Penn’s large community of food lovers is in for a disappointment this fall.
From Aug. 2 to Aug. 14, Philadelphia’s Center City District will be hosting its biannual Restaurant Week — an event that usually occurs at the end of September. Popular among students from Penn and other Philadelphia universities, Restaurant Week promotes the flourishing food culture that Philadelphia has to offer through discounted menus, and is now in its 12th year.
Restaurant week is always a highlight for college students; however, Penn’s first day of classes is Aug. 26, approximately two weeks after Restaurant Week ends. This is a disappointment to many college students in Philadelphia — including those from Drexel, who begin school in mid-September — since most will not have moved in.
Even though Restaurant Week is typically hosted in mid-September, CCD decided to move it to August so that it does not conflict with the Papal visit at the end of September. Since the Pope will be giving speeches in different parts of the city for the first time in the United States, CCD wants to give people the opportunity to experience Restaurant Week during a less hectic time.
Vice President of Marketing Michelle Shannon is part of the team that introduced Restaurant Week in CCD. “Given the very busy fall this year with the Papal visit, Labor Day and the Jewish holidays, the majority of the restaurants wanted to give the summer timing a try and we agreed,” she said in a statement.
Although many students are excited about the Papal visit, some are disappointed to miss out on Restaurant Week and its good deals for multi-course meals at high-end restaurants.
Rising Wharton senior Vera Kirillov, the culinary director of Penn Appetit, believes that this year’s Restaurant Week will be less successful than in years past.
“I feel like this year’s restaurant week will definitely decline in sales since Penn students will not be able to attend due to their vigorous studies, especially with an undergrad population of 10,000 and even more grad students,” she said. “They will not just be losing a little bit of business, but a lot.”
Rising College and Wharton junior Chase Matecun, the co-blog editor of Penn Appetit, agreed.
“It’s a bummer that students will not be able to take advantage of it. I know at least a lot of my friends get really excited for restaurant week and make multiple reservations just to get a good deal,” he said.
Kirillov and Matecun said they enjoy trying new foods and go out during Restaurant Week — like many Penn students, who consider themselves foodies — and will make multiple reservations throughout the week just to explore the food culture of Philadelphia.
Kirillov added that “it’s a little bit sad because it’s definitely something that I look forward to after coming back to Penn; going out with friends and using Restaurant Week as a way to reconnect with people I haven’t seen. It’s unfortunate that they’ve moved it to August, but we’ll see if it lasts if they’ve seen the downturn in business this year.”
On the other hand, Matecun believes that the lack of Restaurant Week should not deter students from trying new restaurants in Center City.
“It’s kind of a trade-off,” he said. “You may not be getting the usual experience as you would normally get. I would encourage people to go out and eat anyways. There’re still plenty of great deals in the city. If you’re willing to spend $40-50, the $35 you’re going to spend is in addition to the price of a Sweetgreen salad, and it’s definitely one of the best dining experiences you’ll have in the city.”
Rising College and Wharton senior Asher Sendyk, the managing editor of Penn Appetit, said, “It’s a shame because cash-strapped students would get decent deals. At the same time, however, there are other great events to look forward to once we return such as the Kennet Square Mushroom Festival and the Baltimore Ave. Dollar Stroll.”
Some restaurants are even willing to compensate for their lost customers during Restaurant Week.
“We appreciate that Penn students travel across the city to dine with us. We see an intelligent group of kids and we appreciate that they are loyal and love to come,” said Hadar Spector, the public relations representative at Cook N Solo. “We are definitely going to see a difference in restaurant week with students out of town, but we want to give our Penn students the opportunity to still join us.
Cook N Solo will allow students with Penn IDs to dine for the restaurant week price if they order from a certain menu between Aug. 24 and Aug. 30.
Other Center City restaurants will also make efforts to serve Penn students, even though most will not be back for Restaurant Week this year. Corie Moscow, the executive director of Rittenhouse Row, said that “it’s a shame that not all students are back yet, but Rittenhouse Row is always willing to work with Penn, and some restaurants may be extending restaurant week.”
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