The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Philadelphia staple finds niche


Blake Zietman, owner, and Dean Brundage, business partner, open new location for Blake’s Steaks that will replace the space previously owned by Mickey Sliders on University Drive. 

Long time food establishment owner Blake Zeitman’s level of success with his mobile operation has allowed him to open a stationary, brick and mortar restaurant.
Zeitman’s first portable vending stint was Big Daddy Z’s, but after a trip to the East Coast last year, he decided to swap out the Caribbean-Hawaiian fusion idea for something he felt College Station was missing: Philly cheesesteaks. After a year of operating his food truck Blake’s Steaks, Zeitmans is now set to open up his own stable restaurant in the next few months.
Zeitman said after making the switch from Big Daddy Z’s to Blake’s Steaks the food truck’s performance has monumentally improved.
“We just really kind of hit our swing and stride, and saw what kind of feedback people had for the cheesesteak, and decided we’d take it to the next level,” Zeitman said.
Roy May, owner of Good Bull BBQ and former Aggie Yell Leader, said he’s been impressed by the level of passion Zeitman has for the food he makes and the lengths he’s willing to go for improvement.
“That’s a lot of dedication to want to be better, and I mean you can see it obviously,” May said about Zeitman’s five-week East Coast trip which inspired the idea for Blake’s Steaks. “All the effort and all the sacrifice that he made, you know eventually it does pay off, and it’s evident by the fact that he’s about to open a brick and mortar.”
Zietman and May, who originally met when May extended his Good Bull BBQ operations to campus as a food truck, said they now plan to collaborate on some of their menu items. One item to be introduced at the new Blake’s Steaks restaurant is the BBQ chicken wings, which will feature May’s Good Bull BBQ sauce.
“We’re just two chefs picking our brains,” May said about their collaboration efforts. “We’re trying to work on something to where I can implement something into my menu to where, we’re both able to cross brand and cross-advertise.”
Zietman’s business partner Dean Brundage, also one of the original co-founders of New Republic Brewing Company, said he originally met Zietman through hosting his food truck at New Republic. Out of all the food trucks they hosted, Brundage said Zietman’s was the most reliable.
Brundage, who stepped away from New Republic in January, said Zietman’s success can be attributed to his discovery of a Philly cheesesteak niche in College Station.
“I saw that there was no brewery here in town, he saw that there was no Philly cheesesteak place, and that’s pretty much a mainstay staple on the East Coast, so it’s a good fit,” Brundage said.
Brundage said Blake Steaks will feature a variety of local beers on tap, along with beer that can’t typically be found at local restaurants. The restaurant will also have something called a Crowler machine, which will allow customers to take fresh beer to go in 32oz cans, Brungage said.
In addition to their traditional Philly cheesesteak options, the new brick and mortar location will also feature several new items, like loaded fries and carved meats similar to shawarma, Zietman said. Off-the-wall Hawaiian-style items, reminiscent of his days as Big Daddy Z’s, will also be featured at the location.
Zietman, who has been working in the service industry in College Station and Houston for over 10 years, said he and his wife are glad to finally operate something of their own in College Station.
“We’ve been here for a long time,” Zietman said. “We care about the community, and Texas A&M means a lot to us, so we’re glad to be a part of the culture.”
Zietman and May said they are aiming to open the brick and mortar on Dec. 1, but will also have a grand opening sometime in January when students get back from winter break.
Brundage said he expects the new location to perform well and is looking forward to the opening, but is slightly concerned about his health being around food all day.
“Yeah I’m not excited about the 20 pounds I’m going to gain,” Brundage said.

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