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A sign on the door of Marathon Grill at 200 S. 40th St. announced the closure of the restaurant, which has served University City for almost seven years. Credit: , ,

After almost seven years of business, the restaurant Marathon Grill and its lounge MarBar closed the doors of their University City location on Monday.

Marathon Grill, located at 200 S. 40th St., decided not to renew its lease because of declining business over the last few years, Penn’s Executive Director of Real Estate Ed Datz wrote in an email.

A sign on the door of the modern American eatery reiterated the announcement: “Thank you for your loyal patronage ... come visit us downtown,” it read.

The University City Marathon Grill — which served breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as brunch on Sundays — opened in 2004, replacing a Burger King.

“When they came to this location, they brought a renewed vitality to the 40th Street corridor,” Datz wrote, “improving the economy, the activity, and safety of the area in conjunction with other neighborhood development in West Philadelphia.”

Encouraging an active commercial strip at 40th Street has been “imperative” in decreasing crime near Penn’s campus, Urban Studies professor Elaine Simon said.

Vacant buildings result in “a sense of decline,” Simon said, although she added that she does not think “anything [negative] will happen immediately.”

The 4000 block of Walnut Street was a focus of the West Philadelphia intiatives instated in the mid 1990s by Judith Rodin, who was Penn President at the time, School of Design professor Eugenie Birch explained.

The amount that the block has improved in the past two decades is “absolutely unbelievable,” she added.

The University is in the process of searching for a proprietor to replace the retail space, and “initial interest has been strong,” Datz wrote. Because of its location, the space — which is owned by Penn — will likely be filled by a food and beverage venue, although Penn will evaluate other options as well, Datz added.

“I’m excited to know what’s coming,” rising Wharton junior Katarina Muller said.

“I’m so sad it’s closed!” rising College sophomore Serena Shi wrote in an email. “Of all places to close, I would have never expected it to be Marathon Grill because it’s such a great restaurant.”

“[Penn] will find someone else to rent the space,” Birch said. “I’m sure they’re working very hard.”

It is likely that a chain restaurant which can afford the high rent of such a large commercial space will fill the lot, Simon said. She speculated that perhaps the rent became too high for Marathon Grill, which is locally owned.

Marathon Grill, owned by the Borish family, opened in 1984 in Northeast Philadelphia. It has five other locations throughout the city which will continue to operate, Datz wrote.

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