Once upon a time, suburbanites looking for a five-star meal had few other choices than to commute to Philadelphia. Aside from the drawback of fighting traffic was the expense. Sure, there was the expected cost of appetizer, entrée and dessert. But atop the restaurant tab was an outlay for parking. And a valet tip. And if traffic snarled on the way home, it meant some extra cash for the sitter.
In response, restaurateurs took a lesson from an old Turkish proverb, reinterpreting it thusly: If suburban customers won’t go to a center-city restaurant, bring the center-city restaurant to the suburban customers.
This recent menu migration has brought a number of top-tier restaurant brands to King of Prussia. They are setting up kitchens to not only access a whole new corps of customers but also to take advantage of some prime retail in the area.
The 2016 opening of a new corridor in King of Prussia Mall has brought an influx of new customers to the high-end stores, representing exactly the kind of upscale clientele that restaurants desire. And the new King of Prussia Town Center, less than a quarter mile from the mall, is also emerging as a site of choice for diners of distinction.
The Town Center represents a red-hot trend in the Millennial-driven marketplace: a retail-restaurant-residential trifecta. Its six-acre footprint fills the space of a former golf course with apartments, quick-service food, a supermarket, a gym and a town square-style centerpiece for concerts, movie nights and an after-hours beverage or small plate.
Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse opened in this suburban location to augment its presence in Philadelphia.
Tumoor Haye is General Manager of Davio’s King of Prussia; he believes the location will be key to the restaurant’s success outside the city.
“I know this market; I know it well.” Haye says. “Living [nearby] in Upper Merion Township, I can honestly say that nobody in Collegeville or Trooper or King of Prussia who is looking for a great meal is going to come any further east than Lancaster Avenue to get it.”
“People in the suburbs want the high-quality dining scene of Center City Philadelphia,” he continues. “But they don’t want to commute or pay for parking. To get from King of Prussia to Philadelphia’s Market Street is about an hour and 40-minute drive in the evening.”
The suburban Davio’s not only enjoys convenient access to customers, it also can spread its wings a bit and take advantage of more space. A unique feature of the King of Prussia Davio’s is its Galleria. Haye describes it as a “…cool carryout window that will open at 7 a.m. and stay open until 9 p.m.”
Service at the Galleria will include breakfast sandwiches for the early-morning commuters, as well as lunch items. “We want to hit people as they go to work and who aren’t able to necessarily get out at midday to get something to eat,” Haye explains. “Late night, it’s going to be great desserts to go and incredible gelato.
“We’re looking to become people’s local donut shop in the morning and their water-ice favorite at night,” he summarizes.
Davio’s isn’t the only high-end restaurant catering to suburbanites. Ralph’s of South Philly, which has been making gravy (not sauce!) and meatballs for Philadelphians since 1900, opened in King of Prussia in 2015. And it’s not the only Italian kitchen in town; Maggiano’s Little Italy welcomes la famiglia at both its Filbert Street and Gulph Road dining rooms.
On the steakhouse front, King of Prussia Mall sizzles with Ruth’s Chris, a Morton’s and Capital Grille, all of which also have downtown locations. Back in the Town Center, Brazilian Steakhouse Fogo de Chão provides the same style of sabre-served sirloin as its counterpart in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board promotes the extensive dining scene throughout Montgomery County, Pa., through Crave a tourism-centric dining guide and online resource. The board highlights the fact that with all this convenience – and no sacrifice of experience or menu quality – Montgomery County, Pa., is becoming a culinary capital in its own right.