Lifted restrictions leads to booming business in Center City Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- After more than a year of uncertainty and unknown, there are some statistics that suggest that economic activity is making a comeback in Center City Philadelphia.

The Center City District (CCD) says since the lifting of the stay-at-home order, business is booming.

Things aren't just open at full capacity, there's new business coming back to the city as well.

"It's good, it's really good, good to be back," said Steve Jamison, owner of Blue Sole Shoes at 18th and Chestnut streets.

It's one of a number of businesses that survived the brutal pandemic and civil unrest that kept him shut down for months.

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Businesses in Center City Philadelphia are seeing new signs of life now that restrictions in the city are lifting.

"It's been a really long time. We're almost at the pre-pandemic levels, which is fantastic. Still have some ways to go," said Jamison.

The CCD has reported 59 new businesses opened up in the last 18 months.

"We are just thrilled to see so many of our businesses reopen and thriving as they are now," said Michelle Shannon, the vice president of marketing for the Center City District.

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Effective immediately, Pennsylvania restaurants and bars are no longer allowed to sell "cocktails-to-go" or offer outdoor seating that was greenlit during the pandemic.

Boarded-up businesses are now down to just 2 percent.

The news is also welcomed by the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association.

"It feels great. It shows you the resilience of our industry. It shows you how much people want to support their restaurants, but also shows all the work that the state did and the nation did to support the restaurants," said Ben Fileccia of the PRLA.

The Center City District also noted outdoor café seating is up 71 percent from the first day of spring to the first day of summer.

The future of outdoor dining is still a question, but many would like to see it stay for good.

"It's activated so many different parts of the city that weren't activated before. We're starting to look like a beautiful European little town," said Fileccia.

After the last year, many restaurant owners said they got used to rolling with the punches.

One common denominator among the businesses, however, is hiring and getting back to staffing at 100 percent.

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