How to Open a Restaurant

Did a New Website Just Make Opening a Restaurant in Philly - Gasp! - User-Friendly?

Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney
Valerie Safran and Marcie Turney Photo: Center City District

The Center City District - the business improvement district that brings you Restaurant Week, among other things - debuted an amazing new website today aimed at attracting new retailers and restaurateurs to the city. While we don’t normally geek out about marketing initiatives like this, this one is of particular interest to restaurant fanatics and frankly, it’s really well done. The site features video testimonials from restaurateurs Jose Garces, Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran of Lolita and Bindi, and KeVen Parker of Ms. Tootsie’s, plus intriguing demographic reports and an entire section on the nuts and bolts of opening a restaurant in Philly with links to all of the appropriate government departments and connections to financing opportunities. Best of all, there’s a searchable database of all available properties.

You might think that a city, especially one where there’s both a crippling business tax and wage tax, might have taken it upon itself to put something like this together to attract commerce and streamline the business-opening process, but never forget this is Philly, where common sense goes to die. It’s not surprising that this kind of initiative came from outside of the government.

Cities like New York and Chicago have handy government-run wizards that are geared towards making the process of opening a restaurant - at least the permits and inspections part - more user-friendly, but none have put that information together with the demographic information, business owner-testimonials and the database of available properties. For once, Philly seems to be at the forefront of a business initiative, rather than slinking behind.

Of course, nothing on the website illuminates to prospective restaurateurs the byzantine curiosities of L&I;, the strange whims of the PLCB or the phenomenon of union members protesting in front of a restaurant that has already been built. Guess they wanted to leave a little mystery in the process.

Philadelphia Retail [CCD]

Did a New Website Just Make Opening a Restaurant in Philly - Gasp! -