by Michael Klein
Conor Murphy has left the general manager’s post at Reading Terminal Market, six months after signing on at the outset of the pandemic.
Describing the departure blandly as “parted ways,” the nonprofit market’s board issued a statement Thursday night praising Murphy as “a visionary and a creative talent,” while acknowledging that “as the pandemic has dragged on, the needs of the market have changed.”
The statement said board chairman Al Mezzaroba will run the market in the interim.
Murphy, who set the market’s 80 merchants into a tizzy over his unexplained departure this week, declined to comment. The board’s statement quoted Murphy as saying: “COVID has been tough mentally and my focus right now is getting some rest and hopefully being able to travel to see family in Europe. There are great businesses at the market and I look forward to returning as a shopper soon. The market is an icon and the show goes on.”
Murphy’s departure caps a difficult time at the 127-year-old market at 12th and Filbert Streets, which started a GoFundMe drive in October to raise money. Three market employees were laid off around Thanksgiving.
Foot traffic is down markedly, and its seating area is closed because of the ban on indoor dining. Local office workers, citizens on jury duty, conventioneers, and tourists have largely vanished from its Chinatown neighborhood since mid-March, when the pandemic shuttered many surrounding businesses. The market reported 7.6 million visitors in 2019.
Murphy, who reportedly beat out about 50 applicants for the position, succeeded Anuj Gupta, who announced his resignation in February 2020 after five years to become chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.). Gupta, who left in April, stayed on briefly as an adviser.
In an interview with The Inquirer in late April 2020, the Irish-born Murphy, who is in his mid-30s, said he started his career as a risk consultant and project manager in London at the professional-services firm Ernst & Young before going on to expand his interest in entrepreneurship.
He moved to Philadelphia in 2014 to work at a distilling company for the local coffee roaster La Colombe and later started a private consulting business and coffee company making specialty blends specifically for cocktails.