By Admin | October 25, 2007
Frankie Oliveri, Jr.’s grandfather Pat invented the steak sandwich in South Philadelphia in 1930. He started selling the sandwiches from first his hot dog cart and then from his store at Ninth and Wharton streets, just off the Italian Market in South Philadelphia. Frankie, Jr. gives us his thoughts on his family’s business.
What is your own personal favorite sandwich or meal at Pat’s Steaks?
I love an inside-out cheese steak with cheez whiz and raw onions
What is the busiest day of the year for you?
The Wednesday night before Thanksgiving.
Who do you consider your biggest competition in the steak sandwich business? Geno’s Steaks across the street from you on Ninth Street? Jim’s on South Street? Rick’s in the Reading Terminal Market? Tony Lukes’s?
Tony Luke’s and Jim’s. My cousin Rick is too far away and Geno’s? Well, he is his worst enemy. Enough said.
How many family members work in the business started by your grandfather?
I am the only one who is still on the job. However you can still see my parents most days of the week
Why haven’t you opened up another store or shop?
Our family had other store running years ago, but they have since closed. This is our only store and will be for now.
Some of your competitors have a policy that all orders must be given in English. Do you let customers order in Spanish?
Unlike other places, we have a multi-cultural staff. So we can understand most languages including English, Spanish, Italian, French, and the universal language cash.
Your store is open 24 hours a day. Do you ever close?
We close Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years Eve. Other than that we are 24/7.
Do any of the Phillies, Eagles, or Flyers eat at Pat’s?
When ever a new player comes to town they get the royal treatment and they are at our store. Mostly we have them inside and have them make a steak or two….. just in case their day job doesn’t work out. This is PHILLY.
What other famous patrons have eaten at Pat’s Steaks?
Every one from President Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, Mrs. Bush, Van Halen, Old Blue Eyes ( Frank), Jimmy Buffet, and countless others.
[left to right: Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Frankie Olivieri, Jr.]
Do you ever eat at your competitors’ to see what they are up to?
Well, I love Tony Luke’s Pork. I really enjoy it. As for steaks, well, the Barkley Prime has that $100 cheese steak that comes close to ours.I can only tell you what I know. Steve the Prince of Steaks is the only other steak that I have ever eaten in the state of Pennsylvania. It was great!
As for that place across the street… not if my life depended on it.
Did you ever consider doing something else besides going into the family business?
Years ago I started a baking business. Now that’s work. What the heck was I thinking? I also have my real estate license in New Jersey, I do that for kicks.
Do you ever get behind the grill or cash register and work a shift?
Sometimes I do. I miss those days of 10 to 15 hours over the grill. I really do enjoy working at night with all of those crazy characters that come out.
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