Prepare yourselves for the beautiful sound of the spatulas.
That familiar clang-clang of a Philly grill master soon will fill the restaurant space at 1126 Commerce St. in downtown Tacoma.
Sandwich shop Straight from Philly will open by the end of the month, permit approvals and inspections willing.
When it does open, the casual spot will have a menu of 25 Philly sandwiches, plus burgers, gyros, loaded fries, fried pickles and hoagie sandwiches.
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The restaurant is the project of the Parker family.
Michelle and Scott Parker moved to Tacoma this summer after operating two successful Philly restaurants in two states with their four children, Brittney, Joseph, Juliana and Nicholas.
They founded their first Straight From Philly in 2010 in Texas. They sold it after four years. They did the same this year four years after starting a second location in Nevada.
Two of their four children — Nicholas and Juliana — will work at the Tacoma shop that will target the downtown lunch crowd.
How the couple came to own a Philly sandwich business is a typical story for an ex-pat in search of a favorite nostalgia food. In Texas, Scott missed eating Philly sandwiches and couldn’t find them, so they opened their own restaurant.
The family had a longer goal of moving to the Pacific Northwest after they detoured to Nevada to be closer to Michelle’s family. Finding a space in Tacoma this summer was serendipity.
“Tacoma just kind of fell in our lap,” said Michelle Parker, who said she found the space while scrolling through commercial real estate websites.
She said the Tacoma storefront looks exactly like the restaurant they owned in Texas. Like the other location, it’s small. The Tacoma Straight From Philly is outfitted with 24 seats and is an order-at-the-counter restaurant. The restaurant will operate in the former home of Vostok, the short-lived Russian dumpling restaurant.
Since moving here, Parker said she’s felt welcomed.
“We’re getting a trickle of people coming in to look at our shop. I love the foodie feel of everywhere over here and I love how friendly everyone is,” she said. “We always said we want a very low-key, laid-back operation, and we want to be around people who appreciate good food. I’m thankful we got it.”
Diners should expect a pretty authentic Philly sandwich experience, all the way down to the Amoroso’s rolls they’re importing from Philadelphia, which costs more than offering a straightforward hoagie roll.
“Amoroso’s has a chew to it that no other bread has,” said Michelle. “The cheese will break down the other bread and make it mushy. Amoroso’s has a texture that has such a good chew on it. I’m not going to worry about the cost.”
Scott grew up in Philly, but he doesn’t eat his with Cheese Whiz.
“If you ever ask him, you will probably get this look,” said Michelle with a laugh. “The misconception is that only authentic cheesesteaks have Cheese Whiz, but that’s a new invention and not original to the sandwich. When somebody put cheese on it when the sandwich was created, it was provolone.”
She added, “It’s South Philly people who like ‘Wiz’ (as they order ‘with Cheese Whiz’ in Philly). That’s why I call the sandwich, on our menu, with Cheese Whiz, the South Philly.”
She cracked, “Don’t worry, they can get their Whiz with just the same amount of attitude.”
They’ll serve all kinds of Philly sandwiches, with toppers ranging from pastrami to capacolla, bacon and pineapple, plus all the usual peppers (sweet/banana/bell/hot) and onions. The sandwiches come standard with American, but can be upgraded to provolone or Cheese Whiz. Those with eating restrictions should note that a low-carb Philly is available on a bed of lettuce, and they will make a vegetarian Philly with peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese upon request.
The rest of the menu lists gyro sandwiches ($8.65 to $9.65), eight burgers ($7.95 to $8.95, with fries), hoagie sandwiches on Amoroso’s rolls and dressed East Coast style ($9.95, with chips), plus a selection of 11 loaded fries ($4.25 to $6.95). The most popular of those in Nevada was the one drizzled with a house garlic-butter sauce.
Philly sandwiches range from a basic $8.45 steak-and-onion sandwich to an extravagant $12.95 loaded version.
There’s a daily $7.95 special offered during all business hours.
They expect to operate from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 2-8 p.m. Saturday.
Straight from Philly
Where: 1126 Commerce St., Tacoma
Opening: Late October, if all goes as planned