Hoagie Heroes

An East Passyunk Crossing sandwich haven has fed the masses for 71 years.

As neighborhood residents commenced their early morning endeavors, Charlene Burgese scanned the surroundings outside Red’s Hoagies, 1900 S. Ninth St., eager to see whose smiling face would great hers. This has been her tradition for nearly two decades, during which she has become the owner of the thriving East Passyunk Crossing-based shop.

Reds has sated residents’ and visitors’ hankerings for the marriage of meats, cheeses, and rolls since 1948. “It’s just great to be enjoying this longevity in South Philly because there really is nowhere in the city that appreciates hoagies more than this area does,” the proprietor said.

The South Philadelphia native, now a resident of Delaware, has become the third member of her lineage to oversee operations. Her grandfather Charles, whose nickname gives the location its name, and father Eugene preceded her in the business. “I’m proud, too, to be continuing my family’s tradition,” Burgese noted. Six days a week, she and cousin Howie Byrd, the site’s sandwich maker extraordinaire, proudly honor their relatives’ examples and provide their patrons with hospitality and great grub.


“It’s not lost on me that I’m fortunate to be keeping the business in the family,” Burgese said as she welcomed a hungry regular. “Not many businesses last as long as we have, and we just want to keep that going for the people who enjoy our hoagies.”

The shop’s most popular offering is the ham and cheese hoagie. Burgese and Byrd follow the same recipe as Charles Burgese–minus lettuce and pickles. Breakfast hoagies have proven popular, too. Red’s also sells everyday food items, serving as a small convenience store.

Red’s owners Charlene Burgese and Howie Byrd.

While South Philadelphians are the shop’s primary customers, Charlene Burgese beamed when speaking of people who travel from West and Northeast Philly to enjoy her site’s wares.

“I think what sets us apart from everyone else is the consideration that we put into each hoagie,” she said to a nod from her cousin. “You know right away that we care about your order and that you’re not just someone who is giving us your money. That negative attitude isn’t what inspired my grandfather and father to be in this field, and we’re not going to start thinking that way either.”

Burgese and Byrd provide rousing conversation and delicious sandwiches to everyone who steps inside. The shop also offers delivery service.

“Many generations of people have enjoyed coming here to keep us going, and we’ve enjoyed keeping them going, too. It’s a great job to have,” concluded Burgese.

Red’s Hoagies
1900 S. Ninth St.
(215) 468-2183