Andrew Erace can be considered a mover and a maker himself.
The South Philadelphia resident is back hosting a second season of the WHYY-TV12 show “Movers and Makers,” which introduces viewers to interesting people and places in the Philadelphia area.
Had he not been chosen to host the show, he probably could have been a subject for it. With a resume consisting of television experience and previously owning three gourmet food stores with his brother Adam, this was the next step in an exciting line of adventures for Erace.
“I always knew I wanted to get back in television, but wanted to do it in a way where I’m celebrating businesses, entrepreneurs and people for doing unique stuff,” Erace said. “Especially in our region. The Philly area is so rich with those incredible pioneers in their industries.”
Erace’s first venture in television was a show on Food Network called “Great American Food Finds,” which he co-hosted with his brother five years ago.
Even before that, the two brothers co-established Green Aisle Grocery, a boutique market stocking farm-fresh organic and artisanal goods, with locations in the East Passyunk and Graduate Hospital neighborhoods in South Philly, as well as a short-lived location in Northern Liberties.
After a 10-year run, Andrew and Adam decided to move on from the business and pursue other ventures, as they believed the well-liked stores had run their course.
“When we started the business 10 years ago, we were the ones that brought specialty, organic, artisan products to one storefront, especially in a booming neighborhood like Passyunk was,” Andrew recalled. “So we really had incredible exposure and support for that. But as the big box stores caught on, most of our inventory, you could probably get on Amazon now. I think that affected a lot of small businesses.”
They closed the remaining two stores in January and went in different career paths, as Adam pursues writing about food and travel while Andrew is racking up the time on camera. They remain close and even travel together.
“We’re only 16 months apart so we were raised like twins, with matching outfits and stuff like that growing up,” Andrew said with a laugh. “So we’re super tight regardless. It’s funny, my mom, being the typical Italian mother, worried about us growing apart once we sold the business, meanwhile we just took a big family trip together and spent time at the parks together.”
Andrew, 34, went on his own last year as Movers and Makers began its first season. It showcased 13 different places in or around Philadelphia, shining the spotlight on local businesses as well as people making an impact in the community.
Erace recalls a particular episode from Season 1 called “Back to BOK.” Erace and the crew visited the former Edward W. Bok Technical High School at 9th and Mifflin streets in East Passyunk. It was redeveloped and reopened as an incubator for artists, entrepreneurs and nonprofits two years after the school closed in 2013.
The episode had special meaning for Erace, whose grandmother’s house was a block away from the former school.
“Being born and raised in South Philly, any segments that kind of hit home were highlights for me,” Erace said. “It was cool to see the building I’d see every day reawakened in such a way that people from all over are now coming to see it.”
The first six episodes of Season 2 will begin airing on April 23 and can be seen on WHYY-TV12 at 7:30 p.m. Those episodes were shot in the fall and winter and are ready to roll. The second half of the season will be completed in the near future and aired shortly after. Like everything else, the show had to deal with the current COVID-19 situation, which interrupted production for the second half of the show.
“Once things kind of settle, we’ll get back out there and shoot the latter half of the season,” Erace said.
Some of the places and people featured in the upcoming season include Smith Memorial Playground in East Fairmount Park; the Cherry Street Pier at Penn’s Landing; the Library Company of Philadelphia at 13th and Locust streets; and Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books in Germantown.
Erace said he was happy to be contributing exciting content to a television station he grew up watching.
“Like so many other people, I grew up watching Mister Rogers and Sesame Street,” Erace said. “It’s funny how things come full circle, to be on a network that I watched so often as a kid. But to be a part of WHYY is exactly where I personally wanted to land. It really hits home for me to be able to talk about stories in my backyard and, furthermore, seeing and experiencing all these places that other people connect with.”