In addition to the fact that it shut down a stretch of South Broad after 7 p.m. on Thursday evening, Dîner en Blanc’s location, as per tradition, was kept secret until just before the event. The manager of Ruth’s Chris Steak House told NBC 10 the restaurant found out at 6:15 p.m. “We scrambled around to figure out valet parking,” Burnie Gaeta said, “to notify guests that there is going to be a backlog.” The city says officials reached out to local businesses 90 days in advance.
Councilman Jim Kenney, never missing a beat, sent a letter to city managing director Rich Negrin detailing the complaints of business owners. He also tweeted!
I like Dinner En Blanc. It's good for Philly! But scores of restaurants suffered tonight around there, with no notice, who plans this?
— CouncilmanJimKenney (@JimFKenney) August 22, 2014
Dîner en Blanc's organizers have responded to the complaints, telling the Philadelphia Business Journal about the group's preparations for the event.
[Co-local organizer Kayli] Moran said they reached out to local businesses on the Avenue of the Arts at least a week in advance, focusing on mailed letters in order to include a map of the street closures. Emails and phone calls were also sent and made to businesses that did not have an office mailing address, such as parking garages. [...]
“The third garage [Walnut and Locust streets] was easy to work with, and they planned to notify their daily customers that they would have to leave before 7 p.m.,” Moran said. “We offered to pay for the garage so it could still receive revenue that evening while it was closed.” Moran said the Dîner en Blanc crew, such as sound and lighting members, parked in the garage to ensure they still had business that night.
Moran said the congestion nearby was due to a variety of factors, including a protest about the events in Ferguson, Missouri, and a viewing party for the Taney Little League baseball game.