Phila Burger continues to draw crowds as it plans a few upgrades

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Phila Burger continues to draw crowds as it plans a few upgrades
Sam Lee, owner of Phila Burger Station. (All photos and video by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

When was the last time you ate at Phila Burger Station?

The iconic eatery has been serving up hoagies, sandwiches, burgers, cheesesteaks and more since 1994. It was bustling during the Standard’s recent weekday visit at lunchtime. A line of patrons stretched outside the front window, while its staff worked feverishly to fulfill a large order from Chevron.

Owner Sam Lee, a onetime Richmond firefighters’ “Citizen of the Year,” greeted us warmly and took time to share that the eatery’s namesake burger—the Philaburger, which includes pastrami, grilled onions and Swiss cheese on a burger—is his most popular order. It’s also our Editor Mike Aldax’s go-to lunch when he stops by.

Other loyal patrons in line at Phila Burger that day offered their own recommendations, including the chicken cheesesteak (“Phila” is short for Philadelphia, said Sam) and the chili cheese fries. Another customer enthusiastically proclaimed that “everything is good” including the service.

Lee also told the Standard that he plans to renovate Phila Burger’s front outdoor space with a patio and will add a digital menu board with new selections in the near future.

The owner is known for hosting an annual turkey giveaway at his eatery, and during the last one, distributed more than 300 turkeys with all the fixings to families in need, with live music and free haircuts, according to Standard reporter Mike Kinney.

Phila Burger Station is located at 1100 23rd St. in Richmond. It’s open every day except Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.