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Hot Chef: John Stritzinger is ready for Restaurant Week

Del Frisco's skipped the traditional summer slowdown

John Stritzinger runs the kitchen at steakhouse Del Frisco's.  Credit:  Del Frisco's John Stritzinger runs the kitchen at steakhouse Del Frisco's.
Credit: Del Frisco's

If you think Philly is a ghost town in the summer — what with everyone fleeing to the mountains’ cooler climate or the shore’s enticing beaches — you might change you mind had you stepped into Del Frisco’s. The Center City steakhouse has remained busy all season, which of course pleased chef John Stritzinger. We caught up with Stritzinger shortly after he returned from his own vacation from the city.

You were just on vacation yourself. Where did you go?
We were in the Outer Banks with my brother and his family and my sister and her family. It was the first time we were down there, and the first time the whole family went together. We already have a house rented for next year.

Sounds great. So you’re probably wishing you were still there.
Nah, it’s good to be back. If I kept living like that I wouldn’t live long.

How are things going at Del Frisco’s? Is it starting to pick up now that summer’s ending and people are coming back from vacations?
Our summer has been amazing, actually. Except for one week we haven’t been slow. I couldn’t ask for anything better, the restaurant is full each night.

And you guys will participate in Restaurant Week this month, too. What’s that experience like?
For Restaurant Week we do 700-800 dinners a night, and on Fridays it’s 1,000. It’s a lot of fun. We have a lot of long-term employees in front of house and back of house, so it’s like a well-oiled machine. It makes us gear up to be ready for the December holiday rush.

How have you seen the Center City dining experience change in the years that you’ve been here?
There are a lot more steakhouses than there used to be. And they all did well, except for Union Trust. I’ve seen a lot of corporate restaurants open and do well, too. And new restaurants are still coming in, like Ocean Prime, which is opening in our backyard. It’s cool because there are enough people in Center City for each restaurant to be in business and there’s enough variety of cuisine here to make everyone happy.

 
 
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