by Pete Mazzaccaro

John Thain was all set to begin work on a new Rita’s Water Ice franchise at Chestnut Hill Plaza, 7630 Germantown Ave., the former location of TLA Video.

He had received approval from the Chestnut Hill Community Association, the nearby neighbors of the plaza and had even agreed to a detailed covenant with the CHCA to be sure that litter was dutifully swept from the plaza’s lot.

But on Dec. 19, Thain said he received a letter from the Trolley Car Diner informing him that the business’ owners planned to enforce a deed restriction for the property that had been established many years ago to prevent a fast-food franchise from opening in the property.

That covenant was struck between the plaza’s owners and neighbors and contains language that gives any neighbor within 750 feet of the property the right to object to the opening of a fast-food franchise.

“This covenant was written to the benefit of home owners, “Thain said in an interview with the Local. “It was so they wouldn’t have to endure smell or noise. It’s not for the benefit of a commercial enterprise, certainly not one in Mt. Airy.”

Thain said he had agreed to go into arbitration with the Trolley Car Diner but that he is running out of time. If he’s not able to open in time to start the season in April, the business won’t be able to stay open at all. It’s the nature of a seasonal business.

“At a certain point, if we don’t open by a certain date, we won’t be able to open at all,” Thain said, “The landlord has a right to get a tenant in there. “

Ken Weinstein, owner of the Trolley Car Diner, denied that pursuing the deed restriction was anticompetitive. He said he believed the CHCA should have enforced the deed restriction.

“We’re doing the neighbors and the landlord a favor,” he said. “If they won’t enforce the deed restriction, we will.”

Weinstein said he had received numerous calls from residents who didn’t want to see a Rita’s in the neighborhood.

“We really don’t need another chain coming here and sucking up local dollars,” he said.

Asked if there was any possibility he might reach an agreement with Thain and Rita’s, Weinstein said that if they could show it wasn’t indeed a fast-food establishment – meaning the deed restriction would not apply – he’d be fine with it.

Thain believes, however, that Weinstein’s strategy is simply to delay Rita’s long enough for it to fail. He said the establishment is clearly not fast food – it is defined differently by insurance providers and the city health department as “frozen desert,” a category of business with different risks and health standards than fast food.

“We have a dark building, that’ll be putting medical facilities in there,” Thain said. “We’re bringing in a clean family operation that brings 300 to 400 families a day. We’re being blocked. Any logical person knows Rita’s isn’t just another fast-food restaurant.”

Weinstein said he was surprised that Thain had spoken to the Local. He had, before the Local called, assumed that arbitration was working.

“We had a good meeting and I was waiting to hear more,” Weinstein said.

“I know I tried to be a good citizen,” Thain said. “It’s finally gotten to the point where if we can’t deal with it with our lawyers, lets get it out there to the point of public opinion,”

“Everybody wanted a clean business to come here and bring people in here every day” Thain said. “I was just shocked that another business has tried to block us. Between Weavers Way and this, it seems as if Mt. Airy is trying to tell Chestnut Hill how to run their businesses.”

  • Sam

    oh jeez. let there be water ice.

  • Local Business Lover

    I support a great local business over a chain store any day. It’s why I frequent Weaver’s Way Coop and Food For All over a Whole Foods…or why I support Trolley Car Ice Cream Shoppe and Bredenbeck’s over a Rita’s. Whether we’re talking Mt. Airy or Chestnut Hill, I love both of these neighborhoods because they seem to strongly support local business over chains. Maybe that is changing…and so would my preference of where to support.

    • Seth Itzkowitz

      Last time I checked, Weavers Way is a chain with two locations (down from three).

      • Anonymous

        Agreed, but there is no restrictive covenant where they are located that prohibits them from operating. There is a restrictive covenant at the Chestnut Hill Plaza that prohibits Rita’s from operating there. Different story!

      • Anonymous

        Agreed, but there is no restrictive covenant where they are located that prohibits them from operating. There is a restrictive covenant at the Chestnut Hill Plaza that prohibits Rita’s from operating there. Different story!

  • Tracy

    Curious View of Rita’s as a “chain” to be avoided. It started outside the Nabisco plant as a lunch cart type thing and one of the workers there convinced the owner to franchise it and Brian opened up the first one on Frankford Ave and then in Croyden. It took off after that and it is only a couple of decades old.

    Ken Weinstein shares: “We really don’t need another chain coming here and sucking up local dollars,”

    This is a Philadelphia success story – why don’t we want a successful local chain coming in and offering something people stand in long lines to enjoy a mile down the road in Wynmoor on Willow Grove Ave? Why don’t we want a vibrant chain in the Delaware valley to do well and expand here? It is now the #1 Italian Water Ice franchise in the country and headquartered twenty miles away, we shouldn’t like that why?

    • Robin

      Rita’s is a chain and we don’t need more chains in our neighborhood. There is a good reason why there is a deed retraction, to prevent sales by a fast food chain.

  • Anonymous

    It looks to me like Chestnut Hill is trying to grab business from Mt. Airy. Why else would they try to put a similar type fast food chain in a building nearest to the Trolley Car that prohibits this type of use. There are lots of vacant commercial properties in Chestnut Hill that could house a Rita’s.

    • Banannas

      It ain’t Chestnut Hill!!!! It’s Mt Airy fighting it!

      • Tracy

        Chestnut Hill is not looking to pirate Mt. Airy – a good local business is trying to open a store in a vacant building. Do all people looking into opening a store in Chestnut Hill have to first do a Mt. Airy business impact study per category of goods and services? This is absurd. Why this is a fight is an utter mystery to me… Who doesn’t want more ice cream and water ice walking distance to neighborhoods…

        • Anonymous

          Tracy… you are missing the point of this story and situation. Rita’s can locate in any vacant building in Chestnut Hill or Mt. Airy but they are legally prevented from locating at the Chestnut Hill Plaza. The absurdity of this situation is that Rita’s is trying to do something that is legally prevented by a recorded restrictive covenant. Rita’s should move on and find a legally allowed location! No impact study is necessary.

          • Tracy

            I am missing the absurd premise that Rita’s is a fast food chain, were it you would have a valid point instead of this great stretch of a technicality predicated on obviously miss-assigning what Rita’s does and sells…

  • Banannas

    Of course! The opposition is coming from Ken, The WHINER, Weinstein!

  • Seth Itzkowitz

    If Pat’s and Geno’s can get along why, not the Trolley Car and Rita’s? Competition is good for everyone — if the Trolley Car is worried then they are not doing something right.

    As for Rita’s being a local success story — that’s true but the controlling owner is Falconhead Capital, a New York-based investment firm so some profit is being sucked out of the area.

  • Anonymous

    Let me see…. The CH Community Association refuses to enforce a deed restriction that they negotiated 30 years ago. They claim that Rita’s water ice is not a “fast food chain.” It is fast, water ice is food and Rita’s is a chain, all according to their web site. Why would anyone listen to CHCA again if they don’t enforce agreements that they made in the past. And why weren’t all neighbors within 750 feet of the proposed Rita’s site told that the CHCA was meeting on this issue.

    • Tracy

      The gas station up the road sells ice cream and water ice in their small freezer. It is fast. It is a chain. Using your syllogistic logic, and I don’t recommend it, one can argue that Sunocco station must too be a “fast food chain”…. This is an absurd stretch to try and keep honest and good competition out…. I imagine that when the fast food provision was agreed to it was done in good faith, this seems everything but that…

      • Anonymous

        Tracy… you are not getting it. The gas station doesn’t have a restrictive covenant on their property and are, therefore, allowed to sell whatever they want. The Chestnut Hill Plaza has a clear restriction on the property that prohibits a Rita’s. Rita’s can locate in any one of the many vacant Chestnut Hill properties that do not have deed restrictions.

        • Tracy

          I do get it. Rita’s water ice is not fast food. I was at the meeting when John Thain addressed the issue and nobody in the packed room thought it was fast food either. He enumerated the distinctions with licensing, insurances and such. This is not a new stretch, I remember when an Applebes was fought in I think Bucks County by a competitor because having the curbside dining made it “auto-centric” hence fast food. That argument lost as it should have. People have tried to classify pizza places as fast food if they lacked enough seating thus had a tremendous amount “take out” being their stretching of the definition. People have tried to get coffee shops classified as such because of the speed of service. These tries, like you here, stretch the definition to having no meaning. People of good will that want to be fair generally see though this and the ridiculous syllogism you offered. Water ice is food… So is a soft pretzel, a soft pretzel sold from a 7-11 does not make a 7-11 a fast food restaurant either by any reasonable, good faith approach to the term. It is a convenience store like Rita’s is a frozen desert store — neither are Burger King and everybody knows that.

          In the article Thain makes this case: “He said the establishment is clearly not fast food – it is defined differently by insurance providers and the city health department as “frozen desert,” a category of business with different risks and health standards than fast food.”

          If your answer to this is: “The Rita’s Site says it is food served fast” — please stop replying with the header conveying that I do not understand this issue as it is you making the absurd leap here.

  • Anonymous

    This covenant was drafted in part by the CHCA. As stated in their guidelines, the CHCA’s area of responsibility ends well before the Trolley Car property lines and was never intended to protect the Trolley Car Diner. Further, this document never intended to be used as a tool to stave off competition.
    I do not take lightly the effort of every independent retailer who makes the entire Germantown Ave commercial district so special. Retail in 2012 requires that you prepare yourself to fight for every sale. The tools of the successful main street retailer are the quality of their product, the commitment to customer service, the ability to create a special shopping experience and the reputation of the business owner. I’m sure Mr. Weinstein possesses all these tools and does not need to turn to antiquated documents to protect the Trolley Car Diner.

    • John

      Reilly represents Chestnut Hill business interests and that’s fine. However, Rita’s Water Ice is fast food plain and simple. Dairy Queen started out selling only ice cream and now it sells all types of fast food. This is about keeping fast food out of Chestnut Hill and Mount Airy. I wonder is Ms. Reilly and the other business leaders would object if Mr. Thain wanted to open in the 8400 block of Germantown Avenue. I’m tired of the mentality that allows the lower/southern end of Chestnut Hill to be a dumping ground for these types of businesses. Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill are in this together. We are neighbors and Mr. Weinstein is right about this.

  • Petehoskins

    From either a legal perspective or a planning perspective I weigh in on the side of the Trolley Car Diner. I’m not sure it is right or legal to hang your hat on the fact that the Diner is across the line from Chestnut Hill if it is still within the distance of the restriction in the recorded deed restriction. It certainly does not make good sense to make it sound like CHCA does not care since the Diner is in Mt. Airy.
    About planning, I think the strongest point against allowing the Rita’s franchise at that location is that is a seasonal use of a permanent retail space. I don’t recall seeing a lot of Rita’s situated in prime retail locations sitting empty more than half the year. I am not against chains altogether and miss some of the clothing stores and bookstore we just lost, but when we have gems such as the Trolley Car Diner we should give them strong consideration as local family-based businesses.
    I think that, of all retailers in the area, few have done more to support the communities of Chestnut Hill AND Mt. Airy than Ken Weinstein.

  • Bob

    I am a developer who has partnered with Ken Weinstein for 15 years on various real estate projects. Most of these projects have brought small, independent businesses as tenants to formerly vacant buildings. In turn we have generated community development impact in neighborhoods seeking a stronger local economy – both in our home base of Mount Airy, and in Germantown, East Falls, Bella Vista, and downtown Norristown.

    The issue of Rita’s coming to Chestnut Hill Plaza boils down to two key issues for me – that a community association protected itself with a restrictive covenant, and that neighborhoods benefit less from bringing in seasonal, chain businesses.

    First, CHCA protected itself when the center was originally built. According to what I’ve read, a recorded restrictive covenant on the property prohibits “the sale of food or beverages by a fast food chain…”, and Rita’s certainly fits my definition of a fast food chain.

    Neighborhood groups put a lot of effort into protecting itself when they negotiate restrictive covenants with developers. I can only guess that CHCA felt strongly that fast food chains were a pattern it wanted to avoid as it helped guide business development along lower Germantown Avenue. Over the years we have been asked by a myriad of community groups and municipalities to agree to restrictions – which we negotiate in good faith, and which we maintain for years. No one has ever allowed us to walk away from those restrictions.

    Second, Mount Airy and Chestnut Hill don’t need more chains. Instead, we need small businesses that are locally, independently owned. We especially don’t need seasonal businesses that are only open part of the year and are shut down the rest of the time; Rita’s will be a vacant property for 4 months out of the year.

    Chains pull profits out of our community, by buying goods and services through centralized corporations. Locally owned businesses reinvest in the communities in which they operate. I have never heard or read about the former Rita’s on Stenton Avenue giving back to our community. Locally owned ice cream shops like Trolley Car Diner and Bredenbeck’s Bakery are constantly showing support for our community.

    • Hsmithey2001

      Amen!

    • Guest

      I’m all in favor of “independently owned and operated” businesses. Do you realize that each Rita’s outlet is independently owned and operated? The Rita’s in Chestnut Hill will be owned by Mr. Thain, who himself lives in Chestnut Hill. He’s a local resident who will be providing local jobs. How is this different than Trolley Car? If the argument is that profits from the manufacture of the frozen treats go to a corporation located outside our community, then tell me which is “worse”: profits from the ice cream sold at Trolley Car going to Nestle Corporation (a multinational conglomerate being boycotted by Oxfam and Save the Children) or profits going to Rita’s which has its headquarters 15 miles away, and which provides local jobs and tax revenue to the state of PA that Nestles does not).

      • Local_Foodie

        Check your facts Guest…. I called Trolley Car tonight to find out that they have never sold Nestle’s ice cream. Instead they offer Nelson’s Ice Cream which is a local brand made in Royersford, PA. You should be spreading love, instead of spreading lies!

        • Guest

          again? okay…

          My facts are based on Trolley Car Diner’s own website:

          http://trolleycardiner.com/din

          Go to their Menus section and select “Ice Cream.” It says verbatim:

          “Choose from 16 delicious flavors of Edy’s ice cream”

          Edy’s is manufactured by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestle Corporation.

          Maybe you should ask the person at Trolley Car who told you that they never sold Nestle’s ice cream why Trolley Car’s own website says that is what they sell instead of accusing me of spreading lies.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rick-Johnson/100000190455903 Rick Johnson

      Sure the jobs they create and the taxes they pay are so bad for communities.

  • kate

    I fell in love with Chestnut Hill/Mt Airy for it’s charm and small businesses who truly care about their community. 10 years ago Trolley Car Diner was an ugly vacant Roy Rogers. Today its a vibrant family friendly restaurant that gives back to the community (both Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill) in so many ways. When Penn Dot ripped up Germantown Avenue and threatened the livelihood of businesses (both Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill), Ken stood up and organized the fight to keep the businesses alive. I doubt Rita’s would have done the same.

    Not enforcing the deed restriction by allowing Rita’s at this location would set a terrible precedent. If Rita’s closes, whats going to stop a Roy Rogers or Burger King from following? We need to support local, independently owned businesses such as Trolley Car Diner and Brendenbecks who care about Northwest Philadelphia.

  • George

    It seems a shame for all of us that the arbitration agreed to was not allowed to proceed. I would hope that such a process would have cleared up the question as to whether Rita’s is a fast food establishment. If it is, then the CHCA would owe John Thain an apology and would have to withdraw its permission. If it is not, then indeed we have another example of a chain competing with a local business, a competition which it will be up to us locals to “vote on” through our purchases. Personally I would prefer a 12-month-a-year business there, and “buying local” is something that I try to do.

  • dan

    it is always a shame that we have to spend our time reacting to these type of issues in our community. While we want to continue to see good viable business in our area grow and employe our kids, I would rather see the support go to the Trolley that has been open for over 10 years and employs many of our local residents and continues to give back to the community. Rita’s regardless of whether is a fast food chain or not will sit close for six months and will not be employing anyone. At least at the Diner those who work the ice cream shop have jobs all year around.

  • Bpteutsch

    Sounds like Rita’s is trying to do an end run rather than move forward with the agreed-upon arbitration. Rita’s doesn’t add much to the neighborhood – they’re only open part of the year and are a low end product. And of course they’re a chain. I don’t understand how the CH assn can classify it any other way.

  • Noah

    Why is anybody fighting FOR a chain to go into Chestnut Hill? Last I checked, a lot of CH is the eye-sore that it is because when the isht hit the fan in 2008-09, every chain pulled out of the neighborhood. When a chain like Rita’s sees it’s margins drop by a half a percent, they pull out, plain and simple. I refuse to see that happen again, let alone fight for it…

    I prefer a business owner who EVOLVES with the tough times to keep business like the Diner has done, and is INVOLVED in the community by giving back.

    • Tracy

      There are lots of reasons, depends on the chain. This one grew right out of Philadelphia and Bucks County, I am always rooting for local businesses like that. They have raised millions for Alex’s Lemonade Stand, they have special franchise opportunities for veterans who served over seas, they have many things to like about them. I actually just like their products and think it will be a great fit… I don’t know how many Rita’s closed in 2008-9, none of the many near where I work did. Where does this certainty come from with the margin numbers? To imagine Rita’s will close because Borders did is a bit of a leap is it not…

      • Noah

        Just looking at a map, the 3 closest Rita’s to CH have closed or changed along Stenton Ave and in Wyndmoor. I too am a fan of water ice, Tracy, and stop at Rita’s on occasion, so I’m not just hating on the brand. However, I’m not such a big fan to have so many options so close by with Rocco’s, the Trolley Car Diner and Bredenbeck’s…

        And, do not make light of the Gap that franchises have left by pulling out of Chestnut Hill…pun intended. Borders is not the only one. Express, Talbot’s, Melting Pot, the Ford dealership (happily for that one) have all pulled out over the years, mostly because they took a shotgun approach to renting in the first place. Some had longer runs than others, but they were all the first to get out when the going got tough.

        • Tracy

          If you are posing local owned and operated is better for the Ave then I agree 100% – but if one were to extend the argument that Iron Hill is less desirable than the empty Gap store that is boarded up I disagree. If the Trolley Car opened there too, or a Rollers, which is walking distance for my twins, then I would go there in a second. But the option currently before us is a good franchise owned by a local resident versus and empty building. If they stay for a few years and generate money and jobs and leave at the next downturn that would be a bummer, but do we want it empty until someone local comes along and fits the ideal and not the very good? I forget who said it well earlier, let there be water ice…

          • Anonymous

            I think it is premature to state that the Chestnut Hill Plaza will be vacant long term. We should give the property owners a chance to rent it to a business which does not violate the restrictive covenant. I agree that a chain is preferable to a long term vacancy but Chestnut Hill can and must do better. Let’s give the owners a few more months to find a business that sticks with us long term and has all the benefits that a locally owned independent brings!

          • Tracy

            The trouble is – that is a hope and not a plan. Rita’s is a plan. And you are claiming as a given, as does Mr. Weinstein, that Rita’s is fast food hence a violation of the covenant. I don’t see it that way, it is totally illogical to me and the CHCA ruled that way as well, and correctly in my view… If a locally owned business were clamoring, “I want that space, here is my plan” and the land loard agreed too that is something else but hoping “Chestnut Hill can and must do better” as we block a good store makes no sense to me… I suppose we agree to disagree…

          • Anonymous

            Yes, we are going to have to agree to disagree. I appreciate your level headed discussion, however. The shame of it is that binding arbitration would have proven whether you or I are correct but Thain did not wait for that agreed upon process to work.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, we are going to have to agree to disagree. I appreciate your level headed discussion, however. The shame of it is that binding arbitration would have proven whether you or I are correct but Thain did not wait for that agreed upon process to work.

    • Guest

      I think part of the reasons the chains left was that the bridge at CH college reopened, more easily allowing NW Philadelphians to the shopping and parking opportunities in the Plymouth Meeting area. Not to mention lower taxes.

  • guest

    I am a Philly girl through and through and could never see myself coming out against “wudder” ice, I find myself doing that exact thing. However, this is not about wudder ice, this is about neighborhood and communities deciding for themselves what they want for their community to thrive and prosper. And the neighbors have the deed restriction on their side. I am strong believer and supporter of local businesses. Additionally, I have seen the devastation of chain stores coming to a thriving shopping district only to devastate it years later, ie South Street. Alternatively, I have seen areas thrive under the multitude of small local businesses, ie Italian market. Come see for yourself and take a tour of South Street (empty storefronts) and the Italian market (crowed and thriving stands), and afterwards please enjoy some delicious wudder ice at John’s at 7th and Christian Streets.

  • Tracy

    I feel bad that Ken Weinstein here is being done a pretty big disservice. His argument, from what one can read from this article, is that this is not about being anti-competitive. Taking him at his word – and why would anyone not – he feels the CHCA should see this as fast food franchise that violates the restriction and he is responding as a concerned citizen looking out the interests of the neighbors who have reached out to him and asked for his help as a well know community leader. If he were making the case the Trolley Car Diner is a better business, run by better people, and far better for the neighborhood especially if it is free from outside competitors — that case would be nakedly self serving, unseemly, not pro neighborhood development, and 100% at odds with what he actually, in fact said to the Local about this matter. So why then are people that love the diner (who doesn’t) and admire the owner (who doesn’t) going around seemingly taking his side making an argument he specifically repudiated in terms of competition? I think this surrogate fill-the-moat-with-alligators-the-hordes-are-coming defense of a good business in Mt. Airy is crazy. The Dinner neither needs it and looks worse because of that type of advocacy than without it. Mr. Weinstein is not making self serving anti-competition wild cases, why are others? It seems wrong.

    The position Mr. Weinstein has taken, and on the record, is that this is not about the Trolley Car Diner. It is about enforcing a restriction that neighbors feel strongly should be enforced, that precludes Rita’s specifically as a fast food franchise, and the CHCA should have recognized it as such. This is a perfectly honorable position to argue and one with some merit to judge by the agreement of many on this thread.

    As for me I disagree. The city does not classify Rita’s that way, at the meeting no one felt it were fast food, it never occurred to me as just a neighbor that anyone would. I think the CHCA called this one right, calling Rita’s a fast food franchise is like calling a bathrobe your wardrobe, a Chinese restaurant a bakery because of the fortune cookies, or a movie cinema a hot dog stand because you can buy one there. It is that plain to me which is why I find the assertion it is fast food so absurd. Others disagree it seems. As to the chain derision en masse, that is just too bad. I like eating at the Trolley Car but I now like eating at Iron Hill too and am glad they moved in there. When you have a local Philadelphia franchise that is a great Philadelphia success story vilified like the carpet-baggers coming in to take over Tara for a song – the discourse has gone bad. I have known John Thain for years as a member of the Chestnut Hill Bocce Club – this is not some faceless corporate entity, it is a great local franchise with excellent products and I hope they open post haste…

    • Noah

      Why is Rita’s still thought of as such a local brand? They’ve been sold twice in the last 5 years. Once to a Pittsburgh company which was knowns for owning Wendy’s and Baskin Robbin’s (how much more fast-food can you get?). Just recently, it was sold to Falconhead Capital out of NYC, which itself calls Rita’s Fast Food!

      From the Falconhead wesbsite: “In a 2009 Zagat survey of over 6,000 fast-food fans, Rita’s was ranked #2 in the Top Ice Cream/Custard category.”

      • Tracy

        It is a Trevose based company that took a lunch truck on the Roosevelt Boulevard to the #1 franchise in their industry, they opened up hundreds of stores and serve all of our area. It is a Philadelphia success story like Nabisco is. I was friends with the first franchise owner so got to see first hand their great rise in our market, it was fun to watch and I like businesses in our region taking off and being successful.

        The Zagat is a survey of “fast food fans” – they are using the sample of that demographic to give views on stores that are also not fast food per se and according to provided definitions: http://www.zagat.com/fastfood

        Here they rate iHop and Starbucks, are they fast food too because fans of fast food weighed in here? Zagat does not think so, they have a tab with a definition of terms:

        http://www.zagat.com/fastfood/key-to-survey-definitions
        “Fast-Food Chains:
        National restaurant chains offering burgers, chicken or other main-course items but no table service.”

        This Site you share says it right – fast food fans like Rita’s for the Ice Cream/custard category. They like Sarbucks for coffee, is that now fast food too? If they liked the Phillies for their favorite baseball team that would not make the Phillies a fast food chain any more than it would make Cole Hamels a french fry….

        I understand that Rita’s is not Burger King, why are we pretending the conflation is there – is it because the restriction is there – if so this is the square peg in the round hole exercise in my view…

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Bob. We have been battling chains in the neighborhood for years–and for many good reasons. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but if there is a covenant in place that keeps another chain out of the neighborhood (particularly one that is shuttered for a significant portion of the year) then it should be observed.

    To me, this is not about the technicalities of whether water ice is fast food or just a food-like substance served fast. The point is that the impact on the neighborhood is the same–lots of cars drive up, people get out, grab their mass-produced trans-fats and empty calories and leave. It is not about whether it is local to Philadelphia. We are fighting to vitalize the Avenue, to keep the neighborhood character of Mt. Airy and to support businesses that are responsive to the neighborhood and keep money circulating in the community.

    As for the “competition” argument, so what? A community is built on relationships–long term, personal, caring, trust-building relationships. There is a meaningful difference between a business that has a proven track record of working hard to the betterment of the community, to build its economy, support its institutions and pay a living wage to its residents and one that just sees the community as a location. Sure, there is no law (although in this case there may well be an enforceable covenant) against a business moving into a community just to make as much money as possible, but why does that outweigh the right of the neighborhood to act in its own economic, social and aesthetic interests and support businesses that do likewise?

    Finally, if this is supposed to be in arbitration, it does not show respect for the community, particularly the near neighbors who will have to live with the outcome, to do an end run around the process.

    • Tracy

      So what? Neighbors can decide to keep competition out to protect businesses that they like and use zoning for that purpose? Holy cow did this go down the sad, wrong road… So if a diner wants to open there and because we all like the Trolley Car (again, who doesn’t) rather than simply supporting the Trolley Car with our patronage we will use whatever zoning is available to keep the doors closed and the landlord and his family and all the not to be employed people there can just be told: so what…. I understand this is Rita’s and not a diner but the exercise of bad community development is precisely the same…

      • Anonymous

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        Dear Tracy,

        Nobody would be objecting to another restaurant opening in that spot. But do neighbors have the right to support the TYPE of businesses they want in their community? ABSOLUTELY It’s our neighborhood and we have every right to act in or own interest. If we want a diner and not a drive-thru, that is what the zoning covenant was designed to accomplish. It is perfectly fair as long as it is based on neutral, relevant criteria such as noise and traffic and not on something unreasonable like the race of the proprietor, which nobody is claiming in this case. If people also support maintaining the covenant because they appreciate a business that gives back to the community, that is their prerogative and it only reflects good business policy. If someone wants to compete with that, fine, but it is a perfectly legitimate form of competition–providing goods and services that your customers want and then going the extra mile to earn their good will and loyalty. That’s  good old-fashioned competition–how it’s done on Main St. USA.

        People–particularly property owners (like the near neighbors and all of us who have to walk or drive past that site on a daily basis and would have cars barging in and out at an already busy and potentially dangerous intersection)– are legally and morally entitled to defend our own interest regarding quality of life issues such as noise, litter and drive-thru traffic. We can do this individually or we can get together as neighborhood associations, or we can support a proven champion of community improvement who speaks for our interests. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but everyone has the right to have their interests considered. One person’s right to try to make money at one particular location does not trump everyone else’s right not to get stepped on in the process.

        In general, there are good, just reasons why zoning laws exist.  It is not an imposition; it is a protection of individual (homeowner, resident and local community) rights. Otherwise anyone could build anything anywhere. Another example would be someone coming in and saying that because there used to be a TLA at that spot, they should be allowed to open up an XXX “Adult” video store. after all, they are both video stores so why should we favor one over the other? Well, no, they couldn’t because these XXX businesses are restricted for the same reason–quality of life. Just because your neighbor has the right to keep a pet dog, does that mean the neighbor on the other side of you has the right to open up a puppy farm in a residential neighborhood? Of course not. That is not sad. It is how democracies work. No–more than that, it is how civilization works.

        best,

        Susan

        —–Original Message—– From: Disqus
        Sent: Feb 9, 2012 1:58 PM
        To: saxesmith@earthlink.net
        Subject: [chestnuthilllocal] Re: Rita’s owner claims diner is trying to derail his business
        Tracy (unregistered) wrote, in response to EcoMom:So what? Neighbors can decide to keep competition out to protect businesses that they like and use zoning for that purpose? Holy cow did this go down the sad, wrong road… So if a diner wants to open there and because we all like the Trolley Car (again, who doesn’t) rather than simply supporting the Trolley Car with our patronage we will use whatever zoning is available to keep the doors closed and the landlord and his family and all the not to be employed people there can just be told: so what…. I understand this is Rita’s and not a diner but the exercise of bad community development is precisely the same… Link to comment: http://disq.us/5eat1gEcoMom wrote:I agree with Bob. We have been battling chains in the neighborhood for years–and for many good reasons. Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but if there is a covenant in place that keeps another chain out of the neighborhood (particularly one that is shuttered for a significant portion of the year) then it should be observed. To me, this is not about the technicalities of whether water ice is fast food or just a food-like substance served fast. The point is that the impact on the neighborhood is the same–lots of cars drive up, people get out, grab their mass-produced trans-fats and empty calories and leave. It is not about whether it is local to Philadelphia. We are fighting to vitalize the Avenue, to keep the neighborhood character of Mt. Airy and to support businesses that are res…—–Options: Respond in the body to post a reply comment.To turn off notifications, go to: http://disqus.com/account/

      • Tracy

        Hi Susan,
        Ghez, I don’t disagree with a lot of what you write but you are (borrowing the phrase) like a pyromaniac in a field of straw men. XXX Rated video stores? Puppy farms? Right to influence zoning? Who disagrees with neighborhood involvement and proper activism that you eloquently relay? My comment was that you seemed to state in the first post – that when it comes down to neighbors keeping competitors out by using zoning to pick one business as the only possible winner in a category of services your feeling: “so what” is not the right approach to building a community. You can wrap this notion in a myriad of unrelated concerns for safety, noise, drive- thrus, XXX movies, happy puppies, et al — but it is still the same bad position.

        Where you say here: “If people also support maintaining the covenant because they appreciate a business that gives back to the community, that is their prerogative and it only reflects good business policy.”

        We all want to maintain the covenant. What is in question is possibly misusing the covenant in this case as a technicality to keep out a business based on affecting the profits of a liked business at the expense of a new one opening. Or on the other side, was the covenant not addressed properly in the CHCA decision. Either way, as a concept that you endorsed — using zoning to keep categories open for existing local businesses and precluding competition is not “good old fashion business on Main Street USA”…

        This is why this is such a disservice to Mr. Weinstein. In the Local he never painted a picture where existing businesses should leverage zoning restrictions to protect an existing businesses flank and crush competition. Why are you and some others raising such issues, and more amazingly, as though they are good things?

        He said that neighbors have reached out to him to act because some feel as does he that Rita’s is a fast food chain, subject to the covenant. I have no idea why he feels that way, the CHCA felt differently, those concerned neighbors at the zoning meeting during an Eagles football game no less did not express that view. The owner of Rita’s has shared why that is wrong in his view.

        The notion you made first that rewarding good business by preventing competition is wrong in my view. This long conflation to other good neighborhood concerns does not obviate that one bit. If you want to only go to the Trolley Car, bravo, it is excellent, enjoy.

        At issue really is does Rita’s violate this by fitting the definition of a fast food chain, did the CHCA call this wrong, what is the next step. Wrapping this up in some rhetorical glory of neighborhood concern and appreciation for a great local business is hardly the point and not the one raised at all in the article –except I guess by Mr. Thain… And it seems like you and the many that have taken a position like you, are kind of proving his point and that too is a disservice to Mr. Weinstein who should be taken at his word when he said this is not about competition… Be well..

  • Elise Rivers

    As the owner of Community Acupuncture of Mt. Airy, my focus has always been on how to be of service to community in multiple ways, not just strictly in the realm of business. I’d like to see more of that attitude come to the area, rather than less. To me, the border between Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy when it comes to these things is non-existent. I see us as one big neighborhood when it comes to patronizing establishments along Germantown Avenue. Chains detract from charm to be sure, but more importantly, are well known to spend far fewer dollars investing back into the community from which they take their dollars. Ken Weinstein and the Trolley Car have a long history of serving and investing in the community and we are all the better for it. I can personally vouch for Ken’s integrity, working side by side with him on the board of the Mt. Airy Business Improvement District. He wants what is best for the community and is willing to work for that, both for profit and as a volunteer. There’s not many business leaders I know who have such an established track record in doing so. I think we can do better than Rita’s. Selling as their only product artificially flavored and colored sugar water, even if people will buy it, is to my mind, no service at all. It seems to me that selling this kind of food (fast or not) does not indicate regard for the health and welfare of the people of this neighborhood.

    • Tracy

      I am lost… Nobody has said anything other than wonderful things about Ken Weinstein… Nobody thinks that the Trolley Car is not terrific. Are you suggesting Rita’s has to be denied because this water ice is without merit as are chains? Deny chains by all means necessary or chains affecting certain, undisputed, great businesses only? Is this another position arguing the Trolley Car should not have this competition, that the Trolley Car and the owner are great (who said otherwise), and this Rita store should be fought on the basis of competition – despite – Mr. Weinstein himself has said this is not about competition at all… This was, I thought about the zoning issue… Residing myself to learning this is not… Too bad…

    • Guest

      Elise said: “I think we can do better than Rita’s.
      Selling as their only product artificially flavored and
      colored sugar water, even if people will buy it, is
      to my mind, no service at all. It seems to me that selling this
      kind of food (fast or not) does not indicate regard for the health
      and welfare of the people of this neighborhood.”

      If you feel that way, then you should also scold your friend Mr. Weinstein for disregarding health and welfare.

      Trolley Car’s ice cream is manufactured by the multinational Nestle Corporation, which is currrently being boycotted by Save the Children, Oxfam, CARE International, and World Vision for promoting breast milk substitutes in poor countries.

      Many of Trolley Car’s ice cream flavors are packed with sugar, artificial colors (blue #1 and yellow #5), unhealthy saturated fats and tropical oils. The Rocky Road ice cream is made with boiled animal bones and ligaments.

      I will not make any health claims for Rita’s, but their ingredients include fresh fruit along with both natural and artificial flavors and colors.

      • Local_Foodie

        Check your facts Guest…. I called Trolley Car tonight to find out that they have never sold Nestle’s ice cream. Instead they offer Nelson’s Ice Cream which is a local brand made in Royersford, PA. You should be spreading love, instead of spreading lies!

        • Guest

          My facts are based on Trolley Car Diner’s own website:

          http://trolleycardiner.com/diner.htm

          Go to their Menus section and select “Ice Cream.” It says verbatim:

          “Choose from 16 delicious flavors of Edy’s ice cream”

          Edy’s is manufactured by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Nestle Corporation.

          Maybe you should ask the person at Trolley Car who told you that they never sold Nestle’s ice cream why Trolley Car’s own website says that is what they sell instead of accusing me of spreading lies.

          • Tracy

            I like the Trolley Car and will not say a bad word about it… But this thread is kind of funny…

            All Rita’s require all their water ice be made daily and from their location, their HQ is in Trevose, the ingredients are largely from this metro market. Edy’s is owned by Nestle who are head quartered in Switzerland…

            There are five places in the US that make Edy’s from what I can tell, the closest being in Indiana…

            If you buy an ice cream there from this Edy’s re-seller it is a little like saying you bought an American car because you got your Saab in Feasterville… Just a little but still. Rita’s is made on Site.

            What does this all say about buying local at the Trolley Car versus buying from the local franchise owner of Rita’s in the neighboring zip code? Pretty much nothing.

            Mr. Thain likes the Rita’s model for selling frozen deserts and is investing his money and energies there rather than – one can only guess – by buying Nestle water ice and simply reselling it at Thain’s Water Ice Shoppe… What is wrong with that – save the extraneous arguments that have been buzzing about…

            I disagree entirely that one should not patron the Trolley Car because of the ice cream they stock. I find it far worse though to advocate blocking a legitimate local business from emerging out of some obscure calling to “protect” the neighborhood like Dulcinea is around the corner in distress… It is an interesting perspective as a thought exercise though, thanks…

          • Guest

            Just to clarify, I’m not discouraging anyone from patronizing Trolley Car. Rather, I was making a point about the absurdity of claims that their frozen confections are somehow healthier, produced more locally, or that the profits from their manufacture will benefit a smaller, more homespun company than Mr. Thain’s indepedently owned and operated Rita’s Water Ice. Those claims are wrong on all counts. People should patronize whichever business they want (or both of them). Mom and dad instilled in me liberal values. Anti-competitive bullying under a phony guise of civic-mindedness is not one of them. It’s just sordid.

          • Tracy

            Well said…

  • Dan Muroff

    Rita’s may not be so lovely, after all

    Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill communities deliberately seek out and encourage local entrepreneurs to introduce new enterprises onto the Avenue that value local equity, local workers and the local interests. That local first bias is ingrained. It appeals to be part of something bigger and cohesive, and it’s why many of us chose to live here. We have a terrific mix of vendors, from the top of Chestnut Hill and increasingly south through Mt. Airy, that provide an eclectic and attractive mix of options that deliver real value for diners and shoppers that malls, and most homogenous suburban enclaves, cannot. It’s a pretty rare and special place we’ve got, which is why it’s such an attractive destination for people from across the region.

    When a chain operation is intent to join the Avenue’s business corridor, the community should give it careful consideration. Chains can rattle and destabilize local operators who don’t have the capacity or resources to compete against corporate backers with less interest in strengthening our community than in making a profit. And the best intentions of a franchisee may not be able to curtail future, objectionable actions of a corporate parent. Once a business is established, it’s not leaving unless it chooses to do so. Today’s restrictions on use could end up being long forgotten, and difficult to enforce. If the corporate business model becomes fast food for a fast buck, that would serve to erode something pretty special.

    • YouKnewmegladimgone

      Dan: How many times do you stop at Starbucks? Did you shop at Borders? The Gap? Bennetton?

  • Tanisha

    One of the reasons I moved to the Northwest area was because of the strong local business identity. The Northwest community is a reflection of how well a community can do when the dollars are kept in the community. As someone who lives, works, shop and banks in the Northwest area my water ice dollars goes Trolley Car and Wired Bean.

  • DT

    Speaking from the viewpoint of someone who works at Rita’s, I don’t think that the so-called harmful effects of losing local dollars and having a “fast-food” chain (which it’s not, trust me its not) etc, are going to have the negative impact that a lot of people seem to think it will have. Rita’s is a very popular shop and if anything it wil attract more people to the Chestnut Hill Area, especially in a section of Germantown Ave that people don’t go to very often. I go to Chestnut Hill Academy so I drive by that section of the Ave everyday, and I rarely see more than 6 cars in that lot. Think about the summer time, with the Farmers Market right in that area. A Rita’s could potentially attract people to the Farmer’s Market, as well as provide a nice treat for families as they shop there. Also, from working at Rita’s as a teenager, Rita’s is extremely teen-friendly when it comes to hiring its employees, so that would provide new jobs for teenagers living in the Chestnut Hill Area. Also, it would continue to provide jobs, as people like me are about to go to college, new jobs open up. Rita’s is a cyclical business in that people in many ways “age out” as they go to college and it provides for new jobs for new teenagers. Trust me, losing local dollars is not an issue. With respect to the “fast food” issue, I’m pretty sure there is a McDonalds (which no one disputes is fast food) nearby and no one seems to have a problem with that. Also, during the month of June, Rita’s collects charitable donations for Alex’s Lemonade Stand which works hand in hand with selling Lemon water ice. And even though Rita’s would be closed for 4 months of the year, having a proven success, a respectable, family-friendly, cyclical job creating business for 8 months of the year is better than having that section of the Ave stay as it is currently. I really hope that the community of Chestnut Hill will be more open to having a Rita’s here because it truly will be beneficial.

    • ED

      Seems like this high school kid should run the business association. He has more sense than half of the people on those boards!

  • Benwaxman

    I grew up shopping in Chestnut Hill and used to live a few miles from the location of the proposed Rita’s. Personally, I think it would be bad for Germantown Ave. We need more locally owned businesses, not a national chain that doesn’t have any roots in our community. There have been so many chain stores (Gap…Structure…Borders) that have open up and then closed, leaving vacant properties. No more big chains in Chestnut Hill!

  • Anonymous

    Look around the city specifically at locations were Rita’s once operated. Ride by Wissahicon and Hunting Park where it was once Rita’s then Rocco’s and now abandoned. As community and neighbor’s we need to learn when people come waving promises and money that have not invested nor live in our community. Trolley Diner has committed to the area for 10yrs with investment and commitment. The tireless energy Ken Wienstien brings to community project’s not related to personal income or gain but loyalty to the community where he lives. We should show the same loyalty for the year round service the Diner will continue to provide and not the seasonal Rita’s that may not come back after the season ends. Lets not harp on the fast chain issue or the Chestnut Hill/Mt. Airy divide that business person Thain is trying to hide behind. Let’s stay loyal to what is right.

    • Tracy

      There is nothing wrong with patronizing the trolley Diner year round and applauding all that they do. What has that got to do with this? What is Thain hiding behind exactly, how does he earn that derisive sentiment? This Rita’s story is not new, it was covered in the December meeting and in the Local. After the unanimous approval from the CHCA vote the Local shared they would be getting to work and opening for this spring.

      Thain has been out front and in the open on this for months. Thain is not hiding behind some divide, he went to public meetings to share how he wanted to enrich the community (and with success himself obviously in a big way) with a great local franchise. It is not “right” to argue that Thain should be precluded from opening at this late hour because the Trolley Car is so terrific. With that logic why is the CH7 there with the Chestnut Hill Grill right next door, who let that outrage slip by? The competition has made the block better in my view, I like both spots.

      Ken Weinstein said specifically that this is not about competition in this article, if you feel so well disposed to him as everyone really should — why are you making a “keep the competition out” case for this that Mr. Weinstein took pains not to make?

      Let’s stay loyal to what is right – you say? OK, let’s be kind to animals too, what does that have to do with this… It is bad enough if you want to advocate openly trying to shut down legitimate competition in favor of businesses you personally like. It is equally bad to use a well respected man as a cause for advancing an argument the same man did not make and took pains to say should not be made. It is worse though to assign motives here to John Thain for exploiting anything when – like the process/outcome or not – he was very public and by the book… If you don’t like chains or water ice, no reason to try and make people not like John Thain here in the untrue “hide behind” smear…

      • Anonymous

        There is nothing wrong with John Thain except that he is trying to locate his chain business where it is expressly prohibited! I think we should be kind to animals too! :)

        • Tracy

          Through the entire process nobody argued this Rita’s is a “fast food chain” – it was discussed but the discussion was why it is not – hence the favorable vote and consideration. I still don’t see how it is a Burger King and most people that are obviously huge fans of the Trolley car (again, who isn’t) do not bother with this center piece. Instead there is such praise for the Trolley Car I hope someone there is cutting and pasting the copy in Yelp.com – but liking certain great stores here now is hardly the point… Glad you like being kind to animals too, nice to be agreeing with you today on something…

  • Gerry

    I love living in the Mt. Airy/Chestnut Hill. One of the attractions is preponderance of local businesses and the connection to the owners and employees that we see on a regular basis. We do not need a chain store, particularly a seasonal one.
    Because of the split in the community I belive that many will boycott Ritas, I certainly will.

    Also, if that site is to be developed with local stores, having one of them vacant several months each year will be a barrier to attracting other tenants.

  • Fiest

    Only a complete scumbag would block a water ice stand

  • Linda Slodki

    We were surprised to read the stories about John Train, the franchise owner of Rita’s Water Ice. We can’t speak to the issues of fast food vs. frozen dessert. But we can speak to building community, wanting harmonious and good business practices, and building business that benefits the community.

    Ken Weinstein has been, and continues to be, a pioneer in this community, throughout the Northwest, Mt. Airy, Germantown, and Chestnut Hill. His vision is one of bringing more visitors and business to our communities while making the Northwest a better place to live. Did he have a right to be invited to the community meeting around Rita’s? We think so. Did he have a right to privacy while continue a binding arbitration meeting with Mr. Train—you bet! When new businesses open in the Northwest, you are living off the community successes that people like Ken Weinstein (and may we add, Weavers Way) have created.

    Mr. Train, to us, creators of the Mt. Airy Art Garage, a community center for the arts for the entire Northwest, it doesn’t matter where you live. It’s about doing the right thing.

    • Tracy

      The meeting about Rita’s was in the Local, online, and there was a packed room as the project was being discussed and voted upon – and it was not only one meeting where Rita’s was discussed. You do not need a “right to be invited to a meeting” that is open to the general public. How is it Mr. Thain’s fault that he showed up for a public meeting that Mr. Weinstein chose not to attend?

      Worse still — why is the Rita’s project appropriate for public notice, debate, meetings and scrutiny while Mr. Thain goes through the approval process but Mr. Weinstein has – as you say – “a right to privacy while continue a binding arbitration meeting with Mr. Train—you bet!”

      You bet?!? Mr. Weinstein does not avail himself of the public process, moves for arbitration and the neighborhood should know nothing of such matters? Rita’s should open or not and nobody in 19118 ans 19119 should even know of such things because Mr. Weinstein has a privacy mandate from where exactly? That’s how you do the right thing?

      If this is support for Mr. Weinstein I would love to know how. You argue he is a fine civic leader who cares deeply about the community, who doesn’t agree with that? The rest of this does nobody a service…

  • Llittle

    As a local small business owner on Germantown Avenue, I am opposed to having a chain like a Rita’s open for a couple of months per year. There are plenty of independently owned places, that need to be supported instead! Let’s keep local dollars local and support locally owned businesses.

    • Tracy

      There are good points on both sides of this debate. Why though discard the merits for want of bad language. You share: “Rita’s open for a couple months per year”…. Couple? Since when did seven or eight months out of twelve qualify as a couple? A couple would be 17% of the year, they are open generally seven to eight months a year as I understand it – that is 68% of the year. Being open 100% of the year would be better but juxtaposing that with 17% is just not discussing this on the merits…

    • Mike

      So you would rather have a vacant storefront? There clearly aren’t enough ‘independently owned places’ in CH, otherwise there wouldn’t be vacancies all along Germantown Ave. Unless you sell water ice, I’m not exactly sure why you would be opposed to incrementally more foot traffic in our neighborhood if you’re a business owner on the Avenue.

  • Horace Steenblatter

    I heard that the Fart Bar is also blocking Rita’s from opening.

  • YouKnewmegladimgone

    Moved away from Chestnut Hill 20 + years ago, back then y’all hated the Depot, a local business that operated locally and employed local residents, at which I’m sure most of you drank when you were in high school and college. Coincidentally the last time I drove through was a STARBUCKS.

    You were narrow minded then, you’re narrow minded still.

  • Livin’ontheHill

    These comments make it seem like businesses are knocking each other over to rent out the multitude of empty storefronts on the Avenue. This simply is not true as evidenced by all of the “for rent” signs. As CH residents, we should applaud this local, independent business owner who is willing to take a chance on our community. I will be first in line when Rita’s (finally) opens.

  • Anonymous

    There is no need for name calling and accusations. People who object to the use of the plaza for a drive-thru have nothing against Rita’s per se. Some of us feel pretty strongly about trying to hold the line on chain stores or fast food or whatever you want to call it for a variety of good reasons. That does not make us NIMBYs or Narrow-minded or unamerican, and maybe some of us are defending our friend and neighbor Ken Weinstein because we feel that he is being personally attacked for no good reason.

    For some of us, this is about keeping an agreement that was meant to protect the character of our neighborhood, about the amount of thru-traffic that our neighborhood can accommodate, particularly at an already busy and sometimes dangerous intersection, and about other quality of life issues. It is also about a history of chains moving in, driving local businesses out and then, for whatever reason, pulling out, leaving big holes in a vital historic and commercial strip. We (like other neighborhoods) have had bad experiences in the past and I don’t think our sincere concerns about it now are any cause for nasty language or personal attacks. Thank you in advance for your renewed civility.

    • Tracy

      Who has suggested for a nano second that this location would have a drive thru? Objecting to this concern, in this context, is like objecting to unicorn meat.

      Who/how is there an attacking of Mr. Weinstein – personally no less – insofar as Mr. Thain wants to sell water ice – like many other such entrepreneurs? Mr. Thian believes Mr. Weinstein is trying to stall them thereby not being able to open. Mr. Weinstein says that is not the motivation. I for one said we must take people at their word, specifically good people. So while Mr. Thain feels he is being harmed – I fail to see how Mr. Weinstein’s supporters feel he is being attacked. He has been given every courtesy buy the Local, I think mostly buy this discussion thread too. I think the merits of the CHCA decision is worth discussing, not weather those of us without all the facts can pretend to know who is right here as per motivations. Such things are a bit extraneous are they not?

      I am baffled too why you would solve the disaster of chains that leave “big holes” — by objecting to a location having been abandoned by a chain (TLA) that left the “big hole” –that were Rita’s to open would remedy said: big hole… I am not sure civility is lacking, I think clarity is… Infusing the debate with sincere concerns that call for objecting to drive thrus and such betray a sincerity that I would otherwise like to see across the board in learning the true concerns…

  • SW

    As a resident of the area I should be able to have a choice as to where I go to get water ice, gelati, etc. And I agree with ED.

    • Mt. Airy resident

      You already do. There is a Rita’s approximately 4 minutes away from the debated location.

  • PW69

    That is a terrible location (traffic-wise). Drivers can barely maneuver that area now, just imagine the car traffic that a Rita’s would bring.

  • http://profiles.google.com/pmazz04 Pete Mazzaccaro

    To all who subscribed to this thread, we have an update on this story:
    http://chestnuthilllocal.com/2012/03/20/ritas-water-ice-owner-pulls-plug-on-ch-plaza-store/