💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.
Ten crisp $100 bills, each signed by Charlie Sheen. To some, that might sound like a collector’s item. But to Rob Knelly, it was just sorely-needed cash.
Knelly was the server who LeSean McCoy famously stiffed on a tip after a Sept. 2014 meal at at neon-lit burger joint PYT. The former Eagle left just 20 cents on a $60+ check, prompting PYT proprietor Tom “Tommy Up” Updegrov to post the receipt on Facebook, calling out the sports star for his stinginess.
Updegrove said he did not expect the response the post received, getting shared 3,258 times, and picked up by media outlets around the globe.
It spread so far that it reached the region of the internet where former Hollywood stars grasp at the new attention. More than three years after Charlie Sheen first joined Twitter, racking up 600,000 followers in eight hours, he decided the PYT tip controversy was the perfect opportunity to weigh in.
Sheen wrote a miniature note pledging $1,000 to Knelly, and then he actually delivered.
“I got to have the most amazing back-and-forth convos with Sheen’s manager and ‘receptionist,’” Tommy Updegrove told Billy Penn. “They were pretty funny.”
After working out logistics, by the end of the month, a FedEx envelope arrived at the restaurant with those 10 C-notes and a Charlie Sheen photo inside. According to a Philadelphia Daily News report, Knelly donated $100 to PAWS no-kill animal rescue, and used the rest to pay off bills.
Updegrove said he’d welcome the actor to his bar if Sheen wanted to visit, although the original location of PYT closed for good last month. “Piazza had slowly been not feeling exciting to me,” Updegrove said.
Meanwhile, PYT Burger is burning bright on the Bowery in Manhattan, where a similarly neon-filled outpost launched this September.
“Busy. Busy. Way different!” said Updegrove, describing his New York experience so far. Asked what’s selling best, he could hardly pick an item. “We are doing our all-time best-sellers here so they are all really popular.”
Among the hot dishes: A cheesesteak pretzel, the chocolate bacon donut burger and a Jameson pickleback burger (with fried pickles and whiskey-glazed bacon). Also on the menu is a burger that sells for a cool $64.
“It’s 100 percent Wagyu rib-eye with 25 percent fat,” Updegrove explained. “At the shop we get it from, they serve it as beef sashimi.”
Do people buy it? That’s affirmative. “The area we’re in is a really cool mix of locals, partners and weirdos, with a lot of burger aficionados,” said Up.
He added: “I miss the hell out of Philly.”