Visit Philadelphia serves up tasty campaign to lure back those who moved away

The Homesick Philly Tour will visit Boston, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.

Steve Tawa
July 31, 2018 - 4:33 pm
Chefs Billy Riddle and Jennifer Carroll opened Spice Finch at 17th and Locust streets in Philadelphia.

Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The city's tourism agency, Visit Philadelphia, is serving up a $1.2-million nostalgia marketing campaign to entice people who have left the City of Brotherly Love to consider coming back. What better way to snag wayward Philadelphians than with food?

The Homesick Philly Tour will take a Philadelphia-branded food truck to Boston's Dewey Square, Baltimore's Canton Waterfront Park and Washington's Woodrow Wilson Plaza, to entice former residents and students back for a weekend trip or an extended vacation.

Chef-owner Marcie Turney, who now counts five restaurants in Philadelphia — Lolita, Barbuzzo, Bud & Marilyn's, Little Nonna's and Jamonera — is spreading the love with her B+V+P meatballs.

"Which means beef, veal and pork — South Philly-style — meatball," she said, "in Sunday gravy over Fontina polenta. People are homesick for meatballs."

Philadelphia restaurateur Marcie Turney
Steve Tawa/KYW Newsradio

A Visit Philly food truck, adorned with images of iconic foods, will hit the road with two cooks who learned the chef's recipes.

Turney said they did a testing on Monday. "Everything is on point, and they're going out with the Visit Philly team," she said.

Meryl Levitz, the president and CEO of Visit Philly, says if Philadelphians now far afield once adored the city's food, arts, culture, history and sports when they lived, worked or went to school here, the traveling food trucks will whet their appetite.

"For all of those Philadelphians who have some connection but are stranded, away from home, and want to come back," she said.

Billy Riddle already felt the the tug of Philadelphia, working as a chef at several well-known Philly restaurants before going to Washington, and then returning here.

"When I moved to D.C., I missed Philly for two years straight," he said. "Coming back is such a great thing to be a part of."

Riddle and chef Jennifer Carroll, who together recently opened up Spice Finch at 17th and Locust streets, are farming out a Philly riff on one of their dishes.

"We turned it into a chilly chicken cheesesteak kabob," Carroll said.

"It's spicy, crunchy, sweet and salty," added Riddle. 

Chef Kurt Evans of South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor is serving up candy cakes, his take on Tastykakes.