When Little Pete’s, the long-running Rittenhouse diner, closed last year, it was eulogized by everyone from NPR to photographer Michael Penn. Comedian John Hodgeman posted his Little Pete’s memories on Instagram. Middle Child’s Matthew Cahn got a piece of the floor to hang, framed, in his own restaurant. The diner was even named Eater Philly’s saddest closure of the year in the 2017 Eater Awards.
Word of Little Pete’s looming demise starting circulating years before it shut its doors for good. The 24-hour diner, with its horseshoe counter, booths, and bevy of regulars, held on until the end of May last year, when it was forced to close to make way for a Hyatt hotel. Owner Pete Koutroubas, who opened Little Pete’s at 17th and Chancellor streets in June of 1978, said the restaurant was still going strong almost 40 years later because of its size.
“You know why it was one of the best? Because it was small,” Koutroubas told Eater just before Little Pete’s closed. “Two waitresses, two dishwashers, two cooks, one cashier. When you have a big restaurant, you need extra help. And still you’re only busy a couple of hours a day, for lunch and dinner. We were always busy.”
There isn’t another 24-hour Center City diner that people flock to like Little Pete’s, though Koutroubas does own another diner with the same name in the Fairmount neighborhood, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It has its own draws, including outdoor seating, but it doesn’t have the gritty charm of the original.
Other neighborhoods have their own classic diners, with breakfast served in the middle of the night and meringue-topped pies tempting from inside glass cases. So while Philly is still missing the original Little Pete’s, the city is not without good options for a diner meal (though the all-night eatery is largely a thing of the past). Seeking a Little Pete’s replacement? Read all about Philly’s essential diners here.
- Little Pete’s Is Probably Closing; This World Is Garbage
- It’s Official, Hyatt Centric Will Be Replacing Little Pete’s in Center City
- The Clock is Officially Ticking Down On Little Pete’s Center City Location
- This Photographer Has Been Chronicling Little Pete’s for Months
- Little Pete’s Says Goodbye With a Block Party
- The Horseshoe Counter From Little Pete’s Diner Is Up for Sale
- Philadelphia’s Eater Awards Winners 2017
- A Guide to Philly’s Essential Diners
Little Pete’s received the 2017 Eater Award for Saddest Restaurant Closure of the Year. Read the other stories in this series: