J. Michael’s Philly Deli to celebrate 40 years with 79-foot cheesesteak

40 years! That’s how long locally-owned J. Michael’s Philly Deli has been in the cheesesteak business in the Port City.

Named after co-owner J. Michael Hutson, he and his business partner Lou Nieper will celebrate the monumental anniversary Sunday, Aug. 18 with a 79-foot-long cheesesteak and 79-foot-long chicken cheesesteak!

The first store opened at Hanover Center off Oleander Drive in August 1979 and the rest is history. (File)

Believe it or not, Hutson planned to be a hairstylist before he tasted a true Philly cheesesteak – which he then started living off of during barber school and working at a steel mill in Pennsylvania.

Hutson did do hair for some time while also training at a deli in Pennsylvania on the side. Eventually, he moved to Wilmington and convinced his best friend, Nieper, to join him in the cheesecake business.

The first store opened at Hanover Center off Oleander Drive in August 1979 and the rest is history.

The Porters Neck location opened in 2000 and the Monkey Junction location was added in 2003.

“I’m sure glad I picked Wilmington,” Hutson said. “Wilmingtonians have been very good to us!”

The 40th-anniversary celebration will kick off at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18 at the Hanover Center location. A “Children’s Everyday Supply Drive” will take place to benefit the Domestic Violence Shelter.

Donations will be accepted for formula, clothes, non-perishable food, unopened over-the-counter medicine, and other baby supplies. Donors will receive a coupon for a free half-size Philly Cheesesteak. A 50/50 Raffle will be held, with half of the proceeds going to the Domestic Violence Shelter.


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