There are at least two sides to every story, and the seemingly abrupt closing of the Marathon Grill at 1339 Chestnut St. on Dec. 7 is no different.
Marathon released a statement late that evening, explaining: "Due to increasing rental expenses, Marathon has elected to close its Broad and Chestnut Street location."
Philadelphia Municipal Court records show Marathon was evicted from its location of 15 years over back rent of more than $186,600. The landlord filed suit back in March. Several extensions delayed any action. (See the notice.)
It's highly unusual for an eviction to be carried out during business hours.
A now-unemployed waitress, who asked me not to disclose her identity, said she and other servers were wrapping up the lunch rush about 3 p.m. when a woman asked to see the manager. At once, two men came in and changed the door locks. A Philadelphia police officer stood in the doorway. Staff was ordered to tell customers, some of whom were still eating, that they had to leave. Their food was packed up to go. Then staff - including cooks and dishwashers - was told to gather their personal belongings and leave.
Staff got an email about 4 p.m. that read:
HEY EVERYONE, We will be closed tonight and tomorrow. We will be keeping everyone updated on changes that are happening and [manager] will call a meeting as soon as possible. Thanks for your patience during this time. Management
This was followed at midnight by another:
Hi Everyone, As you know at times we are faced with making challenging decisions and today was one of those days for Marathon. As a result of increased occupancy costs it no longer makes sense for us to continue to operate a Marathon at Broad and Chestnut. It is always a sad and painful process to close one of our restaurants. We remain excited about the restaurants we are operating and enthusiastic about the future. We've had 15 great years at Chestnut Street and through thick and thin, you have all been a part it and we thank you tremendously. We will try to find a place for as many of our team members as possible. For those of you who are moving on, we wish you the best of everything in your upcoming endeavors.