"Yo quiero Taco Bell" might soon be heard around campus as the popular fast food chain prepares to head to Penn.
"Taco Bell is very interested in being on college campuses, and we know from our focus groups that students want more Mexican food options, particularly Taco Bell," University spokesman Tony Sorrentino said, noting that the restaurant chain and the University are in active negotiations.
Penn is in the process of deciding which food vendors would perform best in the three open spots in the Moravian Cafes, next to Famous Famiglia Pizza and Gourmet Ice Cream and Yogurt -- the only two remaining vendors.
Monica Hawkes, an administrative assistant in Taco Bell's public relations office, said that while there is no definite timeline, Taco Bell will probably be moving in within the next few months and definitely in time for the start of the fall 2005 semester.
The quick opening time is possible because most of the needed infrastructure for a restaurant is already in place.
"By having the equipment in the food court, the whole process will move much faster," Sorrentino said.
Still, he was ambiguous about the specifics of the deal, saying that while both sides are interested, the University does not yet have a lease signed with Taco Bell.
"It is premature to say that Taco Bell is coming to campus this fall," Sorrentino said. "We hope that the negotiations continue to move forward."
Within Taco Bell itself, there seems to be uncertainty as to the possible venture.
Taco Bell spokeswoman Sally George said, "I would definitely rely on what the University said because that's straight from the horse's mouth."
But many students, like Sorrentino, hope that negotiations will be successful.
"I'm all about Taco Bell. I would definitely go to it," College freshman Zack Moscow said.
While Moscow has never been to the Moravian Cafes, he said that "Taco Bell is special enough to get me over there."
However, not all University City residents are as excited as Moscow.
Dan Maromphan, a student at the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, said Taco Bell "is good and all, but I prefer Qdoba," which serves similar food.
And this is good news for Billy --who declined to reveal his last name -- the general manager of Qdoba, located on 40th Street.
"All these restaurants compete with us," said Billy, who is not worried about the possibility of extra competition. "We have better food than Taco Bell."
He added that the many customers who return to the restaurant are indicators of the quality of the food.
The vacancy in the Moravian Cafes was prompted by the departure of five tenants.
"There were several operators in the food court who had leases up for renewal, and through a mutual agreement with the University they chose to move on," Sorrentino said.
In the future, half of the 15,000-square-foot site at 3401 Walnut St. will hold a CVS, while the other half will remain a food court.
"Retail is a very dynamic faction of the economy. You need to keep things refreshed and engaging," Sorrentino said.Comments powered by Disqus
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