Gerry Monigan: New Hope Notebook
New direction for Wildflowers; MeetMe under fire
Nick Gialias has a vision for the kind of bar he plans to open in the former Wildflowers restaurant on Mechanic Street, and its ethos borrows from the axiom “less is more.”
“Lots of people like alcohol,” said Gialias, who recently split from the Logan Inn to launch his own venture. “We want to take it a step further. I know of this really great whiskey bar where the motto is ‘Drink less; taste more.’ I really like that idea.
“We’re going to create an upscale yet casual, comfortable bar that focuses on tasting what’s in the glass. And it’s going to be affordable and accessible to everyone.”
Gialias is a certified sommelier, so his yet-unnamed place will have a focus on wine and the foods that pair well with each varietal, but he also is a connoisseur of beer, especially Belgian beer, and whiskey, so all of those will share the spotlight.
“I have a passion for wine, even beyond the idea of an alcoholic beverage,” he said. “I’m fascinated with it as a component of culture and history. I appreciate the families who care more about what they do than making a profit.”
At the same time, he wants to avoid the snob factor.
“I have respect for high-end restaurants,” he said. “They’re geniuses at what they do, but they’re not accessible to most people. And they’re the ones driving the experience; you’re just along for the ride. We want to flip that around: empower the consumer to make informed decisions so they can branch out, and do it at a price point that’s affordable.”
Wildflowers was a New Hope staple for three decades, and Gialias said longtime owner Bob Madrick is happy about the old place getting a new life. The sale was under contract at press time.
“It’s such a great place,” Gialias said. “It has a charm and character about it. We’ll maintain that, and at the same time bring it into the 21st century. You’ll see that same kind of quirky New Hope place, but it will have a fresh look about it.”
The makeover will be done by a team including local contractor Glen Stephan, architect Ralph Fey, designer Kathie Rosamalia, branding specialist Steve Williams and public relations counselors Amy and Lou Grossman. They are aiming for a June opening.
“I believe New Hope is turning a corner,” Gialias said, “and we need to keep pushing. I’m very impressed with everything that’s happening at the Bucks County Playhouse; it’s extremely high quality, and I think our place will fit in perfectly with that concept.”
That Wildflowers’ garden patio sits directly across from the theater cannot but help.
In other news, New Hope-based MeetMe, a social network that has rocketed to more than 90 million users in just a few years, is the target of a lawsuit filed by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. The suit claims the website “facilitates interactions among strangers, over inadequate privacy protections and unlawful publication of minors’ profiles, photos, and location data, which can enable sexual predators and stalkers to target children as young as 13 years of age.”
MeetMe is a phenomenal success story. It was founded as myYearbook in 2005 by high school students Catherine and Dave Cook and bankrolled by their older brother, Geoff. The Cooks steadily grew the site, raising $4.1 million in venture capital in 2006 and another $13 million in 2008.
In 2011, they were acquired by Quepasa, a Latino social-networking site, for – ready for this? – $100 million in cash and stock. Geoff and Catherine remained in the site’s management.
The site links to its privacy at the bottom of its home page. San Francisco lawsuit, however, contends the site relies on “legally invalid consent” from minors and improperly distributes their real-time locations and personal information. Herrera asserts the site has become a “tool of choice for sexual predators” who have victimized “dozens of children nationwide” who have used the site.
Geoff Cook wrote in a media release:
“We review hundreds of thousands of photos posted to our services every day, and we compare the information provided by our users to a sex-offender registry. We employ a 24-7 team that responds to reports from our users and work closely with law enforcement when appropriate to assist in their investigations.”
Details about MeetMe’s safety programs can be found at the meetmecorp web site.
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