Anuj Gupta, who has managed Reading Terminal Market for nearly five years, will leave in late April to become chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Pa.), the market management announced Thursday.
Gupta will replace Kimberly Turner-Dixon, who has been Evans’ chief of staff since the mid-1990s. An Evans spokesperson said Turner-Dixon would remain during the transition. He did not indicate the reason for her impending departure.
In a statement, Evans said Gupta would bring ”a wealth of experience and knowledge” to the role.
Before joining the market, Gupta, 46, led Mt. Airy USA, a community-development corporation in the city. He also spent three years in Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration, including nearly two years as chief of staff in Licenses & Inspections. He is a law graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.
Gupta, who grew up in Chester County and lives in Mt.Airy, said he would be based mostly in Philadelphia and would travel to Washington a day a week.
Gupta met Evans nearly 25 years ago while working on his mayoral campaigns and while a law student. He also interned in Evans’ state representative office in Harrisburg. “The congressman has been a very impactful legislator in our city for a long time,” Gupta said. “He’s on the Ways and Means Committee and the small-business subcommittee. He’s an elected official who errs on the side of action. He gets things done. If there’s some way that I can have a small impact through this position, that’s what i’m excited about.” Gupta is due to start April 27, three days after leaving the market.
Reading Terminal Market, which fronts 12th Street for nearly a block between Arch and Filbert Streets in Chinatown, gets about 7.5 million visitors annually. The market, with a collection of local food vendors selling fresh and prepared foods, sprawls beneath the old Reading Terminal train shed, now part of the city’s Convention Center.
“Despite the competitive forces we are facing, we are still the best fresh-food option in Philadelphia,” Gupta said.
Among Gupta’s accomplishments since he joined the market in June 2015 are what he calls a “game-changer” — an e-commerce service initiative by which customers can choose food items from vendors throughout the market and have them delivered for free. “You can’t even do this with Jeff Bezos,” he said.
Gupta is also credited with a Market Ambassador program and creation of a customer service center. Gupta also has led a project to redesign the 1100 block of Filbert Street, a dark underpass beneath the Convention Center.
Through a Knight Foundation grant in 2016, Gupta also led the “Breaking Bread, Breaking Barriers: Food as a Bridge to Cultural Understanding” program to bond Philadelphia’s diverse communities through cooking and dining experiences. He also was named as a Knight Foundation Public Space fellow in 2019.
Market management said it would start a search for Gupta’s replacement.