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Reading Terminal Market (Part 2)


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If anyone wants their greens dry, speak up!

If anyone wants their sandwich wet or dry, speak up!

So help us out, we can't make a sandwich the way everyone likes it, so we make them somewhere in between.  If you have any requests at all, PLEASE SPEAK UP!

As a frequent customer, I can vouch that DiNic's will honor ANY requests--and they always do so with a smile. No bun, check. No meat, check. Sandwich to go for boyfriend's father, check (we'll give you the bread and meat separately so it doesn't get soggy.) Joe and his father value each of their customers and their individual needs, which is a dying trend in today's society.

Tommy and Joe,

Don't change a thing...nothing needs fixing! (Unless you can get the market to have a dedicated table for us closer to your stand so we do not have to walk to our usual eating location)

This actually reminded me of something last week, as one of our friends at the market (the older woman who works at the Pennsylvania General Store on Satudays) noticed we were indulging in DiNic's sandwich and hovered in for a closer look. She told me that you have been nice enough to make a sandwich for her and her co-worker with half peppers and half greens so they can split the sandwich.

See, that's good service!

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Personally, I think that DiNic's fine roast pork sandwich would be that much better with broccoli rabe in place of the spinach, but as it is, it's a damn good sandwich, and service is top-notch.

I would hope that there would be room for both DiNic's and Tony Luke's to prosper serving everything they're famous for -- after all, there does seem to be enough traffic to keep both Salumeria and Carmen's busy making hoagies -- but if I were in the mood for a roast pork sandwich at the RTM, I'd go to DiNic's first on principle too.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I would hope that there would be room for both DiNic's and Tony Luke's to prosper serving everything they're famous for -- after all, there does seem to be enough traffic to keep both Salumeria and Carmen's busy making hoagies -- but if I were in the mood for a roast pork sandwich at the RTM, I'd go to DiNic's first on principle too.

The problem with your argument the way I see it is that both Salumeria and Carmen's offer a far wider range of products than DiNic's, as their "bread and butter" if you will is their roast pork. I don't think it's fair to all of a sudden tell DiNic's to say, sell more sausage sandwiches, to make up for Tony Luke's. While there seems to be a pretty good demand for DiNic's sandwiches, you don't see lines there three rows deep like at Rick's. Which would lead me to believe that if Tony Luke's must come to the market, there is sufficient demand for a vendor just selling cheesesteaks.

Edited by Bluehensfan (log)
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Bluehensfan, you've got it right. Let's examine the three hoagie stands in the Terminal. The bulk of Salumeria's business is made on the purveyor side (cheese, olive oil, etc...). Spataro's sells far more cheesesteaks and breakfast sandwiches than hoagies. So Carmen's is left, the ONLY true hoagie shop in the Terminal, and Rick's overflow certainly doesn't hurt them.

So while it's very easy to see why someone would suggest both a DiNic's and Tony Luke's, upon closer examination there may be less breathing room for us than expected. And to emphasize the point that Bluehensfan already made, a cheesesteak place located on the 12th Street convention center side needs no help from roast pork to be the busiest lunch counter in the Market. Why would management potentially, and knowingly, run the risk of hurting our business? How would it benefit anyone?

Anyhow, management may not allow Tony Luke's to sell pork.

...and Rick it ain't gone yet...

P.S. Ok, ok. I know all about the Rabe vs. Spinach thing. We have tried it in the past, it simply hasn't sold well. But years have passed, and it seems to be more popular, so it may be time to try again. I'll keep you posted.

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do you think it would be a matter of time before tl's insisted on the removal of the restriction and was allowed to sell his pork sandwiches?

(edited to resemble english.)

Edited by wkl (log)
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It would be written into his lease, which he couldn't change until his next lease. It strikes me as being a bit unfair because of the large location that he would be receiving. We've been in the Market for twenty-six years, and have worked within 280 square feet. We would love to have a larger spot, but the opportunity hasn't arisen. Now along comes Tony Luke, with a huge space, and ample room to sell multiple products.

If management was to allow them to sell pork, it would be a huge injustice to us (and truly insulting), just as Rick is currently the victim of such a disservice.

Think about this, Jack, owner of Downtown Cheese, has in my opinion, the best cheese shop in the city. But many require the glitz, glamour, and name appeal of Di Bruno Brothers. So what if the Market wanted to replace the now empty Foster's location with Di Bruno? Why purposely damage the business of any Reading Terminal staple?

Edited by jtnicolosi (log)
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yeah, i totally agree with you. i could just envision tony luke's doing really well and then making demands of the market management to change his lease to allow the sale of pork sandwiches, which would be very unfair to you.

just out of interest, would you like to move to rick's larger spot if he is ultimately tossed out?

btw, i love the the spinach on your sandwiches. it makes you guys different and ,i think, the better of the pork sandwiches in town.

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This actually reminded me of something last week, as one of our friends at the market (the older woman who works at the Pennsylvania General Store on Satudays) noticed we were indulging in DiNic's sandwich and hovered in for a closer look. She told me that you have been nice enough to make a sandwich for her and her co-worker with half peppers and half greens so they can split the sandwich.

it goes beyond that! when my wife and i wanted to try the new pulled pork but still wanted regular pork, they split up the meat AND the toppings on one sandwich (neither of us eats a whole sandwich at once).

edited to add: dinic's sausage sandwich is nothing to sneeze at either. where do you guys get your sausage?

Edited by mrbigjas (log)
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Think about this, Jack, owner of Downtown Cheese, has in my opinion, the best cheese shop in the city.  But many require the glitz, glamour, and name appeal of Di Bruno Brothers.  So what if the Market wanted to replace the now empty Foster's location with Di Bruno?  Why purposely damage the business of any Reading Terminal staple?

Excellent point. And Downtown carries varieties I've never seen at DiBruno's.

Remember what I said about Philadelphians being slaves to the past over in the other thread? My first encounter with a good cheese shop in Philly was DiBruno's, and that was back when they hadn't upgraded their selection to where they have it now. I'd long thought of their cheeses as good buys, and I am resistant to paying more than I have to for anything until I'm given a very good reason to do so (Pennsylvania Noble cheese being one of those very good reasons, for instance).

That's less the case now than then, but old habits die hard.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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There is a tiny unoccupied space in the back of the market adjacent to the Beer Garden (does anyone go there anyway?...another thread perhaps...) that is now occupied solely by large posters depicting old photographs of the market in the earlier years. It's not used for much (sans Santa around holiday time and does not have the appeal of say Macy*s light show). Anyway, if the board absolutely has the irresistible impulse (and I've even been kind enough to use legal terms here) to attract Tony Luke's to the market, why not offer them the vacant space there? It's just big enough for them to serve up cheesesteaks (but nothing else thank you), and then Rick could stay in the market. I'd bet he'd even don a Santa suit at the appropriate time of year.

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So many times I'm dying for a DiNic's roast pork, but I try not to get my hopes up since it always seems by the time I'm able to get over there for lunch at 2:30 or 3, they're done for the day. Today I got there in time and the sandwich was great. By 2:30 they were out of greens, but I had peppers instead.

I'm far from qualified to offer suggestions to improve such a classic, but as I've noticed in the past, it just needed something to heighten the flavors. I had salt handy, and that worked. But I realized that some red pepper flakes may have done the job even better. I'll have to try that next time.

Also, vote me in for broccoli rabe, especially if it's prepared to be spicy. The disctinct flavor of rabe blows away the spinach, which to me seems a little wimpy.

With that said, I still prefer the spinach to peppers and wonder, why at 2:30 is it impossible to whip up some more greens? Seemed at least the 2-3 guys ahead of me all wanted them too. I understand that once the meat's gone for the day, you can't do anything about it. But especially with all the produce in the market, why not restock? And on the same general topic, why shut it down so early most days? Is it too risky to ready too much meat for the day and lose it at the back end of the day? Maybe 2:30-3:30 isn't as busy as 12-1, but it sure seems there are endless lines at Ricks regardless of the time, as well as decent crowds throughout the market.

This isn't necessarily targeted to DiNics, but it's something I'm finding too often lately. As a customer it's a hell of a turnoff to feel like someone's doing you a favor by serving you. Whether that's a gimmick, or just old-school atty-tood, it gets old fast. And that comes from someone who never orders anything special, complains, or sends something back. Hell, I've now got a list of people I won't dine with because I can't handle how they deal with the wait staff. But that's probably its own topic of conversation.

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So many times I'm dying for a DiNic's roast pork, but I try not to get my hopes up since it always seems by the time I'm able to get over there for lunch at 2:30 or 3, they're done for the day. Today I got there in time and the sandwich was great. By 2:30 they were out of greens, but I had peppers instead.

With that said, I still prefer the spinach to peppers and wonder, why at 2:30 is it impossible to whip up some more greens? Seemed at least the 2-3 guys ahead of me all wanted them too. I understand that once the meat's gone for the day, you can't do anything about it. But especially with all the produce in the market, why not restock? And on the same general topic, why shut it down so early most days? Is it too risky to ready too much meat for the day and lose it at the back end of the day? Maybe 2:30-3:30 isn't as busy as 12-1, but it sure seems there are endless lines at Ricks regardless of the time, as well as decent crowds throughout the market.

I think it's a problem more with the rolls than with the meat or greens. They have to try and guess how many rolls they'll use in a day and they order accordingly. Once the rolls are gone, that's it for sandwiches for that day.

"Fat is money." (Per a cracklings maker shown on Dirty Jobs.)
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This isn't necessarily targeted to DiNics,  but it's something I'm finding too often lately. As a customer it's a hell of a turnoff to feel like someone's doing you a favor by serving you. Whether that's a gimmick, or just old-school atty-tood, it gets old fast. And that comes from someone who never orders anything special, complains, or sends something back. Hell, I've now got a list of people I won't dine with because I can't handle how they deal with the wait staff. But that's probably its own topic of conversation.

You might want to consider starting a new topic in Food Traditions & Culture....

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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In another PA topic, bluehensfan notes that Tommy DiNic's experimented with broccoli rabe late last week.

I'll add to that, and more.

Joe and Tommy told me Saturday that they were quite surprised how well the rabe was received. They tried it a few years ago and it didn't go over very well at all, so they dropped it. But they now plan to add it regularly.

But there's even bigger news.

Tommy said RTM manager Paul Steinke has made available some additional space elsewhere in the market for most of his refrigeration needs. When that happens, probably late summer or early fall, Tommy will quadruple his low-temp oven capacity. That means more pork, beef and everything else. And with that added cooking capacity, Tommy will stay open and serve until 6 p.m. market closing! No more running out of meat by 2 p.m.

That's very much in line with RTM management's goal of keeping all businesses open 'til 6 p.m. and increasing business levels. Tommy likes it because it means more revenue for him and looks forward to it.

And to answer everyone's obvious question: No cheesesteaks.

Edited by rlibkind (log)

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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That's great. Both for DiNic's and for Holly - More opportunities for pork sandwiches for me and maybe a chance to try their brisket sandwich.

The timing though is interesting. As Saturday Night Live's Church Lady often observed, "How convenient."

Side note: A couple of months ago I was a big fan of RTM and, by association, its management and board. Now, though still a big fan of RTM, I find myself viewing any action by the RTM management or board with suspicion. However the Rick's Steaks controversy turns out, I now will probably always question the motives of the overseers of an institution I had once totally supported and trusted (at least once I got over my concern with the Convention Center's potential impact on the market).

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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The timing though is interesting.  As Saturday Night Live's Church Lady often observed, "How convenient."

That's something that's easy to say, tougher to prove, one way or the other.

Here's at least one fact: RTM management has made efforts over the past year to find additional work/storage space for merchants who need it. Ask Steve of Hershel's. They were going gangbusters selling pastrami and couldn't keep up with demand, nor did they have anyplace in their stall to add more cooking capacity. RTM found it for them. There may well be other examples of which I'm unaware.

Now, onto some logic.

RTM management's desire to keep the place buzzing 'til the official 6 p.m. closing is no secret. That didn't come about because they wanted to get rid of Rick or anyone else. But if the market is going to insist that merchants stay open 'til 6 p.m., they've got to provide them with the means. How could Tommy possibly stay open 'til then if he didn't have the capacity to meet the demand? The market, by finding a way to help Tommy increase his capacity, provides the economic incentive for Tommy to stay open later and sell more meat.

If that's conspiracy, I'm all for it.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I guess what makes this much less clear for me than for Holly -- besides personal connections -- is that it does take place against a backdrop of some major changes in management philosophy that had been made clear starting not too long after the current GM assumed his post, and that while they may not have liked it, most of the merchants have adapted to the changes, however enthusiastically or grudgingly.

From all outward appearances, it sounds like Rick Oliveri was even more grudging in going along than his fellow merchants were, though in not offering him a new long-term lease, management made a PR blunder by not giving him an opportunity to either confirm or refute suspicions. Had they done so, and had Rick dragged his feet, the issue would be a lot more clear-cut than it has since become.

The other items reported in the most recent posts on this thread IMO continue to demonstrate the management's commitment to the long-term health of the Market and its merchants even after the change in philosophy. Given what I know about how Philadelphians react to change -- which is usually none too well -- I'm still willing to give Paul Steinke and the Market board the benefit of the doubt. Certainly none of the actions they have taken up to this point have hurt the Market's operations or driven business away; rather, they have built on the previous efforts of many longtime merchants and the Reading Company in its last days and have made the market stronger, even if the ratio of fresh food vendors to other businesses has fallen over that period.

And it has. Which is why these new leases were structured as they were.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I'd credit David O'Neil more than anyone else involved in RTM management for where the RTM is today.

And I still maintain that a regional shopping mall approach and mentality is as likely to kill a place like the Reading Terminal Market as it is to help it.

Sandy, I'm not sure what you mean by personal connections. I have only talked with Rick Olivieri twice in my life. Once when we were filming in the market for Chris Cognac's TV show and once when I called him this past Saturday to confirm that the rally has been canceled or at least postponed.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Anyone hear how the meeting today went? I haven't read or heard anything about it anywhere.

Hopefully I will not need to don my shirt in the near future.

While I do understand both sides of the issue at hand, if change is going to take place, that is fine. Do it gradually...no need to drink the green juice. Just don't alienate/frighten the present merchants into submission, and make changes with new tenants as they arrive while preserving your relationship with those merchants who made the market what it is today, which, if I may say, is an institution that the city should be proud of.

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Sandy, I'm not sure what you mean by personal connections.  I have only talked with Rick Olivieri twice in my life.  Once when we were filming in the market for Chris Cognac's TV show and once when I called him this past Saturday to confirm that the rally has been canceled or at least postponed.

I wasn't referring to yours -- I was referring to mine.

I've known Paul Steinke since he was at the Center City District, before Penn tapped him to run the University City District, then in (re)formation. (We met when he overheard me talking transit trivia one night at Woody's several years ago. He recommended me for an opening on SEPTA's Citizens Advisory Board. I didn't get the opening.)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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