When we last checked in with Reuben “Big Rube” Harley earlier this year, the chef, style icon, and proponent of “Black folk-style cooking” had set out into the ghost-kitchen delivery world.
But, as he told me recently, he was soon vexed by staffing issues and the profit-sucking nature of food apps, so he moved on, splitting with investor Aaron Anderson.
Through his friendship with David Lee at Pizza Jawn in Manayunk, Harley set up on Main Street during the Manayunk Art Festival.
And from there — bingo.
He landed next door at Pitchers Pub (4326 Main St.), taking over the kitchen from 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday, noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday for his menu, notably his signature fried chicken, cheesesteaks, and burgers.
Harley has cut quite a figure in Philadelphia entertainment circles over the last 25 years. Cooking as a popular caterer, he became the 6-foot-1, 280-pound pitchman who took throwback sports jerseys worldwide in one of his past lives as a marketer for the Philadelphia apparel company Mitchell & Ness.
Back in 2003, the rapper Fabolous dedicated a track, “Throwback,” to Mitchell & Ness. And it appears that Harley’s past life is returning: Fabolous visited him at Pitchers recently.