Pat’s was the first steak shop in Philly, and is credited as the first place in the US to sell a steak sandwich. The history of how it got to selling the iconic sandwiches in the first place is unusual, according to Frank Jr., whose great-uncle ("my grandfather’s older brother") opened his eponymous business in 1930. Back then, it was a hot dog stand on the triangular corner of 9th St, Wharton St, and Passyunk Ave, and Pat was eating his own menu every day -- that is, until he got sick of it.
"He sent my grandfather [his brother, Harry] to the butcher to get some steak," says Frank, "and Pat cooked it up on his open-air hot dog grill and was going to have it with an Italian loaf and some grilled onions."
One of Pat's regular customers, a local cab driver who came by for a hot dog every day, caught him in the act, and asked to try one of these new concoctions himself. (This was 1933.) "My grandfather said, 'I don’t have any more, but you can have half,'" says Olivieri. "So he gave it to him and that’s how it started."
As for Geno's, Frank, Jr. was two years old when Joey Vento opened shop in 1966, so his firsthand memory is admittedly foggy. But after 10 years of peaceful, side-by-side cohabitation, we find the first inkling of a feud, thanks entirely to a little movie called Rocky.