Philadelphia, PA – From Astra Foods to Dalessandro’s Steaks, the Greeks of Philadelphia have their name all over the 1st big cheesesteak weekend celebrating the historic symbol tied to the City of Brotherly Love.
This morning, Fox 29’s “Good Morning Philadelphia,” show, announced and featured Philly’s Cheesesteak Festival weekend with Steve Kotridis, owner and spokesperson of Dalessandro’s Steaks. Reporters Jennaphr Frederick and Chris Murphy went on a rant about Dalessandro’s, outside their center city studio, giving it the thumbs up as their favorite.
“When the locals talk about where to go – it’s Dalessandro’s”, said reporter Frederick. Greek-American Kotridis was present on the morning show, along with other famed Philly cheesesteak shop owners. When asked about what makes a great steak, he said “It’s both, bread and delivered fresh”.
The Greek owned and operated Dalessandro’s Cheesesteaks and Hoagies had climbed back into the ranks some years ago after Kotridis bought the struggling business. From the ashes, he reintroduced the steak, made the way it was originally intended, fresh cut meat and bread-served fresh. Now it’s ranked at the top of the pack, year after year. Tonight Show host, Jimmy Fallon is a regular who pops in and has even created a television ad for his late night show using the popular steak shop. “I’ve been on this show a few times before. Any time we get the call for a commercial, TV show or feature I’m here to show people our product. Today I got up at 4:30 am and got cooking at 5:30 am. All the other big players, like Tony Luke’s, Steve’s Prince of Steak, were all in the studio, but I went first.” said Kotridis.
“It’s a Philly Thing, Philadelphia’s First Cheesesteak Festival” is scheduled to take place at Lincoln Financial Field this Saturday. More than 25,000 tickets have already been sold. The celebration will feature the world’s biggest cheesesteak being built along with a cheesesteak eating contest sponsored by Astra Foods. In addition, 40 cheesesteak venders, a GoPro cheesesteak cam, and so much more will be part of the daylong event.
One of the big sponsor is none other than Greek owned Astra Foods , which sits at the edge of the historic Greek neighborhood in Upper Darby. It makes its home just a few blocks away from St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox church, where the company has grown from a local distributor to a regional and national giant.
Distribution of the renowned Philly steak has proven to be a thriving industry many Greek owned businesses have had success in as well. In fact, Greek owned and operated steak distribution companies are number one both regionally and nationally. They control 45% of the national market and 70% of the local-regional market.
Astra Foods and Original Philly Cheesesteak Co. make up the bulk of the manufacturing. Some of the distribution has grown into Canada and possible outside of the North American market. Philly’s Best Steak Co and Drexel Foods Inc are also key players in this growing industry that Greeks entered just a short time ago. In less than one generation, immigrant and first generation Greeks have come to dominate this industry that symbolizes the City of Philadelphia. Future historians will likely speak about the Greeks involved in shaping the tradition of the cheesesteak industry as they do about Greeks in the diner business. Perhaps it’s a future project for the Greek American Heritage Society of Philadelphia to record and feature.