Penn Station restaurant revamp, but do commuters want it?

More upscale eateries may be in the cards for Penn Station.

Will New Yorkers ever want to eat more than grab-and-go foods in Penn Station?

According to Crain’s New York Business, the dining selections along the busy Long Island Railroad level of the station are going to be revamped. Sources told Crain’s that Vornado, the Manhattan-based real estate conglomerate with extensive holdings in the area, is planning on sprucing up the West 33rd Street passageway by sweeping out its fast-food joints. 

KFC, Pizza Hut and eight other eateries operated by the Riese Organization are supposedly getting the axe as a part of Vornado’s plan to, as Chairman Steven Roth said, “populate them with better, more contemporary, more exciting tenants and restaurants,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

That seems to indicate that Vornado wants to replace fast-food restaurants with higher-quality restaurants. The immediate benefit is that the Penn Station transit hub would offer higher quality food for its commuters and also be able to appeal to a more well-heeled clientele, but is that what commuters at Penn Station want?

amNewYork spoke with nearly a dozen people at Penn on Tuesday, and most said they’d prefer to eat at fast-food restaurants there.

Mike Madden from Long Island was stunned to hear of the changes and doubts Penn Station will be able to attract more customers to its restaurants.

“That’s crazy that they’re closing these places. I don’t think you’re gonna get any high quality customers in here,” Madden said. “You can step outside and go to a nice restaurant if you want. I don’t know why you’d have high quality food here.”

John Bendokas, who only eats once a month in Penn Station during his commute home to New Jersey, believes that it is the wrong place for more upscale eateries.

“I understand the point of what they’re trying to do, but what they need to recognize is that millions of people pass by here everyday, and between destinations A and B they have very limited time. They want something fast,” Bendokas said. “Penn Station is not dining. It’s grabbing.”

The plan will be detailed in a report, the “Penn Station Visioning Study,” soon to be released by the railroads, according to Crain’s.

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