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Nov 27, 2013 07:02 PM

Phamous Phills on Restaurant Divided

I came across the food network episode of Restaurant Divided that was filmed at Phamous Phils in Collegeville over the summer. Apparently they have been struggling and are not making a profit, in spite of the quality of the barbecue and the sauces. So, they applied to be on RD. Phil's wife Robin thought they should open a chop shop, Phil wanted to continue making his bbq. Rocco let them try out their concepts for a night, providing tips and tricks to improve service. Phil came out as the winner, which made us very happy, as we've always enjoyed his food. The restaurant has been completely redecorated as a result of the show, and they are doing counter service instead of table service. DH and I had been planing a bbq dinner soon, so guess where we're going... they are now selling their sauces in the restaurant, I can't wait to bring some home. :)

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  1. Juju, I drove by several times when they were shooting the show and was curious about when it was to be aired. I thought they were spotlighting Phil's product but did not know about the internal schism.
    Pardon my ignorance but what is a "chop shop?" To me, its where stolen cars end up. If you mean pork chops and ribs, I understand but Phil has worked too hard on the bbq to give that up.
    HOWEVER, Phil (if you're reading this),I'm the guy who suggested you have brined and smoked half chickens but you said they'd dry out and be no good. I still disagree and would like to discuss it with you. As a non-meat eater, your smoked wings and chicken salad are good but go just so far. I would have been in many more times for poultry offerings. How about duck? Smoked turkey? All could be by special order and you wouldn't have to be wastefully over-prepped.
    Phil, you have great products and I love your sauces (especially the molasses-based one.) But consider expanding outside the box.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Chefpaulo

      She wanted to do an upscale steak house concept - Rocco pointed out that the area would only support $30/40pp so they did a short rib (?) that they pulled the meat to one end and rolled it up before cooking. quite a dramatic presentation with this HUGE bone and then the tender meat.
      My thought during the show was, I would not drive to C'ville for that steak, but I have several times driven there for his bbq.

      CP, I think the idea of putting some poultry on the menu is great! I know they switched up quite a few things during the show, I bet they made more changes that weren't shown. The menu online does look updated - did they offer pulled chicken before?

      I'm hoping that the exposure from being on the show brings them more traffic! It would be a shame to see them go out of business.

    2. I did view the airing on Restaurant Divided. Having only eaten his food one time all I can say is the suggestion by Rocco(?) to not trim the brisket is right on the money based on my tastes. Sure hope the program/publicity brings more customers and gives them that "second chance" with their newly designed interior and menu adjustments. Love to see mom & pops succeed in a very difficult business.

      1. I had a brisket sandwich at one of the local community day fairs last year, thought it was good and filed it away in the "should try again sometime" category in my mind. Then was running some errands and passed their store "oh, that's where it is" - and I think therein may lie a big part of the problem.

        I'm more in the Royo area now (so too far to be -really- convenient, but not too bad in the scheme of things), but went to school at Methacton - unless that immediate area has changed significantly (ok... guess it has been a few more years than I care to think about!), and it doesn't look like it has -that- much, the location doesn't really doesn't really strike me as an ideal place to set up shop. I can't say as I've been there any time near rush hour recently, but I wouldn't think that end of Germantown gets as much drive-by traffic as other nearby places, It's about as "in the sticks" as you can get around there, a big part of what I'd think of as a regular-customer radius is taken up by Evansburg.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bsims76

          That area gets a TON of drive by traffic (I drive by every day), and they have a convenient parking lot. Unfortunately, I'm not very excited about their BBQ.

          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

            I was going to say... this may be the frontier to some but Germantown Pike is no country road. There is mucho traffic but signs along the pike are regulated by some old ordnance and it is hard to see when you're coming up on it.

            The resto itself is miniscule but, that's why I say to Phil, do special orders of duck, marinated half chickens, turkey breast and maybe even get into seasonal smoked fish if you want to boost your take-out biz. I'll be there!

        2. The Phamous Phil's episode is on again at 11PM tonight on FOOD.

          4 Replies
          1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

            Cool show, might give them another shot now that they've remodeled (and Rocco convinced Phil to leave some fat on their brisket).

            Interestingly, they sent Phil to Fette Sau and Robin to Bibou for advice. Jen Carroll was also one of the guest diners.

            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              As I previously noted I also agree with the brisket issue and the wish for a second chance after remodeling and wish them the best for sure. But as noted above by others the product, while gaining some acclaim, has disappointed me on my one visit. Also the place is very small and easy to pass by if one does not know it location. The lack of traffic is certainly NOT the issue as Germantown pike in that area is actually too busy and it should be noted that Osteria 3-4 doors away is always extremely busy. I found the split concept a bit odd, including the physical split of this very small space; a bit contrived. Oh well thats television!

              1. re: Bacchus101

                That bone-in rolled up short rib looked pretty good (though I can't stand Rocco ever since "The Restaurant").

                1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                  Phamous Phil's is doing "Robin's Chop House" menu for one night only on Sunday Feb 23.

          2. OK, I have to eat crow...

            Stopped in to PP's last night, and I don't know if it was because I previously had only tried takeout (5 or 6 times a couple of years ago), ordered the wrong things, or if in fact Rocco's TV magic really has changed things, but this time I LOVED everything we ate.

            It certainly does seems like the TV coverage may have given them a good bump in business, since we got the last two parking spaces, and the restaurant was almost full (both the remodeled front room and the back room).

            I can't say the remodel is particularly inspired one way or another. There is now communal seating in front, but it still looks like what it is: a hole-in-the-wall local BBQ joint with a bunch of Jack Daniel's crap on the walls. How Robin ever thought they could do a steakhouse here, I don't know. But for BBQ, it has a fine vibe, and the picnic table seating fits right in.

            More importantly, the food just seems kicked up a notch or three. We share a 1/2 rack of baby back ribs, which had a good crust, were juicy and not too fatty, cooked medium well (so not quite falling off the bone), and finished with a not to heavy sweetish glaze. Very good ribs. I don't know why I didn't appreciate them before.

            This was accompanied by some excellent sweet potato fries, crispy and lightly doused with some "Jack Daniel's Honey Glaze". We also tried a side of coleslaw, which was decent, but I'd probably go for the baked beans next time.

            However, the dish of the night was their amazing smoked wings. Most places don't do smoke wings, for the obvious reason that they dry out pretty quick. But that isn't a problem at PP's, as these were juicy but crunchy, with a very strong smoke flavor (they are smoked and then deep fried). And covered in a judicious amount of your choice of Phil's proprietary sauces. We tried "hot", which was nicely spicy but not pain-inducing by any means. All I can say is that thanks to that balance of smokey/juicy/spicy, these were KILLER wings, some of the best I've ever had!

            Finally, the "Phamous" sauces, which he also sells by the bottle. According to the TV show, Phil entered all of his sauces in the KC BBQ championship last year, and they all finished in the top 25 out of 1000s of sauces. We didn't really feel the need to put any of the provided sauces (3 squirt bottles were on our table) on our food, but we did taste each one. I thought the "Inphamous" and "Jacked Up" sauces were a bit too sweet for my palate, but the "Zesty Carolina Honey Mustard" was outstanding, with a pronounced pickle juice flavor (some may not like that much pickle).

            Decent lemonade, and unsweetened iced tea with syrup so you can sweeten it however you like. I'm sure you can BYOB some beer if you like.

            Service was attentive, although a bit slow (it was crowded), and Phil & Robin were active in the dining room (Phil told a funny story about how Robin actually slapped Rocco on the face, but that scene was cut from the show!). The menu is still too big and unfocussed (cheesesteaks???), as Rocco said, but at least for the items we ordered they pulled it off.

            I don't know why I didn't appreciate Phil's BBQ before (maybe I was distracted by Smoke Daddy's closer to home), but I will definitely be a regular now that I know what to order...WINGS!!!


            2 Replies
            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

              Thanks for the comprehensive update and the good news. I know I also was not pleased with my initial venture into PP. I will be interested in tasting the results of the Brisket changes. Understand about the Carolina sauces; having live in NC for a couple years the vinegar/pickle was not a favorite. Just the fact that Robin slapped Rocco would be enough reason for me to return.

              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                Glad to hear you enjoyed it and that things are picking up for them! We have got to figure out when we can get over there. I'm dying for some 'q!