Business at the MexiCali restaurant on 40th and Sansom streets was so good in the first week, the store had to temporarily close its doors due to insufficient staffing.
Owner Richard Frattura said he was not initially expecting the hordes of customers who swamped his storefront, and that the staff was unequipped to serve such large numbers.
"By the fourth or fifth day, I realized I just didn't have the right staff," Frattura said.
The reopening of the MexiCali restaurant on 40th and Sansom streets is still pending. The store closed a little under two months ago, but "will open soon," Frattura said, though he has not specified a date.
"I want people who are legal ... who will do the job correctly, and we're getting there," Frattura said concerning his search for employees.
The Tex/Mex eatery, which has two similar food carts on campus, originally opened in mid-September. Frattura said that he found it overwhelming to simultaneously manage both the carts and the restaurant.
"This vending is hard work," he said.
Since shutting down the restaurant, Frattura has been searching for a better staff, noting that he currently has secured about half the employees he wants.
Since the store has been closed, Frattura has been approached by some interested buyers for the property.
"I [tell them] I'm keeping the store," Frattura said.
Many students who ventured to the restaurant after it closed said they were confused, not realizing that business had been suspended.
"I went up there at least two or three times and it was closed," said Jennifer Bandura, a sixth-year graduate student in Cell and Molecular Biology.
The restaurant also offered a larger menu than that of the carts.
"It was really good, a little different from the cart," said John Arthur, a fifth-year Bioengineering graduate student. "There were different hot sauces and the burritos were a little bigger."
"I loved the food," College sophomore Anne Benveniste said. "The portion sizes weren't huge, and there was a large selection."
Frattura and his wife opened the restaurant in an attempt to expand their business, which has been serving Penn since 1986.
"My wife and I have been looking for a store since the 1980s," the West Philadelphia resident said.
Frattura's intention in opening the restaurant was to sell food during the evenings and on Saturdays -- times when his food carts are not operating. The current food carts -- located on the 3600 block of Spruce Street and the corner of 38th and Walnut streets -- are only open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Frattura said that he has continued to use the kitchen to prepare food for his carts, adding that he has no plans to close the carts.Comments powered by Disqus
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