They took care of the newspaper staffs, and the staffs took care of them. When Inquirer writer Jane M. Von Bergen walks up every morning, they have her coffee ready. When fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington orders her "ghetto lunch," they know that means hot dog, cheese doodles, and black cherry soda.
Gus and Joan don't know garden writer Virginia A. Smith's first name or last, but they know she wants tomatoes in her salad only if they come straight from Gus' garden.
"They were that little piece of peace and love you need every day," said columnist Annette John-Hall.
Selling breakfast sandwiches now for $2.75, chicken breast on a pita for $4.75, and chef salad for $5, Gus and Joan have raised four daughters, sent them to Catholic school, and saved money to buy a rental property in the city and a home in Bala Cynwyd.
After the sale of 400 N. Broad was announced, Joe left the truck this spring and took a job in a restaurant. He has a family to support. Employees at The Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com provide more than half of the truck's business.
When the staffs move out, as expected over the next two weeks, Gus, 65, will retire. This month he and Joan, 58, will take a vacation to Greece.
When they return, Joan and Joe, 49, married to Gus and Joan's oldest daughter, will try to resume operating, hoping there is enough business. If not, Gus will sell the truck.
To express their fondness, journalists threw a surprise farewell party for Gus, Joan, and Joe in the newspaper building. Hundreds came. Tears welled in Gus' eyes.
"Our best years were here," said Joan.
Staffers gave Gus, Joan, and Joe a cake and signed a poster-size farewell card. Wrote Mike Potter of Philly.com: "No bacon, egg and cheese will ever taste the same."
Contact Michael Vitez at 215-854-5639 or email@example.com and on Twitter @michaelvitez.