Harry Olivieri

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Harry Olivieri
Born(1916-05-25)May 25, 1916
DiedJuly 22, 2006(2006-07-22) (aged 90)
Spouse(s)Anne DeLuca
Children2 children
Parent(s)Michael and Maria Olivieri

Harry M. Olivieri (May 25, 1916 – July 22, 2006) was an Italian-American restaurateur. He is credited, along with his brother, Pat Olivieri, as the co-creator of the cheesesteak in 1933. The brothers opened Pat's King of Steaks in 1940, one of the best known purveyors of steak sandwiches in Philadelphia.

Early life[edit]

Olivieri was born in South Philadelphia to Italian parents Michael and Maria Olivieri. The family returned to Italy when he was three, returning to Philadelphia four years later. He attended Southwark School before leaving to work as a carpenter.[1] Olivieri married his wife, Anna DeLuca, in 1936.[2]

Pat's King of Steaks[edit]

In 1930, he opened a hot dog stall with his older brother Pat Olivieri at the corners of 9th Street, Wharton and Passyunk Avenues.[3] The brothers ran the stall while holding down other jobs; Harry worked as a carpenter, while Pat made sleds.

In 1933, as the family relates the story, the brothers invented the steak sandwich, selling the first one to a cab driver for ten cents.[2]

In 1940, the brothers rented space to open Pat's King of Steaks at the same spot that they had their stand. The two brothers worked at the restaurant for 15 to 18 hours a day for the next few decades while the restaurant was open 24 hours a day. Harry worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard during World War II before returning to the restaurant.

Olivieri had a heart attack in 1972 and retired from day-to-day management. He still visited the business for a few hours each day to meet and greet the customers. Pat's son Herbert Olivieri disputed ownership of the business with Harry and his children. Son Frank Olivieri eventually bought out his father, sister and cousin.[2]

In the last few years of his life, he lived with his daughter in Brigantine, New Jersey. He died of heart failure on July 22, 2006, in Pomona, New Jersey, at the age of 90.[4]

His grandson, Frank Jr., now runs the business.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b c Sims, Gayle Ronan (July 22, 2006), "Obituary: Harry M. Olivieri / Philadelphia cheesesteak's co-creator", Philadelphia Inquirer
  3. ^ [2] Pat's King of Steaks official website.
  4. ^ [3] Obituary: Harry M. Olivieri / Philadelphia cheesesteak's co-creator

External links[edit]