The End of the Line For Restaurant Supplies in Old City?

If you’re in the restaurant business in Philadelphia, it’s likely you’ve spent some quality time on 2nd Street in Old City, buying supplies and/or equipment for your establishment. A decade ago, which is roughly as far back as we can remember, there were three restaurant supply companies on 2nd Street, all of which had been operating there for many years. Trenton China Pottery was located at the northeast corner of 2nd & Arch, Economy was at the southeast corner of 2nd & Arch, and Swift Food Equipment was a little to the north on 2nd Street, almost at Race.

As you might know, TCP closed several years ago, and their building was converted to residential use. Economy and Swift are still doing their thing, but the combination of internet competition and a ridiculous real estate market may be conspiring to end the the reigns of both businesses in Old City. By this we mean Economy and Swift have both listed their bricks on the market.

Economy Restaurant Supply at 2nd & Arch

The main Economy showroom at 2nd & Arch is listed for $2.6M. It’s a double wide property that goes up four stories and would seem like an easy candidate for a residential conversion. Assuming that happens, we just hope the ground floor retail is maintained at this prominent corner. One safe bet is that developers won’t buy the building and tear it down, as it’s listed on the Historic Register, along with all the other buildings we’ll be discussing.

Building at 59 N. 2nd St.
Storefront at 124-26 N. 2nd St.
Better view, image from Trend

Economy owns two more buildings, in either direction on 2nd Street. 59 N. 2nd St. is listed for $2.8M and the listing indicates it would nicely convert to apartments with two units per floor, as it’s got a staggering 166 feet of depth. 124-26 N. 2nd St. is listed for $3.2M and would allow for 14 apartments by right. It’s also the coolest looking building of the group.

Swift Restaurant Supply, near 2nd & Race

The Swift buildings, located at 152-58 N. 2nd St., are a bit of a different animal. While each address is technically on the Historic Register, only the southernmost building holds any kind of historic interest. Of the other three properties, two are vacant and the third is a one story building that a developer could likely demolish. This property could represent an opportunity for a developer to build pricey townhomes, like we’ve seen in several other locations in this neighborhood, or perhaps an apartment building instead. The asking price for this property is $3.1M.

It might take some time, given the high asking prices, but we’d think that buyers will step up for all of these properties at some point in the coming months. Once those sales go through and the restaurant supply businesses either close or move to another location, it will be the first time in about a century that there’s no such business on 2nd Street. We say all the time that we live in a constantly changing and evolving city, for some reason we feel like this change will hit harder than most.