After 14 years of business, Distrito, a campus favorite Mexican restaurant at 40th and Chestnut streets, has closed for the remainder of the summer, with no known reopening date.
The announcement of Distrito’s closing came abruptly on July 9, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distrito posted on its website that “We had hoped that we could hold out until the students return in the fall. But the sad truth is that the demand just isn’t there and the restaurant cannot financially support itself.” In 2018, another Distrito location in Moorestown, N.J. closed after four years of operation, right before filing for bankruptcy.
Chef Jose Garces, who holds the title of Iron Chef from season two of “The Next Iron Chef,” opened Distrito in 2008. Garces founded the restaurant to showcase the cuisine and culture of Mexico City, with a menu focused on street foods served in the city. Customer favorites include the special offerings on Taco Tuesday, such as the two for $7 tacos and $10 Milagro Reposado margaritas.
Rising College senior Spencer Rosato worked as a food runner and server at Distrito from April 2021 to May 2022, where he had many fond memories.
“What I really loved about Distrito were the people that worked there. We were all friends and had a great time,” Rosato told The Daily Pennsylvanian. “Distrito is a part of the community that will be missed.”
Distrito employees who have lost their jobs will be offered new jobs at Garces’ other restaurant locations, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, including The Olde Bar, Amada, Village Whiskey, Hook & Master, and Buena Onda.
Located a block from the west side of campus, Distrito was frequently visited by Penn students. Rising College sophomore Hannah Liu said that she is saddened by the news and felt lucky to have visited the establishment before its closure.
“I went there before the Spring Fling concert and the food and atmosphere [were] great! My friends and I got a giant round table and shared a bunch of dishes,” Liu said to the DP. “I’m really sad and shocked that [Distrito is] closing since I knew how popular it was amongst students.”
Rising College junior Milan Chand was a frequent customer of Distrito, who told the DP that his favorite aspect of the restaurant was its vibrant interior and the unique seating, such as the Volkswagen Beetle car seats and swing booths.
“I went there for the first time my first semester at Penn, so it’s always been near and dear to my heart. It’s been one of my favorite places to go with all my friends,” Chand told the DP. “It’s a staple at Penn, and we’ll definitely miss it.”