Home » Corey Rader, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia

Corey Rader, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia

Passport Insider

by Lawrence Ferber
Corey Rader (Photo by Four Seasons Philadelphia)

In this City of Brotherly Love, the LGBTQ+ community has woven its vibrant tapestry into the cultural fabric of Philadelphia, making it a destination that not only honors its past but also embraces a future of equality and acceptance for all.

Corey Rader (Photo by Four Seasons Philadelphia)

Explore the lively bars, clubs, and cafes that line the streets, creating a warm and inclusive environment where individuals can express their authentic selves.

You can see pretty much all of Philadelphia from the dramatic, glass-enclosed 60th floor Sky Lobby of Philadelphia’s fouryear-old Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center (1 N. 19th St. Tel: 215-419-5000. fourseasons.com/philadelphia), where sprawling floral arrangements greet visitors. Corey Rader is a key member of the team responsible for the amazing flora, under the banner of the property’s celeb florist creative director Jeff Leatham.

Born in neighboring New Jersey, Rader majored in floriculture and greenhouse management and worked for over seven years at the Delaware Valley Floral Group, scooping up prizes at floral competitions. He admits that, prior to joining Four Seasons, after celebrating his 30th birthday with a boyfriend at the property, those dazzling, wall-sized arrangements seduced him into applying for a job soon thereafter.

On why he loves working here, Rader says, “I never have the same day twice. Every morning starts differently with a new set of requests to fulfill and opportunities to exceed expectations, and that keeps work interesting. I also love being in a space that accepts me for me. I can be exactly who I want to, and I’m celebrated for it. Did I also mention the view?” Besides his outstanding floral work throughout the 219-room property, Rader can also be counted on for primo under-the-radar local scoops and gems, which he recently shared with PASSPORT.

Where are the coolest places to go for cocktails right now?
Naturally, the first place I recommend is JG Sky High’s bar, located on the 60th floor of the Four Seasons, and the lounge at Jean Georges, which recently opened to daily service. With sweeping views of the city and larger than life floral installations by Jeff Leatham, it’s hard not to fall in love with the space, and I adore the lychee raspberry bellini for a light afternoon pick me up, perfect for sipping while people watching.

Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia Lobby (Photo by Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia)

Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia Lobby (Photo by Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia)

Another trendy location to take in skyline views and sample some of Philly’s best food is Bok Bar (800 Mifflin St. Tel: 445-223-1607. bok-bar.com), which offers a constant rotation of culinary pop-ups by some of Philly’s most beloved chefs. If you’re looking for a more playful environment, Tattooed Mom (530 South St. Tel: 215-238-9880. tattooedmomphilly.com) boasts a collection of Philadelphia street art on the second floor and themed drag shows, craft fairs, and art shows. I personally enjoy playing with its assortment of plastic jumping frog toys from my childhood while sipping a Pickletini. If you love pickles like I do, this twist on a classic is right up your alley and is even garnished with a pickle! If a speakeasy is more your speed, then The Franklin Mortgage and Investment Company (1715 Rittenhouse Square. Tel: 267-892-4557. thefranklinbar.com) is the place for an unforgettable experience in the heart of Rittenhouse Square.

What are the best restaurants for a romantic dinner?
I’ve found that romance is subject to interpretation. For traditional romance and impeccable service, our Jean-Georges Philadelphia, Philly’s only Forbes 5-star restaurant experience lead by Chef Cornelia Sühr. The tasting menu takes you on a flavor journey with unique pairings artfully presented. If you’re like me and primarily eat vegetarian or vegan, it can be challenging to find a romantic dining experience. Fortunately, Philly has one of the top vegan restaurants in the country, Vedge (1221 Locust St. Tel: 215-320-7500. vedgerestaurant.com). Located in the heart of Philly’s gayborhood, it has an intimate atmosphere and some of the most divine plant-based cuisine.

My all-time favorite is the gold bar squash served with a refried quinoa that just dances across my palette. For a more casual romance, there’s a quaint BYOB Italian restaurant also in the gayborhood, Mercato (1216 Spruce St. Tel: 215-985-2962. mercatobyob.com). You simply cannot dine here without an order of whipped ricotta for the table to enjoy, and I also suggest their ricotta cavatelli.

Who serves the greatest brunch?
Southern hospitality is something you don’t always find in the North, but Rex at the Royal (1524 South St. Tel: 267-319-1366. rexphl.com) has brought all that southern charm and put a Philly spin on it, with immense helpings of gayness. Make sure you get extra biscuits and Rex home fries, your stomach will thank you. If you seek a more conventional brunch in your Sunday best, then head for Talula’s Garden (210 W. Washington Square. Tel: 215-592-7787. talulasgarden.com). Begin with the carrot cake scones, and follow that up with a buttercrunch lettuce salad before diving into the Mediterranean vegetable frittata. If you’d like a quiet, come as you are experience in the heart of the gayborhood, Bud and Marilyn’s (1234 Locust St. Tel: 215-546-2220. budandmarilyns.com) atmosphere is warm and inviting, just like their menu. I always start with mimosas and, as one of the few spots in the city that I will indulge myself, their heavenly chicken-n-waffles.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (Photo by Fotos593)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art (Photo by Fotos593)

Which museums or attractions are must sees for visitors, especially “hidden gems,” and any hacks or tips as far as when to go or free admission?
My first pick is The Rosenbach (2008-2010 Delancey St. Tel: 215-732-1600. rosenbach.org). This museum boasts a library with an abundance of rare books and manuscripts from around the world, and fine art. An iconic, immersive mosaic art experience and nonprofit organization, Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South St. Tel: 215-733-0390. phillymagicgardens.org) combines discarded everyday items like tiles, bottles, and bicycle wheels. And no trip to Philadelphia is complete in my opinion without The Philadelphia Museum Of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy. Tel: 215-763-8100. philamuseum.org). Every Friday night from 5 – 8:45 P.M. is “pay what you wish” admission, and it is one of the city’s best deals for experiencing world class art.

What are a few of the cool, off-the-radar Philly neighborhoods?
Fishtown is brimming with art, musicians, amazing food, and beer gardens. If you enjoy thrift stores, make your way to Urban Exchange Project (1868 Frankford Ave. urbanexchangeproject.com) and browse racks of vintage clothing. A short walk on Fishtown’s outskirts in neighboring Kensington is my favorite brewery taproom in Philadelphia, Human Robot Brewing (1710 N. 5th St. Tel: 215-978-4000. humanrobotbeer.com), and its sister business, Philly’s best kept sandwich secret, Poe’s Sandwich Joint. My favorite sandwich to order is the Seoul girl, a Korean fried chicken sandwich loaded up with kimchi.

Another neighborhood I love is East Passyunk Square in South Philly. It’s brimming with shops and restaurants and will give you a true Philly experience. Head over to East Passyunk Avenue and stop in ILLExotics (1704-06 E Passyunk Ave. Tel: 267-534-2907. illexotics.com), a gay owned small business, to browse rare house plants and reptiles: their informative staff is always willing to share their knowledge.

John F Kennedy Plaza, Love Park (Photo by Jerome Labouryrie)

John F Kennedy Plaza, Love Park (Photo by Jerome Labouryrie)

You may also recognize one of their owners, Chris Urban, as he’s a DJ that spins all over the gayborhood. Can’t bring a plant home with you? No worries, they also offer a selection of unique local giftware. And if you’re craving Asian food with a twist, head over to Bing Bing Dim Sum (1648 E. Passyunk. Tel: 215-279-7702. bingbingdimsum.com), and make sure you try the cheesesteak bao for an amazing take on a Philly staple.

Where should a coffee addict get their fix?
After all, this is home to wildly successful craft coffee brand La Colombe. Suprema Coffee Roastery (1511 Pine St. supremacoffeeroastery.com) is packing superb coffee-based beverages and a delightful staff that’ll have you hating mornings a little less. Alchemy Coffee (119 S. 21st St. alchemycoffeephilly.com) is a clean, sleek, modern coffee experience while serving up some of the best brews in the whole city. If you want a single origin coffee experience, head over to Elixir Coffee Roasters (1600 Market St. Tel: 239-404-1730. elixrcoffee.com). At full service Vernick Coffee Bar (1800 Arch St., 2nd Floor Lobby. Tel: 215-419-5052. fourseasons.com/philadelphia), in our hotel’s adjacent tower, choose from a full menu of delightful lattes, decadent pastries, and savory dishes, and don’t get me started on their quiche!

As someone who loves flowers and horticulture, what are a few attractions and annual events you recommend?
Philly’s home to one of the oldest, most prestigious flower shows in the world, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society’s Philadelphia Flower Show (phsonline.org/the-flower-show), with larger than life floral installations, specimen plant growing competitions, educational classes, shopping, and parties. Next year’s edition is scheduled for March 2-10, 2024. Its Flowers After Hours Party is a can’t miss event that allows you to dance among the flowers as you sip cocktails and meet some of the show’s designers.

Another unique flower experience that takes place in Fall is the PHS Pop Up Garden at South Street (1438 South St. phspopupgardens.com). This dreamy beer garden, open through at least October 31, is teeming with all sorts of plants and stunning landscaping, and serves up beer and cocktails in the middle of an urban oasis. For something a little more historic, head over to West Fairmont Park’s Shofuso Japanese House and Garden (Lansdowne Dr &, Horticultural Dr. Tel: 215-878-5097. japanphilly.org/shofuso).

The 1950s Shofuso house, designed by Junzo Yoshimura, was a gift from Japan post World War II and is open to the public for tours. It is easy to lose yourself in this tranquil park and forget you’re in the middle of a city.

If someone is looking for a full-service spa, where do you send them?
Our property is home to Philadelphia’s only Forbes five-star spa (fourseasons.com/philadelphia/spa) and offers some truly magical services alongside unparalleled views. I always suggest the Luminous Crystal Facial, it leaves my skin glowing and feeling like butter every time, plus the cooling sensation of the crystals soothes my busy mind. Located in the heart of Rittenhouse Square, Rescue Spa (1811 Walnut St. Tel: 866-772-2766. rescuespa.com/philadelphia) occupies the former Barney’s New York department store space and offers three floors of soul soothing experiences. My skin always comes out glowing and radiant and my pores practically disappear from their Rescue Facial. Make sure to also try the hot stone massage, your sore muscles will thank you as all of your stress melts away.

Philadelphia has some amazing shops for local products, such as LGBTQ-owned body and bath brand Duross & Langel. Can you recommend a few other amazing boutiques for local-centric goodies?
One of my favorite stores of all time is Open House Store (107 S 13th St. Tel: 215-922-1415. openhouseliving.com). It’s part of the lesbian-owned Safran Turkey Hospitality Group and offers one-of-a-kind giftware and many unique Philly souvenirs, from a Philly-themed Tarot deck to iconic “LOVE” signs. Ali’s Wagon (2017 Fairmount Ave. Tel: 215-787-0611. aliswagon.com) is a woman-owned business that specializes in products made by local artisans and small brands, and many of their products have a positive social mission as well.

What are some of Philly’s best LGBTQ bars these days?
Philly’s gay social scene is ever-changing and, as bars and clubs rise in popularity, they tend to get overrun with straight patrons, so we’re constantly looking for new spaces we can reclaim as our own. Another big change you’ll notice in Philly’s gay bars is that they now serve food (during the pandemic it was a requirement to remain open, and many of them have continued doing so).

One of the newest additions is the POC owned Writer’s Block Rehab (1342 Cypress St. Tel: 267-603-6960), which offers up reimagined, fresh takes on your favorite cocktails and small bites in a literary-themed bar. You’ll know you’ve arrived when its larger than life mural of Lil Nas X greets you outside. One of my favorite spots to grab drinks is Ubar (1220 Locust St. Tel: 215-546-6660. ubarphilly.com). At first a hole in the wall, it’s now doubled in size as it took over the neighboring building, and it is adding an outdoor patio. It also features its own “automated” boutique hotel, Inn on Camac (1220 Locust St. Tel: 215-449-0515. innoncamac.com).

Moon rising over Philadelphia (Photo by Harold Stiver)

Moon rising over Philadelphia (Photo by Harold Stiver)

A short distance from Ubar is Tabu (254 S 12th St. Tel: 215-964-9675. tabuphilly.com), with three floors of experiences. The ground level has pool tables and sporting events on the TVs, on the second you’ll find a dance floor and drag show stage (be sure to catch Drag-a-Rama on Monday nights and a performance by Icon Ebony Fierce, one of Philly’s most astounding drag performers), and on the third floor there is a karaoke lounge and rooftop deck. Tabu also does a drag brunch every Sunday. If you prefer a more laid-back gay bar with some tasty food, head over to Knock (225 S 12th St. Tel: 215-925-1166. knockphl.com). The handiwork of Woody’s former owner, Knock offers fantastic cocktails with a restaurant style vibe that attracts a good crowd of locals and visitors alike. If you enjoy comedy, then head over to an open mic night at Stir Lounge (1705 Chancellor St. Tel:215-732-2700. stirphilly.com). This lesbian bar welcomes all and has some of Philly’s most entertaining bartenders.

What about the most popular gay dance clubs in the city?
Tavern on Camac (243 S. Camac St. Tel: 215-545-1102. tavernoncamac.com), from the same group that owns Ubar, is a one stop shop. The basement is a full restaurant, the second level’s a lively piano bar that offers singalongs all night long, and the third is Ascend Lounge, a dancefloor that plays current favorites from Dua Lipa, Kim Petras, and classics from Whitney Houston and Kylie. Tavern’s the place to see and be seen on Friday and Saturday night, and on Sunday nights they hosts “Show Tune Sunday” where everyone is a part of the chorus line and you sing and dance until the early morning hours. Speaking of morning, Voyeur (1221 St James Place. Tel: 215-735-5772. voyeurnightclub.com) is the gayborhood’s after-hours club, and you can dance until 3:20 A.M. or so while confetti falls around you.

Where can someone go at 3 A.M. to satisfy the munchies?
A “chicken and egg joint” in the gayborhood, Hatch and Coop (122 S. 12th St. Tel: 215-922-0102. hatchandcoop.com) is actually open 24 hours, and offers a wide range of sandwiches and fries that are sure to refuel after you’ve danced the night away.

Please finish this sentence: Don’t leave Philadelphia without…
Visiting Reading Terminal Market (readingterminalmarket.org), where you must head to Miller’s Twist (millerstwist.com) and try a true Philadelphia soft pretzel. Visit Dillworth Park (centercityphila.org/parks/dilworth-park) in front of historic City Hall. It features a roller skating rink transforms into an ice-skating rink for the Christmas Village. And you cannot leave the city without heading over to Old City (oldcitydistrict.org) to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell; it is after all the birthplace of our nation!


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