Jenkintown, Pa. • The mayor of a small town in the Philadelphia suburbs can offer a guarantee to his constituents: He won’t be going to bed hungry.
Jenkintown Mayor Ed Foley, in a gut-busting campaign to draw attention to the tiny borough’s varied restaurant scene, set out to visit all 24 of them on Saturday, starting with a pre-dawn visit to IHOP.
"With one pancake," Foley said in late afternoon. "And IHOP does not want to sell you one pancake."
The second-term Democrat said he’s had to battle "mom guilt" from restaurant staff as he has eaten his way across Jenkintown, a town so small that he only needed to build in 15 minutes to walk from place to place.
"I really am having fun with it," he said shortly before his 16th stop of the day. "You feed on the energy of all these people who are excited to have you in their restaurant."
He said several restaurants have opened in Jenkintown in recent years — and more are poised to join them in the coming months — but he was surprised to count them and see 24 restaurants now populate a town of less than a single square mile. About 20 years ago, he said, Jenkintown had only one place to eat.
At some stops he was able to limit his intake: an egg and a piece of bacon at Joey Tate’s, a single cupcake at Velvet Sky.
But when he hit La Pergola, his request for one latke produced three — along with a bowl of matzo ball soup.
And at Taste the Difference, a soul food takeout and catering place, they responded to his humble order of rice and beans with two ribs, collard greens and macaroni and cheese.
"I ate it all," said Foley, whose day job is in marketing for a Philadelphia insurance company.
Foley conceived the meal marathon, complete with photos on social media and a custom hashtag, as a way to promote Jenkintown’s first restaurant week, which starts Tuesday. Several restaurants have set up shop in Jenkintown in recent years and a couple more are scheduled to open in the coming months.
What about all those calories? Foley didn’t count them, figuring it wouldn’t be very accurate anyhow.
"I did weigh myself before I started and I plan to weigh myself tonight," he told a reporter. "Just for science."
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