Almost any time you walk into Piccolo’s Restaurant in Hoboken for a cheesesteak, you can hear Patty lumbering around, coming out of the kitchen every once in a while to curse out his favorite customers. In his restaurant, his regulars call the 60-odd year old “Patty Boy”, a vestige of the time when his father ran the restaurant and Patty was the boy helping out in the back. Now the boy is very much a man, but keeps the 61 year old restaurant operating in a very similar fashion to the way his father used to do it. No menu, and the options for the cheesesteak are “with” or “without” onions. But the city around Piccolo’s is changing, and in Patty’s words, “the restaurant will die with me”. There is no succession plan.
Piccolo’s is situated in the south of Hoboken, where his father bought the plot of land where the restaurant sits for $1,000 in the 1950’s. It started out as a late-night spot serving the bar next door that used to host acts like The Temptations while they were still trying to make a name for themselves. In the 1960’s it became a daytime spot that became known for the cheesesteaks it still serves today.
Patty isn’t the most successful character we’ve had on the show. His marketing wisdom can be summed up in 3 or 4 words: “I don’t know”, with “f***ing” being the optional one. But if there is a paradigm of the old-school restaurant owner, who loves his customers as much as his restaurant, Patty is the guy. In a building that may one day be a Jamba Juice or a Chop’t, the foul-mouthed, unapologetic Patty is going down slinging cheesesteaks.
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