Hungry for help

The Center City District surveyed two concentrated areas of outdoor dining, Midtown Village and Rittenhouse Square, finding that 70% of restaurants were providing outdoor seating.
Hughe Dillon

Is anyone hungry? 

The past year has been full of ups and downs for the City of Philadelphia. Economically speaking, many industries have been hit hard, but one of the frontrunners in that category is the food and beverage business. With restrictions on indoor dining during the coldest months of the year, some restaurants have made the change to update their outdoor setups, but for others, take-out has been the only way to sustain cash flow without closing for the time being. 

In Center City at the end of November, the Center City District surveyed two concentrated areas of outdoor dining—Midtown Village and Rittenhouse Square—finding that 33 of 47 restaurants (70%) were providing outdoor seating, often weather-protected, deploying 524 tables with 735 seats. However, with more frigid weather making its way in, and with other parts of Philly in consideration, the CCD has also decided to launch a campaign to urge Philadelphians to support their favorite eateries as much as they can to help bring the food industry of Philly back on its feet, especially those who don’t have those vital outdoor seating areas. 

The campaign features the hashtag #takeoutphilly and includes ads in print, on the radio, web and social media, on bus shelters and on digital screens as well as emails directly to Center City and regional residents. On top of the social and media presence, those passing by might also receive “campaign-styled” buttons with the message “I Take Out” from eateries or even see postcards being distributed to residential buildings with a similar message reading: “Get Takeout! Skip the Dishes. Order Directly From Restaurants. Tip Generously.”

“The campaign visuals, designed by Levlane, are inspired by two iconic American characters—Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter—urge the public to support our restaurants, their staff and all of our small-business owners,” said Michelle Shannon, CCD’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications in a statement. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that many of our favorite places, which also provide thousands of jobs, are counting on us for their survival.”

On top of the campaign, diners have another incentive to support Philly restaurants with several chances to win dinner for a year. During each month of the campaign (January through March), two winners will be chosen from participants who turn in receipts from their Center City restaurant purchases. In all, a total of six winners will receive twelve $50 gift cards at select Center City restaurants. More information on how to submit your receipts is available online. 


This is just another step in trying to come up with creative solutions to the crisis that ensued regarding shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the campaign is intended to promote the restaurant sector in a fun way, the survival of these businesses is paramount to the City of Brotherly Love’s economic recovery and the return of jobs. According to the release, after plummeting dramatically in April, both nationally and locally, Philadelphia employment in both retail and restaurants has been steadily rebounding with retail jobs almost regaining January 2020 levels, but with restaurant and foodservice employment in Philadelphia still 38% below January 2020 levels, due to the inability of restaurants to serve indoors at full capacity over the last nine months.

However, Philly has been showing just how gritty they are with total reported outdoor seating within CCD boundaries increasing from 2,997 seats in June to 5,152 seats in September, and Center City-wide that number rose to 9,500 seats. Between Midtown Village and the area West of Broad Street surveyed by the CCD in late November, when new city regulations limited restaurants to outdoor dining and takeout only, 33 were open and providing outdoor seating.

“Our restaurants have been incredibly entrepreneurial during this extraordinarily challenging time, from the creativity that has gone into designing heated outdoor dining spaces to the ingenuity that was required to quickly develop new business models focused on takeout,” said CCD President Paul R. Levy in a statement. “Restaurants are doing all they can to keep their staffs employed and their kitchens open. This campaign is designed to support these small businesses that provide jobs and bring vitality to the city.”

To find out more information about CCD’s campaign, visit

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