment in your life or to simply have an amazing meal.  That bit of magic comes from the owners and no one else.  That magic can’t be replicated or imitated. It just is.  So help keep the magic happening and contact these supervisors as per below.  If you know these folks personally, even better.

Enough out of me, here is the letter:

May 24, 2013

To Our Friends and Loyal Customers…

In order for our restaurant to survive in our current location, we have made the decision to apply for a Pennsylvania liquor license. To obtain a license, we need the approval of the West Pikeland Supervisors. We would greatly appreciate your support in this endeavor. They will be holding a special executive session meeting this Tuesday evening to vote on the matter, so please respond as quickly as possible.

If you understand the huge investment and countless hours of work it has taken to restore our beautiful, historic building – please forward this letter with your name and a short note of support for our efforts to any or all of the Township Supervisors listed below. With your help, we can continue to provide a truly unique dining experience and help bring vitality to this charming village that we call home.

Thanks for your help,

Barbara & Charlie Orlando
and the staff of the Yellow Springs Inn

P.S. Please forward this request to any of your West Pikeland friends who might join our efforts.

9/11 2012: from the air

Ok this afternoon I took part in the coolest thing: a 9/11 commemorative hot air balloon ride over Chester County.  There were several balloons.  I rode in one shaped like a giant American flag.

I had never been on a hot air balloon ride and this was an awesome experience.

We left from near Eagle and landed in Devault.

When we took off, we were joined by many, many spectators and at least five fire companies.  It was incredibly moving to see all those first responders on 9/11.

I have hundreds of photos to go through.

More tomorrow!