Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fill This Front: Freshii Space

1414 South Penn Square, Suite 1

             Kind of a quick one today, because this storefront hasn't existed for a very long time. Nonetheless, for 1/4th of that time, this little spot has been about as empty as empty gets. There's no goddamn excuse for this, of course, considering that this location gets so much fucking foot traffic that you could open a puppy underwear store here and killlLL!!!
             The Residences at the Ritz building, where this storefront is located, took fucking forever to get built. The corner it sits on, at the southwest corner of City Hall, was blocked off for like 4 years due to its construction. Before it was blocked off, it was mostly a driveway for the parking lot that was here, and before that, was blocked off due to the deconstruction of the old One Meridian Plaza. Therefore, when the RATR was completed, this was the first time this little block had any street level use since February 23rd, 1991.

February 23rd, 1991.
                   In January of 2011, Toronto/Chicago-based chain Freshii came along to occupy one of the two retail spaces on the newly-rebuilt corner. Freshii's decidedly pretentious website describes the restaurant as a place to "help citizens of the world live longer & healthier by making healthy food convenient & affordable" (barf). The chain started in 2005 and has over 80 locations in a whole shitload of different cities and countries... so why not give Philadelphia a try, right?

Freshii in the space in May 2011 from the Google Streetview Time Machine
                 HAhahahahahahaha. I laugh because Goel Management, the Chicago-based company that handles Freshii's American locations, made the same mistake other big chains sometimes make when they expand into Philly: they staffed the placed with real Philadelphians. After its massive free-food giveaway Grand Opening on January 18th, 2011, the restaurant immediately started going downhill. The Yelp reviews of the place show all the indications of the location getting infected with the classic Philadelphian fast food worker: Reports of super-slow service by asshole workers who couldn't get orders right, the menu options dwindling smaller and smaller as time went on, a lack of freshness to the food, the restaurant itself getting dirtier and drabber over the coming months. All the shit that happens when you have a lazy and incompetent staff that think that if no one is puking all over the place or shitting on the floor, everything must be going just fine.
                  Despite all this, they managed to stay opened for over 2 years, probably because nearby office workers who are somehow unwilling and unable to prepare their own healthy lunch felt forced to come here, thinking this was the only place to get a healthy meal on the outside. They officially closed on October 31st, 2013. What a shame. This was meant to be the first of 30 locations in the Delaware Valley. Guess how many there are now? ZERO.
                Baltimore's, D.C.'s, and Boston's locations of the chain are doing just fine. Hell, the place is even kicking ass in Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Westport fucking Connecticut-- but Philadelphia's singular spot couldn't make it. It was that classic Philadelphian incompetence, the same thing that makes our airport suck ass and our fast food locations way worse than their suburban counterparts (which is saying something).
              After the place closed, the folks at the RATR put up a bunch of renderings and text about the new Dilworth Plaza across the street which gives me the hope that MAYBE the city or Center City District is the one leasing the space right now, effectively using it as a billboard. Its gives me the hope that maybe something will open here once the construction it complete. After all, the space doesn't seem to be listed anywhere. Nonetheless, if you are the type of badass that has the ability to jump on a space like this, now's the time.
             This spot gets an unbelievable amount of foot traffic and is soon to be across the street from the newly re-designed Dilworth Plaza, which will hopefully be just as successful as the new Sister Cities Park. The space is directly adjacent to an extremely successful La Colombe coffee location, is right next to City Hall (where lots and lots of people work), a buttload of office buildings (where lots and lots of people work), and the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Directly above live many dangerously wealthy people with tons of disposable income. The space is relatively small but has a huge window frontage and those cool metallic columns in front. What do you have to lose? AGC Realty manages the sales of the condos above, I wouldn't be surprised if they handle the storefront leases as well. Give them a call and get in there before Dilworth Plaza is done! FILL THIS FRONT!!

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