[2019] Tony Luke, Jr.: The Rise and Fall of a Cheesesteak Empire

[2019] Tony Luke, Jr.: The Rise and Fall of a Cheesesteak Empire

Tony Luke, Jr. is a cofounder of Tony Luke's, a cheesesteak franchise with multiple locations. He's also an actor, TV personality, musician, and an anti-addiction-stigma activist.


Tony Luke, Jr. is a cofounder of Tony Luke's, a cheesesteak franchise with multiple locations. He's also an actor, TV personality, musician, and an anti-addiction-stigma activist.

In the early 90s, Tony, his brother, and his father built and opened a small sandwich shop in South Philly. Back then, Pat’s, Geno’s, and Jim’s were the only names synonymous with Philly Cheesesteaks. But pretty soon, everyone was talking about Tony Luke’s.

Tony Luke’s would turn into a household name, and Tony Luke Jr would become the face of the franchise: starring in TV and radio commercials, and even getting his own show on Spike TV.

But, before his father even had the thought to build a sandwich shop, Tony Luke Jr’s story had already taken several shapes: from being a rough-and-tumble South Philly kid, to a budding Hollywood movie star rubbing shoulders with the cast of Rocky, to scoring a record deal as the crooner of an R&B band.

In this episode, you’ll hear how a small sandwich shop on a random corner in South Philly - that didn’t even sell cheesesteaks when it first opened - became the Philly cheesesteak sensation of the 90s.

But, the highest of highs would soon become the lowest of lows. Tony’s family would have a falling out about the direction of the franchise, which would be followed by a devastating lawsuit, the end of Tony’s TV show, and the heart-wrenching accidental overdose death of his son, Tony Lucidonio III.

Tony, Jr. now serves as an anti-addiction-stigma activist, educating and guiding addicts and their families towards better times.