Two-story, 125-seat restaurant part of 40th Street Trolley Portal overhaul

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Originally published at West Philly Local

Two-story, 125-seat restaurant part of 40th Street Trolley Portal overhaul

Posted on 16 March 2016

Portal 2

A rendering of the proposed Trolley Car Station restaurant at 40th Street Trolley Portal.

The public got a look at plans on Tuesday evening for the development of the 40th Street Trolley Portal, which includes a two-story, 125-seat restaurant with take-out beer and outdoor seating.

University City District officials and the owner of the Trolley Car Diner in Mount Airy presented the plans to the Spruce Hill Community Association zoning committee and about a dozen members of the public.

Now an expanse of concrete criss-crossed with trolley tracks, the portal will be turned into a more navigable public space complete with moveable tables and chairs, enough racks to accommodate 48 bikes and “vegetation everywhere,” Nate Hommel, UCD’s director of planning and design, told the zoning committee. The trolleys will still run through it, but it will be more pedestrian friendly. 

The centerpiece will be “Trolley Car Station,” the new restaurant, which will be located along Baltimore Avenue near the intersection with 40th Street. The building will set back from Baltimore and on land that is slightly elevated.

Real estate developer Ken Weinstein, who owns Trolley Car Diner and Trolley Car Caféin East Falls, has been eyeing University City for several years.

“The reason I like this so much is that I think our branding that works in Mount Airy would work here,” Weinstein told the committee.

Trolley Car Station will include a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu and likely be open seven days a week and close at 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. It will also have a variety of ice cream and take-out beers – Weinstein estimates 150 to 200 different kinds – that will be sold as mix-and-match six packs, much like the Local 44 Bottle Shop and a couple of other retailers in the neighborhood.


“We’re not selling 40s,” Weinstein said.

The building will include outdoor seating with service, a green roof and a large trellis that designers say will help blend it into the landscape.

UCD is paying for the $2.1 million renovation of the portal through money it raised for that purpose, including $30,000 to $40,000 raised from residents to pay for pavers. Private financing is paying for the restaurant. UCD is leasing the land for the whole thing from the city and will provide trash collection, maintenance and security.

Developers hope to break ground on the project by early fall and hope to have it all done, including the restaurant, by September 2017.

The next step is getting through the Zoning Board of Adjustment. That hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 30 at 2 p.m. at 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor. The official address of the project is 3940 Baltimore Avenue.

– Mike Lyons