Goodbye (and Hello)

Finding winners for our annual Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs issue is never easy. No one wants to read about the “same old, same old” year in, year out. So, the way I see it, the job of our critics is twofold: to celebrate the new and different in the area while approaching the local institutions—i.e. the perennial “Best of” winners—from a fresh vantage point.

While it’s no secret that folks around here embrace tradition and thrive on ritual, most of us like to shake up our routines every now and then. And with the latest round of winners, we hope we’ve struck a palatable balance between proven excellence and praiseworthy upstarts.

This year, however, the difficulty of the selection process was compounded by the recent economic downturn, with businesses struggling and closures a sad reality. In fact, two of this year’s critics’ picks—Phaze Plus Size Boutique in Bala Cynwyd and Cypress Grille in Kennett Square—didn’t survive long enough to be acknowledged in print.

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That in mind, I’d like to recognize winners from the recent past that are no longer with us. Gone but not forgotten: Basil, Blue Tulip, Cosimo, Delaware Market House, Good to Go Delivery, Jewel of India, Maia, Main Line Prime, Marcella Soret Children’s Wear, the Pink Turtle, Ricky’s Candy, Cones & Chaos, Roux 3, Skin Health Solutions, Thomas’ Kitchen, Tradewinds Coffee in Motion, U Bead 2, and Youth Movement Fitness. And under new names, but still alive and kicking: the Wooden Iron in Wayne, now packing them in as Flanigan’s Boathouse, and Coyote Crossing in West Chester, which enjoyed a brief run as Cooper’s sports bar but has now reopened as Coyote Crossing.

Looking ahead to next year’s “Best of” issue, we can’t wait to taste-test the cuisine at the White Dog Café’s pending Wayne location (2009’s Best News for Eco-Conscious Gourmands). Ditto Parker’s Prime, the steakhouse taking over the Newtown Square locale once occupied by former winner Roux 3 (a much-missed favorite of the Main Line Today staff). Parker’s owners Win and Sutida Somboonsong are the same folks behind Teikoku (home to James Kennedy, this year’s Best Bartender) and Azie (2009’s Best First-Date Place). And they’ve also set their sights on Maia’s old Villanova digs, giving Main Line foodies something else to celebrate.

So, enjoy the issue—we certainly had fun putting it together. And we hope you’ll join us for our Best of the Main Line and Western Suburbs party on Thursday, July 23, at Drexelbrook Corporate Events Center in Drexel Hill, where we’ll be celebrating with many of this year’s winners. It’s a great way to support local businesses—not to mention a few worthy charities—during this tough time.

The more the merrier.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!