Vegan Philly cheesesteak shop opens on Hull Street in Manchester

From left, Philly Vegan owners Ratha Chhay, Samuel Veney and Celicia Hartridge, and Veney’s sister Tee. (Mike Platania photos)

A cheesesteak joint for people on plant-based diets has made its debut in Manchester.

Philly Vegan opened earlier this month at 1126 Hull St.

It is the second spot Philly Vegan has called home on the Southside. In 2019, owners Samuel Veney, Celicia Hartridge and Ratha Chhay began selling their cheesesteaks as a pop-up, leading to a sublease in Bon Air in February 2020.

After a falling-out with its co-tenant last August, Veney said they began searching for Philly Vegan’s next home.

“The space we had was only about 300 square feet. It was not big at all,” Veney said. “Fortunately, we made enough money in that little six months to start blowing up and be able to come over to where we are now.”

Philly Vegan’s new home in Manchester. It relocated from a smaller space in Bon Air.

Earlier this year they leased and began renovating the 1,300-square-foot space on Hull, which is next door to where a Maryland developer is planning an 85-unit infill apartment project. Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Veronica Wiles and Nathan Hughes represented Philly Vegan in lease negotiations.

Veney, who is vegan and grew up in Philadelphia, said the restaurant’s menu will include vegan cheesesteaks of all different forms, as well as vegan milkshakes with house-made ice cream.

“We have Philly cheesesteak fries, nachos, sliders and egg rolls,” Veney said. “We wanted to craft our menu around being innovative, but that you can get it quickly.”

Philly Vegan’s cheesesteaks start around $10 and its shakes at $7. The shop will be take-out only.

Philly Vegan offers fry, egg roll and slider takes on Philly cheesesteaks.

“We want it to be fast food, but with quality,” he said. “I used to work at McDonald’s when I was young. I ran the kitchen when I was 16 but I didn’t know it was preparing me for this.”

Veney said they hope to eventually open multiple Philly Vegan locations around the Richmond region and Mid-Atlantic. Veney, Chhay and Hartridge all have previous experience working at nonprofits, and Veney said that after the pandemic hit last year, they started a “pay-what-you-can” program.

“Once a month, on a designated day, customers can come in and pay whatever they can. If they can’t pay anything then it’s no questions asked,” Veney said. “We started it last March, and from then until August we ended up feeding hundreds of families for free. We’re still going to do that here.”

Str8 Out of Philly cheesesteak shop at 407 N. First St., next to Mama J’s.

Hassan Abdus-Salaam

While Veney and his crew have the cheesesteak scene for vegans covered, Hassan Abdus-Salaam recently opened something for the carnivores.

His Str8 Out of Philly cheesesteak shop is open for business at 407 N. First St., next to Mama J’s.

The new spot is a second home for Str8 Out of Philly as well — Abdus-Salaam had operated the restaurant in Church Hill from 2011 until 2015.

The Philadelphia native brought the concept back to Richmond earlier this year as a two-in-one restaurant with cheesesteaks served on one side, and a cafe on the other side serving breakfast and lunch.

Abdus-Salaam said the cafe side and an upstairs event space are not yet open, but he is slinging cheesesteaks on the other side.

“We’ll, hopefully, open (the cafe) in the next two weeks,” Abdus-Salaam said. “The event space probably won’t be until later this year.”

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