University City food truck Magic Carpet Foods will close on June 30 as the owners head into retirement.
Co-owners Deb and Dean Varvoutis have been serving their Middle Eastern vegetarian goods to the Penn community for nearly 40 years. Their first food truck — located at 34th and Walnut streets — opened on campus in 1984, and due to high demand for their food, a second truck was opened soon after at 36th and Spruce streets.
The couple formally announced their plans to retire in a June 12 Instagram post. However, they made the decision back in May, motivated not by financial stress, but by age.
“It's a very bittersweet decision because I love what I do,” Deb Varvoutis said. “I am a very maternal person; I really enjoy feeding everybody and getting to know people, especially the students.”
The Varvoutises plan to keep their legacy alive by selling the business. Currently, they have offers from two Penn-affiliated potential buyers as well as two non-Penn affiliated buyers.
While they will not focus on the sale until after they retire, the owners hope to sell the business before the fall semester starts so that students will be able to continue to enjoy their food. However, they also expressed a desire to not rush the sale, and plan to wait until they can select a buyer who will stay true to the Magic Carpet brand.
‘“I don't want people to try and streamline and squeeze every penny out of it that they can, because it's not what we do,” Deb Varvoutis said. “Of course you want to make a profit, but you don't want to compromise the quality of your food to do that.”
On June 9, Penn President Liz Magill stopped by Magic Carpet to have lunch and bid the Varvoutis couple farewell. The couple said that Magill brought them a “very sweet” letter and Penn merchandise.
Since the announcement, they have also received an “unbelievable” and “touching” outpouring of support from current Penn students and alumni alike, Deb Varvoutis said. People have been traveling from far distances to say farewell and get one last gluten-free oatmeal cookie.
“I love Magic Carpet — their huge variety of filling and cheap, unique meals became a real staple during my time at Penn,” 2023 College graduate Ben Moss-Horowitz told The Daily Pennsylvanian. “I hope they at least leave behind the cookie recipes!”