A bit of normalcy is returning to Penn Station.
After all restaurants and shops along the concourse were closed three years ago, the LIRR announced last week that several businesses are on their way back to the transit hub of Manhattan next spring, including one that was achingly overwhelmed by hurried and hungry Long Island commuters Missing – Rose’s Pizza.
Banners outside the closed storefronts announced that a smoothie joint, taqueria, salad shop and Duane Reade pharmacy will open along with the popular pizza joint. “Stay tuned in, more coming soon,” the LIRR posted on its social media accounts, along with photos of the banners.
Though MTA officials have pushed for more upscale restaurants and retail outlets in Penn, commuters have celebrated the return of Rose’s and other stores with affordable options that cater to their hurried lifestyles.
WHAT TO KNOW
- This was announced by the Long Island Rail Road Several new retail tenants are coming to Penn Station’s concourse next spring, including Rose’s Pizza, a long-time fixture of Manhattan’s transit hub.
- The restaurants and shops closed in 2019 When construction began at a $600 million expense to raise the ceilings along the concourse below 33rd Street and widen the pedestrian walkway by pushing back stores about 20 feet. The project is expected to be completed early next year.
- Although MTA officials have urged For more upscale restaurants and retail outlets in Penn, some commuters and advocates say they want quick and affordable options that cater to their hurried lifestyles.
Long Beach commuter Chris Doherty has – for months – been posting comments on the LIRR’s Instagram posts urging the railroad to “bring Rose’s back to Penn Station.” He got his wish.
“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it… I had a lot of haters telling me it was never coming back,” said Doherty, 29, in an exchange on Instagram, his go-to platform for the LIRR over the “iconic” pizzeria “It was a reliable place that was always there when you needed it. Whether you missed your train or just caught a show at MSG, you can grab a slice and a beer and forget life for a while.” .”
The pizzeria has long been a favorite meeting place for LIRR riders, who appreciate their take-out food, including sliced pizza and large cans of beer. The restaurant received generally good reviews, including 3.5 stars out of 5 on Yelp. But it and all other businesses along the LIRR area in Penn closed in 2019 as the railroad scrambles to expand its concourse under 33rd Street.
The $600 million project involved raising ceilings in the cramped station and nearly doubling the width of the walkway from 30 to 57 feet. This was accomplished by pushing back the storefronts by about 20 feet.
Vornado Realty Trust, which owns most of the retail space in Penn, including that occupied by Rose’s, agreed to the new agreement in exchange for being allowed to take over retail space in Penn previously owned by the LIRR. Vornado officials declined to comment.
Attempts to locate the owner of Rose’s have been unsuccessful.
The LIRR unveiled some of the upgrades in September, including 18-foot ceilings, and expects to complete the entire project early next year.
On Thursday, several commuters did a double-take as they passed Rose’s former home and saw the banner announcing his imminent return. Port Washington resident Melissa Williams recalled the eatery as “a great place to grab a slice of pizza when I was late for work.”
“I remember my kids loved coming with me sometimes because we got pizza, like on Bring Your Daughter to Work Day,” said Williams, 55, who has worked remotely since the pandemic began and rarely drove through Penn is. “I was surprised that there are literally no services or restaurants or anything.”
MTA officials have long expressed interest in more high-end stores in Penn, such as those available in Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan’s home of Metro-North. But several LIRR commuters and blue-collar advocates made it clear that they prefer more accessible dining options.
In response to the announcement of Penn’s upcoming restaurants, Gerard Bringmann, Chair of the LIRR Commuter Council, said, “So far, so good.”
“I just didn’t want everything to be upscale. If you want a Starbucks, that’s great. But give us a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Tim Horton’s or something. If you want a sushi place, give us Rose’s Pizza too,” Bringmann said. “That way, no matter who you are — whether you’re a construction worker or a businessman in a three-piece suit, you have a place to go that will make you happy.”
Even more new restaurants and other retail outlets are expected to open as Penn Station undergoes a $7 billion redevelopment project that will remove much of the upper level. Project officials said work could begin in 2023 and take about five years.
Bringmann said he’s not overly concerned about Penn going straight from one construction project to the next, especially if there’s somewhere to grab a bite while work is underway.
“For our commuters, I think the difficult part is over,” Bringmann said.