The Steaks Are High

Barack Obama stops by Pat's, eats a sandwich, blows Catholic minds.

By Brian McManus
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Apr. 23, 2008

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Over the next three hours the show hums through more guests--an Obama volunteer from Montana, state Sen. Anthony Williams from Philly's 8th District, Democratic campaign strategist Saul Shorr, special counsel to Bill Clinton Lanny Davis--all of them finding new and exciting ways to say the same thing regarding today's historic record turnout.

Rebecca Roberts' mother Cokie joins the party at Pat's, sits with the fruit of her loins and Mathieu for a segment or five just as a busload of the Catholics arrives. They triple the noise and commotion surrounding Pat's and the POTUS microphones. The buzz they produce is near deafening.

And then come the John Dougherty trucks. Goddamn John Dougherty trucks, three of them--tan, white and red--each canvassing Pat's, circling every few minutes, the bullhorns atop them blaring a prerecorded message: "TODAY IS ELECTION DAY. PLEASE VOTE FOR JOHN DOUGHERTY."

Roberts smiles at her producer and shrugs in a playful way that connotes, "Hey, live radio, right?" A sound engineer adjusts levels in between bites of cheese fries.

Horrible place for a live radio broadcast.

Then, a tip. POTUS '08 executive producer Cameron Gray offers with a sly grin: "Don't go anywhere, and get your camera ready."

Soon Pat's is surrounded by a caravan of SUVs and police cars. Secret Service men begin clearing a path. A river of hundreds of men bearing cameras pore around the condiment bar.

Barack and Michelle Obama step out. Catholic schoolchildren lose their fucking minds.

Tears. Screams. Pictures. Hysteria.

Soon what was a noisy-but-uneventful radio broadcast becomes the center of the universe.

Obama's so cool and collected while making the rounds, he makes Butler look schizo. He orders a "Whiz wit'" (Frommer's), and sits down to lunch with a family eating nearby, casually chatting them up while every bite of sandwich, every sip of Pepsi, is photographed by the gathering storm of news media.

After eating, he asks a member of his Secret Service team to help him up. "I'm stuffed," he says to fits of laughter from the hundreds that surround him.

He walks to the north side of Pat's, heads to the POTUS broadcast. He's not in Indiana yet. Roberts and Mathieu play it coolly, ask about the economy and what constitutes a win in Pennsylvania. (Obama's answer: "Fifty plus one.")

Obama heads back to his caravan while signing autographs. Even signs someone's cell phone.

Pat's is a terribly stupid place to broadcast a live radio show. Except, of course, when it isn't.

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Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. Anonymous said... on Jan 21, 2013 at 11:28PM

“Pat's sucks!”

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2. Anonymous said... on Mar 25, 2013 at 12:20PM

“pat's is awesome. best steaks in philly!”

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3. Joe Green said... on Apr 10, 2013 at 02:46PM

“Always go to Pat's when I'm back in Philly and it's the place I recommend to friends I know who are visiting. Something about the history of the place make it special.”

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4. john morrow said... on Jan 23, 2014 at 12:51PM

“I love Pat's. My son prefers Jim's.”

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5. Julie said... on Feb 21, 2014 at 12:07AM

“I lOvE pAtS!!!!! P.A. All Day Son!!”

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6. IntheKnow said... on Jul 1, 2014 at 09:22AM

“Pat's is decent and respect the originator, but JIM'S STEAKS are the best. Try them both and you'll see.”

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7. Anonymous said... on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:38PM


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8. GUNNY said... on Aug 7, 2014 at 05:33PM

“I was stationed in South Philadelphia in the 70's and Pat's was our choice for cheesesteaks! I have family I New England and friends in D.C. I exit the New Jersey turnpike, go into Philly to Pat's for a meal regardless of the time of day.
Always th ed same "Wit, mushrooms, peppers, whiz!"”

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9. Bill DeLussey said... on Sep 1, 2014 at 11:31AM

“I've had steaks all around the entire city. I find Pat's to be the best and no other shop gets the right balance of steak, onion and cheese-whiz. The roll is perfect, as the roll is the most important part of the sandwich. Finally, when you get food at Pat's you're not only eating a sandwich but eating history. One of the coolest things to do there is to stand where Rocky stood in the movie. And seeing my daughter stand there as I and my dad and pop pop did brought tears to my eyes. Pat's- You're Awesome!! Gimmie one whiz wit and, as always, one or two to go. Thanks.”

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10. Bob said... on Jan 21, 2015 at 07:38PM

“Came into town to taste the famous steaks sandwich from both Pat's / Geno's. We had to go to back to Pat's. Hands down the best....Good Job!”

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11. Carrie said... on Mar 29, 2015 at 04:37PM

“Will be back in Philly next month after a 9-year absence. First stop: Pat's Steaks. The best!”

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12. andrew betancourt said... on Aug 19, 2015 at 03:22PM

“Every time I visit Phila. on my annual visit, I make it a point to tour the 9th street market and then go to Pats for a cheese steak with peppers. Its the best. why there are so many detractors and insults is beyond my understanding. Pat's is a business that should be honored and respected.”


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