Too many lunch options on Market Street west?


Readers are wondering about the closings on Dec. 21 of both the Gia Pronto quick-server and the Bruegger's bagel shop in the Stock Exchange Building at 1900 Market St. (the 20th Street side).

I know that the building, which was recently sold, is going through a state of flux. Melinda Iuliano of the landlord, Brandywine Realty Trust, did not reply to my messages, and Bruegger's referred my message to corporate.

Marco Lentini, the entrepreneur behind Gia Pronto (now only in University City), suggests that something is afoot: "I think vacancy rates in the area, as well as cannibalization, has affected all retail businesses in the Market Street Business District," he wrote in email.

His reference to "cannibalization" gives me pause. That part of town has seen a recent explosion in lunch options, but no appreciable growth in the office population to feed off of it. (The AAA Building's conversion to apartments does not help the lunch trade, and 1919 Market - which Brandywine is co-developing for a 2014 opening across from the Stock Exchange Building - will consist of apartments and retail, not offices.)

The 18th Street corridor from Arch Street (if you include the shops at the Comcast Center) to Rittenhouse Square is bursting with restaurants, and the D.C. sandwich import Devon & Blakely is preparing to open at 10 Penn Center (18th and Market Streets). You have all those places on 19th Street - Famous Deli and Matyson.

And Commerce Square, which now has Du Jour and Pagano's, with Townhouse Kitchen & Bar planning a mid-2013 opening.

And all those food trucks, and ...