Cheesesteak options in University City are about to get a royal upgrade: Steve’s Prince of Steaks is opening at 39th and Sansom streets.
A lease has been signed for a space on the ground floor of the Hamilton Court complex, according to Steve’s owner Steve Iliescu, who expects to open the shop’s doors sometime this spring. The building is currently undergoing extensive renovations by developer Post Brothers, which is modernizing it with furnished apartments and an onsite gym.
“We’ve been wanting to go open in University City for a long time,” Iliescu says. “We were looking for the right spot there since before we opened in Center City.”
Iliescu is especially excited about connecting with students. “It’s on the side of our bags: ‘One bite and you’re a loyal subject for life,’” he says. “We want them to become fans early on.”
To that end, he’s planning a grand opening giveaway: Show your student ID and your first cheesesteak is free.
Iliescu founded Steve’s Prince of Steaks in 1980 in Northeast Philly, and has since expanded to four other locations, including the Center City shop at 16th and Chestnut, which opened in 2013. His son Ross Iliescu and daughter Abbe Arno help run the growing business.
The University City shop will operate similarly to the other locations, with one stainless steel-clad order window for steaks — single slab meat on a soft roll with either Whiz or American cheese sauce — and another for fries and soda.
However, since the the West Philly storefront is nearly twice the size of the others (2,400 square feet), one side of the space will be dedicated to offering an expanded menu that includes pizza, salads and wings.
Why pizza? Delivery. “If people are throwing a party, we want to give them options,” Iliescu explains. “We’ll still do the sandwiches, that will always be our specialty, but this way people can also get pizza without ordering from somewhere else.” (Makes lots of sense if you think about the fact that just about every pizza shop in town also sells cheesesteaks.)
Iliescu expects the delivery service to be popular with the many hospital workers in the neighborhood. Stay tuned for more details as launch day approaches.