Inside Cleavers, a new cheesesteak shop in Rittenhouse

March 4 has been set for the opening of Cleavers, a cheesesteak shop replacing the gently trafficked Good Stuff Eatery at 108 S. 18th St. (just off Chestnut and across from Di Bruno's).

Cleavers has an interesting ownership pedigree:

It's a partnership of siblings Dimitri and Electra Poulimenos, whose family runs a meat manufacturing company, and brothers Ted and Sav Bouikidis, who own Zesto Pizza & Grill locations in Roxborough, University City, and Bryn Mawr and whose family has been in the restaurant business for years. All four are in their early 30s.

Cleavers' menu offers riffs on cheesesteaks, sides, as well as beer in bottles and alcohol-infused shakes.

They're serious about ingredients. They describe the beef they use as a custom cut of USDA prime rib eye grilled to order - neither chopped into bits nor sliced from a slab. 

They serve charbroiled, white-meat chicken both as cutlets as well in the same form as the beef. Onions are caramelized, not lightly cooked. All of the meat and toppings will be well-mixed on the grill before it hits the sandwich. "We want you to taste everything in the same bite," said Dimiti Poulimenos.

Rolls (seeded and unseeded) come from Abruzzi Bakery in Point Breeze and in a clever technique are sliced along the top to accommodate ingredients to minimize spillage.

In a fun, literal attempt at branding, the counter guys use a branding iron to stamp "Cleavers" on each sandwich and wrap.

Items are offered on a roll, in a wrap, or in a bowl, or as they call it, “classic, skinny, or naked."

They also offer a portabello mushroom steak, plus sides such as fried pickles, zucchini sticks, fried spicy green beans, and garlic parmesan or steak-topped fries.

Paragraph Inc. did a fun branding on the bilevel space, setting up graphics reminiscent of an old-school butcher shop. There's a portrait of a grumpy-looking, mustachioed old-time butcher - who happens to be the Bouikidis' uncle Avram of Upper Darby.

Speaking of uncle Avram: There is a fairly good chance you've dined with the Bouikidis family over the years. Uncle Agapios "Willy" Bouikidis, who had Race Street Pizza where the Convention Center expansion now stands, owns 1518 Bar & Grill on Sansom Street.

A cousin Paul Bouikidis owned Pine Street Pizza for decades before his passing, and Paul's daughter Effie has the taverna Effie's on Pine Street.

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