DNC search committee finds cheesesteaks at Pat's

Congressman Bob Brady, left, talks with DNC CEO Amy Dacey, center, as they have lunch at Pat's Steaks in South Philadelphia.
Congressman Bob Brady, left, talks with DNC CEO Amy Dacey, center, as they have lunch at Pat's Steaks in South Philadelphia. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 15, 2014

In Philadelphia, any time is the right time for a cheesesteak - which is why, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, some 20 members of the committee deciding whether to pick Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, found themselves at Pat's King of Steaks, eating wid or wid'out under the glare of television cameras.

It's a political ritual, usually reserved for candidates, but in this case, Frank Olivieri, owner of Pat's, ponied up the steak sandwiches for the greater good.

"I think it's amazing for Philadelphia," Olivieri said, who believes the city will benefit economically if the Democrats choose Philadelphia over rivals Birmingham, Ala., Brooklyn, N.Y., Columbus, O., and Phoenix, Ariz.

The Democrats' decision won't be based on how they liked the steaks, although the committee didn't have any problem scarfing them down, despite the early lunch. Neither did former Gov. Ed Rendell, who, along with Mayor Nutter and U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, Democrats all, accompanied the group.

Technical considerations outweigh cheesesteaks, Nutter explained.

The DNC needs 17,000 hotel rooms, clustered in a way that makes transport for the delegates easy and efficient. They need an excellent facility for the main show and will tour the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday afternoon to see how it checks out.

That same building, then the First Union Center, hosted the Republican convention in 2000.

A huge consideration will be whether Philadelphia's host committee will be able to raise the $100 million to $110 million necessary to put on the convention - a figure that covers everything from balloon drops to police protection.

The federal government will kick in $50 million for security.

Ultimately, all the cheesesteaks in the world won't matter, even those with Cheez-Whiz. What really matters is the Gee-Whiz - whether the Democratic party can get the most political mileage out of the city and state.

But that was a consideration for another time.

"Mister Mayor, do you want some fries?" one of Pat's employees called out. Soon, Pat's people were delivering fries and sodas to every table out on the sidewalk. (Well, just those occupied by members of the DNC site selection committee.)

"They just got waiters and waitresses," one TV cameraman groused good-naturedly. "The rest of us don't get that."

Mid-meal Wednesday, the delegates looked up mid-gulp, startled by the sound of the "Rocky" theme. Lo and behold, Rocky impersonator Mike Kunda, dressed in Rocky's trademark gray sweats and red headband, came running north on Ninth Street, trailed by a couple dozen kids from the nearby Capitolo Playground summer camp.

"How ya doin?" Rocky asked the group.

They were well.

jvonbergen@phillynews.com

215-854-2769

@JaneVonBergen

www.inquirer.com/jobbing

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