Top Businessmen of South Philly

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By Bill Gelman and Lindsey Nolen

Billy Dovas, Owner
Penrose Diner

2016 Penrose Ave.
Years in business: 20

What is the secret behind your success story?
“It’s our staff. We have a team of great people, many from day one. They’re parts of the community themselves, and bring friends in all the time. It creates a really friendly atmosphere.”

Location, location. Tell us a little bit about the spot where your business is based.
“Our location is phenomenal. We’re right off the major highways and near the stadiums. A community, including Packer Park was just built behind us roughly 10 years ago, and there’s also new homes being built. We’re happy to be a part of the community down here.”

Look into a crystal ball. Tell us something exciting about the future of your business.
“We have a passion for what we do, and try to always be a part of the community. We plan to continue to feel like the hometown diner.

Frank Olivieri, Owner
Pat’s King of Steaks

1237 E. Passyunk Ave.
Years in business: 87

What is the secret behind your success story?
“I believe that I am fortunate enough to be able to run my family’s historic business. Never forgetting where I come from, and never changing the successful recipe of the original sandwich my great Uncle Pat invented in 1930.”

Location, location. Tell us a little bit about the spot where your business is based.
“Pat’s King of Steaks is located at the first street of the world famous Italian Market in South Philadelphia, celebrates over 100 years as one of the oldest open markets in the country.”

Look into a crystal ball. Tell us something exciting about the future of your business.
“I will continue to run Pat’s King of Steaks as it was and as it is today, straying from that business plan would be a grave injustice to the world and mankind.”

Sam Cacia, Owner Cacia’s Bakery

1526 Ritner St.
Years in business: 64

What is the secret behind your success story?
“I’m here every day running the business and I believe that a good businessman is always learning and listening to the market. I’m a hands-on owner. I’m not an absentee owner. I need to be here to make sure things run smoothly.”

Location, location. Tell us a little bit about the spot where your business is based.
“We’re based in the heart of South Philly. We have one of the few remaining brick ovens in the city and our customers make an extra effort to come here and get a unique product.”

Look into a crystal ball. Tell us something exciting about the future of your business.
“My son is done school and is here with me full time. It’s exciting to teach him the business. He is so eager to learn everything and has an endless passion for the business.”

Gus Igsro, Owner
Isgro’s Pastries

1009 Christian St.
Years in business: 113

What is the secret behind your success story?
“There’s a multitude of reason, main reason we are who we are is because I won’t divert from the level of quality that we’ve become famous for. I use the best of everything that I can find at a reasonable cost to the consumer, building confidence in the consumer.”

Tell us a little bit about the spot where your business is based.
“My grandfather came over from Italy, and he had money when he came here because he had a bakery in Sicily. He worked to get familiar with the surroundings, so that he would be able to communicate and establish a trust in the community. He worked for the original Palumbo’s, and eventually bought the building at 1009 Christian from them. Since, we have bought building next to it, 1007, and then 1005, where my grandfather lived.”

Look into a crystal ball. Tell us something exciting about the future of your business.
“I’m looking at another property right now for an expansion move, which is something I said I’d never do because it can sometimes hurt the quality of your product. It’s a dangerous step and crossover, because we need to find people with the same mindset that we have. But I have my two sons with me now, and both of my sons are extremely hard workers.”