The signature sandwich at John's Roast Pork

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If you want Philly’s ultimate sandwich today, you’re out of luck. John’s Roast Pork is closed today after thieves broke in and stole more than $5,000 in cash from the South Philly icon.

According to third-generation owner John Bucci, the perpetrators got into the standalone shack via the air duct, breaking a brand-new exhaust system and shimmying down the vent.

“It was probably two or more people working together,” Bucci said, “because that vent is the only way out. Someone had to drop a rope.”

Inside, the thieves cut the lines to the point-of-sale system and nabbed the cash box. It was full of money for the next day of business plus an additional $1,500 earmarked for Be The Match, the charity organization through which Bucci got the bone marrow transplant that saved his life after being diagnosed with Leukemia 10 years ago.

Frank Olivieri Jr. of Pat’s King of Steaks reached out early Friday morning to cover that $1,500 from his shop’s new Spread the Whiz charity. It’ll be the organization’s very first donation.

“She was supposed to pick up that $1,500 on Thursday!” Bucci said. “Something came up and she couldn’t make it.”

Later Friday morning, Adam Spivak of the Electric Factory also showed up with a $1,500 check to replace the charity money.

John’s Roast Pork’s general manager discovered the break-in when he arrived to open the shop this morning around 6:30 a.m. Police dusted for fingerprints, but there was no security footage to review — because the thieves cut the wires on the security cameras and actually took the entire DVR hard drive with them, Bucci said.

It’s the first burglary in more than 15 years at the shop tucked behind a Columbus Boulevard shopping center, according to Bucci. He didn’t have an alarm system set up because he wasn’t expecting a break-in: “I was always more afraid of someone walking in and robbing us at gunpoint.”

Aside from the loss of cash, Bucci will lose the receipts from a full day of business — and Fridays are one of his busiest days during the colder months.

“We do almost nothing Monday through Thursday in the winter,” he said. “Fridays and Saturdays are how we stay alive. I feel bad for my employees, too, because most of them live paycheck-to-paycheck and we can’t open today.”

He hopes people who can’t get their cheesesteak or roast pork or beef fix today will visit on Monday, President’s Day. He expects to be back open as soon as tomorrow.

For now, he has around 12 dozen rolls that he hopes someone can make use of.

“I’m leaving them on the tables in the enclosure outside,” he said. “I hope someone can use them.”

Danya Henninger was first editor and then editor/director of Billy Penn at WHYY from 2019 to 2023.