Explore Philadelphia

Terrific Twosomes

Love is definitely in the air at these Philly restaurants, operated by couples whose love stories blossomed in the kitchen.

VEDGE A profound love of vegetables brought chef Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby together, and the two now co-own upscale Vedge (1221 Locust St., 215.320.7500). Jacoby was a regular at Landau’s previous restaurant, and they love spending time together at their vegan palace. “We happen to like each other very much,” says Landau, who cooked the first vegan dinner at the James Beard House. Jacoby sweetens the pot with a farm-to-bar cocktail list and innovative vegan desserts.

VERNICK FOOD & DRINK Greg and Julie Vernick’s romance was fueled by a passion for global eating. The owners of Vernick Food & Drink (2031 Walnut St., 267.639.6644) brought their love of honest flavors home in May 2012. Chef Greg Vernick grew up in his family’s Cherry Hill eatery before attending college in Boston, where he met Julie. After culinary school, Vernick joined Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s team, opening restaurants in Doha and Dubai and Tokyo, but the pair always planned on continuing their love story—and family—in Philadelphia.

LOLITA, BARBUZZO, JAMONERA As both business and life partners, Valerie Safran and chef Marcie Turney have made their collective dreams come true. The women met while working together at Valanni on Spruce Street. Turns out, Safran wanted to open her own home store and Turney wanted a restaurant. The pair now own six restaurants and boutiques, pioneering ventures that have transformed the 100 block of South 13th Street. From market fresh Mediterranean to modern Mexican, Turney is in the thick of things, a dimpled powerhouse with vision to spare. Safran heads the front of the house and financial side of the business, which includes retail outlets Open House, Verde and Marcie Blaine. Like most restaurant couples, they do just one thing on nights off. “Val and I love eating out,” says Turney. “That’s just what we do.”

BIBOU At Bibou (1009 S. Eighth St., 215.965.8290) chef Pierre Calmels creates dishes that both update and respect the traditional French table, making for one of the best French meals in town. His charming wife and co-owner Charlotte manages the front of the house, creating a warm ambiance in the tiny 30-seater that feels like coming home. Calmels, a veteran of New York City’s Daniel and Philly’s Le Bec-Fin, trained in French kitchens for 12 years and it shows. The secret to their romance? Oysters and champagne at home, for starters.

PARADISO, IZUMI Corey Baver and Lynn Rinaldi approach running their two restaurants collaboratively. The pair own Italian-accented Paradiso (1627 E. Passyunk Ave., 215.271.2066) and Izumi (1601 E. Passyunk Ave., 215.271.1222), a sushi eatery nearby. “Working such long hours, we’d never see each other if we both weren’t in the business,” says Baver. “This way, we’re on the same rhythm.”

FOND It’s not every man that inspires his sweetheart to move to Philly from Hawaii. But that’s what chef Lee Styer managed in 2006 with his now wife, pastry chef Jessie Prawlucki. The pair opened 50-seat Fond (1537 S. 11th St., 215.551.5000), which features an ever-changing Italian- and French-inspired menu, and then Belle Cakery bakery (1437 E. Passyunk Ave., 215.271.2299). Of course they fell in love while working together at a restaurant, he in salads, she in sweets. The rest is history.

THE FARM & FISHERMAN With a restaurant to run, twin three-year-old boys and another baby on the way, husband-wife team Josh and Colleen Lawler get very little down time. “Maintaining a balance of home and work life can be a challenge,” says Josh. When they do take off from their 30-seat farm-to-table BYOB, The Farm & Fisherman (1120 Pine St., 267.687.1555), the ideal escapade is the zoo and burgers with the kids.