Center City District ad campaign aims to help restaurants survive

The new ad campaign to support Center City restaurants evokes WWII posters of Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter. (Courtesy of Center City District)

The new ad campaign to support Center City restaurants evokes WWII posters of Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter. (Courtesy of Center City District)

Philadelphia’s Center City District is starting an advertising campaign encouraging people to order takeout meals from restaurants. The ads will feature familiar images from battles past, like Rosie the Riveter and Uncle Sam, but with a modern twist.

Paul Levy, president and CEO of the Center City District, said the campaign is designed to preserve restaurants in town, which make up about a third of the district’s business members and which are working hard to survive at a difficult time.

“Seventy percent of them were doing outdoor dining in December. If you go around Center City, people built those incredible heated enclosures, and the city has been really helpful closing off certain street lanes to allow it,” he said. “But when it’s 20 degrees at night, do people really want to go out of their home?”

The new ad campaign to support City Center restaurants evokes WWII posters of Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter. (Courtesy of City Center District)

Levy said the campaign is to encourage people to go directly to the restaurants for takeout, bypassing some of the delivery services to maximize restaurant income.

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“That’s not to be critical of any of the delivery services, but they take a piece of it. And tip generously — you don’t automatically think about tipping during takeout, but it’s so important to the employees there … it’s so critical to their income.”

The goal is to make sure the restaurants survive, Levy said. He noted that four or five restaurants have closed permanently since the pandemic began, but that two or three new restaurants have opened. He’s concerned that when temperatures drop, the winter weather will be problematic to restaurants that have so far been surviving well with outdoor dining.

The new ad campaign to support City Center restaurants evokes WWII posters of Uncle Sam and Rosie the Riveter. (Courtesy of City Center District)

“I think this is the wintertime, when we really felt the need to stress the campaign, because you could do a lot of outdoor seating when it was 40 or 50 degrees,” he said. “So far, we have had a mild winter, but we wanted to be able to prevent more closures in January, February, and early March.”

The campaign will spend $75,000 but is also relying on its email base of 100,000 people to spread the word. The emails will target people who are likely to be in Center City on a weekly basis, Levy said.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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