Some spots in the River Wards are just more easily visited by bike.
Giving people a chance to see those spots is the goal of F.O.R.K. Tours — F.O.R.K. is short for Fishtown, Olde Richmond, Kensington — founded by the New Kensington Community Development Corporation.
“We introduce people to places they haven’t been before, and they learn how to bike around here,” said NKCDC Commercial Corridor Manager Henry Pyatt, who led the most recent F.O.R.K. Tour, on Saturday, July 20.
That afternoon, a group of intrepid urban explorers met at the William Penn Statue in Penn Treaty Park before biking into the neighborhood for the latest F.O.R.K. Tour.
The first stop was Steap and Grind, a brand new teashop and café located at 1619 Frankford Ave., right across the street from Palmer Park in Fishtown.
The F.O.R.K. group sampled their refreshing orange grapefruit iced tea and tried a few other drinks. The triangular yet intimate and inviting café, which sells all natural blends of loose leaf tea and Gimme! coffee, opened earlier this spring.
“A lot of our teas are exclusive blends,” said Colleen McHale, who along with sister Megan Stephens owns and runs Steap and Grind. They both reside in FIshtown.
After quenching their thirsts, F.O.R.K. Tour members headed right next door to Fishtown Jewelers, at 1615 Frankford Ave., to meet with owner and proprietor Kathleen Vaughn.
Vaughn showed off her merchandise to the visitors, which she said ranges “from engagement rings to the basics.” Some of the jewelry she sells is custom-made, and some of it comes from estate sales, like a three-carat diamond ring she displayed which dates from the 1920s.
Vaughn has been in the business of jewelry sales for 20 years. In December, her Fishtown store will have been open for seven years.
“I love it here,” Vaughn said. “Working and being in the community is so great.”
That took care of the first, “Fishtown” leg of the tour. Next up was Olde Richmond. The group cycled to the 200 block of East Girard Avenue, to visit two new local businesses: Black Vulture Gallery and Delicious Boutique.
The Black Vulture Gallery at 208 E. Girard Ave. doubles as an art gallery and tattoo parlor. The gallery’s monthly art openings have been known to draw more than 100 people. Their next opening, on Friday, August 2, will showcase the work of local artist Joey Knuckles.
The tour continued next door at Delicious Boutique, where shopkeeper and burlesque performer Kiki Berlin told the visitors about how the shop sells designer leather clothing and goods that comes from designers ranging from San Francisco to Bali, Indonesia.
Berlin said Delicious Boutique set up shop on Girard Avenue in recent years, and that it was a great location.
“We love it – we meet lots of people, because of all the foot traffic,” Berlin said.
Owner Amy Delicious makes custom corsets at the store. That makes Delicious Boutique the only “corseterie” in all of Philadelphia, she said.
Afterwards, after biking across Girard Avenue as a group, the members of the F.O.R.K. Tour headed to Kensington’s Walking Fish Theatre at 2509 Frankford Ave. for a run of short films featuring local talent.
While best known as East Kensington’s local playhouse, the air-conditioned Walking Fish Theatre has been showing short films all July and was recently listed on the national movie tickets website Fandango.com.
No stranger to small-budget productions, The Walking Fish’s short film series included work by a variety of burgeoning talents, including music videos by local artists including the rapper Lindo Jones, and the short films “God Said No,” directed by Jason Heffner, and episode one of the serial “It’s Just Business,” produced by Gato Loco Films.
Afterwards, the group of F.O.R.K. Tour participants was all smiles.
“It’s nice to have a group of people biking like this – there’s safety in numbers,” said attendee Molly Henry.
So gear up – the next F.O.R.K. Tour will be scheduled for late August.
For updates on the F.O.R.K. Tours, visit www.nkcdc.org or follow “Frankford Ave Arts” on Facebook. ••