The fluorescent orange benches outside of Geno’s Steaks are empty. Same for the red tables at Pat’s King of Steaks across the street. Dalessandro’s Steaks and Hoagies in Roxborough has been closed for weeks.
These are strange times for the purveyors of Philadelphia’s most famous product, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports.
Philadelphia’s cheesesteak royalty is feeling the pain of social distancing orders and business closures, reeling from a steep drop-off in customers that usually line up around the clock for a taste of the city's celebrated sandwich.
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Pat's owner Frank Olivieri, Jr. has been working in his family’s shop since he was 11 years old. Now, at 56, Olivieri said the coronavirus pandemic has presented a challenge like nothing he’s ever seen before. He said he tried treating the situation like a particularly bad blizzard, but this crisis has already lasted much longer.
“It's eerily quiet,” Olivieri said.
Pat’s and neighboring Geno’s depend on more than just tourists for their livelihoods. Crowds from concerts and sporting events often find themselves at the corner of 9th Street and E. Passyunk Avenue at the end of the night, often lining up for cheesesteaks until the early hours of the morning. The cancellation of events across the city to comply with social distancing directives are hitting both businesses hard.