Sometimes you just can’t dance with the horse you came in on. Changing rides in mid-stream may be the only gamble worth taking. That’s what Stan Johnson did with his food cart, Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks. One fateful Sunday at closing, Stan’s cart was Gulf Bites. On the very next Monday morning the cart had magically transformed into Phatz.

Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks front window and the Phatz Phriends

If the name Stan Johnson sounds familiar it’s because he was a guest of Tasty Tuesday in 2015, just after Gulf Bites had opened. Even though G-Bites was doing well, after just six weeks, Stan felt that cheesesteak sandwiches would be the preference of his customers. Sales by the way, have double since the change.

Service window of Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks with enthusiatic employee

Lest you worry that Stan was making a rash decision in so radically changing the menu of a popular food cart, it’s important to note he has been in the food service business for decades. He worked as corporate manager with both TGI Fridays and Red Robin. He also served as the manager of Portland’s own restaurant icon, Der Rhienlander.

It’s that restaurant business experience and acumen that has prepared Stan to know a menu change, even one as radical as Key Lime Pie to Cheesesteaks, would be the best decision for his future as a food cart proprietor. And by all accounts the cheesesteaks are meeting with rave reviews.

Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks Southwest cheesesteak sandwich

No one serving cheesesteak sandwiches would last for long if they were not offering the universally known and loved traditional Philly cheesesteak sandwich. Phatz combines thinly sliced steak with either Cheese Whiz (for the hardcore cheesesteakers), Provolone cheese, or Pepper Jack cheese. And yes, natives of Philadelphia give Stan’s traditional sandwich their approval.

Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks Stroganoff cheesesteak sandwich

Stan also has his interpretations of the cheesesteak sandwich. The Southwest comes with seasoned steak, fire-roasted green chilies, sautéed onions, and Pepper Jack cheese. Then there’s The Stroganoff. Made with, well, stroganoff. The ingredients are seasoned steak, mushrooms, onions, and cream cheese. Thanks to Rita for suggesting the cream cheese.

Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks is located in the exact same spot where you used to find Gulf Bites in the Happy Valley Station food cart pod at SE Sunnyside Road and 145th. The Happy Valley Station Food Cart Pod is open Monday–Saturday, 7 AM–8 PM and Sundays, 11 AM – 6 PM.

Listen now as Steven Shomler and Ken Wilson talk with Stan Johnson of Phatz Philly Cheesesteaks about what it’s like to change horses in the middle of the dance.