We’re lucky enough to live in a city with public art and riverside beer gardens, where visitors flock to walk our cobblestone streets and eat our famous sandwiches. But you wouldn’t know it at first glance, at least if your first glance of the city was 30th Street Station. Despite its stunning architecture, 30th Street Station is underserving commuters and tourists alike, who deserve better retail and dining options, better waiting areas, and better restrooms. They simply deserve a better introduction to Philadelphia.
Our awareness of this area of opportunity was heightened last year, as we awaited the Pope’s arrival and an onslaught of visitors. My company, Saxbys Coffee, took this news — coupled with the fact that Philly’s hosting the Democratic National Convention this summer — as a call to action. We decided to massively renovate our 30th Street café with a clean, modern design intent to make life better for Philly travelers. The new café opened Friday, Feb. 19, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome and wow more people as they come and go from our city.
But there’s still so much more we can do. Just a year ago, Sen.Bob Casey raised the same point: We need to take better care of 30th Street Station and create a “grander entrance to Philadelphia.” There’s no reason this 82-year-old building can’t become a Union Station or a Grand Central Station — just as much destinations as they are travel hubs.
One crucial way 30th Street Station could better represent our city is to tap into our nationally revered food scene. Would you know Philadelphia is home to James Beard nominees and winners, the nation’s oldest farmer’s market, and over 50 breweries if your only Philly experience was commuting through 30th Street Station? It’s time we take advantage of the five-star chefs and budding restaurant entrepreneurs that are bolstering Philly’s food city rep and add them to the 30th Street tenant mix.
As Casey identified, “the potential is there.” We see it, which is why we want to create a better experience for future Philadelphians and visitors. And I hope our efforts help my fellow retailers see this same potential. I hope it spurs a much-needed revitalization of 30th Street Station.
We’ve cleaned up our river banks, redeveloped neighborhoods, and repurposed public spaces. Now it’s time to bring our attention to 30th Street Station. Let’s make a better entryway to our city. Let’s make a better first impression.