Friday, April 25, 2008

Eating The Illadelph: And Now A Special Sibling Rivalry Faceoff In Which The Grasso Brothers See Who Can Make The Better Steak(house)

david grasso and joe grassoPVA has another doozie over in the PBJ.
Center City will [soon] see the addition of two new, top-flight steak houses.

A Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House is planned for the Packard Grande, a condominium building at 111 S. 15th St. [corner of 15th and Chestnut], in space that was once going to be a House of Blues.

Across town, the Union Trust Steakhouse will take over another grand building, the former Union Trust Bank at 719 Chestnut Street.

Each restaurant will feature white tablecloths, top-notch service and extraordinary architecture, including 50-foot ceilings, echoing Philadelphia's rich history.
[…]
There will be another commonality, as well: each restaurant will be owned by one of the Grasso brothers, Joe and his younger brother David, both of whom are commercial developers in Philadelphia.

Rival brothers, rival steakhouses?
Aww. How cute. The Grasso boys still like to compete for attention.

David is bringing in Del Frisco’s to occupy the striking main lobby space at the Packard Grande — the same vacant space, anecdotally, that so impressed M. Night Shyamalan during a scouting visit in 2000 that he used it for his climatic train station scene in Unbreakable instead of 30th Street Station.

Meanwhile, David’s bro, Joe Grasso, is opening Union Trust a few blocks down the way, in an equally arresting space also located on Chestnut Street. It will be an independent, unique-to-Philadelphia, non-affiliated steakhouse instead of a chain like Del Frisco’s. And David Grasso is certainly playing up that angle.
We cut our teeth in corporate [steakhouses], we're not anti-corporate. But we're Philly guys and we wanted to open a steakhouse for Philadelphia, not to Philadelphia," said [Ed Doherty, former manager from Capital Grille], who also served as a consultant on the Fairmount Waterworks Restaurant.

They see this as an independent steakhouse in a city dominated by chain steak venues -- Morton's, Capital Grille, the Palm, Smith & Wollensky and so on.

"New York has Peter Luger. Chicago has Gibsons. Philadelphia doesn't have one like that. We have nothing but cookie-cutter chains," said White.
Word. (Although Philly can claim the original Starr “Prime” boutique steakhouse in the Barclay.)

Joe Grasso, the elder of the two brudders, is also the man behind the ambitious American Commerce Center.

And David Grasso is the dude behind “The Vine” aka 1601 Vine Street in Franklintown, which is trying to get off the ground this summer, with an Intercontinental Hotel, a massive new Whole Foods, a Best Buy and a REI.

Now, admittedly, this post might have been more of an excuse to opine on Unbreakable, a chronically underrated movie. Consider this: in an era of big budget movies where every comic book from Spiderman, Batman and the Hulk to Sin City, Iron Man and the Spirit get made with huge budgets and masses of hype, we’ve always thought Unbreakable was incredibly underrated — not to mention one of the best comic book/superhero movies we’ve ever seen. (And that’s not just because its peerless setting…) Seriously — give it another watch next time you have a chance.

Train Station sequence appended below.

Related:
Sibling Steakhouse Rivalry [ Philadelphia Business Journal ]

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