The Spruce Street staple Già Pronto will be closing its doors in the next few weeks, but will reopen just four doors down.
Già Pronto will soon take the spot at 3716 Spruce Street previously occupied by TBowl, after being at 3736 Spruce Street since 2004. President and founder Marco Lentini developed the idea for a specialty salad bar and panini shop while he was in Wharton’s MBA program. Lentini is a 2002 MBA recipient and 1996 College graduate.
At a time when Philadelphia was known to be one of the fattest cities in America, Già Pronto opened in 2004 to bring food made from fresh and local ingredients to the area.
The new Già Pronto will continue to follow in this tradition.
The bigger space will be able to accommodate more customers and increase its capacity by around 50 percent.
The new Già will be much larger and will have a kitchen on-premise, allowing for freshly baked pastries, pizzas and other made-to-order items. Già had previously used the kitchen at TBowl.
There will also be a $1 delivery option to cater to students who don’t live nearby.
“The breads for paninis will be baked right there, two hours before you eat it,” Lentini said. “It really is revolutionary.”
The previous occupant of the space, Asian rice bowl shop TBowl, had closed over the summer. Lentini is also the owner of TBowl.
Since 2004, five different restaurants have come in and out of this space, leading some to believe that the retail spot may be cursed.
“TBowl was really the first restaurant that broke the curse of that space,” Lentini said. “It was the first restaurant to go in there and do very well.”
“At Taglio, the pastas we were making were not consistent with the palate and culinary trends of young people today. It was about heavier, old world style recipes,” Lentini said.
While Lentini believed that as a restaurant concept, TBowl “absolutely worked” as it appealed to health-conscious students, the actual sales TBowl generated may not have lived up to his expectations.
“We monitor the health of the restaurants. When we see potential concerns we do have conversations,” said Ed Datz, Executive Director of Real Estate at Penn. “In [TBowl’s] case, the concept never lived up to the sales threshold designed in the lease.”
While Lentini insisted that TBowl had a large following of loyal customers and was always busy, the restaurant never really met the anticipated sales revenue, according to Datz. In addition, the University felt that there was a need to diversify the available food options, as the Asian restaurant Beijing exists next door.
“After an exchange of conversations, I believe [Lentini] came to same conclusion we had in that we wanted to look for a completely different concept,” Datz said.
“Marco had a great idea,” Datz said. “But new concepts for restaurants typically fail within the first two years.”
Lentini and the University came to an agreement to move a new-and-improved Già Pronto into the old TBowl space.
“It was a calculated decision,” Michelle Potter, the general manager of Già Pronto, said. “We thought, what do we want to do with these two spaces?”
While Già has been successful in its spot on Spruce Street since 2004, moving into the purportedly haunted space that TBowl and Taglio once inhabited may prove to be a risky move.
“I don’t believe the space is haunted,” Ed Datz said. “Has there been a sequence of restaurants that have not been successful there? Yes. But moving a successful concept into that space will hopefully break the sequence.”