It was a feast for the eyes in South Philadelphia Monday night. A birthday party for a longtime restaurant owner turned into a giant effort to build a 500-foot cheesesteak.
Geno Vento, owner of Geno’s, told NBC10 the idea began during a birthday dinner with Rene Kobeitri, owner of Rim Cafe.
“I said this year, ‘I want to make it big,’” Kobeitri said. “Make a big party for everyone so why not bring everyone together and have a couple thousand people?”
The idea was put into action as several chefs put together a stretch of tables more than two blocks long, blocking 9th Street in South Philadelphia.
“One of the friends at the table said, ‘Why not a big cheesesteak?’ And his motor started going and before you know it, we’re making a 500-foot cheesesteak,” Vento said.
Using hundreds of rolls, hundreds of pounds of meat and cheese that fell like rain, the chefs went to work, creating a variety of flavors.
“A ravioli cheesesteak, marinara cheesesteak, a Spanish cheesesteak,” Vento said.
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The chefs also made pretzels, including a pretzel roll with onions on top and a stout beer mixed with cream cheese spread in the middle.
For the chefs, it wasn’t just about the spectacle but also a fun way to bring people together after a tough time during the pandemic.
“I’m just so glad as a country we came together to get this thing under control enough to be out here without masks and see each other’s faces,” Spiro Tsibogos, one of the chefs, told NBC10. “Talk to each other. Smile at each other.”
Ultimately, the cheesesteak was 510 feet long, beating the chefs' goal of 480 feet, though it hasn’t officially been deemed a world record yet. It won't be the only attempt.
“Next one is going to be more crazy, get ready baby,” Kobeitri said. “And I’m going to make it happen!”