Remember the Co-op for your Holiday Giving this year!

Shop-South-Philly_web-version-292x300.jpgWe are so thankful for all of our members and supporters, and we ask you to remember the Co-op during your year-end giving.  Thanks to our partnership with fiscal sponsor Fair Food Philly, you can help the Co-op achieve its goal of opening a community-owned grocery store with a tax-deductible, charitable gift.

Please help us continue to grow one of the most exciting projects in South Philly by making a donation to the Co-op today! (If you give before December 31, you can count the tax benefit for 2015.) Your donation will go toward outreach, events and Co-op education, keeping our community connected and growing the Co-op’s local impact.

Making a donation is easy. Make a secure online donation here, use the button at the bottom of this page,or write a check, made payable to our fiscal sponsor Fair Food Philly, and mail it to us at: South Philly Food Co-op, P.O. Box 31506, Philadelphia PA 19147.

In addition to being a member (JOIN NOW!), attending our events (and bringing other folks with you), volunteering or offering discounts at your business as part of Shop South Philly, supporting the Co-op with a charitable gift furthers your investment in an enterprise owned and controlled by a pretty awesome group of South Philadelphians! You can always get all the latest information on what’s going on at southphillyfoodcoop.org. We hope to see you at a Co-op event soon!

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P.S. Since we're on the topic of the holiday season, are you still looking for a gift idea for the "not-yet-a-Co-op-member" in your life?

Give the gift of membership!

We've set up a form that allows you to easily give the gift of membership to friends or family who you know want to be part of the Co-op but who haven't taken that next step.

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January 2016 Newsletter: Congrats to the neighborhood of the year!

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Happy New Year! Now that January is in full swing, we're ready to look ahead to what 2016 will bring. Already, we're getting indications of a positive year ahead. (Speaking of good omens, scroll down to see which South Philly neighborhood was crowned with the 2015 Curbed Cup!) 
 
We warmly welcome our two newest committee members, Nadine and Ashley, who will be supporting our Marketing and Communications Committee.  We also welcome our new bookkeeper, Stas, whose 15 years of experience as a Certified Public Accountant will no doubt be an invaluable resource as the Co-op continues to grow.
Additionally, the Board and Operations Committee continue to make progress on alternative financial models and other substantive items from our October Board Retreat, all with the end goal of opening our store. We'll have more details on these developments soon, so stay tuned.
 
If you're interested in getting more involved in our efforts to open a cooperatively owned grocery store in South Philly, simply reply to this email, and I'll help direct you. You can help make 2016 our best year yet!


Have a happy, healthy new year,
Anna Shipp, South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors

Membership News: New-Member Orientation, Broth Giveaway and More

wild_is.jpgIn mid-December, we hosted a dozen Co-op members and prospective members for conversation and cocoa at one of our New Member Orientation sessions. It was great to get to know each other, walk through the member handbook, answer questions about the Co-op's history and development, and discuss the values behind cooperative enterprise. One prospective member talked about his experience with worker co-ops on the West Coast (where he moved from), while a current member explained his passion for a variety of consumer co-ops as a means to shift economic power. Thanks for sharing your stories!

Also, on Sunday, January 3, East Passyunk's Occasionette hosted a Wild Is! veggie stock giveaway for our members (see photo above). Don't forget, you can use your membership card for discounts at the Occasionette, as well as 40+ other Shop South Philly partner businesses! And be sure to tag your Wild Is! soups and stews on Instagram using @spfoodcoop.

Lastly, we'd like to thank everyone who donated to the South Philly Food Co-op as part of our annual fundraising campaign! For those of you who missed it, we'll leave you with this great quote from Co-op guru David Woo, who was featured in a recent fundraising email: "This isn't just about local food, this is about the economic power we can push down to the consumer and worker to make big business less relevant and less powerful in our lives. More economic democracy can mean a stronger political democracy for all of us." Hear, hear!

Curbed Philly's Neighborhood of the Year: Pennsport!

The readers have spoken: Pennsport has won the 2015 Curbed Cup! 

Curbed Philly's annual people's choice award is set up bracket-style, with Philadelphia neighborhoods pitted against each other until an ultimate victor is declared by popular vote. This year, our southeasterly friends -- home of Mummers headquarters galore, revitalized pier projects, Two Street and a burgeoning restaurant scene -- beat out Kensington for the win!

With this win, South Philly neighborhoods are three for four in the Curbed Cup: According to Curbed, "Passyunk Square took the inaugural title in 2012, followed by East Passyunk Crossing in 2013." (Fishtown won in 2014.) Newbold, Point Breeze and Lower Moyamensing, we've got our eye on you for 2016!

Let Your Voice Be Heard: Take our Product Preferences Survey!

survey.pngDon't forget: There's still time to take our Member Product Preferences Survey, to let us know the details of your grocery shopping habits.

We want to know where you shop, how often, what you like to purchase and -- most importantly -- why.

We'll be sharing the results of the survey at the Spring General Membership Meeting this May, so be sure to click here and let your voice be heard loud and clear.

Co-ops in the News: Maine Farm & Sea Cooperative

Here's an inspiring story from Down East: The Maine Farm & Sea Cooperativeaccording to the Bangor Daily News, aims to take on big corporations like Sodexho and Aramark to transform nearby university dining services options, providing institutional sourcers with fresher, farm-to-institution options.

“We have the operations experience and skills and ability and production in the state. We are saying you don’t need outside companies,” board member Jonah Fertig said. “This is a Maine food campaign that is also about sustainability.”

Keep on fighting the good fight!

Signing off,

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Big Circle, Little Circle

DONATE.pngIf you've made it out to a South Philly Food Co-op committee meeting or event in the past few months, you might have heard us refer to the Co-op's "big circle" and its "little circle." Relax, this isn't geometry class and we're not going to ask you to calculate the circumference of either circle. (This is a "no Pi zone.") But we are going to ask you to harken back to lit class, because we're going to talk about what those circles symbolize. 

The little circle stands for our store, the place we're working together to build — a grocery store in South Philadelphia, run by South Philadelphians, where South Philadelphians can shop for the products we choose to put on the shelves. We're working hard every day to make that little-circle dream a reality by searching high and low for the perfect location to call home.

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But what's the big circle all about?

We recently asked David Woo, one of the area's biggest cheerleaders of and advocates for cooperative ownership, to tell us why he thinks co-ops are so important. What he said has stuck with us:

davidwoo.jpg"This isn't just about local food, this is about the economic power we can push down to the consumer and worker to make big business less relevant and less powerful in our lives. More economic democracy can mean a stronger political democracy for all of us."

The big circle is a symbol for everything the little circle — the store — will support. The South Philly Food Co-op will create jobs. It'll feed the local economy with local money. It will create a community of folks committed to a common goal. As David says, the big circle is about economic democracy. And that's a pretty powerful notion.

Will you help us move toward economic democracy in South Philly by making a gift to the South Philly Food Co-op?

Click here to make your tax-deductible donation by the end of the year, and to help ensure that the big circle will be really big once the little circle falls into place.

Looking for another way to help grow our big circle? Gift the gift of membership to the South Philly Food Co-op, or email us to see how you can pitch in.
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December 2015 Newsletter: Bragging on two stellar member-owners

Last week, the Co-op's Board of Directors hunkered down with cups of warm apple cider (thanks, Anna S.!) and got down to business: We discussed the status of our committees' work as we do during every meeting, watched a crazy-impressive 25-slide PowerPoint presentation on our potential financial models (thanks, Anna K.!) and shared data we've learned so far from our Member Product Preferences Survey. These 12 folks I meet up with every month are ridiculously smart and dedicated, so I'm really humbled that they put so much of their time into the work of building our Co-op. 

Of course, the commitment and expertise brought to the Co-op doesn't stop with the Board. Two of the Co-op's long-long-time member-owners are moving on from their current volunteer roles, and because they aren’t the kind of people to brag about themselves, I’m taking this space to do it for them. Take that! 

Molly Peterman has been our incredible bookkeeper basically since the beginning. She set us up in Quickbooks, reconciled every member equity check, and made a weekly trip to our P.O. box. She's done all this, plus hosting potlucks and buying beer for member events, while holding down a job that’s now taking her out of state for a little while. We'll miss Molly, and I hope we’ll have a site to show her when she gets back!

Martin Brown has been sitting on our Outreach Committee since I joined the table. While building his own inspiring local food business, Martin has donated treats to our events, called upon his business connections to take our annual Garden Tour to the next level, and always offered to pick something up in his car. (Side note: I really hope we get to sell pints of his crazy ice cream at our store.)

Because you’re reading this, I bet you have an interest in seeing our Co-op dreams become a reality. And I also bet you have expertise, time or willingness to join us in making it happen. Just reply to this email and I’ll help find the right place for you to help, by volunteering or joining one of our committees

Till then, read on, visit our blog and follow us on Facebook to find out lots of ways you can get involved with our community right now.

Have a wonderful holiday season,
Leigh Goldenberg, South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors

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Survey: What's on the shelves? You decide.

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Here’s another thing you can do to help and have your voice heard!
 Please take 20 minutes to complete our Member Product Preferences Survey, which is helping shape the vision of our store. Here's a sample question from the survey:

It’s time to restock the pantry. Which olive oil do you choose?
  •  Store brand olive oil, $6.99/750 ml
  •  Organic store brand olive oil, $12.99/750 ml
  •  Single origin artisan olive oil, $14.99/750 ml
Which would you choose? Let us know!

On Deck: New Member Orientation

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"Do I have to do volunteer hours?" 
"How do I answer my friends' questions about the Co-op?" 
"What do the committees do?" 
"When do I vote for stuff?"

If you've recently joined the Co-op and want to know more about what it's all about, our New Member Orientations are for you. Come meet fellow members and hear from people on our Membership and Marketing/Communications Committee about what the Co-op can do for you -- and what you can do for the Co-op.

And because it'll probably be cold ... hot chocolate for all!

Join us Monday, December 14 at 7 p.m. Click here to RSVP!

Reminder: Shop South Philly this holiday season

occasionette.jpg

Something to keep in mind as you're tackling that gift-shopping list: 
Shop South Philly offers exclusive discounts and specials to South Philly Food Co-op member-owners when they shop at dozens of participating boutiques (like Occasionette, pictured), restaurants and other shops. Just show your member card or member ID number at these local businesses to receive your discount.

So go ahead — get your discount on, and don’t forget to thank them for supporting your Co-op!

Signing off,

South Philly Food Co-op
http://www.southphillyfoodcoop.org/

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November 2015 Newsletter

Thanks for being a member or supporter of the South Philly Food Co-op! Here's what's happening this month:

Coffee with the Co-op's Board of Directors

Board of Directors Group Picture

Did you miss the Fall General Membership Meeting on October 25? No worries. The Board of Directors wants to catch you up personally on all the Co-op and Committee updates -- including how our real estate search is going -- and give you a chance to provide whatever feedback you might have. On Saturday, November 7, members of our Board of Directors will be having "office hours" just outside of Black N Brew (one of our Shop South Philly partners; located at 1523 E. Passyunk Ave) from 9am until noon. Get all of your questions answered with a one-on-one, face-to-face chat with one of your fellow member-owners who was elected to guide the Co-op through this phase of its development. Even if you don't have any questions, you can use this opportunity to let the board know what's on your mind and provide frank, honest feedback on how you think the process is going. Have some coffee. Let's talk!

Tell Us What Products You Want the Co-op to Carry

Your opinion matters. In fact, according to our by-laws, when it comes to making decisions about the Co-op, the opinions of our member-owners matter more than anything! One of the most important decisions we have to make long before opening is about the philosophy guiding the product mix the store carries. South Philly Food Co-op Member Stephanie Kane, who has some experience with finding answers to these questions as local purchasing coordinator for Weavers Way Co-op, put together a comprehensive Product Preferences Survey. Read more about it on our blog or CLICK HERE to go directly to the survey.

On Deck: Co-op Movie Night

Movie Night - Film Strip with Co-op Logo
The South Philly Food Co-op will be hosting a screening of "Food for Change" on Wednesday, November 11th at Cinemug. Curious about the cooperative model, or why we believe in it so much? This is the event for you. "Food for Change" is a documentary about food co-ops as a force for social and economic change throughout American history, up to and including today. Doors will open at 7pm for the screening at 7:30pm. Home-made gourmet popcorn to share with all your Co-op friends is highly encouraged. Event is FREE but space is limited so get your FREE ticket now. Did we mention it's FREE?

ICYMI: Update from the Board on Location Search

Last Friday, the Board of Directors sent out a detailed email updating everyone on the latest with our search for the Co-op's home. If you didn't receive the email or lost it among the various newsletters and special offers in your inbox, you can read it on our blog by clicking here.

Signing off,

South Philly Food Co-op

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Update from the Board on Location Search

It's your Board of Directors here, writing with an important update for all our members and not-yet-members.

Aerial View of South Philadelphia

First of all, thank you so much to everyone who attended Sunday's General Membership Meeting! We had a great time catching up, bowling, sharing Co-op updates and even seeing some new faces. (If you'd like to view the minutes from the meeting, please click here.)

During the meeting, we got some great questions about our real estate search, and we know the store location is on everyone's mind. We'd like to try to answer some of those questions here, in more depth.

In securing a home for the Co-op, sharing information on specifics is a delicate balance. Every time we find a promising location, we want nothing more than to shout it from the rooftops! But we can't -- it would jeopardize our negotiating power to reveal too much, too soon. Even when a location is pursued and then taken off the table, we continue to build relationships with those realtors, landlords and developers, and the last thing we want to do is alienate them by exposing information they consider confidential. Sometimes, even when it seems like a space isn't going to work out, it may come back as a possibility -- and being the first to know could be a huge advantage. As an all-volunteer board of directors elected by you, our membership, we are entrusted to make wise decisions on your behalf, and we take that job extremely seriously


The fact is, inventory in South Philly is limited and we are not turning down offers left and right. When we find a possible space, we go through a significant, time-intensive vetting process to make sure that it works with our needs and financial projections. (In other words, we don't just want to find an empty space in South Philly -- we want to find one that has the potential to thrive in the long term. That's five, 10 and 20 years down the line.) We've found spaces that are the right size but far too expensive; we've found reasonable prices in buildings that are in too much disrepair to be a wise investment; and everything in between.  

Pumpkin and other vegetables

That said, we want to be open and honest about how the search is going. We know our membership wants more information, so we're here to provide it. Let's start with some numbers: The Co-op maintains a list of over 95 spaces that have been considered to date. Over the past three years, we have vetted 32 spaces, including visiting sites, meeting with landlords and, in some cases, engaging in lease negotiation. For various reasons, these have not worked out. A few examples:
  • 1535 E. Passyunk Ave. (Former St Jude's): Structural layout restricted efficacy of utilization; delivery access and loading posed too great a challenge

  • 1715 McKean St.: Market study of sales projections for this residential area proved to be insufficient

  • 1172 S. Broad St.: Landlord chose another lessee

  • Ninth and Wharton streets (former Annunciation School): Space layout restricted efficiency of utilization which restricted sales; landlord chose another lessee

  • Shop Rite at Snyder Plaza: Space is too large and the fixed costs to operate it are too high
We continue to work through the options and are currently actively pursuing several specific locations. As always, we are hopeful for a positive result. Rest assured that, as soon as we find a home, our members will be the first to know. 

Till then, we know our members continue to have a lot of questions. Here are some ways you can take action and get involved in the search right now:
  • Read our ongoing blog series "Dating Spaces," which answers members' questions about our location search. The series includes a Q&A with our realtor; an explanation of why we're looking for a 5,000-square-foot store instead of something smaller or larger; and much more. We continue to try to address your concerns in this format as frequently as we can, so if you have questions you'd like answered, please email them to general@southphillyfoodcoop.org.

  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook. We update our supporters regularly on these channels about upcoming events, member news and progress reports. And keep reading these emails, too.

  • Join us for coffee. Members of the Board are holding open "office hours" next Saturday, November 7 (location TBA). We invite you to join us for coffee and bring your questions -- watch our Facebook page for more details. 

  • Join a committee. Our board and committees are made up entirely of dedicated Co-op members who receive no compensation for their time and efforts -- we just want to see the Co-op succeed! If you have opinions about how you think the Co-op could be run more effectively or efficiently, and want to see them enacted, we strongly encourage you to get involved. Click here to learn more.

  • Suggest a location. If you know of a space we should pursue, please let us know! Email general@southphillyfoodcoop.org with your ideas, and we'll be sure to respond to let you know whether the location you've suggested is on our list (and, if not, why).
It's important for us to know how our membership feels as we continue our search, and as always we're trying our best to keep you informed. We encourage you to get involved so your voice can continue to be heard. If you have questions, please email them to general@southphillyfoodcoop.org.


Thanks for reading and have a great weekend,


Your South Philly Food Co-op Board of Directors
Board of Directors Group Picture

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Your Opinion Matters: Take our new Product Preferences Survey!

We'd like to welcome Stephanie Kane, local purchasing coordinator at Weavers Way Co-op, here to introduce our brand-new Product Preferences Survey! We want to learn about what you hope to see when you walk down the aisles of your future grocery store. The survey should take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. If you have not yet become a member, we're also interested in the opinions of our larger South Philly community, so please feel free to let us know your thoughts. Click here to take the survey!
As a transplant to Philadelphia in 2010, I've always lived in South Philly, or at least below South Street. Like you, I've been anxiously awaiting the opening of the South Philly Food Co-op. Having spent the past five years working at Weavers Way, I don't know what I would do without my co-op! 

At Weavers Way, I focus on finding local producers for our four stores, including farmers, bakers and makers of your new favorite soap, pasta or hummus. When I began working with South Philly on this survey, I asked myself, as a member, “What sort of products should we carry?" I've seen co-ops with 1,000 members that were 100% organic, as well as co-ops that were as conventional as a big-box store, serving 30,000 members. 

This survey will help build a clear product philosophy that will guide the General Manager. Should there be a cut-to-order meat department? A serve-yourself bulk area, or should bulk items be prepackaged? Will shoppers strongly prefer Certified Organic, or is local a higher priority? These details actually affect the layout of the store, so it's information we need to know! 

This survey is open to EVERYONE, not just members. We will sort out member requests to give them priority, but we want to see what all our potential shoppers are looking for. So curl up with some tea, and prepare to spend about 20 minutes completing the survey. 

As a South Philly Food Co-op member and a Weavers Way employee, I'm excited to see the continued focus on the cooperative model in Philadelphia. It's because of your time, effort and interest that South Philadelphia will soon have its own member-owned market!
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Get to know our new board members!

On May 27 at the Spring General Membership Meeting, the member-owners who assembled elected six new members to the South Philly Food Co-op's Board of Directors. They are: Nathaniel Cauldwell, Jose Garcia, Leigh Goldenberg, Carolyn Huckabay, Emily Kohlhas, and Dana Mitchell.

Bios for our new and continuing board members can be found on the Board of Directors page of our website.

At their first convening in July, the board chose from among its members a new group of officers:

President: Jessica Calter

Vice President: Josh Richards

Treasurer: Anna Kisiel

Secretary: Anna Shipp

Congratulations to our new officers!

The Co-op would also like to thank our six outgoing board members for their service. Maria Sourbeer, Mary Beth Hertz, John Raezer, Joseph F. Marino, Cassie Plummer and Julia Koprak were all elected to the original Board of Directors in 2011. They played an instrumental part in guiding the Co-op through its early phases and helping to build it to the membership it has today. Maria served as Vice President; John served as Treasurer; and Mary Beth served as Secretary at some point during their time on the Board. All remain member-owners and we look forward to seeing them around the neighborhood! Thanks!

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Dating Spaces: From a Cooperator Who's Been There Before

Here at the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance, we are big fans of the Dating Spaces series. We also care about you and don't want you to rush into a relationship that's not sustainable in the long run. We've heard too many stories of food co-ops falling in love with a space before they were ready to commit, or a co-op discovering skeletons in the closet after it's too late. Here's some relationship advice from someone who’s been through it before.

In 2012 and 2013, I chaired the Kensington Community Food Co-op Planning Committee, leading a great group of volunteers and experts on a search for a space. We toured a couple dozen possible sites, discussed a new construction development, but none fit the criteria that we were looking for. We certainly felt the urgency to find a space in a short amount of time, and the fear of never finding a suitable space was very real. New possibilities continued to pop up, which kept us feeling hopeful. We circled back to a great looking site that was previously way out of our price range. The price dropped by enough to set up a meeting with the owner, and the price continued to drop, allowing us to eventually commit to signing a lease. Patience paid off for KCFC, and patience is still needed as there is still more fundraising to do.

Peter FrankOpening a successful co-op grocery store is really, really, really, really hard. It's even harder to pull off when you're a group of residents pooling money $200 at a time to do it. South Philly Food Co-op has already overcome a lot of the hurdles that prevent most food co-ops from ever attempting to secure a location. With over 650 members and their $200 equity investments, your Co-op has become a mature start-up food co-op that is ready to commit to a space. This hard-earned capital must be used wisely, and shouldn't be spent on just any space that looks like a good deal or has the appearance of a good potential grocery store.

Grocery stores are complicated operations and they have very specific needs. They need suitable areas to receive deliveries, enough room on a single floor to properly display and store all the products, and staff will need some sort of an office to work in. If you want to dig deeper into these requirements, check out the great blog post from May 26th. These requirements eliminate most eligible commercial properties, unfortunately. People are also creatures of habit that are used to shopping along routes that they already know. As such, the store should be on a commercial corridor if possible, but those buildings can be very expensive. You're starting a grocery store with very thin margins, so the rent has to be affordable. There are a lot of variables to consider, and the Real Estate Committee clearly has a handle on things.

I commend your Co-op for being so patient; a lesser co-op would have pulled the trigger by now. The store of your dreams may be right around the corner. Keep your standards high, but understand that compromise is inevitable. Be wary that too much compromise might compromise the Co-op's ability to be profitable. Food co-ops do have a much higher survival rate than most independent businesses. I think a lot of this success has to do with food co-ops forcing themselves to be patient and work with a group of people to make the best decision.

Cooperatively yours,
Peter Frank
Executive Director - Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance
South Philly Food Co-op Member # 1578

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Garden Tour Countdown: Get Your Guac On

GuacamoleTime to flex those Labor Day muscles and get to work on the best guac you’ve ever made… and we’ve got just the recipe! Friends and family at the barbecue later will thank you, we promise. Pro tip: please don’t touch other people after handling jalapeño. Turns out they really hate that.

On to the recipe:

Ingredients
4 ripe avocados
¼ cup diced grape or cherry tomatoes (or mangoes if you’re feelin’ funky)
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed and minced
Coarsely chopped cilantro, to taste (we like about 1 tablespoon)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
½ teaspoon cumin (or to taste)
½ teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method
Combine all ingredients except the avocados, salt and pepper to let the flavors blend for about 15 minutes. In a separate bowl, mash the avocadoes with a fork, leaving little chunks of avocado intact. Sprinkle in the salt and pepper, then gently fold in the other ingredients. Serve immediately!

Los CamaradasOf course, for the real experts on contemporary Mexican cuisine, you may want to head over to Los Camaradas this coming Saturday for the South Philly Garden Tour after party from 4 to 6 p.m. They’ll be passing around complimentary bocaditos (appetizers) and serving up delectable drink specials ($3 house drafts, $4 sangria, $6 margaritas). Los Camaradas was named one of 10 best new restaurants in Philly by Thrillist this spring. They’re also the proud holders of Philadelphia Magazine’s Best of Philly: Best Nachos award this year.

We know, we know... You’re salivating. We are, too. So hurry up and get your tickets to the 5th Annual South Philly Garden Tour today to get a taste of all this garden and guac goodness!

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