Kenny Thompson is honored to continue his great grandfather’s cheesy legacy.
Thompson, 22, draped in an orange t-shirt beams with pride as he sizzles up cheesesteaks at Pete’s Famous Cheesesteaks in Huntingon, a craft his great grandfather Pete mastered long before Kenny was even a thought.
His stepmother Veronica McReynolds opened the new dine-in and take-out spot at 339 New York Ave. last month. He said he and his dad, Kenneth Thompson, both have prior restaurant experience, and are helping run day-to-day operations at the restaurant.
“She took this over, and me and him are just here helping her out.” said Kenny Thompson, a Smithtown West High School graduate who lives in Queens. “We’re helping her out, keeping it going. She’s the true owner of the place. She’s the one that pushed us to do the concept.”
Of course, Pete Thompson played a part, as well. When he retired from the NYPD after three decades of service, Pete Thompson opened a hot dog truck at exit 56 off the Long Island Expressway. He then started cooking Philly cheesesteaks, which quickly became a fan favorite, and now a family tradition.
For the purists or the personalizers
Kenny Thompson’s cheesesteak credentials are in working order. He said he and his father have spent a lot of time in Philadelphia, learning — on both sides of the counter — what it takes to make an authentic Philly cheesesteak.
“The original, original Philly is [Cheese] Whiz and onions,” he said. “You get a ‘cheesesteak with.’ That’s what they say. That’s the Whiz and that’s the onions.”
The new eatery’s wall art and crew t-shirts help translate the ordering process for Long Islanders with the phrase “Yeah… lemmegetta cheesesteak with…”
Not everyone prefers the original, including Kenny Thompson. He said provolone, peppers and onions is the shop’s most popular cheesesteak, while his favorite order is a cheesesteak with mozzarella, onions and peppers.
At Pete’s, customers have numerous cheese choices, including: Cheese Whiz, American, provolone and mozzarella.
Those who want to go beyond the traditional toppings can add mushrooms, pickles, and jalapeños and other spicy peppers.
The shop also offers chicken, veggie and pizza cheesesteaks, the latter of which boasts pepperoni, marinara and provolone.
Tots and dogs
Like his great grandfather, Kenny Thompson cooks hot dogs at Pete’s. The shop’s dogs, however, are wrapped in bacon for a modern twist.
Customers can draw the line at bacon, get some traditional fixings or go hog-wild. Among the menu options are the New Yorker with sauerkraut and spicy brown mustard, the tot dog covered with tatter tots and cheese and the mac-and-cheese dog.
The shop also offers buttermilk battered chicken breast and chopped cheese sandwiches, an Italian salad and a soup of the day.
The restaurant’s tatter tots could stand as a meal on their own. From the asada tots smothered in cheddar, bacon bits, sour cream, chipotle sauce, guacamole and jalapeños, to the Buffalo tots doused in Buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, blue cheese crumbles and green onion, they are an ooey gooey extravaganza.
“We’re really getting known for our tatter tots,” Kenny Thompson said.