Chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran are moving beyond Midtown Village with multiple projects in the works along East Passyunk Avenue and elsewhere in Center City. The couple just gave their growing restaurant and retail group an official name, Safran Turney Hospitality, and hired chef George Sabatino, most recently of Rooster Soup Co., as culinary director.
When Turney and Safran opened home store Open House at 107 S. 13th Street in 2002, the block was an unlikely candidate for a stylish shop selling designer kitchenware, fancy soaps, and jewelry. But Open House was just the beginning of their reinvention of the neighborhood, backed by developer Tony Goldman. The area, which overlaps with the Gayborhood, became known as Midtown Village.
Turney and Safran now own five restaurants, with Lolita, Barbuzzo, and Jamonera — plus food market Grocery and boutique Verde — on the same block as Open House. Little Nonna’s and Bud & Marilyn’s are just down the street. The area around 13th and Sansom has become one of the hottest in the city, featuring restaurants from Michael Schulson and Stephen Starr, among others, in addition to Turney and Safran’s.
Next up for the pioneering couple is conquering South Philly. They recently bought four properties on East Passyunk Avenue, between Wharton and Reed streets, just south of Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. The buildings will likely house multiple venues, as opposed to one very big restaurant, though they haven’t decided on the concepts yet.
They also have another Center City venture in the works, at a not-yet-disclosed location.
Helping Turney and Safran with the company’s growth is new hire George Sabatino, who started his career working under Turney as a line cook at Lolita and later opened Barbuzzo as chef de cuisine. Sabatino went on to open his own restaurant, the now-closed Aldine in Rittenhouse, then moved to Rooster Soup Co. but left tied to the restaurant’s recent change to Jewish deli The Rooster.
Turney and Safran are likely going to be throwing a lot on Sabatino’s plate: Along with all the current and upcoming restaurants, the recently married couple are in the process of adopting a child.