Penn Station Is Losing Its Fast Food

May 27, 2014 | Andy Cush

Spending any time inside Penn Station is a waking nightmare, and the only respite from the horror is an enormous beer and some fried chicken or a disgusting slice of pizza. Now, it seems the station’s underground oasis of grease and salt isn’t long for for this world.

As Crain’s reports, Penn Station’s landlord is forcing the Riese Organization, which operates KFC, Pizza Hut, and eight other fast food joints, to leave the LIRR terminal in favor of fancier eateries. That means no more Double Down before hopping on the train out to Long Island. It also means 130 workers at Riese establishments will lose their jobs.

Vornado, the landlord, is taking aim at other businesses within Penn as well:

Riese’s fast-food exit will be the first, but others may follow as their leases expire. Vornado did not comment for this story, but another major tenant, Steven Kaplan, could be asked to change his offerings or give up some of his leases, which still have years on them, according to sources. He operates about 10 mostly grab-and-go food outlets, and a shoe-repair shop, along the north side of the same passageway—including Moe’s Southwest Grill, Rose’s Pizza and Pasta, and Planet Smoothie. He did not return calls for comment.

Dennis Riese of the Riese organization believes Vornado is looking to replicate the high-class feel of Grand Central Stationat Penn: “They see what happened at Grand Central, where there are trendy local food shops.”

A full-scale makeover wouldn’t be unwelcome, but if Penn Station is going to remain a dank hellhole, it would be a shame to lose its attendant menu.

(Photo: @Connie Ma)