Hot Chef: Joe Groh talks about the controversial name change

Joe's Steak + Soda Shop is going steady after its name change. (Photo Credit: Tood Trice)
Joe Groh owns the recently renamed Joe’s Steak + Soda Shop.
Credit: Todd Trice

You may recognize his name as owner and head chef of the sandwich spot formerly known as Chink’s.  Thanks to a little rebranding, it’s now Joe Groh’s name lit up outside. According to Groh, regulars who’d been frequenting Chink’s for decades swore never to return once it was renamed Joe’s Steaks + Soda Shop, claiming that he gave in to the “PC Police.” And they may have been true to their word — business was down immediately following the change. But the chef is confident that this Northeast Philly cheesesteak staple isn’t going away.  

Back in August you guys had an eat-in where customers were showing up to support the name change. Were you surprised by the turnout?
It was phenomenal, I was very happy. We’ve made new regular customers from those two weeks. Then there were others who said they couldn’t make it to the eat-in but came later to introduce themselves.

Since then, how’s business been? There was a hit in sales over the summer, right?
We’ve had a lot of people upset with the name change, yes. They don’t understand why I did it, but they’re not in my shoes. They think I bent to the PC Police. I bust my ass every single day to put out a good product, and for some to say that I’m a sellout – well, it hurts. But business has been steady.

You guys just introduced cheesesteak kits. What are those?
I’m really, really excited about these because now you can order from us, construct it yourself and have a party. It’s based around football season, but we plan to keep it around all year. We provide cooked meat or chicken, put it in a sealed container, with condiments on the side. We supply the rolls and any cheese you might want. I would prefer that every person I make a sandwich for would eat it here, but I expect this to really take off.

So the idea is people can have a bunch of cheesesteaks at home and watch the Eagles game. Are you an at-home watcher, or do you go to a bar to watch football?
Oh, at home, for sure. I like to sit at home where I’ve got Direct TV. I used to go to the games and tailgate and make cheesesteaks for everyone.

Do you have a favorite ingredient to cook with?
Well, we cook the mushrooms in light Italian dressing here because it keeps them nice and moist. Does that count?


Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.


OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…


Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.


African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."


'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.


Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.


Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.


Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.