Tomorrow the 29th annual Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s (GPCC) Excellence Awards will honor the face behind the Trolley Car Diner and Trolley Car Café – Ken Weinstein – for ‘Retailer of the Year.’
The ceremony will award its eleven 2012 winners at the Loews Philadelphia Hotel from 5:30-10 p.m. Other categories include: ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year,’ ‘Family Business of the Year,’ ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ and the ‘Visionary Award.’
The Chamber calls the awards the most honorable in the Greater Philadelphia region to be bestowed on small businesses. The Chamber chose the winners from applications that were submitted. Individuals or businesses could also nominate themselves. Weinstein submitted himself and won.
“[Weinstein] might have been self nominated, but after he submitted his form, it was a level playing field,” said Jesse Kramer, co-chair of the Small Business Bureau, who was on the voting committee.
Weinstein was one of three finalists in his category. All finalists pitched to a committee of forty, “American Idol style, really,” Kramer said. He said Weinstein was very “thorough” in his nomination pitch to the committee.
“What stands out of my mind is he took what was nothing and had a vision for something unique in the area. …The whole area has become revitalized. Although I can’t say it’s because of him. He was definitely part of it,” Kramer added.
Weinstein is perhaps best known as the Trolley Car guy, but his involvement in the city surpasses the restaurant business. He is a partner in Philly Office Retail and president of Weinstein Properties, LLC. “So while it’s serving a very different purpose it’s still serving the community,” Weinstein said.
Although the committee did not factor in Weinstein’s real estate background in making their decision, they did consider the Trolley Car’s extensive advocacy.
“The chamber awards are about determining who is not only a positive business force or who could give back to the region. It’s a combination of everything,” Kramer said. “Who’s creating jobs? Who’s thinking about charities? Who’s giving back to Philadelphia in one-way or another? It definitely went beyond just owning some restaurants.”
The Trolley Car Diner and Café’s Helping Hands program has given away a total of over $125,000 to nonprofits, such as Congreso de Latinos Unidos, who benefitted from the program last April, according to Weinstein. Under the program, the diner gives away 15% of its week earnings to two chosen nonprofits.
The diner also gives away $10,000 annually to the Mt. Airy Teacher’s Fund – a yearly fundraiser Weinstein founded four years ago to help teacher’s with classroom expenses.