George Matysik and Doug Moak
Favorite Spot: Pete’s Clown House
Address: 3878 Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19124
I am: A scrapple enthusiast born and raised in the Lower Northeast. Part of the Daily News People’s Editorial Board
Years in Philly: All of them!
Current Home: East Falls
I am: An accumulator of used books
Years in Philly: 11
Current Home: Graduate Hospital
Our love note:
When you take a ride up Frankford Avenue: past the fancy beer halls, the coffee shops, and the ironic facial hair, the old King’s Highway turns from hipster to Teamster—and from coffee house to…well…Clown House. A greasy-spoon diner crammed into the front of a Philadelphia rowhome, outfitted with bathrooms on the second floor, where you have to compete with the apartment dwellers who share the space. Make a wrong turn and run into an octogenarian watching repeats of Suddenly Susan—if you’re lucky.
To everyone who has ever worked a job where the long hours and daily drama become a vortex of frustration of exhaustion, you know the value of a good breakfast place to share with a good friend on the way to work. Among many typical breakfast spots, Pete’s Clown House is something special.
What is it about the Clown House? Among the regulars, belly-up at the grill, on their way to work like us, it’s a different kind of place. Is it the fact that no one can definitively explain where the name came from? Is it the frenzied staff, bumping into each other, sometimes inexplicably wearing magic marker mustaches, firing back friendly potshots at the regulars while avoiding a collision of coffee trays? The home-made signs on the walls? Or the monster truck parked outside, what’s that about?
The food, despite being as satisfying as any greasy spoon diner, doesn’t seem to be what brings the customers. It has a kind of un-pretentious lack of self-consciousness that has become rare to see in a place trying to sell you something. We would suggest that a restaurant can’t offer a daily breakfast special of two eggs, hash browns, toast, juice and coffee for $1.99, as the Clown House does, without being an honest kind of place. It has the feel of Cheers over hashbrowns with a side of scrapple.
But as the smiling bozo face on the sign indicates, things are a little different in the Clown House. If only for just an inexpensive breakfast, where, as you like, you can either be left alone or get into a brawling debate about the Phillies, it’s not a bad place to start the work day. The Clown House doesn’t take itself too seriously, and really, you shouldn’t take yourself so seriously either. That’s the special sauce in the $1.99 breakfast special, and what keeps us coming back.
(George at Pete’s Clown House. Doug was a bit shy)