Reading Terminal GM: Why We’re Staying Open for Pope
After being named general manager of Reading Terminal Market just three months ago, Anuj Gupta was immediately faced with a tough decision. Can the market remain open during the World Meeting of Families when an estimated 1.5 million people will descend on Philadelphia?
Yesterday, Gupta finally offered an answer — a resounding yes.
Good thing. It would seem kind of wrong to have so many people visiting the city, just to find that one of its best tourist attractions is closed.
I spoke with Gupta about the decision, his desire to rent a shuttle bus for employees, his plan for trash and whether any vendors will still opt out of Pope weekend.
First thing’s first. How are you going to remove trash?
We plan to have additional containers on site. We’re also exploring a plan to add a trash truck that will be operated but not moved. We calculated the tonnage we need to account for a busier-than-Flower-Show day. The Flower Show days are our busiest, generally speaking. We know the city is working on a commercial trash pickup plan, so maybe our plans could change.
We’re also going to start loading refrigeration trucks in days leading up to weekend, so we can store more merchandise.
Are any vendors still going to close?
After talking with merchants, their big concern was that nobody wanted to compromise the integrity of what they sell. With folks coming from around world and visiting Reading Terminal as a tourist attraction, the merchants said that if they couldn’t sell food, products, or merchandise at the standard they hold themselves to, they’d rather close. A vast majority of merchants will stay open. Very few — a handful — are going to close, but some are on the fence now.
You’re considering a shuttle for employees. Tell me about that.
We’re hoping to run a Reading Terminal shuttle bus inside the perimeter of traffic box, which the city approved for us. We think we can make that work now. It will be just for employees and deliver them about a block away from the market. It’s still in the works but we know we can do it. We’re talking to a bus rental company about pricing it out.
It hit me the other day when I was talking to one of our housekeeping staff members. They said they were going to get on the subway, take it to 30th street and walk to the market [at 12th and Arch Streets.] Then work a full shift where the Terminal, which will likely be busier than it’s ever been. Then we’ll ask him to walk back home? That’s a lot.
Any other concerns?
I know it’s hard for the city to give any definitive information, but there’s no clear answer right now on when traffic box restrictions will be lifted. No one knows the answer. We’re anticipating that Monday morning will not be typical Monday morning. We’ll wait and see how the event unfolds.