Restaurateur Magrogan says he has soured on Philadelphia

Dave Magrogan outside Doc Magrogan's on Sansom Street at its opening in 2012. It closed in 2016.

Restaurateur Dave Magrogan - who had a long run over the years in Manayunk, near South Street, and in Center City and University City with such restaurants as Kildare's and Doc Magrogan's - says he doesn't feel the need to do business in the city anymore.

Today, Magrogan acknowledged that his group's last Philadelphia restaurant - Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar at 40th and Walnut Streets - was permanently closed. It had never reopened after a fire in January in the ventilation system. 

The fire at first appeared small, but did extensive damage. He said insurance would not fully compensate. In a statement Wednesday, the University of Pennsylvania's real estate office said Harvest was in default of its lease and the lease was terminated.

Magrogan said this Harvest location was "modestly successful," given the student and local population. (Examples: the discount-drink promotions, the flatbreads, and the taco nights were successful, but the more profitable premium entrees, cocktails, and wines were slower sellers.)

Magrogan said he approached Penn about converting Harvest to his more casual Red Star Craft House brand. He said Penn told him it wanted to move in a different direction, a point that Penn confirmed.

Last summer, Magrogan shuttered the Doc Magrogan's location at Penn, on Sansom Street near 34th Street.

Harvest locations dot the suburbs, where its target audiences are health-conscious families, professionals, and senior citizens.

In addition, Magrogan said in a statement, "the business and tax environment in Philadelphia contributed to us examining the long-term viability of this location. Paid sick leave, city wage tax, the soda tax, and other city regulations make it a much more difficult business environment, compared to our suburban locations."

"The cost to operate in the city of Philadelphia versus suburban market makes it a wiser decision to invest our expansion capital in suburban locations around the region and in Florida," where a Harvest opened around New Year's in Delray Beach.  

Asked to elaborate, Magrogan emailed: "I think I have matured past trying to push uphill against excessive taxes, regulations, and higher cost of construction. Less expensive to build, operate and grow business in the suburbs. When I was younger, I would push through it, now I want to focus on opportunities that have a greater potential upside."

"I still love the city but don't feel a need to invest in it to create more restaurants."

(Post updated to reflect Penn's statement that Harvest was in default of its lease.)

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