President Obama was in Philadelphia Monday evening to raise money for Democrats, but he stopped for a cheesesteak at Reading Terminal Market.
The motorcade rolled to a stop on 12th Street, just south of Arch Street at 4:30 p.m., surprising the late afternoon crowd. Obama worked his way down the aisles, shaking hands, talking about the Eagles, asking "How you doing?"
A crowd of about 50 people clustered beyond the security line. "Thank you, Obama," a man shouted. "Thank you my brother." He went over to the group to say hello. "President Obama – you da man!" someone shouted.
The president stopped Carmen's Famous Italian Hoagies where he asked about ordering a cheesesteak, said Mike St. Marie, who took the order.
"He asked me how I was, how's business," said St. Marie, 23, who replied that business was fine.
St. Marie said he asked Obama about his sandwich: "would you like it your way or the Philly way?" St. Marie then explained the Philly way at Carmen's included roasted sweet peppers, mushrooms, onions, and Cheez Whiz.
The president agreed and then asked the people nearby if anybody wanted a sandwich, St. Marie said. "Somebody screamed 'Yes!' so he said 'Make it two,' " St. Marie said.
As Obama was getting his sandwiches, Federico Santoyo shouted from the Fair Food Farmstand: "How about getting something local and healthy for after your cheesesteak?"
The president picked up four Gala apples, Santoyo said. Obama paid cash, though presidents only carry so much cash, so his assistant, Reggie Love, chipped in to cover the apple tab.
"He just seemed very comfortable and nonchalant with everyone," Santoyo said.