Five maybe six years ago, I got my semi-annual car wash off 14th street. Not sure why I picked this car wash spot but I remember being wowed by all the services they provided: ultra-lounge, drinks, breakfast food, and car detail. The business is still thriving today.
I sat outside waiting on my car and another guy sat right down next to me as he waited too. We struck up a conversation and started talking about where he was from, where I was from, what he did, and what I did. The normal chit-chat while waiting in line at the car wash. I remember him saying he was just about to open a restaurant in Doraville, but not just any restaurant, the best Philly cheesesteak restaurant in Atlanta.
I remember saying: “you know what, I used to crush Philly Connection back in high school, but I never go anymore. I remember the bread being too dry, not enough meat, and the whole experience very distant from the brand. Are those things even around anymore?”
He replied “Exactly!”
After talking a bit more about Cheesesteakes in the Atlanta market, my car was ready.
“I’m Jon by the way. Nice to meet you.”
“What are you calling the restaurant?”
“Big Dave’s Cheesesteaks.”
He let me know his Instagram had just started, and I gave it an on-the-spot follow.
For the past 5 or 6 years, I’ve followed Dave’s Cheesesteaks on Instagram. He’s a master marketer — very few folks can earn 175,000 followers on a one, now two store franchise. After following his journey all the way to the new opening downtown on Forsyth Street, I was excited to try out what I’ve been following for so long.
This past Monday, after the new Ivan Allen Bridge Opening Ceremony was the perfect time. 1:15 p.m. on a normally slower week, hopefully the line wouldn’t be too long.
I’ve never fancied myself a food critic, but when I got the cheesesteak in front of me, it was massive and I immediately thought I’d need to save half for later.
Not the case. I ate the whole thing and it was delicious. I’ve thought about it several times over the last few days.
The right amount of bread, steak, cheese, and of course grease made it for a must return stop. You can tell they are still ironing out the speed of service, but that should come with time. Going off peak hours will likely save you waiting time. Outside of the unnecessary Philly’s sport’s gear draped across the place, Big Dave’s nailed it.
The lady behind the counter receiving folk’s orders had the same energy that Derrick did years ago at the car wash: friendly, curious, and engaging. The entire energy in the restaurant was superb.
Watching the journey online from afar and finally getting to see and taste his dreams is a remarkable feeling. Next time you are downtown, carve off some time to eat at Big Dave’s Cheesesteak.
Dave shared the story of building the foundation of his cheesesteak dream back on Instagram recently. See below.