Little Pete’s was Adam Logan’s go-to late-night spot. He’s not sure what his next one will be now that the diner at 17th and Chancellor will be razed to make way for a hotel after 39 years in business.
The mood at Little Pete’s farewell block party Tuesday afternoon was bittersweet. Many guests said they were disappointed to see the Rittenhouse Square institution close, as they smiled at the live band playing and the remarks on how good the block party food was. On the menu? Hoagies, kebabs, make-your-own pita wraps, fries and wine.
“There aren’t really other diners around here,” said Logan. “We got the Midtown, but it, like, sucks.”
Logan is a bartender who would come by the diner with his buddy, Colin Keenan, who also tends bar. They both have been coming to Little Pete’s since they were kids. Logan’s 35 now. Keenan is 40. Keenan isn’t sure where his new late-night spot will be either; he’s actually waiting to see where owners Pete and John Koutroubas will open up next.
“It’s just the whole atmosphere,” Keenan said of what he’ll miss most. “It’s not that you’re going to be seen, you’re going to be there.” His regular order? The pancakes, always the pancakes.
Star Linesay, a nurse from the Northeast, loved breakfast there too, especially the omelettes. She said it was the attention to detail that kept her coming back. It’s not just that breakfast was good, but that the kitchen would nail exactly how she wanted it.
“You feel like you at home with family,” she said of the establishment.
Linesay’s boyfriend, Woosy Regis, agreed: “The experiences. Thirty-nine years from now, I’m going to remember.”
Rebecca Lopez-Kriss said she came to catch the “vibe one more time,” as she motioned to the crowd. Dozens were sitting and eating at tables, despite the wet furniture on a damp afternoon. Dozens more were standing closer to the band, some clapping, some dancing. And the line for food was consistently stacked with patrons, curling down 17th Street.
“If you look around, there’s all kinds of different people here,” Lopez-Kriss said. Yuppies, business people, neighborhood folks.
“You see that a lot in the public spaces,” she continued, pointing to Dilworth and free live events in other parks. Still, “they’re not commercial spaces.”
Ben Rieff called the diner’s clientele “the melting pot,” which multiple attendees said they don’t see enough. Rieff, 56, has been coming to Little Pete’s since it opened. He grew up in Mount Airy, but moved to Rittenhouse during high school. He’d often roll in for a burger after a night out when he was younger, and spot his dad already there — indicative of the varied patrons.
William Goldenberg and Paula Cohen both said their favorite Little Pete’s dish was the eggplant parm. With spaghetti, though. Can’t forget the spaghetti. As vegetarians, they’d come for the eggplant, but give their soup to strangers. They just ate at the diner on Saturday, but wanted to come back again.
“They had that combination: They were pleasant and the food was good,” said Goldenberg. “At some restaurants the food is decent but the attitude isn’t right.”
Linesay was glad the restaurant threw a farewell party. “It’s the last meal!” she said, speaking to Billy Penn between bites of chicken pita sandwich. “So I had to come to say goodbye.”