A Pittsburgh Tradition Opens in State College

Looks like we aren’t in Kansas Pittsburgh anymore…

The steel-city “almost famous” Primanti Brother’s Bar and Restaurant is set to have its State College grand opening this Friday, Jan. 23. (Doors open at 3 p.m.)

Joe Primanti opened a sandwich cart in Pittsburgh’s Strip District at the height of the great depression. He served food to hungry truck drivers passing through at all hours of the night. Sales boomed, and Primanti expanded to a small storefront with the help of three others. The store was open 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The Primanti Brother’s website features an anecdote from John DePiter, Primanti’s nephew, saying, “One winter, a fella drove in with a load of potatoes. He brought a few of ‘em (inside)… and I fried the potatoes on our grill and they looked pretty good. A few customers asked for them, so I put the potatoes on their sandwiches.”

And the rest is Pittsburgh history.

After 30 years of booming business in the Strip District, the restaurant’s original owner sold the company and it has become a franchise since.

The official second Primanti Brother’s location was founded in Oakland, adjacent to the University of Pittsburgh. Now, “almost famously” delicious sandwiches can be purchased at various locations in downtown Pittsburgh and surrounding areas, such as Cranberry Township and Grove City. Primanti’s also has three locations in Florida and now, finally, State College.

A Primanti’s sandwich comes piled high with fries, coleslaw, tomatoes and provolone cheese. But don’t forget to add your egg.

“I personally prefer the sweet sausage with egg and everything on it,” said Penn State Junior and Pittsburgh native Drew Chidester.

Chidester said that Primanti’s opening a spot in State College is a well-deserved accomplishment for a thriving chain of restaurants.

“I think it’s great,” he says. “Primanti’s is a great example of the American dream, something that started off as such a small business… has now flourished.”

It’s safe to assume that anyone born and raised in Pittsburgh has stepped foot in a Primanti’s at least once. And, if they haven’t eaten a ‘slaw drenched sandwich before, they at least know the name. However, the restaurant has coined the phrase “almost famous” because many outsiders don’t know the Primanti’s tradition.

“Go in with the mindset that you will be going out of your food comfort zone,” said Chidester. “They have every combination you can imagine, and you can order everything you like individually on one sandwich.”

Chidester also says it’s a fun place and with the opportunity to immerse oneself in Pittsburgh tradition and history.

Photo credit: Skylar Yuen

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