University City Could Be Next for Trolley Car Diner's Impactful Brand

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Flying Kite
by Joe Petrucci

Judy Weinstein often jokes that the only reason her husband Ken got into the restaurant business was to have a platform to do community work.

No one in Mt. Airy seems to mind.

The historic and diverse neighborhood has seen vast changes in the last decade-plus, many of which revolve around a growing business district and a strengthened, closer-knit community. At the center of much of this change is Ken Weinstein’s redevelopment work, most notably the Trolley Car Diner, a classic and highly visible family dining establishment that since 2000 has been a conduit for community support for many: non-profits, teachers, underserved children, and the environment.

Weisntein’s new eco-friendly Trolley Car Cafe, made possible through a partnership with Fairmount Park Trust, opened in 2010 as a "gateway to East Falls," situated between Kelly Drive and Ridge Ave. and inside the historic, long-abandoned Bathey House. Weinstein’s projects employ 100 Philadelphians and have contributed nearly $200,000 in donations for neighborhood initiatives. It is for these reasons that Weinstein was honored last month with the 2012 Retailer of the Year award from the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. It comes at a time of continued growth for Weinstein, who also recently announced the formation of the Trolley Car Helping Hands nonprofit that will serve as an umbrella for all of his properties’ community efforts.

The biggest news is that Weinstein is seeking to take his act across the Schuylkill River and into University City. Weinstein is currently working with the University City District, among others, on plans to open another Trolley Car-branded eatery in West Philly.

"We believe the whole Trolley Car message and branding will work as well as it works in Mt. Airy," says Weinstein.

Not surprising, Judy Wicks of White Dog Cafe and Sustainable Business Network fame was the first person Weinstein sat down with when he wanted to open his first restaurant some 16 years ago. After building strong community bonds and raking in all kinds of awards, Weinstein’s way of doing things is a highly sought-after and impactful commodity.

"We get calls all the time, ‘Will you open here’?" says Weinstein, who has three sons and is also a director/organizer for Valley Green Bank. "That doesn’t interest me. My preference is to renovate a vacant commercial property, find a great restaurant to put in and sign a long-term lease.

"When you find a perfect location, I prefer to do it myself."

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