Tony Luke's, a Philadelphia franchise sandwich restaurant, will open its first Lehigh Valley location in a new spot in downtown Allentown next month, while a new company will occupy office space above it.
The restaurant will open in September at 806 Hamilton St., one block from the new PPL Center, and will be the third restaurant in the City Center Lehigh Valley portfolio, according to Brett Kemmerer, director of restaurant development for City Center.
City Center also is renovating two floors of office space above Tony Luke’s which will be for Sabari, a technology company that offers restaurants a food purchasing system. The startup will occupy the second and third floors. The business should bring about 18 to 20 employees and be open around the same time as Tony Luke’s, Kemmerer said.
He said City Center chose Tony Luke’s because of its brand name recognition, its ability to attract local people who live and work downtown and power to draw people who live throughout the Valley.
“It’s a recognizable, regional brand,” Kemmerer said. “I’m surprised by how many locals I talked to that are familiar with the brand. I think that works well for the arena events. I think it’s a compelling concept.”
Tony Luke’s serves South Philly specialties, including roast pork, cheesesteaks, chicken cutlets, chicken cheesesteaks, hamburgers and fries, said Albie Misci, director of sales for Tony Luke’s.
The Allentown location will be open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and later at night to accommodate sporting and concert events, Misci said.
“We are still trying to gauge the level of involvement we are going to need from employees,” Misci said. “With all the buzz that’s generated, it looks like it would be a successful location.”
He said he would like to hire Allentown employees and get the business open by the last week in September.
The business is well known throughout the Greater Philadelphia area and includes locations in South Jersey, Warminster and the Mayfair section of northeast Philadelphia, Misci said. The company also has two locations overseas in the Middle East.
The company, headquartered in Paulsboro, N.J., has 21 locations that are open with plans to go to 24 by October, including Allentown.
“With Allentown and everything they are doing for the city, they are building it up,” Misci said.
“Brett [Kemmerer] had reached out to us; he’s familiar with the Tony Luke’s brand and he thought we’d be the perfect fit.”
Praveen Vig, owner and operator of Tony Luke’s Allentown, has been in the food industry for years, Misci said. Vig also owns and operates franchises and food concepts at casinos in Atlantic City, including Auntie Anne’s and Maharaja Express at the Trump Taj Mahal, Misci said.
Tony Luke Jr., CEO and founder, is co-host of Spike TV’s first culinary show, “Frankenfood.”