Straight out of Philly: Chef returns to Richmond with cheesesteak spot

The new Str8 Out Of Philly restaurant will open just down the street from Mama J’s Kitchen in Jackson Ward. (Mike Platania photos)

Philadelphia native Hassan Abdus-Salaam was introduced to Richmond as a child when he visited his grandmother in Church Hill.

He eventually moved here as a teen and graduated from Armstrong High School before kicking off a 25-year career as a chef, including opening cheesesteak spot Str8 Out Of Philly in Church Hill in 2011, before closing it in 2015.

Now, Abdus-Salaam and Str8 Out Of Philly are coming back to Richmond.

Str8 Out Of Philly will use rolls shipped in from Philadelphia. (Courtesy of Str8 Out Of Philly)

This spring he plans to open a two-in-one restaurant concept using that same brand, this time in Jackson Ward at 407 N. First St.

“I’m going to have two restaurants in one,” he said. “I’ll have cheesesteaks and hoagies on one side, and the other will be Str8 Out Of Philly Cafe where I’ll bring breakfast and lunch.”

Abdus-Salaam said the idea struck him after he happened upon the new spot on First Street by chance last year.

“I noticed it when I was coming out of the barber shop. I saw the building and it just caught my interest,” he said. “It’s a really nice area. Jackson Ward is up-and-coming and I thought, you know what, this is a good opportunity.”

He said he’s under contract to purchase the 101-year-old building from Barksdale Haggins, who owns the nearby, long-running Barky’s Record Shop.

Abdus-Salaam’s resume includes working in catering and as a personal chef, and rubbing elbows with some big names.

Hassan Abdus-Salaam

“I’ve done a lot of work with celebrities. I’ve been (former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback) Donovan McNabb’s personal chef and I’ve cooked with Janet Jackson,” he said.

One of the stars of the menu at Str8 Out Of Philly will be the hoagies. Abdus-Salaam said he’ll have proteins beyond just steak to go on the rolls, including chicken, salmon and vegan options, and that he’ll have the usual toppings associated with Philly cheesesteaks like fried onions and sweet peppers.

On the café side, he said everything will be from scratch. In addition to soups, salads and sandwiches, he’ll offer espresso and coffee. And everything in his shop will be halal.

What will set Str8 Out Of Philly’s hoagies apart, Abdus-Salaam said, is the bread he’ll use.

“My bread’s going to be coming from Philadelphia. That’s what makes it different,” Abdus-Salaam said. “I really want to bring the authentic Philly cheesesteak. Amoroso’s is the brand of the bread I’ll use.”

Str8 Out Of Philly will use all 3,000 square feet in the two-story building, with plans to convert the upstairs into an event space.

“I thought it’d be nice to have a small space for things like showers and birthday parties. It’ll fit about 40 or 50 people,” Abdus-Salaam said.

The restaurant will be the new neighbor of GoodPeeples Studios. Joe Jaeger has operated the recording studio there for years and purchased the studio’s building at 409 N. First St. last June for $300,000.

Jaeger said he’s also recently expanded to Los Angeles, where he opened a GoodPeeples location.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
9 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Simon Day
Simon Day
19 days ago

Why you wanna ruin that cheesesteak by putting fungus on it?

David Seibert
David Seibert
19 days ago

Good spot! Welcome back.

Zach Thomas
Zach Thomas
19 days ago

Great news, I loved this place before.

Ian Davenport
Ian Davenport
19 days ago

It was incredible to me Barky’s was open ten years ago, let alone today. I hope it lasts another decade at least.

Alan Hastings
Alan Hastings
19 days ago

Another sub joint coming to an area with nothing but Pizza and Sub joints is about as exciting as a drive down Monument avenue today.

Now bring this restaurant across the river to somewhere like Bon Air that’s actually growing with hundreds of new homes and residents and I’ll get excited. Otherwise it’s in an area no one outside that area goes anymore.

Last edited 19 days ago by Alan Hastings
Justin Fritch
Justin Fritch
18 days ago
Reply to  Alan Hastings

Within the past two weeks there have been announcements of developments within blocks of this restaurant that likely surpass all of the current development in Bon Air. Never-mind all the other growth in downtown. Even if Bon Air somehow attracted more patrons that the city center of the metro, I suspect this business would still be just fine where it is in comparison.

Paul Hawkins
Paul Hawkins
18 days ago
Reply to  Alan Hastings

Maybe you missed the part where he said, “I’m going to have two restaurants in one,” he said. “I’ll have cheesesteaks and hoagies on one side, and the other will be Str8 Out Of Philly Cafe where I’ll bring breakfast and lunch.” That being said,
Hassan Abdus-Salaam better hope he gets strong support from the neighborhood because there are a lot of people in the Greater RVA area who won’t be venturing down there any time soon.

Mat Kemp
Mat Kemp
15 days ago
Reply to  Alan Hastings

I’ve never commented on a news article before but I had to here. Your comment is crazy wrong on two accounts: This area, Jackson Ward, has way more than pizza and sub joints. In fact, the neighborhood has neither! What it does have, all close to Str8 Outta Philly, is two soul food places, a southern taco place, a more general southern take out place, two Korean restaurants, two Jamaican restaurants (including what’s probably the most famous anywhere near Richmond), two dessert bakeries (one regular, one bougie), a cafe, a grilled cheese place with lots of vegan options, a Basque… Read more »

Last edited 15 days ago by Mat Kemp
Carl Darrisaw
Carl Darrisaw
18 days ago

welcome back homie, south west!!!