Sunday, October 15, 2006

Nearly Saturday-sized crowds at the Reading Terminal Market's first "test" Sunday for 2006. Fair selection of food purveyors open, as well as sellers of other wares and food-for-on-premises-consumption. RTM Manager Paul Steinke said five merchants opened who did not earlier indicate they would be, including the Thai food stand. Jim Iovine hopes that, based on how busy the market was today, some merchants who stayed closed but were "on the edge" of opening will be next Sunday.

Longest line around noontime was at Bassett's Turkey. Other only places open selling sandwiches were Salumeria and the Down Home Diner.

Now, if only the Beer Garden could be open and put in a projection TV for Eagles games!

Good turnout today might have been influenced by the Harvest Festival, which included food stands out on Harry Ochs Way (Filbert Street) and free tractor-pulled hayrides around the block. There is a fair-sized meeting starting tomorrow at the Convention Center which might have made the Sunday undertaking more profitable: the National Funeral Directors Association, which hasn't met in Philadelphia since 1950.

The fee per car Parkway charges the RTM Merchants Association for customer parking in the garage goes up by 25 cents January 1 (to $5.50 from $5.25). Customers who spend $10 at the RTM are charged $2 for two hours, so the merchants provide a significant subsidy for shoppers. The association has to figure out whether to hold steady on what the customers pay or increase it; and because Parkway's machines aren't good in providing coin change, the merchants may consider raising the amount customers pay by an even dollar, which would also lessen their subsidy.

As expected, Spataro's made the move to its new location this week, directly opposite Tommy DiNic's. Under their new lease Spataro's has added cheesesteaks to the menu, so Rick's Steaks now has a direct competitor.

Speaking of new leases, they incorporate a new clause, which Steinke says will be enforced, requiring merchants to be open for business and prepared to serve customers until the official 6 p.m. closing time. All too many merchants start shutting down and cleaning up at 4-4:30 p.m. It's probably asking too much for them to stay open until 7 p.m. so those who have to stay in the office late can stop by and pick up something to eat at home, but that's definitely on my wish list.

This past Thursday I picked up those fall raspberries at the Fairmount Market from Earl Livengood. They were spectacular (I served them alongside the chocolate buttercream topped chocolate cupcakes from Flying Monkey). The fall crop had lots of more flavor than the summer berries. If he has them Tuesday at South Street, don't hesitate.

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