Self-evaluation for new local restaurants
April 19, 2011, 2:46 am · Updated April 19, 2011, 12:00 am·
Open for just over two months, Kitchen at Penn’s future seems hazy. “There’s a lot of uncertainty,” Wharton and College senior and founder Nate Adler said.
He attributes many of these problems to being a full-time student and his lease in a communal space. “We need to be able to be in the space whenever, and other people use that space, and we pay by the hour,” he said. As planned, Kitchen will close its doors for the summer in an attempt to reevaluate its problems and presence at Penn.
Though they have “just about broken even” before the cost of rent, Adler and College junior Daniel Abrams, vice president of Kitchen at Penn, remain confident in their fairly original no-storefront concept. “We have ... no fixed costs, no equipment, but we definitely have a loyal following,” Adler said.
College senior Zachary Saltman said he orders two to three times a week from Kitchen. “It’s good quality packaged in a home-cooked meal way but with a gourmet flare,” he said. “It’s definitely unique — nobody really offers that around here.”
A graduating senior, Adler will have to soon make a decision about the future of Kitchen, as well as his own future professionally. “If we do this next year, it’s my full-time job.”
Since its opening just two and a half weeks ago, TBowl owners believe they have broken the curse of 3716 Spruce St. “I think we knew it was going to be good,” said 1996 College graduate and 2002 Wharton MBA recipient Marco Lentini, the founder of Avanti Restaurant Corporation. “But we never anticipated it would be this good.”
To adhere to the overwhelming response, Lentini will expand TBowl’s kitchen to double its current capacity this summer. In the future, Lentini hopes to expand the franchise to other college campuses, along with sister-restaurant Gia Pronto. Lentini listed Princeton and Columbia as potential future locations.
Wharton freshman Jessie Ai said the Boba Bros bubble tea — started by College sophomore Arthur Kuan and Engineering junior Benjamin Shyong — was the best part of her TBowl experience.
Sweetgreen has had a strong presence at Penn — though open for just over a week — under the Radian at 3925 Walnut St.
“It’s a hit,” said assistant manager Bryan Debrest, though he would like to see its popularity extend to greater Philadelphia as well.
Sweetgreen’s hours will stay the same over the summer. To reward customers, they have started a loyalty card system.
“The most ironic thing about Sweetgreen [coming to Penn] is that I think I had something to do with it,” Kitchen at Penn’s Adler quipped. In the past, he assisted a marketing student friend at Georgetown University with an assignment regarding potential future locations for Sweetgreen. Though he didn’t want to admit it, “Penn’s campus is their perfect demographic,” Adler said.