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hamco

Credit: Tiffany Pham , Tiffany Pham

Life at the Hamilton Court Apartments is about to become more appetizing.

Five new restaurants are set to open in the Hamilton Court lobby this summer. Before tenants move back next fall, the apartment complex will be home to Halal Guys, a Middle-Eastern themed fast food chain; Bonchon, a Korean fried chicken franchise; Tea-do, a bubble tea spot; I-CE-NY, a Thai ice cream shop; and Steve’s Prince of Steaks, a Philly-style sandwich store.

University City District spokesperson and 2006 College graduate Alissa Weiss said that traditionally fast-food options in West Philadelphia and University City have been limited to the stereotypical college diet. She said HamCo’s new restaurants’ low prices and late hours will cater to the diverse tastes of Penn’s ever-diversifying community.

“Personally, I’m a Penn alum, and there was really nothing like [the new restaurants] on campus when I was there,” Weiss said. “With these five new places … there’s just so much variety. So between the diversity of options, the price points, and that they’re intending to keep the places open late, it really speaks to college students.”

College junior and HamCo tenant Wrik Sinha is one of those students. During his stay at HamCo, Sinha has struggled to find unique places to eat — especially while studying later at night or early in the morning.

“A lot of [the restaurants around HamCo] are so similar,” Sinha said. “And usually, when it’s late at night, the only option that I have is like Wawa basically. So having something that’s like right there [in the HamCo lobby] that’s open at decent hours, is very convenient and I do appreciate that.”

In recent years, the restaurant scene around Penn’s campus has expanded to include a wider array of cuisines. Weiss pointed out that the new food options reflect the recent trend of economic growth in University City. According to a UCD annual report, the district experienced an 11 percent population increase in the last three years, as its workforce swelled to 75,000.

Meanwhile, its foodservice industry expanded by 24 percent since 2009, most recently adding franchises such as Spread Bagelry, Dim Sum House and Herban Quality Eats.

Weiss said stores like these, along with the HamCo restaurants, show how new dining options complement University City’s overall development.

“There are trends happening across University City that are drawing more restaurants and retailers,” Weiss said. “You have uCitySquare, the Schuylkill Yard Development, Pennovation, just a lot of activity … and people who are running [restaurants] see this and want to be there to cater to an increasing population and an amazing student body.”

Sinha said he is excited by the development around Penn’s campus. He looks forward to living in University City while the district continues to grow — especially if that means more and different food.

“I definitely am looking forward to [new restaurants opening] over the next few sevwmesters,” Sinha said. “I honestly just like food diversity options.”

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