Patchogue's Arnold Gifford can’t remember exactly how old he was when he fell in love with the cheese steak sandwich but the meal clearly made a lasting culinary impression given the 42-year-old opened Beyond Philly, a new Blue Point restaurant specializing in cheese steak subs as well as chicken sandwiches and standbys such as burgers and hot dogs.
The West Islip native, who graduated in 1988, majored in sociology at a state university and then spent a dozen years working in retail electronics before moving into the restaurant business this month.
“I love the sandwich and I really couldn’t find a good one or a place that specialized in them,” said Gifford, owner of the independent eatery.
What he did know was what kind of place he wished there was locally that served up such menu items. He knew when he started out two to three years ago he would go with a retro 1950s design and décor. He also knew he wanted to offer fresh great fare.
“We slice up fresh rib eye for our sandwhiches. Nothing is frozen, its very good quality,” explained Gifford.
Hungry diners have the traditional sandwich option, which is topped with Cheeze Whiz, as well as eight other cheese options. In fact customers can customize any of the sandwich options to their liking. There are even vegetarian offerings and a takeout menu. Just check out the restaurant's website.
“So far the response has been great. Some of my customers have been here seven to eight times in the three weeks we’ve been open,” he noted.
One is obviously Tony Badalamenti, who wrote this on the restaurant's Facebook page, which also offers up daily specials and is worth liking to keep track of new options and menu creations.
"In my continuing quest to eat my way through the menu, tried the Tornado in Philly and Mac and Cheese bites. Once again, came away happy and full. Keep up the great work!"
Gifford's already updating the menu, which should be available on the store’s website by this weekend, to include new chicken offerings including Buffalo Chicken, Greek and Italian chicken heroes.
“We want to give customers whatever they want so we want to keep putting new sandwich choices out there,” he said, adding he’s also busy creating his own sandwiches such as the Tornado Potato, which includes French fries on a cheese steak sub, as well as the Steel City cheesesteak, which features coleslaw and French fries.
The new offerings are getting raves on the restaurant's Facebook page.
"Had the Tornado yesterday, LOVED IT," wrote Nicholas Piscione.
Gifford designed and built the restaurant interior with his girlfriend, Jennifer Pynn, a Dix Hills native. He chose the Blue Point location, at 168 Montauk Highway, after looking at several business districts, including Patchogue, during the past year.
“I wanted a house-like look to the restaurant, not the typical brick storefront look a lot of place have and I also wanted parking to be easy so this location was a perfect fit,” he explained.