When the Eagles played the Jaguars in London back in 2018, no doubt you saw the stories highlighting Passyunk Avenue, an American dive bar in the heart of the city. It was the creation of New Jersey’s J.P Teti, who has deep roots in South Philly and originally moved overseas to be a “corporate stooge” (his words), working for Xerox and “running a division of an American company in far-flung parts of the world.”

Eventually the corporate lifestyle wore thin, and with no hospitality experience, he decided to start a cheesesteak food truck. That turned into a brick and mortar business that survived the COVID-19 pandemic and has since expanded to two additional London locations ahead of the Phillies’ June 8th and June 9th UK series against the New York Mets.

It’s a prime opportunity for further growth, but do people in the UK follow baseball? Do they care? Does MLB in 2024 garner the same interest as the NFL in 2018?

“It’s a good question,” Teti us on Crossing Broadcast. “One of the reasons our brand has gotten so wrapped up in baseball and sports in general (is because) sport is part of the culture and ethos in Philadelphia. Part of what we’re trying to do here is not just present the food we eat, but we’re trying to present the culture we experience. Very early on, when we had just one site, we were showing baseball and had a lot of the nascent MLB fan groups seeking us out, to come hang out with us and seek what it was like to be an American baseball fan, to do that in our one very small dive bar at the time.”

The first Passyunk Avenue location was on Cleveland Street in London’s Fitzrovia section. That’s the bar you saw all over the news in 2018.

But with interest sky rocketing, Teti told us that Passyunk simply could not keep up with demand.

“We were getting oversubscribed quite quickly at peak times,” he explained. “I had a thought, there were some sites available adjacent to us on the street, initially where we opened the first Passyunk, and I thought ‘well why don’t I create another bar or sort of waiting room and maybe I can put a batting cage in there, or something like that?‘ And I could entertain these customers who are interested in watching baseball while they wait to come into the core of Passyunk. That idea actually turned into a bit of a joint venture project that we launched with Major League Baseball, just before the pandemic, where in London we opened up a bar, batting cage, a game watch sort of experience, a 6,000 square foot hospitality venue that was dedicated to supporting baseball and the development of baseball in this country. From there, the legend of Passyunk and baseball just sort of took off.”

The new locations are the Leaks St. Arches in Waterloo and Nine Elms in Battersea. The former is built into an underground graffiti tunnel and the latter is located right next to the American embassy in South London:

 

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What’s most interesting, perhaps, is that the brand’s success is due largely in part to the idea of Americana. Teti noted that a savvy clientele wasn’t just coming for the food, but coming for the authentic cultural experience.

“You’d be surprised at how educated the core network of that major league (baseball) community is here. We certainly have a ways to go. There are some youth programs and my kids play in some of the youth programs here and we support some of those youth programs here, but there’s a ways to go because football (soccer) is king here, as you know. But whether it’s American football or baseball, basketball with the NBA, what people are buying into is the lifestyle, and that’s what Passyunk is selling. People are buying into being around that lifestyle, and for all of America’s faults, which are well-documented, there’s something still very aspirational about it. There’s still something people want to be around, and are excited to be around, and when they come to Passyunk and when they’re rooting on the Eagles, or rooting on the Phillies, or god forbid the Yankees or Red Sox, they’re feeling like they’re participating in a bit of legit, authentic Americana, and it makes them feel good. So I think that’s what the attraction is, really. Then they sort of pick up the intricacies of these sports. It’s all part of that Americana experience that they’re seeking out.”

When the Birds came to London in 2018, Passyunk threw a tailgate party and had the Eagles’ team bus stop by with the Super Bowl trophy. They’re going much bigger with the Phillies, a full schedule of tailgates, baseball festivals, VIP parties with players and media, bus tours, and boat parties. If you’re going to the game(s), check out the Philliess in London page on Passyunk’s official site. You can also find the events pinned to the top of the Passyunk Instagram page.

Here’s our full interview with JP. We got into a little bit of everything – stereotypes about London food, the Premier League, future plans, and everything else: