Mark Scharnitz and friend Jen McCool had a hard time finding an authentic Philly cheesesteak in Miami so they decided to open shop and make ’em like they do back home. Philly Grub officially opened March 1 in Little Haiti, but Scharnitz is no newcomer to the Miami food scene. Years ago he owned The Corner Muse, a health food and beverage spot where Mignonette currently sits, that doubled as a consignment shop before the leased property was bought by developers.
This time he’s doing things differently.
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Scharnitz purchased his current property and has been working out of a commercial kitchen in Little Haiti for seven years via his other business, Hearts of Palm Catering, delivering meals to homeless and rehab shelters and halfway houses throughout Miami, as well as selling nutritious boxed lunches to Miami businesses. The concept for Philly Grub has been in the works for two years, and it’s finally turning into a reality, with a separate kitchen at the catering company.
The menu will consist of seven sandwiches, including the Original Philly, with fresh shaved sirloin and a choice of whiz, provolone or American cheese. Sandwiches include extras like onions, peppers, mushrooms and pizza sauce at no charge. For vegans and vegetarians there’s the “pheggie sandwich” with oven roasted balsamic seasoned vegetables they cook separately from any meat.
Another authentic touch is the Amoroso’s bread roll synonymous with the Philly cheesesteak. They bring it here directly from a Philly bakery. For Scharnitz, who was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Philly, the bread is one of the most important ingredients for their sandwiches, and you can’t get it made here, he said.
“This isn’t a fancy place. You’re going to be able to come here and get a funky vibe,” Scharnitz said. “For 7.76 you’re getting ribeye and other sides. People see this menu and think there’s a one missing, but you’re getting a nice portion. We’re also going to have a value menu, so for under $10, you’re going to be able to get a sandwich, chips and a drink.”
Diving deeper into details, the prices for the sandwiches are all $7.76 because the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776. The interior walls are splashed with forest green paint, and nostalgic black-and-white pictures of Philadelphia factories hang on the walls. The metallic stool seats resemble bottle caps, and as a touch of Philly reminiscence they sell “penny candy” behind the counter with options like vintage cigarette gum, blow pops and gummy sandwiches.