Hundreds of people turned out recently for a block party to mark the 35th anniversary of the opening of the first Chickie’s & Pete’s.
“Thank you, Mayfair,” owner Pete Ciarrocchi told the crowd.
Pete and Chickie Ciarrocchi, the current owner’s parents, opened the bar back in 1977. It replaced Wally’s Café, which was known for having a ladies’ entrance and no bar stools.
Today, the Chickie’s & Pete’s franchise is incredibly successful. The expansion started in 1999, when Ciarrocchi opened locations at 11000 Roosevelt Blvd. and the old Veterans Stadium.
Since then, more standalone locations have opened. There are also locations at the airport, stadiums, Jersey shore boardwalks and casinos.
Last year, an ESPN Mobile poll named Chickie’s & Pete’s the Best Sports Bar in North America.
The bar’s motto is, “It’s a lot more fun to eat in a bar than drink in a restaurant.”
Ciarrocchi, though, said none of it would have been possible without support for the original bar.
“It’s about 4010 Robbins Avenue,” he said.
Dan Baker, the Phillies and Eagles public address announcer, served as master of ceremonies. City Councilman Bill Green delivered a resolution. Bail Commissioner Tim O’Brien presented Ciarrocchi with a lifetime mock “Get Out of Jail” card. The bar owner also received a resolution from state Sen. Tina Tartaglione.
Former City Councilman Rick Mariano was also on hand, as was the bar mascot, Crabfry Guy.
Guests included Tony Bruno, of 97.5 The Fanatic, and the Fanatic Fantasy Girls. Bruno once lived on Brighton Street in Mayfair.
The Eagles Pep Band, a band called The Business and a Ciarrocchi favorite, the Polish-American String Band, provided entertainment.
Ciarrocchi, who is married with three sons, is a part owner of the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football League team. The Soul Man mascot and a few Soul Mates cheerleaders attended the festivities.
Ciarrocchi posed for pictures with original employees and customers as We are Family and the theme from Rocky played. He still knows them by first name, recounting how a woman named Helen used to order pressed ham and smoke Benson and Hedges Gold cigarettes.
Crabfries have replaced pressed ham as the menu favorite, and patrons can no longer smoke at Philadelphia bar/restaurants.
What hasn’t changed is that Ciarrocchi considers all his customers to be a part of the franchise.
“I just have the keys to the place,” he said. ••