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London restaurant brings Philly-style love to Thanksgiving lockdown

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JP Teti, owner of the Philadelphia-style restaurant in London called Passyunk Avenue, stands next to his Thanksgiving offer, the Gobbler LOVEbundle, which contains staples of Thanksgiving feasts like turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

JP Teti, owner of the Philadelphia-style restaurant in London called Passyunk Avenue, with his Thanksgiving offer, the Gobbler LOVEbundle. Max Schroeter, Uneek Media

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This Thanksgiving, family gatherings might be a little smaller, but what about the feast?

Many restaurants all across the world are taking the meal-planning stress off customers by offering heat-and-eat dinners. Some are gourmet with a perfectly-roasted whole turkey and all the traditional sides. Others, are bit more playful, like the offering at Passyunk Avenue.

The American bar located in central London’s Fitzrovia neighborhood has rolled out all the Thanksgiving must-haves in one easy-to-eat Philadelphia-style sandwich. For Americans locked down in London, the restaurant’s owner JP Teti hopes it brings a little slice of tradition home.

“Even though we can’t host you in our restaurants, we still want you to feel the Philly love,” Teti said.

All week, boxes with the label “Philly-Approved LOVEbundle” began shipping out all across the country. Inside are frozen components for a hoagie meal for four: turkey that was roasted on Saturday, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, a slice of brie and the restaurant’s original-recipe hoagie rolls.

The sandwiches are inspired by a similar offering at a well-known Northeast convenience store called Wawa. Every year it offers turkey bowls and “Gobbler” meals that feature similar fixings.

“We always throw a big Thanksgiving celebration and offered this last year,” Teti said. “We’ve made some tweaks, but if you’re from Philly or the Northeast, you’ll recognize this seasonal product and we wanted to bring it to the U.K. And we thought how could we get all the flavors of the season into one product, and we’ve got the Gobbler.”

The small restaurant made 100 LOVEbundles available and sold out days before Thanksgiving.

Teti said he thinks lockdown restrictions have made people less willing to make elaborate feasts this year, and offerings like this offer the same nostalgic flavors without the hassle.

“The pandemic has forced all businesses to reconsider what they’re all about and how they’re going to engage with their customers,” he said. “So I think a lot of people are toning down their plans this year, and this product fits well in that space. It’s something that’s  easy to put together. You don’t need 20 to 30 of your closest friends around to do it.”

And for customers not feeling particularly joyous this Thanksgiving, JP and the team have thought of something to help with that, too. Packed inside the box is a welcome note with instructions for assembling the hoagies and a QR code to explain the spirit of America’s City of Brotherly Love. There’s also a second QR code that takes users to the restaurant’s Spotify playlist to jam to, as Teti put it, “the kind of grooves you’d hear in a Philly dive bar.”

So for homesick Americans who want a bit of Thanksgiving tradition, maybe Tom Petty’s “American Girl” or Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Philadelphia” will help bring the turkey day experience to life.

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