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Neighborhood Diners Are a Philly Fixture

Little Pete’s was named Philly’s saddest closure in the 2017 Eater Awards, but there are still a few classic diners in town

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A slice of pie at Rooster Soup Co., one of Eater Philly’s essential diners
Alexandra Hawkins

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.

The now-closed Little Pete’s diner

Little Pete’s received the 2017 Eater Award for Saddest Restaurant Closure of the Year. Read the other stories in this series:

Oregon Diner

302 West Oregon Avenue, , PA 19148 (215) 462-5566 Visit Website

Little Pete's

2401 Pennsylvania Avenue, , PA 19130 (215) 232-5001

Rooster Soup Company

1526 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19102 (215) 454-6939

Melrose Diner

1501 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145 (267) 607-3676 Visit Website

Llanerch Diner

95 E Township Line Rd, Upper Darby, PA 19082 (610) 789-6057 Visit Website