Tuesday, January 29, 2008

So I heard Hitler liked Philly cheesesteaks. (originally posted on September 18, 2006)

I've been meaning to write about this for a while, and I honestly thought I would forget about the topic. However, the idea keeps popping up in my mind, so I've decided to purge these thoughts into an electronic forum. So here it goes: I hate Phlly cheesesteaks.

Up until 2004, I didn't have an opinion of Philly cheesesteaks. My knowledge of the sandwich came from the hit television show "Fresh Prince Of Bel Aire" where Will Smith portrayed a character from Philadelphia. The subject of Philly cheesesteaks came up often enough for me to remember. I'm guessing it was attempt to give Will Smith some Philadelphia street cred, but I think we can all agree that any street cred Mr. Smith may have had went out the window with such hits as "MIB: Men in Black," "MIB II: Men in Black II," and "I, Robot." Does anyone else remember that crap video for the "Men in Black" movie theme song? God, someone stick a fork in that guy. Is he even really from Philadelphia? Ah fuck it. I don't care.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah. Phillly cheesesteaks.

It was February of 2004. I needed a part time job to fund an adventure I was planning to take just after I graduated from college, and it just so happened that a restaurant was opening up in the building I lived in. "How convenient would it be to take an elevator three floors down and be at work," I thought. I'm guessing this was the laziness in me. Why should I walk more than ten feet to a job I didn't want any way? If it's not by elevator, I didn't want any part of it. So luckily for me, PepperJax Grill was opening up on the ground floor of my building, and more importantly, they were willing to hire me.

Now let me explain a few things:

1. I was desperate for money. I had credit card debt to pay off (note: I still have credit card debt to pay off). I needed to make a fair sum of money to not only save for my trip but to pay off money I owed Capital One, Bank of America, etc.

2. I knew I only had roughly around four months left in Lawrence, Kansas, so I wasn't really concerned with my image.

3. I didn't realize that i was this close to working in fast food until one day I realized I was standing over a fry machine wearing a sun visor, which matched my polo shirt, both emblazoned with the PepperJax Grill logo. Friends, It was a defnining moment in my life. I believe anyone about to graduate from college who finds themselves standing over a massive vat of boiling grease has the same thought: "OHMYFUCKINGODI'MMAKINGFRENCHFRIES!" It's a humbing experience. You never really forget that feeling.

So it was at this job that I learned to hate Philly cheesesteaks. The cheesesteak was the main item on the menu, which i found funny for multiple reasons.

A. The man who started the restaurant chain was from Nebraska, and his name is Gary Rohwer. He was a cowboy to be exact. He had invented a certain way to cut a piece of meat that allowed it to cook faster, thereby revolutionizing the meat cooking industry (and yes, that is a real industry. Go take an aspirin, I understand completely). I can't remember the guy's name, but he was a millionaire. (I've learned from the website that Gary has "several well-established sandwich shops in Philadelphia." Funny they never mentioned this to their employees...To see the full story behind PepperJax Grill, visit http://www.pepperjaxgrill.com/story.htm)

The cheesesteaks served at PepperJax Grill had no tie what so ever to Philadelphia. I don't even know if this Gary Rohwer had ever been to Philadelphia. The meat came from the midwest, the buns from another random state, and the vegetables from Mexico I'm guessing. So our philly cheesesteaks were actually bastard cheesesteaks. No one really knew who their father was or where they came from. And this thought makes me happy.

Upon doing a Google search this evening, I learned that PepperJax Grill now has a website. On this website, they refer to Gary Rohwer as a "legend." All I have to say about this is that the man wore skin tight jeans and cowboy boots every day, and he had no idea how to make his own product. Legend? John Lennon was a legend. The Knights of the Round Table were legends. The man who revolutionized the partnership between the Philly cheesesteak and "casual-quick dining" a legend? Gag. Me. With. A. Spoon.

Instead of describing what the rest of the menu consisted of, I've taken the liberty of just posting it below. The online version of this menu can also be found here: http://www.pepperjaxgrill.com/menu.htm

Famous PhillyWhat legends are made of grilled to order and perfectly seasoned steak, chicken or veggies with loads of sautéed red or green peppers, onions and mushrooms taken right off the grill and piled over fresh cheese lining the inside of a hearth baked Italian roll. And if youre into messing with perfection, try any of our 40 additional fresh toppings to make it your own famous recipe.

Giant WrapOur wraps are made fresh to order starting with your choice of the finest steak, chicken, shrimp or veggies, seasoned and grilled to perfection with sautéed onions, peppers or mushrooms. Top that with vegetarian black or pinto beans, rice, fresh vegetables, salsa, sour cream, or any of our 40 different toppings. We wrap it up neatly in a jumbo flour tortilla, but thats where the neatness ends, because this is truly a knife and fork monstrosity.

Gourmet Rice BowlOur gourmet rice bowls start with a generous bowl of freshly steamed long grain rice, seasoned, then topped with grilled to order steak, chicken, shrimp or veggies, perfectly seasoned and sautéed with onions, peppers or mushrooms. Top that with vegetarian black or pinto beans, fresh vegetables, salsa, sour cream, or any of PepperJax special sauces for that extra kick you are looking for.

Fresh SaladFor the health and carb conscious, try our perfectly seasoned and grilled to order steak, chicken, shrimp or veggies over a generous bed of mixed greens. Top it off with any or our 40 different fresh toppings, sauces and dressings for a meal that is much more than just a salad.

First off, I feel that any claim to any of the food at this restaurant being healthy is ridiculous, and even Helen Keller would notice how outrageous this claim was...and I'm talking Helen Keller without her helper.

For instance, the rice bowl comes with a pound of rice. Yeah, you heard me. A FUCKING POUND OF RICE! Who needs that? Who needs a pound of rice?! Then add on top of that a huge portion of the meat of your choice, vegetables, and then all the unhealthy condiments, and not only do you have a meal big enough to feed a family of four, but you've got a meal that is only being consumed by one PepperJax Grill customer!

After spending four months as a PepperJax employee, I jumped ship. I had a month left until graduation, I had moved out of my loft by then, and was now living with my good friend Diane, sleeping on her couch. I no longer could rely on the elevator to take me to work. Instead, i was expected to walk six blocks to get there. So I stopped going. I hated that job more than any other job I've ever had. Having to seriously ask "Would you like fries with that?" is single handedly the most humiliating experience of my entire life. Call me a snob, but I didn't go to college to serve up this shit.

Philly cheesesteaks remind me of my lowest point. Philly cheesesteaks remind of how much I gave up to achieve a goal that I was never going to obtain. Philly cheesesteaks are the modern day Holocaust. They make people fat, they cause heart attacks...ok...maybe not the modern day Holocaust, but they are pretty close. Give them a few more years, and they'll wipe enough people for someone to start noticing.

To wrap this all up, and just in case you are as irritated with the Philly cheesesteak as much as I am, PepperJax Grill has actually posted a testimonials section on their website. Now lets all sit down together...and imagine the kind of people who submit testiomonials to a pseudo-Philly cheesesteak restaurant's website. Have you barfed on your keyboard yet? I have. Enjoy!

Testimonials (http://www.pepperjaxgrill.com/testimonials.htm)
"How fun! I enjoyed watching my food being grilled right in front of me!"
- Mary

"You won't leave hungry, the portions are HUGE!!"
- Bill

"The rice bowls and salads are a healthy alternative to sandwiches."
- Diane

"Probably the most overstuffed Phillies I have ever seen. Quite delicious mixture of meat and spices. If you get a double meat, get a lot of napkins, it can be a bit messy. It's worth a visit!"
- Michael

"The food is phenomenal! If you are in the mood to be impressed, stop in and let the guys behind the counter wow you."
- B.W.

"Great place for lunch. The Steak Phillies are awesome. Try the variety of sauces, offered both at the condiment bar and on the table."
- J.K.

"My family and I are absolutely addicted to this place. We all have different favorites and I haven't tried anything here that I didn't love. Besides great food, I love that its a smoke-free environment."
- Lesley


pjaxguy4 said...

First off..... yes Will Smith IS from philly.... 2ndly Who goes on and on and on and on about how much a restaurant sucks to work at and says how much it is degrading to them to say would you like fries with that and then turns around and completely makes an idiot of themselves by saying they moved to a friends to LIVE ON THERE COUCH and that they couldn't walk lESS THAN HALF A MILE AWAY.... uhhh heres an idea.... KEEP YOUR JOB AND GET YOUR OWN APARTMENT!! 2ndly the "Meat Industry" you are referring to is actually one of the biggest and hardest industries to be in these days. The idea of pepperjax grills steak is to cook the steak and have it breakaway into little pieces without the hard effort of cutting it. Not ONLY did Gary Rohwer come up with this idea... he also created the machine that made it, created the company that now sells it (heartland beef, ever heard of it?! Its a pretty big meat supplier in the midwest), Created other restaurants such as Lansky's and Shartroose Caboose and wait... oh yea Pepperjax Grill which I am pretty sure is a multimillion dollar restaurant....Also the buns come straight from Philadelphia they are Amoroso rolls. Ask anyone from philly they will know exactly what your talking about. So instead of knocking someone about ever going to philly.. you should prob do your own research first and also before you start knocking Gary and the Pepperjax Company... lets think back... first off you were a college student who was too lazy to get a job less than a block away so you got one at the bottom of you building... you then quit this job because you were living on your friends COUCH (notice i didn't say friends apartment which would intend you have your own room) and then quit this job because again you were too lazy to walk 6 blocks... and saying would you like fries with that for 7 bucks an hour is degrading?! No I'm pretty sure saying I go to college but have no money or my own place to live because I quit my job because I would to lazy to work....would essentially be the more degrading of the too. By the way... you never mentioned what you were graduating college for?! My guess is it was nothing to demanding because if you were graduating and were actually planning on doing something with your life you would have never taken the 20 minutes of your life to write that idiotic BLOG because you would have been to busy with such things as i don't know maybe and INTERNSHIP or maybe LOOKING FOR A JOB THAT PERTAINS TO YOUR CAREER... I mean in my right mind if I were about to graduate from college in four months or so I would be trying to find a job that at least pertains to what I am planning on doing for the rest of my life. Oh and by the way I started out at pepperjax doing the same thing and hmmm... weird now I Run one of the busiest stores in the company. and probably make twice as much as your making now... so instead of taking a job where your going to just complain and moan the entire time..why don't you grow up and just make the best of it... People like you make me sick. You didn't like something because it wasn't for you... congratulations...but don't ruin everyone else's experience or thought of the company because your to immature and lazy to find a job that you may actually like or may actually pertain to your career. You would think someone who was that close to graduating FROM COLLEGE would have more maturity then to sit there and write about how the HOLOCAUST is comparable to a Sandwich that is made with meat and cheese...yea thats easily comparable to the annihilation of millions of jews.... good for you way to think that one through....

Anonymous said...

Wow, your lack of humility is astounding.

Mary Ann said...

Obvious sarcasm is lost on some people. At the same time, it never ceases to amaze me how hateful people can be behind the mask of the Internet. For the man that works at Pepper Jax, you should be conscious of your company's online reputation. This isn't a good image to send out to the masses, my friend.

And as an update - I have a link to my LinkedIn profile on my blog. In case you're interested, you can see what I've been up to since graduating from KU in 2004:)

P.S. Your counter argument made me laugh. However, you are very creative in how you picked apart my particular situation at the time without knowing any of the details (i.e. moved in with my friend because my lease was up and I was moving to the U.K. in three weeks - couldn't sign a new lease for such a short period of time).