Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Brent Celek, restaurateur

The Eagles tight end owns the new Prime Stache in Old City.

Brent Celek, restaurateur

Don Shula did it. So did Dan Marino, Tony Siragusa and Brett Favre.

And now Eagles tight end Brent Celek is an NFL-type with ties to the restaurant business.

He and several silent partners, including teammate Todd Herremans, have opened Prime Stache, an American bistro, at 110 Chestnut St. in Old City. The site, with the same owners but under different management, previously was a bar called 879.

"We wanted to turn it into something special," said Celek, 28.

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Celek led a redecoration that included a marble-topped bar and an old barn's worth of reclaimed wood over a concrete floor. He rustled up a chef, Hee "Chino" Chang, who ran the kitchen at Redstone Grill in Marlton when Celek was a rookie and used to come in on Friday nights for feasts.

Prime Stache - the name is a pun on "stash" and the sign outside is simply a large mustache - is all-American, from beer and spirits and wines to the ingredients on the menu, which includes papparadelle and meatballs ($11), meatloaf ($13), cedar-plank salmon ($13), a chicken-club sandwich ($8), and fish tacos ($9). "Even the coffee," said the clean-shaven Celek. "Kona, from Hawaii." (Chang, born in South Korea, is the only import.)

Chang's menu is mainly small plates, opposed to full-size entrees. "When I go to a restaurant, I like to go with a group and try a lot of different dishes," said Celek. The menu is family-friendly, too. At Celek's requests, none of the alcohol is flavored. His bar is stocked with bitters and house-made syrups for flavoring.

It's open daily ar noon for lunch and dinner and will stay open till 10 p.m. or later ("we're not going to be a big drunk crowd late at night"). Sunday brunch starts Mother's Day.

Celek freely concedes that he has no restaurant experience, even as a kid growing up in Cincinnati. But he's a regular at such places as Continental and Tequila's, and in his downtime has boned up on the business. "I want to know the industry," he said.

His takeaway: "Football players have the easiest job in the world."

Michael Klein Philly.com
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