The “Real Philly” Experience


By: Kelly Mathis
Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach

Trying an original Philly Cheesesteak is quite the experience!

A Word of Warning! “Be prepared and know how to order, because the service is fast and the line keeps moving. For example, on a cheese steak with onions specify which kind of cheese you’d like (Provolone, American or Cheese Whiz). By the time you have given your order, your money will be taken and your sandwich will be out the window nice and hot! At the next window you can pick up your soda, fries and coffee”.

“Where are you from, Alabama?” That is what the man at the window asked me before I could even say anything.  I just stood there amazed and said with my southern accent, “No, actually I’m from Virginia/Tennessee”.  After I got over the initial shock of the question, I quietly turned and asked my Philly friend from college to order for me.  My friend proceeded like this, “wiz wit-out” (meaning cheese wiz without onions).

We quickly paid for our $8.50 cheese steaks, $2.50 fries, $1.50 drinks, ran to the car and I enjoyed my first bite of “REAL” cheese steak with cheese wiz.  The taste of the steak, however, was priceless.

To back up a little, the hardest part of my “real cheese steak” decision came down to, Geno’s or Pat’s.  As I pondered on the question, my basketball mind decided to interrupt and lead me to Pat’s.  Yes, once again I probably shouldn’t have mentioned that I couldn’t finish my cheese steak but also I decided to go with Pat’s because of Pat Summit.  The real story of Pat’s is as follows:

Pat's is a no-frills cheesesteak stand.

Pat’s King of Steaks® was founded by Pat Olivieri in 1930. Pat had a modest hot-dog stand at the base of the famous Italian Market in South Philadelphia. One day he decided to have something quite different for lunch, so he sent for some chopped meat from the butcher shop. He cooked the meat on his hot dog grill, placed the meat onto an Italian roll, and dressed it with some onions. Just as he went to take a bite, a cab driver who ate a hot dog everyday asked what he had there. Pat said that it was his lunch. The cabbie insisted that Pat make him one. The cabbie took one bite and said to Pat, “Hey…..forget ’bout those hot dogs, you should sell these.” The steak sandwich was born. As the years passed, both employees and customers alike demanded change..cheese was added.

What a hit!

I am very proud to say that I am officially part of the South Philadelphia tradition.  Not only I am a part of this tradition but these people are also part of the Pat’s experience:  Vice President Biden, Senator John McCain, Governor Ed Rendell, Larry King, N’SYNC, Brian Setzer, Steve Case (AOL) and Rachel Ray.


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