February 28, 2023
There's nothing quite like picking up supplies at a Home Depot store in Philly and stopping to grab a breakfast sandwich or a cheesesteak at the Rocco's Italian Sausage stand in the parking lot. It's a great example of symbiosis in action: Hungry home improvers fuel up on calories at shacks that have found the perfect, niche market for people to kill two birds with one stone.
Since debuting in 2006 at the Home Depot stores on Columbus Boulevard in South Philly and Castor Avenue in Port Richmond, Rocco's stands have have expanded to all five Home Depots in the city. The others are on Oregon Avenue in South Philly and on Roosevelt Boulevard and Bustleton Avenue in Northeast Philly.
Now Rocco's Italian Sausage has its sights set on the suburbs, the Bucks County Courier Times reported.
Rocco's debuted its first suburban location at the Home Depot in Souderton this month and has plans to open another at the Oxford Valley Home Depot in Fairless Hills.
For a small, affordable food stand, Rocco's has a pretty sizable menu of cheesesteaks and sandwiches, from sausage and grilled chicken to eggs and portobello mushrooms. The stands also serve coffee and home fries.
Rocco's Italian Sausage traces its origins back to Queens, New York, at a Home Depot in Long Island City. Founder Richard “Rocco” Guardino had been working at his brother-in-law's hot dog franchise, Dominic's of New York, which signed contracts with Home Depot and Lowe's stores to open food stands. Guardino learned of space that became available inside the store in Long Island City and tried out his own concept, adding Philly cheesesteaks and sausage sandwiches to the menu. A second New York location later opened at College Point.
Guardino's former Dominic's colleague, Dan Winter, later pitched the idea of opening outdoor stands at the stores in South Philly and Port Richmond. They became instant hits for the contractors and homeowners who made frequent trips to these stores. The business largely grew by word of mouth.
The expansions to the other Philly Home Depot stores over the years have been careful and intentional. Winter's sons run one of them and a trusted business partner, Bill Visco, runs the stand on Oregon Avenue.
The new location in Souderton is run by husband-and-wife team Joanna and Damian Meisner.
“It is all about protecting the brand, about making sure that everything is good,” Winter told BillyPenn in 2018. “Quality over quantity. We’ve kept it smaller, and all of our shops are solid. Some people try to grow too fast. It is so easy to get greedy in this game.”
Rocco's Italian Sausage stands are typically open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m or 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Breakfast sandwiches are served until 10:30 a.m. One of the most popular menu items is the Rocco's Special, which comes with both sausage and steak on an Italian long roll.
Some of the Philly stands are also are on online delivery platforms like GrubHub, Uber Eats and DoorDash, for those who want the food without the trip to Home Depot — but some might argue going there is part of the magic of the business.