One of the most anticipated restaurant openings in West Chester, Jack’s Steaks & Shakes, is finally upon us.
Jack McFadden, former owner of the Bar & Restaurant and The Gables at Chadds Ford, bought the dilapidated building at 16 East Gay Street over two years ago with plans to convert the space into an authentic, upscale cheesesteak shop with takeout windows. The design and renovation process has been long and arduous. His construction crews took the building down to the studs and rebuilt it. In March of this year, McFadden thought he was weeks away, but the delays continued through the spring. The restaurateur’s persistence has finally paid off and the end result is nothing less than stunning.
While the layout is slightly reminiscent of a certain South Street steak shop, Jack’s Steaks & Shakes integrates a certain Chester County grace to the space. Exposed brick and stone walls, along with wooden beams, copper accents, and large tile style floors provide a classic, yet casual feel. On the first floor, hungry diners can salivate while watching their cheesesteaks being handcrafted. A few tables are set up for dining inside the front windows. The second floor features seating for thirty-two and includes a small second floor back porch that feels like a private getaway.
Although Jack’s Steaks & Shakes officially opens on Monday, August 6th, the friendly staff handed out tasting samples of cheesesteaks, fries, and milkshakes during Aug. 3′s Swingin’ Summer Thursday event. We were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to tour the restaurant and sample the offerings.
Our first taste was the chicken cheesesteak on a classic Italian roll, and it was sublime. The locally-raised chicken was beautifully tender and the provolone cheese oozed out of the fresh roll. We also sampled a true cheesesteak served on a wheat roll. The New Zealand beef was spectacular and the roll was again fresh (though I prefer the classic Italian rolls). The french fries were crisp, and the sweet potato fries were crisp and tangy. I’m anxious to return next week for a full cheesesteak wit’.
Here’s the deal on the menu: A myriad of choices provide the opportunity to order a cheesesteak South Philly style or to kick it up a notch. Sandwich choices include: New Zealand Grass Fed Beef ($9.95), Line Caught Ahi Tuna ($10.95), Naturally-Marinated Local Chicken ($8.95) or Kennett Square Portabella Mushroom ($7.95). The price includes a choice of one cheese and two toppings. Roll choices include regular Italian or whole wheat from Aversa’s Italian Bakery in New Jersey.
Of course, cheese is key to a classic cheesesteak, and there is no wiz served here. Cheese choices are American, Provolone, Cheddar or Laura Chenel goat’s cheese.
Wit’ or wit’out? In addition to offering fried onions, Jack’s toppings include mushrooms, peppers, fried onions, roasted peppers and long hots. Remember, any two are included in the price.
The second part of the equation is the shakes. Although they handed out samples of the blueberry shake, we did not indulge during our visit. Hence, another reason to return. We do know the shakes will be made with fresh vanilla or chocolate low-fat yogurt and fruit can be mixed in to order. Fruits expected to be available include strawberry, banana, mango, raspberry, peach and blueberry.
Jack’s Steaks & Shakes does not have a liquor license, but is surely going to draw the bar crowd that gathers on Gay Street Thursdays through Saturdays. Jack’s Steaks & Shakes will NOT be a BYOB. Along the side of the restaurant, which faces a parking lot, two take-out windows will serve hungry folks after 10 p.m.
Jack’s Steaks & Shakes officially opens on Monday, August 6th at 10 a.m. The restaurant is located at 16 East Gay Street in West Chester. Call 610-436-1222 for more information or to check their hours. You can also follow them on Facebook.