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After years of student complaints, Eat at Joe's closed its doors for the last time on Friday.

Tom Lussenhop, the University's top real estate agent, said in an email statement that the diner closed for "internal corporate reasons."

University officials brought the 1950's-style diner to campus two years ago to satiate student demands for an all-hour diner, but most students said they were never satisfied with the restaurant.

Many complained because the restaurant was not open 24 hours as some hoped, and others grumbled about the prices and service.

John Greenwood, a top official for the University's real estate company, said that the University pushed the closing of the dining establishment when it didn't adequately respond to student complaints.

"We have been working with Eat at Joe's for some time to see if they could improve their diner," Greenwood said. "We have not, nor, I think, has the student body, been satisfied with the performance with the diner."

He added that the University was "very influential" in closing the diner.

The restaurant's departure leaves a vacancy near 40th and Walnut streets, and the University is working to draw a new venue to the location, Greenwood said.

According to Greenwood, the university is currently in discussion with several possible operators to take over the location. In 1996, the Undergraduate Assembly presented Penn with a survey showing that 97 percent of students wanting a 24-hour diner close to campus, and Greenwood said Penn was looking to put another diner in the former Eat at Joe's spot.

Greenwood added that he hoped something would be finalized with a new operator this summer.

"We're hoping that we're able to move quickly," he said.

Lussenhop also said that the University was looking for new operators for the space.

"We will retenant the diner with a new operator," he said. "It is a suberb location."

But he didn't promise students that a diner would be brought to the location.

"While we look forward to student opinions on the desired character of a new operation, we need to be very careful to find the right concept and operator for the space," he said.

The closure comes just months after Eat at Joe's officials said they made significant changes to the restaurant in an effort to meet student needs, including managerial changes and alterations in the menu.

But, in the end, Penn students said they still weren't happy with the results.

"We wished that Eat at Joe's could have delivered what we had hoped," Greenwood noted.

Lussenhop also said that although he wasn't sure of the restaurant's financial status, he didn't think it performed as well as hoped.

"While we cannot know for sure, it is safe to assume that they were not meeting the financial targets," he said.

The empty property left behind by Eat at Joe's becomes the second vacancy near 40th and Walnut streets. Just next door, University officials are trying to lure operators to another empty storefront.

Greenwood said that Penn is currently talking to several possible operators for that location -- including two video stores, another retail establishments students have asked Penn bring to campus.

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