H. McNally of Schmitter fame

Hugh J. McNally
Hugh J. McNally
Posted: September 15, 2013

Hugh J. McNally, 81, of Chestnut Hill, inventor of the Schmitter steak and salami sandwich, longtime proprietor of a beloved Chestnut Hill tavern, and devoted husband of 57 years, died Wednesday, Sept. 11 at home.

The father of five died of heart failure, said his wife, Peggy. His health had been declining in recent months.

She described him as an extraordinarily sensitive and generous man. His daughter Anne said he "always made people feel welcome."

Mr. McNally also was an expert sandwich-maker. "He could make a sandwich out of anything," his daughter said.

In the late 1960s, he was crafting new sandwiches each night for a regular customer who only drank Schmidt's beer. One night, he made a steak and salami sandwich with cheese, tomatoes, and fried onions, and the Schmitter was born.

Today, Schmitters are sold not only at McNally's Tavern, 8634 Germantown Ave., but also at Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.

Mr. McNally met his wife while he attended North Catholic High School and she was at Little Flower Catholic High School. He graduated in 1950, she graduated in 1951. She went to the University of Pennsylvania nursing school and he joined the Marines and served in Korea.

Soon after returning home in 1954, he was asked by his father, Hugh P., to fill in as a bartender at the family tavern. The then-22-year-old McNally wound up spending four decades there. He and Peggy married in 1956.

Mr. McNally retired in 1994 but was the main instigator in turning McNally's into a smoke-free bar in 1998.

Daughter Anne was in charge, and pregnant and feeling ill when Mr. McNally, who had quit smoking after the Korean War, pushed for the switch, making McNally's one of the earliest bars in the state to voluntarily become smokeless.

Mr. McNally also didn't drink, and he attributed that to a terrible hangover he suffered before shipping out with the Marines. In recent years, his preferred beverage was milk.

During his retirement, he enjoyed staying with his wife at their Jersey Shore home in Ship Bottom, and at a family cottage in County Donegal, Ireland.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. McNally is survived by another daughter, Meg; sons Hugh, John, and Colin; a brother; a sister; and 10 grandchildren.

A Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, at Our Mother of Consolation Church, 9 E. Chestnut Hill Ave. Relatives and friends may visit at the church starting at 9 a.m.

A Memorial Mass at St. Francis Church on Long Beach Island will be scheduled.

Donations may be made to St. Joseph Villa, 110 W. Wissahickon Ave., Flourtown, Pa. 19031.

Contact Robert Moran at 215-854-5983, or bmoran@phillynews.com, or follow @RobertMoran215 on Twitter.


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