Why Do People Love Cheesesteaks?
Great Steak cheesesteak franchise is getting the classic American sandwich right
Cheesesteak. Just the word elicits pangs of hunger among the millions of cheesesteak enthusiasts in America and around the world. The secret to its appeal probably is the simplicity it has retained since the Great Depression, when it was invented as an alternative to the hot dog. Only three ingredients are necessary: thinly sliced sirloin steak, melted cheese and a French roll that is baked in-house, and is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside — soft enough to soak up the juices of the meat.
In recent years, the cheesesteak’s popularity has skyrocketed. The Internet allows millions of cheesesteak devotees to express their enthusiasm for the classic American sandwich — fueling demand for more cheesesteaks. National print, broadcast and online publications have devoted time to spotlight the cheesesteak. For example, The New York Times® blog, Diner’s Journal™, published an article titled “On the Question of Cheese Steaks,” in which authors Sam Sifton and Pete Wells seek the essence of what makes a cheesesteak so delicious.
“I’ll start. The cheesesteak is almost a perfect sandwich. As a corollary: You don’t need to go to Philadelphia to get the best,” Sam writes.¹
While the cheesesteak will always be linked with the City of Brotherly Love, a Google® search for, “best cheesesteak” generates dozens upon dozens of local newsmakers and bloggers searching for the best cheesesteak in their area. That growing demand for cheesesteak caught the attention of national brands like SUBWAY®, Firehouse Subs® and Jersey Mike’s®, who now feature versions of the cheesesteak on their menus. Papa John’s® is even offering a cheesesteak pizza.
How does such a simple sandwich become the object of national and international desire?
“Our significant process over the three decades we’ve been in business comes down to our unwavering commitment to the cheesesteak,” says Walter Mejia, Vice President of Operations of Great Steak. “When it comes to cheesesteak, if you don’t do it right and authentic, you will hear about it from your customers. Our brand’s customers are very passionate: the cheesesteak is not just a sandwich, it’s a category all its own. Customers will drive miles and miles just to get a good cheesesteak. The Great Steak cheesesteak has won a rapidly growing base of customers who are loyal, excited and find enormous enjoyment in our commitment to the cheesesteak.”
How does Great Steak get the cheesesteak right?
Authenticity is the most important word on the cheesesteak lover’s criteria list. However, much like barbecue enthusiasts, cheesesteak devotees are in constant and passionate disagreement as to just what makes an authentic cheesesteak. Thrillist® published an article called “10 Ways to Spot a Fake Philly Cheesesteak,” which finds Tony Luke’s® of Philadelphia declaring that a cheesesteak isn’t authentic if “it doesn’t have American cheese or provolone,” and that the bread “should be slightly crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.”²
Much of the debate on authentic cheesesteaks echoes Tony Luke’s comments about cheese. Does a classic cheesesteak feature provolone, American or cheese sauce? To remove any debate and satisfy loyalists of all stripes, Great Steak serves all three.
Founded by two Ohio brothers who fell in love with the sandwich on a trip to Philadelphia in 1982, Great Steak has since grown to more than 100 locations across the nation. Our simple menu focuses on cheesesteaks, both classic and innovative, and our commitment to the cheesesteak has won a rapidly growing customer base that is composed of both hardcore cheesesteak purists and the more casual enjoyers of the sandwich.
“Where the strength of Great Steak lies is the simplicity of the menu,” says Joe O’Brien, Director of Research and Development for Great Steak. “It focuses squarely on the cheesesteak. We deliver a great product with all of the authenticity of the cheesesteak that I personally grew up eating in the Philadelphia area. It’s very easy for me to get excited about the brand just by being from that section of the country. One of the first things that you’ll notice about the Great Steak brand is the fresh bread, which is baked daily. Our sirloin steak is sliced and shipped to us directly from Philadelphia.”
Great Steak is an experiential brand
While Smithsonian.com reports that approximately 50% of Americans aged 20 and older eat at least one sandwich every day³, the cheesesteak owns a distinctive place in popular culture. In the nearly $22 billion-plus sandwich industry, there really isn’t an experience that is comparable to that of walking into a local cheesesteak restaurant, seeing the oil steaming on the griddle, and watching the chef prepare your food to order right before your eyes.
Our simple menu focuses on cheesesteaks, both classic and innovative, and our specialization is appealing to not only cheesesteak purists, but to the largest demographic in the United States: millennials. According to Gordon Food Service, 49% of millennials say that sandwiches other than burgers are their favorite food. GFS reports that restaurants “don’t need to be the flashy gastro hotspot to be appealing” to millennials because what they want is a brand with a voice, food with flavor and the ability for customization4 — all of which they can find at Great Steak.
“Great Steak appeals to a wide variety of people, but we are especially appealing to the millennial demographic,” Walter says. “Our food is affordable, with an average ticket of $8-$10. And our use of high-quality ingredients is evident the moment a customer steps up to the counter. We don’t prepare meals in advance. Our customers tell us how they want their food, and then we cook their meal in front of them. It’s dinner and a show!”
Bring the premier cheesesteak franchise to your community today
Great Steak is a low-cost investment opportunity with high potential returns; startup costs for traditional stores range from $146,600 to $511,050. Having sold millions of cheesesteaks since our founding in 1982, Great Steak has a business model for entrepreneurs who are passionate about bringing the classic American cheesesteak experience to their communities. The franchise fee for your first traditional Great Steak franchise is $30,000, and the franchise fee for multiple units may be discounted if certain conditions and criteria are met.
Sam Sifton and Pete Wells, “On the Question of Cheese Steaks,” Diner’s Journal: The New York Times Blog on Eating Out, October 29, 2009, http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/author/pete-wells/page/10/?_r=0.
Bingo Barnes, “10 Ways to Spot A Fake Philly Cheesesteak,” Thrillist, June 26, 2015, https://www.thrillist.com/eat/nation/10-ways-to-spot-a-fake-philly-cheesesteak.
Rachel Nuwer, “Each Day, 50 Percent of America Eats a Sandwich,” Smithsonian.com, October 8, 2014, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/each-day-50-percent-america-eats-sandwich-180952972/?no-ist
“Give Millennials What They Crave,” Gordon Food Service, https://www.gfs.com/en/food-service-distribution/trending-now/crave/millennials.