Restaurants and urban revitalization: The case of center city Philadelphia

Takekuni Kurosawa, University of Pennsylvania


Like other American cities, the City of Philadelphia and civic organizations such as a business improvement district (BID) promoted their hospitality cluster in the 1990s in order to revitalize their downtown area. During the same period, Center City Philadelphia coincidentally experienced a high restaurant boom. In general, restaurants play a role as part of the hospitality industry. However, we do not know how urban restaurants have contributed to urban revitalization as part of a city's hospitality cluster. What kinds of restaurants are more likely to encourage this urban revitalization? In order to solve these questions, this study examines the economic and physical contributions of restaurants in urban environments as an urban element and as an urban amenity as well as a commercial facility, focusing on the recent trends of restaurants and urban development projects in Center City Philadelphia. First, this study explores the roles of restaurants in urban development, urban society, and urban business. Next, this study scrutinizes the location trends and economic and physical characteristics of urban restaurants, using the US Census data and Center City District Retail Occupancy Survey data and conducting a questionnaire survey for Center City restaurateurs. This study finds that some Center City restaurants (1) interrelate with an increase in Center City residents; (2) create more jobs than other retail stores as a commercial facility; (3) encourage the reuse of retail spaces in the commercial district; (4) interact with hotels, a convention center, entertainment facilities, and other restaurants as part of a hospitality cluster; and (5) harmonize with public spaces with outdoor settings. Recent moderate upscale restaurants have tended to possess these features more than other price groups. Finally, this study concludes that urban restaurants have significant hospitable components of which local governments and their BIDs should make the most, not only for enhancing competitive advantages of the downtown area but also for attracting new residents and visitors.

Subject Area

Urban planning|Area planning & development

Recommended Citation

Kurosawa, Takekuni, "Restaurants and urban revitalization: The case of center city Philadelphia" (2001). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3031685.