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.
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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?