Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Chickie's and Pete's adds Philly Live, Airport, burb sites

The slump is a good time to expand, says boss Pete Ciarrocchia

Chickie's and Pete's adds Philly Live, Airport, burb sites

Chickie's and Pete's, the Philadelphia-based restaurant chain whose anchor store at 16th and Packer is popular with the stadium crowd, plans a new site at the Philly Live development at the demolished Spectrum next Spring, and is hiring 60 to 100 people - "hostesses, runners, cooks" - for each one of its three new locations, to open in mid-October while the NFL is in full swing, owner Pete Ciarrocchi told me.

He's taking over the closed 99 Restaurants locations in Audubon (near Valley Forge) and in Warrington, plus a brand-new location in the mall between Terminals D and C at Philadelphia International Airport. "As soon as you come through security, we'll be on the right," Ciarrocchi said.

Isn't this a tough time to open? "It's easier to grow because of the economy," Ciarrocchi told me. There's "more good employees" looking for work, and "there are more stores that didn't make it but have great equipment that you can adapt." Plus, "real estate prices are down," though "construction costs are as expensive as ever."

What about financing? "We self-finance a lot," but have also raised cash from locally-based Firstrust (whose boss and owner, Richard Green, is also a part-owner of the Eagles) and from TD Bank (successor to Commerce), which, like Firstrust, "has a hierarchy that isn't just corporate guys but local decision making," Ciarrocchi told me. By contrast, "a lot of the other banks are scared to lend. They made so many bad investments."

The openings will give Chickie's 12 freestanding Crab House and Sports Bar locations (and a total of 37 sales sites if you include multiple locations at the Linc and other venues).

Earlier: The same week mobile-phone users mobbed an ESPN sports TV network poll to name Chickie's and Pete's flagship 15th and Packer location (near the stadiums) as "Winning Bar" in a best US sports-bar poll (as my colleague Michael Klein noted here), Pete Ciarrocchi, founder of the Philly-based chain, has named three new sites for the the chain's Crab House and Sports Bar restaurants.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
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