Success Stories

Learn why successful retailers and restaurateurs choose Center City Philadelphia.

mstootsies site

Meet KeVen Parker

Business(es) you own in Center City:
KeVen Parker’s Soul Food Café, Ms. Tootsie's Restaurant Bar and Lounge, Simply Delicious Caterers

Ms. Tootsies is, I call it an eclectic version of a… I don’t know if I want to say restaurant, I don’t know if I want to say lounge, I don’t know if I want to say boutique, it’s kind of all in one. One of the goals when I designed the restaurant, because I designed the restaurant myself, is to afford people the opportunity to not only come out and eat but to eat, to drink, to celebrate.

What do you love about Center City Philadelphia?
I love the fact that Center City has so much diversity. Years ago you heard about the Avenue of the Arts, it was coming, you heard about the High School for Performing Arts which used to be the Ridgeway Library- you heard about all these wonderful things that were going to happen, but to see it all come into fruition, to see the Suzanne Roberts Theatre come into fruition, to see everything liven up, it’s almost like nighttime is daytime.

I love the fact that you can walk out of your door in Center City and you can eat at 3:00 in the morning, you can go to a diner, or you can walk around the corner and you can buy your groceries.

I love the convenience of Center City and the fact that it’s just a tapestry of everything. It’s everything. Center City Philadelphia is an amazing place to be.

What would you say to prospective retailers?
If someone was to ask me about opening up a business in Center City I would first tell them to scout out the area very well and make sure that what they offer is needed in that section of Center City. Center City has grown and we are becoming more diverse. If you look at 13th Street now and you look at 13th Street years ago, it is nothing like it was.

Even my imagination could not have told me that the two young incredible ladies, Marcie and Valerie, would have done what they have done. They’re my inspiration and I talk to them quite often. They are an inspiration. To know that you can start one business and years later, have a portfolio of lively, viable businesses on one strip.

Now, because you have so many different places, you have so many choices. People are trying things that are totally different- that they’ve never even thought they’d try in their life and they’re loving it. Our level of expectation has increased tremendously. In Philadelphia, not only do we have amazing Philadelphians, but we have people from all over the world that are moving to Center City Philadelphia. They are challenging us to try different things. They’re showing us a different way to doing things. The restaurateurs are not only Philadelphians, they’re coming from all over to come to Philadelphia to say:

This is fertile ground, this is a diamond.

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