After extensive assurances not to interfere with the culinary process, former Pa. Governor Ed Rendell today secured majority ownership of Pat’s King of Steaks, a Philadelphia institution.
The news came just hours after another group of local investors purchased the Philadelphia Media Network, which includes Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. Rendell was initially part of that group, but backed out to pursue the cheesesteak deal.
“The news business is interesting, but I decided to follow up on a deal that was even closer to my heart,” Rendell said, “and my stomach.”
Rendell faced concerns that he might seek unpopular changes at the 80 year-old establishment – he’s noted for preferring extra onions – concerns that he sought to assuage by signing the following pledge:
“The culinary function of the business shall at all times remain independent of the ownership and control of the company, and no owner shall attempt to influence or interfere with culinary policies or cheese decisions.”
But one source close to the buy accused Rendell of playing hardball.
“This is a steal. [Rendell] spent years growing into their top customer – personally accounting for about 15 percent of their business,” the source recounted. “Then, he went on a diet and nearly drove the place into bankruptcy. If you ask me, it was a maneuver to bring down the price.”