Pat’s Steaks Pulls Out of Penn State Expansion Deal

Plus, the South Philly Pat's Steaks will soon be replaced by a food truck for months.

Pat's Steaks owner Frank Olivieri, is no longer planning to expand to Penn State

Pat’s Steaks owner Frank Olivieri, who is no longer planning to expand to Penn State. / Photograph by Team Kielinski

Lots of people were surprised (including us!) when longtime Pat’s Steaks owner Frank Olivieri revealed to us in a recent interview that he was planning to open a Pat’s Steaks at Penn State. Others in his family had tried and failed to capitalize on the Pat’s name over the years. But Olivieri always seemed content with the original South Philly location. And why wouldn’t he be? The storied sandwich shop has made him a wealthy man. In any event, Olivieri’s Penn State expansion plans are no more.

“I’ve simply reconsidered,” Olivieri told us on Monday morning.

Olivieri went on to explain that there were no contracts or leases signed. No deal had been finalized. That deal would have had him partnering with Rob Wasserman. If that names sounds familiar to you, it’s because Wasserman is the owner of Rouge. He’s also founder of Philly’s Burger Brawl. The idea was that Wasserman and Olivieri would open a standalone Pat’s Steaks at Penn State. Wasserman already has restaurant operations there, including Snap Custom Pizza and Big Dean’s Hot Chicken.

When we talked to Olivieri earlier this month, he told us there could be a Pat’s Steaks at Penn State as early as 2024. But now, that’s not happening.

Olivieri says there isn’t any bad blood or drama. He insists it was just a business decision that he made for a variety of reasons. One reason is that he wants to focus on the major renovations that Pat’s Steaks in South Philly will undergo beginning in December.

Those renovation are so major that Olivieri has commissioned a 22-foot-long Pat’s Steaks food truck that will sit outside of the South Philly shop from December until at least the end of February during said renovations. The $250,000 food truck will be the only place to buy Pat’s Steaks in Philadelphia until the shop reopens.

“The truck is essentially an exact replica of the shop,” explains Olivieri, the grandson of Harry Olivieri and the grand-nephew of Pat Olivieri, the two who invented the cheesesteak in the 1930s.

After the renovations, the truck naturally isn’t going to the junkyard. Olivieri intends to use the Pat’s Steaks food truck for catering. He’ll bring his famous sandwiches to backyard parties, weddings, tailgating events and the like.

He also says he’s not giving up on the idea of expansion — to Penn State or elsewhere — completely. But now just isn’t the right time.

“I realized that I had to take care of the golden goose that is laying the golden eggs,” he says. “And my shop is certainly laying lots of golden eggs.”