Burger King launches Philly Cheese King, but this Philadelphia restaurant opts out

  • Burger King will launch the Philly Cheese King burger nationwide Thursday for a limited time.
  • There will be one key exception. The sandwich will not be available at one Burger King restaurant in Philadelphia, where some consumers might most likely expect it.
  • The sandwich uses more than a half pound of beef for the burger, caramelized onions and American cheese.
Burger King
Sia Kambou | AFP | Getty Images

Pat's, Geno's or Burger King?

Everyone knows Philadelphians take their cheesesteaks seriously. Burger King plans to launch the Philly Cheese King burger nationwide Thursday for a limited time — with one key exception. One restaurant in the city is opting out.

The new burger is a cross between a cheeseburger and a traditional Philly cheesesteak and will sell for about $5.99. The sandwich uses more than half a pound of beef for the burger, caramelized onions and American cheese.

The Philadelphia restaurant on South 8th Street that opted out is doing so to honor the traditional recipe, according to a Burger King spokeswoman. Calls to the restaurant weren't immediately returned.

Burger King filmed a commercial promoting the new burger at Geno's Steaks and Pat's King of Steaks, two of Philadelphia's famed cheesesteak restaurants, which are located across the street from one another.

"We're not going to lose customers. They might gain customers," said Jeffrey Beres, manager of the famous Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia. "They might be missing out."

Beres said he is unsure of the quality of Burger King's Philly Cheese King but that it's possible it might be better than some of their other burgers.

Frank Enrico Olivieri, Pat's owner, said he is OK with the burger. "Not that I necessarily endorse it, but I let them film the commercial here," he said. Olivieri said he has declined a similar request from another restaurant chain.

For now, the ad will be shown only online, according to Burger King.

Burger King has been struggling with sluggish growth, and introducing new products can build buzz and bring customers into the restaurant. The chain has faced increased competition from McDonald's, Wendy's and more upscale burger places, such as Shake Shack. Burger King is owned by Restaurant Brands International, which reported lower-than-expected earnings on Wednesday.

Burger King reported a same-store sales drop of 0.7 percent in the third quarter at its U.S. stores.

Neil Saunders, an analyst with GlobalData Retail, said Burger King's weak performance was disappointing given advertising campaigns and promotions during the quarter.

"From our data, it is evident that these have been successful in stimulating traffic and sales at stores," he said. "However, it seems that outside of these occasions, traffic has been a little softer. Burger King clearly needs to get better at driving more regular traffic to its stores, especially as competition in the fast food segment increases."

Burger King has been testing the new sandwich since the spring.

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