A F.O.R.K. in the road

Bi­cyc­lists last week took off on an ex­plor­a­tion ad­ven­ture around the River Wards last week, and it demon­strated just how vi­brant the com­munit­ies really are. 

And they’re off: The F.O.R.K. Tour group hustles to Steap and Grind, 1619 Frank­ford Ave. The teashop and cafe was the first of sev­er­al stops on the sunny bike tour, which takes par­ti­cipants around the streets of the River Wards. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

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 caf&ea­cute; 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 caf&ea­cute;, 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. ••

You can reach at snewhouse@bsmphilly.com.

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