For more than 10 years Robert Douglas has been behind the counter of Max’s Steaks frying up to 100 cheese steaks a day, six days a week.
A well-known face in the community of Nicetown, Douglas has served famous rappers and football players as they trek up to North Philadelphia in search of the perfect cheese steak sandwich.
“I got a lot of famous people walking in, I got Teri Woods, the author; Rick Ross, the rapper been here and Wu-Tang Clan,” Douglas said.
Located at the busy intersection of Broad Street and Erie Avenue, Max’s Steaks is well known for its two-feet-long sandwiches, which are affectionately known at the store as the “Giant.” The fully stuffed baguette attracts dozens of customers forming a line to the doors of Max’s Steaks even in the summer heat.
Douglas said he insists on not only using top- quality beef and ingredients in his cooking but also tailors each sandwich specifically to the order of his customer. He has even created a vegetarian option for those who do not eat meat but still want to experience his cooking.
“It has peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes, cheese and I cook it altogether and lay the cheese on top of lettuce and tomatoes and people love it,” Douglas said.
However, if you are thinking of trying just one sandwich at Max’s Steaks, Douglas said the basic cheese steak sandwich is the best, made with mayonnaise, fried onions, salt, pepper and ketchup.
As for the difficulties and challenges of being behind the grill, Douglas jovially said he has never had any and that it is all about respecting the customer and giving the customer what he or she wants.
It is the top notch service at Max’s Steaks that has kept Sgt. Tony Jones coming back even since the store first opened its doors in 1994.
“They have the best cheese steaks in town, Pat’s uses cheese whiz and I don’t like cheese whiz. They don’t even give you the option of what you want on it. They just throw it together wrap it up and give it to you” Jones said.
Benjamin Roberts, a young but already loyal customer, said, “They operate right, the business is right, the food is right.”
Douglas intends to stay at Max’s steak for as long as possible, gathering the community around the store and serving up delicious sandwiches to the people of North Philadelphia and beyond.