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The Cheese Steak Shop Brings a Slice of Philly to the Bay Area

By Marina I. Jokic

The Cheese Steak Shop's mission is to bring the authentic Philly Cheese Steak sandwich to its customers all the way in California and even across the Pacific. Opening their first shop in 1982 in San Francisco, snowbirds Keith and Kathy Layton wanted to bring their beloved food to the Bay Area.

The Cheese Steak Shop was born out of their nostalgia and knack for the culinary arts, and has expanded to a whopping twenty seven locales. Layton opens up about his business from their shop in Concord, California.

It's a typical ex-Philadelphia story, Keith Layton says. Try as he did, he could not find a decent Cheese Steak anywhere in the Bay Area, which compelled him to make his own. Layton went back to Philadelphia, set up contracts with his vendors with special attention to the Amoroso rolls he was procuring, and returned to San Francisco to find a suitable lease. He and his wife embarked on their culinary adventure shortly thereafter.

Layton felt that the location was critical in determining whether or not their business was going to succeed. What better location than a bustling metropolis like San Francisco? Their first store opened on 1858 Divisadero Street in 1983, and with it, one of the most iconic Philadelphian foods graced the streets of San Francisco and offered a truly authentic taste of the northeast. Since its opening, the shop has expanded and now features twenty five location throughout California and two overseas sites in the Philippines and Singapore.

Food is king at the Cheese Steak Shop, but the right atmosphere is no less important. Clean, friendly, and family-oriented, the décor is simple yet welcoming. People love to bring their entire families and indulge in the various sandwiches, hoagies, and salads.

"I have gone from the basic Cheese Steak, gravitated to the Spinach, then the Bacon when we put that in, and now I go back and forth," remarks Layton of his personal preferences from the menu. He used to eat the 15" back in Coatesville, Pennsylvania where he grew up, later downsized to the 10" for another twenty years, and presently has chosen the 7" sandwich from the menu.

"When I used to run the rolls around to all of the stores, I ate the vegetarian for a few years," Layton reminisces. His preferences have really seesawed over the years, but he remains a loyal fan of the Cheese Steak after all.

For more than thirty years, they have been committed to using high quality, fresh ingredients to make the best possible sandwiches, be they Cheese Steak, Italian Hoagie, or Vegetarian. "To keep it authentic, we even source specialty items like our Amoroso rolls and Taskykakes directly from Philadelphia bakeries," he stresses.

All the Cheese Steak Shops make your sandwich hot and fresh to order, and with any variations that your hear desires: onions, American or Provolone cheese, hot and sweet peppers, even using chicken or veggies in place of steak. Regardless of how you prefer your sandwich, the Cheese Steak Shop loves to serve it to you the "Real Philly" way.

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