Wednesday, February 10, 2016

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

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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.

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About this blog

PhillyDeals posts interviews, drafts and updates that Joseph N. DiStefano writes alongside his Sunday and Monday columns and ongoing articles about Philadelphia-area business.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn. He taught writing and research at St. Joe’s. He has written for the Inquirer since 1989, except when he left a few times to work at Bloomberg and elsewhere. He wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six kids with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, 215.854.5194, @PhillyJoeD. Read his blog posts at http://www.philly.com/PhillyDeals and his Inquirer columns at http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/joseph-distefano/. Bloomberg posts his items at NH BLG_PHILLYDEAL.

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

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