Restaurateurs all around Center City are venting about nonexistent business during the papal events.
We now hear from Larry Rosenblum of Spread Bagelry, on 20th Street just north of Spruce, who apparently turned his lemon into lemonade. (Can't think of a similar analogy in the bagel world.)
Rosenblum knew he could not count on the locals for business. Through months of dire and sometimes conflicting pronouncements, many Center City residents felt compelled to leave town.
"I, off the cuff, decided to put lots of tables in the street and create a block party atmosphere, and it drew lots of attention and people into the shop," Rosenblum said. He had a banjo player, who strummed while various pilgrims marched up 20th Street toward the Parkway. His crowd was mainly tourists.
"Given the fact that the city was emptied out of cars, all restaurants and businesses should have taken it to the streets. That festival atmosphere and opportunity to create something spectacular was missed. I think it would have been incredible to promote the entire closed city as a giant street party. It certainly works for food fests in Rittenhouse, and worked for me."
Jose Garces figured that out weeks ago, too, setting up grills outside Village Whiskey and Tinto at 20th and Sansom Streets. The crowd was "almost exclusively tourists and law enforcement officials," said Garces vice president Scott Steenrod. "It was not easy to execute and was a ton of work, but fun. We served over 1,000 people both Saturday and Sunday. We would do if again for a similar event."
On an even more populist scale, merchants in Chinatown brought out grills and cooked hot dogs to sell to the papal attendees - the logic being that hot dogs are cheap and easy to execute, while dandan noodles are not the most portable snack to tote to Mass.