Win Free VIP Tickets To This Weekend’s Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival

15th and Walnut this morning.

This weekend is the annual Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival. It’s happening on Saturday, May 3, from noon to 6pm, in an area that runs along Walnut from Broad to 19th and 18th from Locust to Sansom. It’s free (mostly). There’ll be plenty of food, with everyone from Avance, Butcher & Singer and Barclay Prime to Shake Shack, HipCityVeg, Luke’s Lobster and Sbraga offering up bites for the crowds. There’ll be food trucks (like the Tot Cart and The Cow and the Curd) and cocktail tastings, free cotton candy and fun for the kids, a first look at V Street (the new restaurant from the team behind Vedge) and, as always, it should be a lot of fun.

But there’s no way you’re going to get through the entire thing without, at some point, running across the construction site pictured above. And that construction site (which will someday house a giant Cheesecake Factory) is what leads us to our contest today–the winner of which will win a pair of VIP passes that’ll get them into the VIP Lounge at 18th and Walnut where they’ll be able to step away from the maddening crowds, have a glass of wine, a cold beer or a cocktail in peace, and get some snacks from various Stephen Starr restaurants.

Interested? Of course you are. And here’s all you have to do…

As noted, the tear-down pictured above (at 15th and Walnut) is being done to make way for a giant, shiny glass box which will, when completed, be home to the first Cheesecake Factory to grace Philadelphia since the last Cheesecake Factory left…well, decades ago, I think. There are some people (like Cheesecake Factory executives and future Midwestern tourists, one supposes) who are thrilled by this news. And there are others (like us, and all other right-thinking Americans) who are more than a little horrified at such prime real estate being taken up by an operation which serves loaded baked potato tots and Cuban spring rolls, and considers its Bistro Shrimp Pasta (which clocks in at 919mg of sodium, 78g saturated fat and nearly 3,000 calories, earning it the title of Worst Food In America) to be something that human beings ought to actually eat.

That said, the Cheesecake Factory is coming. There’s nothing we can do about that. But the building which will someday house it? It doesn’t yet have any other tenants. (Yes, the clothing company UNIQLO was supposed to be taking up some space, but they found a different home.) So what we’re asking is that you choose something to occupy some (or all) of the remaining space in the new building which will, in some way, mitigate the future culinary evil perpetrated by the Cheesecake Factory.

You have until tomorrow at 4pm to make your pitch in the comments section. Best solution to this real estate conundrum gets the pair of VIP passes. And the contest begins…


Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival [Official]

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  • Cushing

    Luxury toilets so after eating that food you have somewhere nice to sit

  • Russ Davis

    A new (not yet existing) franchise called The CheeseSTEAK Factory. Much smaller menu. Your only options are wiz, provolone, wit, or wit-out.

  • Frank the Tank

    – A satellite location for Noma, once again named the World’s Best Restaurant, but I doubt you’ll get René Redzepi to agree to it, unless dumpster foraging becomes a thing.

    – An annex for Penn Heart and Vascular.

    – A funeral home.

    – Just leave the space empty and let nature reclaim it.

    • Frank the Tank

      I just saw the potential layout of the building and realized that the Cheesecake Factory is going to be on the second floor. If there are no elevators, then I’d like to reiterate the importance of my Penn Heart and funeral home suggestions.

  • Mike H

    An international food court, similar to what Bourdain has planned for NYC

  • Rebecca

    I would love for it to be a home to local food lovers who are hoping to experiment with joining the food business. Some of us want to jump in, but with a high barrier to entry with a food truck or restaurant, it’s hard to dive in. Why not have a space for people to cook and sell their goods to see if there’s a market for it?

    • JC

      Enterprise Center in West Philly.

  • Tonyjlive

    Not gonna re-invent the wheel here. Selfishly, I’d love to see a new City Fitness location with a sick juice/shake bar, a new Ultimo off-shoot and a no-frills fish shack. Because L.A. fitness is the devil, Ultimo rocks and simply prepared seafood is both delicious and nostalgic.

  • KMCA

    A Wegman’s with a liquor loophole, located right next to a bagel shop that sells amazing New York style bagels, and a Center City Paesano’s location.

  • PhillyPhilly

    A spandex retailor – helping mitigate over eating discomfort for decades

  • Ryan OHara

    A City Fitness, PSC, or Sweat Fitness- this will ensure the individuals who just took down a 3700 calorie lunch special (of course this included dessert because who doesn’t wash their lunch down with a half a cheesecake) that was a portioned big enough to feed a family of 6 will suffer a little less guilt.

  • Empanada Crazy

    I think we should embrace the culinary evil and add a U.S. Taco Co. and Urban Taproom, a Guy’s American Kitchen and Bar, and an Old Country Buffet.

  • María P

    A beer garden that doubles as a rotating food court featuring the chefs from local food trucks.

  • Frank the Tank

    L’Usine de Fromage: a restaurant that replicates every item from the Cheesecake Factory’s menu with healthier ingredients, all sourced locally, and in smaller portions (and maybe twice as expensive, but that’s beside the point…) “The bistro shrimp pasta features Louisiana gulf shrimp grilled and served over a bed of soba noodles, topped with black trumpet mushrooms and heirloom tomatoes.” Comes with a side salade luau.

  • Rob H.

    Center City District Visitors Center:
    Philadelphia plays host to more nearly 40 million visitors annually, with visitor information focused primarily around the Independence Hall historic area. In Center City, there are more than 60,000 residents and more than 270,000 people working in the area.
    This prime location would be a perfect venue for a Visitor’s (and resident’s) Center, managed by the Center City District / Central Philadelphia Development Corporation, staffed by our friendly Community Service Representatives in their familiar teal uniforms. With transitional marketing displays, area merchants could generate ad revenue and interest in their wares or services. A further review of the space could make room for national vendors to set up temporary marketing experiences similar to the level of marketing in New York’s Times Square. Information on events like the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival would bring crowds eager to learn more about year-round Center City events.
    After completion, a dedicated event space could showcase mini-exhibitions of local theatrical presentations or national touring shows as teasers to the main production. It could even be the new “permanent” home of the Rittenhouse Row Festival VIP Lounge.

    Respectfully Submitted
    Rob H.

  • Jay

    A nutrition information center that all customers waiting in the 2 hour line to enter the Cheesecake factory must pass through. They’ll have to watch informational videos on the dangers of consuming the sodium and fat laden dishes they are about to scarf down. Judging from the folks I see waiting outside the Cherry Hill location it must include huge oversize chairs and ashtrays.

  • Rockwulf

    A combination Liposuction clinic and artisan soap company.

  • Scott

    A large array of small souvenir shops that all sell hoagie/cheesesteak/liberty bell/LOVE keychains, magnets, and shot glasses to take advantage of those who would enjoy a cheesecake factory. These shops would obviously be owned by the City and help support the School District of Philadelphia.
    A tough mudder style obstacle course surrounding the entirety of the cheesecake factory to deter those whose hearts and arteries cannot handle 16 pound entrees.

  • Dan

    Bouncy castle + hot dog stand + dry cleaner = complementary goods

  • Michelle

    McDonald’s or another like fast food establishement. It can only make the Cheesecake Factory seem better, and we’d all know what part of the city to avoid like the plague.

  • Lizabeth910

    I would love if Eataly finally made it’s way to Philadelphia. It’s a food lovers heaven compounded into one building. There has been talk to open one here but no definite plans.

  • Amada

    It’s so much easier to imagine how to create MORE culinary evils aka TGIF’s and Applebees!! I think the building should have a storefront that houses COOK Philly classes so the midwesterners can go home with some new skills.

  • Loren

    Champagne Bar! Small plates and desserts to accompany after dinner drinks and bubbly cocktails. Live music. Sounds delicious!

  • AA

    If the live bird shop on 9th St relocates to Rittenhouse Square they’ll run Cheescake Factory right out of town!

  • Laura Hibbs

    Sweeney Todd Barber Shop, complete withsign reading: “Try Cheesecake Factory’s Pies!”

  • Dave

    A high(ish) end deli, like the Palm Tree Market in Northern Liberties and Fishtown Seriously, that part of Center City is really hurting for a place to run in a grab a quick, good sandwich. Latimer is the worst, and at Wolf’s it’s almost impossible to get somebody to get behind the counter and make a sandwich.
    Simple plan, but they would kill it and everyone would be happy.

  • Alimentarian

    Cheese Olfactory, a cheese shop specializing in incredibly stinky cheese.

  • CM

    During the summer, the leftover space would be used for an indoor ice skating rink. Cheesecake Factory patrons could burn off a few of the calories they’ll be packing in, pre- or post-meal. It would also be a great way to wear out the kids after they’ve consumed all that sugar. But in the winter months, it would transform into an indoor farmer’s market, housing wonderful organic food vendors from Headhouse, N3RD, etc. in a big, warm space. Perhaps there might be some hot house farming happening in there, too. The executive chef at Philly’s CF would be inspired to sneak some organic produce into his signature dish, and when the big-wig corporate managers visit, they would taste it and love it. Every CF would then have to serve the dish, and other exec chefs would follow suit with their own organic, non-Sysco signature dishes. Not long after, all CFs would have completely organic, free-range, healthy menus…Okay, maybe that last one is pushing it a little…

  • FoieMilkshake

    A “Foobooz Is Still Just Sucks” gift shop/information center to inform the fannypack wearers of where they should really be eating!


    • Jason Sheehan

      The proper phrasing is “Now it is just suck”

  • jensk

    Han Dynasty…the szechuan peppercorns will numb your mouth for protection

  • Kissyfur

    …a sriracha factory.

  • M

    TJ Maxx —- with Daffy’s gone, we need another discount retail store in the Rittenhouse vicinity

  • Doggiedoc

    How about a rodent extrapolation of the NYC pop-up Cat Café…the Philly Rat Café. And they could somehow make their way over to the neighbor’s kitchen the night before the Health Dept inspection…

  • Greg

    An Eataly would be nice and somewhere people would actually want to eat. Not to mention it would create a ton of jobs.

  • Laura Hibbs

    Bleh, my last comment did not come out right. Revise: A Sweeney Todd-themed barber shop, complete with a giant, blood-red sign reading: “Try the Cheesecake Factory’s Pies! (We Hear They Are To-Die-For)”

  • FC

    Fill the entire first floor with cheesecake. If you can find your way from the entrance to the staircase leading to the Cheesecake Factory’s second-floor location, you get to eat there. Just one rule: you can’t eat your way through.

  • Tara G Bruce

    Seasonal apparel shop. Trendy Hats & gloves for the winter, amazing sunglasses for the summer, Colorful Scarves & novelty umbrellas for the fall & spring. We get alot of tourist that forget these things at home. 24hr Mini Fitness Center.

  • Alaina Ashley

    I would love love love it if them put in a forever21 there, I know there is one in the Cherry Hill Mall, but there are none in the city and it would be perfect there. Also, I think a healthy juice/smoothie bar and maybe a sandwich place would be a nice touch. As for additional restaurants I think it’s a waste there are tons of restaurants throughout the city that are fabulous.

  • Mrankins81

    Why not a Weightwatcher’s or Curves. I laugh at the fact that when there is a weight loss vacility its usually placed right around an eatery. Are weight managment places purposely trying to tempt and lure people with the feeling of guilt?

  • JC

    Shared space for non-profits like Philabundance, Manna, Share Our Strength-No Kid Hungry, Garces Family Foundation, Aid for Friends, and Vetri Family Foundation.

  • Kevin Moran

    Two ideas, hopefully that’s not cheating. First, what’s something that mitigates the effects of a really large and gross restaurant? A really large and not gross restaurant. Something delicious, local, and an all around good time. Like, Pizza Brain on steroids with a serious draft and whiskey list. It will be giant and shiny and always crowded. The crowds, having such a great time would make anyone going to Cheesecake Factory feel sad and ashamed, hopefully to the point that they quickly reflect on their terrible choice of dining option and choose to revise those plans. Second idea, is to bring Whirly Ball from Chicago to Philly. It’s a game that combines lacrosse, basketball, and most importantly bumper cars. I’m sure any further defense of this idea is unnecessary. Except, wait, combine the two and you now have one incredible place serving ridiculously good pizza, local drafts, shiny walls, and bumper cars. If that can’t put a brighten up someone’s spirit walking down Walnut street in Cheesecake Factory’s dark shadow, then you’re probably just as sad as those Cuban spring rolls.

  • Walt

    In a smaller section of the building: a combination cookbook/cultural bookstore & kitchen. The kitchen would be located in the back room (or in an enclosed area for health purposes), with a counter and small Talula-style dining table for a weekly evening cooking lesson and occasional pop-up dinners. I visited something like this in Montreal, and it was very popular.

  • Brittany Resnick

    Joe Fresh <3

  • Jennifer J

    The Donald Sterling Center for Racial and Lactose Intolerance. For those guests not used to big city dairy.

  • Xavier

    a temporary pro-life campaign headquarters…even their supporters detest the pictures they parade around, let alone anyone going to dinner.

  • natty

    eataly is obvious and i would love to see it in that area of center city.
    However, i’m gonna go with some type of beer bar/bottle shop that has more then just a handful of beers on tap and also a full bar. the place should also sell food or have guest food carts or chefs that serves till late when the bars are closed. there isn’t that many good places to grab some food after hours in that area. throw in a lounge area, video games, and tv for sport events. and you got a big area with a good crowd. Boom!!

  • Georgia

    A homeless shelter. The portions at cheesecake factory are large enough to feed a small family. Might as well put the “leftovers” to good use and donate them directly to the homeless who are in need of food. The culinary “evil” of the Cheesecake Factory will then be a blessing for those going hungry at night.

  • Jimmy Mac

    A Philadelphia Cream Cheese museum and move Pat’s and Geno’s cheesesteaks here. Let’s make this corner the cheese capital of the world. Tourists will love it — and the rest of us can dine in peace at good restaurants.

  • Chet

    With Apple, Tiffany’s, Lululemon, and Coach all within reasonable distance (the top 4 American stores measured by sales/sqft) I suggest a Michael Kors store. They are one of the most profitable (sales/sqft) stores in the country and the money gained from that store could help alleviate the pressure to rent out the remaining space to another cash cow, providing an opportunity to be more selective than a Cheesecake Factory. This appeals to the developer’s hunger for revenue, which at the end of the day will drive most decisions. That or a insulin supply store for all the diabetics that will be produced by the CCF.

  • jsychan

    A bariatric surgery centre. That way the patrons of the cheesecake factory will be able to support the clothing retailers in the nearby vicinity.