White Dog Café Chester Springs Also Slated For 2023
As Fearless Restaurants expands, the Grims family celebrates White Dog Café’s 40th anniversary.
by Melissa Jacobs
Asking Sydney Grims to chose her favorite Fearless Restaurant is like asking a mother to chose to her favorite child. As director of development for Fearless Restaurants, Grims loves Autograph Brasserie, Moshulu, Louie Louie, the NJ restaurants and every White Dog Café. But she may have a soft spot for Rosalie, the Italian soul food restaurant ensconced in the Wayne Hotel. In addition to being named for her grandmother, the restaurant became an instant hit despite opening in Sept. 2020’s COVID-infected economy.
By the end of 2023, Grims and her team will open a second Rosalie. This Rosalie will be in Glen Mills, in the former Ruby’s across from the White Dog that opened in 2020. At the helm is executive chef Merick Devine, the same top toque as Wayne’s Rosalie. “We have a very talented chef who is creative, and he’s a great leader and hyper organized,” Grims explains. “We want to do another Rosalie focused on his cuisine.”
Glen Mills is a prime location for a fine dining, non-chain restaurant, Grims says, and that region of Chester County is bursting with development. It’s much the same in Chester Springs, where the fifth White Dog Café will open in late 2023 in what was Vickers Restaurant.
That project will have lasted an unanticipated two years. The delay, Grims says, is dealing with the historical building in which Vickers resided for 50 years. “The entire building has to be brought up to code, which means all new everything, from the electrical system to the sprinkler system,” Grims says. “And then there are things like dealing with the historical well that’s on the property and the parking situation.”
When it opens in Chester Springs – which may technically be Exton, depending on which map you follow – the new White Dog will feature food and drink sourced from vendors local to that area. It’s part of the social (and legal) contract that Marty Grims made with Judy Wicks when he bought the original White Dog in 2009. “We need to use meat that is humane slaughtered, coffee from certain sources, all of the to-go containers have to compostable and of course, all of the purveyors have to be within a certain distance of each restaurant,” Grims explains.
While that makes some dishes pricier than others, the Grims family abides by that contract, seeing it as part of White Dog’s brand and history. When it was founded in 1983 by Wicks, the White Dog Café in University City was one of the pioneers of the farm-to-table movement. At that time, that was a novel, almost radical idea. For Wicks, the farm-to-table movement was also a political movement. Wicks eventually sold the restaurant so she could focus on her political activism.
That 40-year anniversary of the original White Dog will be honored on January 10 at the University City restaurant. From 5 pm – 9 pm, each dinner guest over age 21 will receive a complimentary glass of champagne or Leg Lifter Lager from Stoudts Brewing Company. Grims believes that her restaurant group honors Wicks’ original vision even as it expands. “We made changes to the menu and the décor of the University City restaurant, but it still has the White Dog energy,” she said. “That’s true of every White Dog we’ve opened and will open.”
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