Dilworth Plaza reboot includes liquor license, Jose Garces

Dilworth Plaza’s facelift is just about ready for its debut.

On Sept. 4 the Center City District will throw a three-day festival for the unveiling of the renovations to commuter park, official said Tuesday.

Paul Levy, president and CEO of the Center City District, also announced for the first time that the new commuter park’s cafe will serve alcohol and will feature cuisine from Jose Garces and his cuban-inspired Rosa Blanca restaurant.

And the plaza, on the west side of City Hall, will be renamed Dilworth Park in honor of its new surroundings, but the name has yet to officially be approved by City Council.

“We think the word park speaks to a much more green, sustainable site,” Levy said. “Plaza to us speaks to the old, hard surfaces.”

Garces, an Iron Chef champion who owns and operates five restaurants in the city including mexican-themed Amada in Old City and Distrito in University City, said when considering what foods to serve he looked to the dynamic of the park.

“Lots of public space, like hanging out, so I looked at handheld items and things that will be easily transported and because we don’t have a big kitchen or infrastructure,” he said. “And with the liquor component we thought it would be great to have, like, something to have with a mojito in the spring.”

The new cafe, at the northern end of the park, will seat about 30 inside and about 25 on the square.

It will be open from 7 a.m. to about 8 p.m. during the week and longer on weekends. Breakfast will feature freshly roasted coffee and pastries and Rosa-staple dishes for lunch and dinner.

And the cafe will serve alcohol after 5 p.m. and on the weekends.

Levy said the total cost of the park was $55 million, and it went about $5 million over budget.

The park was set to open in the spring, but construction delays pushed back the unveiling and added costs. Additionally, some components, such as the lawn, will not be ready to open until October.

Center City District has a 20-year lease on the property, and then will have the option to renew that lease every 10 years afterward.


To launch the new park, the Center City District will throw a three-day festival from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6.

On Sept. 4, following the ribbon-cutting the District will throw an an “all-day community arts and culture festival featuring performances and talent from neighborhoods across the city,” according to a statement.

On Sept. 5, residents can attend a “Picnic in the Park,” from noon to 7 p.m. and will feature traditional picnic foods and a happy hour.

On Sept. 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., “Playtime in the Park,” will host activities for children.

Throughout the year the park will also host small band performances, movie showings and cultural events, such as Octoberfest.


The new park will also feature expanded green space, tree groves, and a fountain. The fountain will operate with recycled rain water that is caught in tanks below the park’s surface, and come winter time, the large fountain will be converted into an ice rink .

New, glass “headhouses” will also connect pedestrians to the SEPTA concourse below, which is a single walkway that connects transit riders to the El, Broad Street Line and trolleys. Previously, SEPTA riders could not board the Market-Frankford Line train at Dilworth Park.

Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan

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