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Philadelphia business leaders on moving beyond COVID-19

June 9, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented challenges. As we continue to navigate the uncertainties, we spoke with Philadelphia leaders who shared how they are coping with the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and how they are focusing on the future and recovery. And, this wouldn’t be a piece from Philadelphia without talking about two of our favorite pastimes: sports and food (yes, there will be cheesesteaks!).

Valerie Camillo, President of Business Operations, Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center

Wells Fargo Center photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: With our arena closed, large gatherings suspended, and events postponed, this pandemic has brought immediate changes to the way sports professionals do business in all aspects. Right now, the need to prepare for so many unknown possibilities and varying scenarios has presented itself as the largest planning challenge.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: Now more than ever, it’s our priority to keep our fans engaged, entertained, and part of the Flyers family from their homes. We’ve developed a wide variety of new content for social media and for broadcast.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I’ve learned how much I love the community and shared experience of large gatherings – I greatly miss the bustling, buzzing energy that’s so innate to working in sports and entertainment.

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: White Dog Café

Q: What do you love about Philadelphia!

A: Definitely the food scene! And the people. They have a tough reputation outside of the City, but my experience here has been anything but. People are warm, friendly, and inviting – they look out for you here, which is pretty spectacular.

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Ishkabibble’s

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: Termini Bros. I am obsessed with their blueberry muffins.

Q: Favorite sports team?

A: This is an easy one – it’s definitely the Flyers.

Q: Favorite local college?

A: I am looking forward to cheering on the Villanova Wildcats at the Wells Fargo Center again. I love college basketball.

 

Nicole Cashman, Founder & CEO, Cashman and Associates

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Financial uncertainty and I had to make layoffs

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: I received a PPP loan

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I need my acupuncture, massages and mani/pedis.

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Morimoto

Morimoto photo by Max Grudzinski courtesy of Starr Restaurants.

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Delassandros

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: The donuts!

Reading Terminal Market photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Q: Favorite sports team?

A: Eagles

Q: Favorite local college?

A: Drexel

 

Judy Moore, Chief Strategy Officer, Garces

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Shifting from a mostly dine-in restaurant group to a 100% delivery and take-out business, larning a whole new way of doing business, and finding ways to generate revenue so that we can get some of our employees back to work.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: We have been able to help feed essential workers in large quantities (hundreds of people at a time) and have also been able to help feed the homeless in large numbers because of our experience in catering and feeding large groups. We’ve partnered with organizations like Fuel the Fight and Broad Street Ministries on these endeavors and moving forward we would like to continue to help as we come out of this crisis.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I love cooking and trying new recipes out on my family. Working in the restaurant and catering industry meant we ate out a lot and never had time to cook from scratch at home. I like baking too… and it shows!

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Village Whiskey

Village Whiskey photo courtesy of Garces Group.

Q: What do you love about Philadelphia!

A: EVERYTHING! I really love the waterfront, Spruce Street Harbor Park, Cherry Street Pier, Winterfest…not to mention the awesome food there.

Spruce Street Harbor Park photo by M. Stanley courtesy of the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation.

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Steve’s Steaks – the original in Northeast Philly

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: Bassetts Ice Cream

Q: Favorite sports team/player?

A: J.T. Realmuto and the Phillies, hands down

Q: Favorite local college?

A: LaSalle

 

Kevin M. Kelly, Director of Meetings & Special Events, Villanova University

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Cancelling meetings globally, hotels going out of business, colleagues losing their jobs, industries that support meetings going out of business.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: Getting Hotels to waive the cancellation fees and restructuring future contracts and clauses for existing contracts and purchasing insurance to offset non-performance when we start meetings.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I’m able to grow a beard.

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Yanni’s in Lansdale

Q: What do you love about Philadelphia!

A: Great docs and hospitals

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Jim’s

Jim's Steaks photo by B. Krist courtesy of Visit Philadelphia.

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: Dutch Eating Place

Q: Favorite sports team/player?

A: Kobe Bryant

Q: Favorite local college?

A: Villanova

 

Tori Boos, Director of Marketing, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

Photo by J. Pellegrini for Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center.

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Moving forward, it is keeping our employees and guests safe that will be the biggest challenge. There are still so many unknowns about the virus, we are all looking forward to getting back to work and are committed to doing so following new guidelines.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: I’m proud that we’ve been able to take so many of our work duties remote, including some operational duties. The flexibility that we have with technology these days means that administrative work like payroll can be done remote as well as videos of Chefs doing Research and Develop of new items.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: How terrible I have been about staying in touch with friends and family – and how nice it has been to reconnect and have FaceTime and Zoom Happy Hours with them.

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Vedge

Q: What do you love about Philadelphia?

A: Springtime in Philadelphia! The city is truly in full bloom.

Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: John’s Roast Pork.

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: Termini Brother’s cannolis – YUM!

Q: Favorite sports team/player?

A: Pat “the Bat” Burrell – Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies mural at Citizens Bank Park. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Q: Favorite local college?

A: WE ARE…Penn State!

 

Michael Brennan, VP Conference Management, Anthony J. Jannetti, Inc.

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Increase in workload. It is taking a lot longer to get anything done, email, video calls are too consuming.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: Hotel world – addressed performance and cancellation clauses differently. Office Setting – revisiting levels of productivity and workload. There are areas where communication lines need to be improved.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I need to work in the office setting!

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Probably a local restaurant – need to support the little guys!

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Jim’s on South

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: Bassetts and DiNic’s

DiNic's Roast Pork at Reading Terminal Market. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB

Q: Favorite sports team/player?

A: EAGLES – still hope for Carson!

Q: Favorite local college?

A: Widener University of course.

 

Jill Bodensteiner, Director of Athletics, Saint Joseph’s University

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Providing support to our 475 student-athletes in a variety of areas including virtual learning support, travel home (especially our international students), mental health, physical health, financial, etc. Also, scenario planning for 2020-21 academic year and potential impact on athletics and allocating resources in light of revenue changes.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: We have worked hard to create a comprehensive plan for the return of several seniors whose seasons were cut short. We’ve moved our mental health and sports medicine functions primarily online with HIPAA compliant modules and we have developed new ways to engage prospective student-athletes in light of the recruiting “dead period.” Continuing challenges will be revenue generation and scenario-planning, particularly as it relates to the timing of seasons.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I am definitely an introvert.

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Wherever I can get the best Indian food.

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Larry’s Steaks

Q: Favorite vendor at Reading Terminal Market?

A: Riehl Cheese Shop

Q: Favorite sports team/player?

A: 76ers, Zach Ertz

Philadelphia 76ers mural by Glossblack. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Q: Favorite local college?

A: Saint Joseph’s University

 

John Page, President, Spectra Venue Management

Q: What are some of the real-time challenges you are facing?

A: Venue closures, furlough and separation with employees.

Q: What are some challenges you have been able to address and what challenges are going to change your business moving forward?

A: Cost mitigation, cash management, client expectations. How do we open the venues back up and are there governmental restrictions.

Q: What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself during this stay-at-home time?

A: I can work from home.

Q: When the stay-at-home restrictions are over, what is the first restaurant you will visit?

A: Anything but takeout.

Q: Best cheesesteak in the city?

A: Geno’s

Photo by J. Fusco.

Q: Favorite local college?

A: Villanova

Q: Favorite sports team?

A: Flyers

Wells Fargo Center. Photo by K. Huff for PHLCVB.

Cover photo by J. Pellegrini for Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center

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