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Philippe: Celebrating 100 Years in Business

In these times of economic uncertainty, rampant bankruptcies and businesses closing all around, it is nice to hear about one business that runs counter to both conventional wisdom and market trends. This week, Los Angeles restaurant Philippe the Original, marked its centennial. To celebrate, on Monday the little restaurant on N. Alameda Street, that claims to have invented the French Dip sandwich in 1918 (after a sliced French roll accidently fell in a hot pan full of roasting juice) –sold its famed sandwiches at its original price of 10 cents — between 4 and 8 pm. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the USC Marching band were scheduled to make appearances.

Established by Philippe Mathieu in 1908, the restaurant was sold in 1927 to Harry, Dave, and Frank Martin for $5,000. The trio ran the place 24/7 until World War II. It’s regular customers kept the place afloat during hard times including the Depression. Now, in the 21st century, Philippe’s remains much the same. There is still sawdust on the floor, the restaurant continues to makes its own hot mustard, and its carvers (many of whom have worked steadily for the past 20 years or more) still cut up the beef and serve customers who line up in 10 cues – often 20-people deep. Although Philippe’s raised the price on a cup of coffee from a nickel to a dime in 1977, it’s motto remains: “We like to say that only the prices have changed.”

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