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Published:November 24th, 2009 22:28 EST
Judyth Piazza Hits "The Nail" on the Head with Tony Luke Jr.

Judyth Piazza Hits "The Nail" on the Head with Tony Luke Jr.

By Judyth Piazza CEO (Editor)

When you think of Philadelphia, you think of tough guys with big hearts " and cheesesteaks.   That`s just fine with Tony Luke, Jr., restaurateur, actor, and impresario, who is as much a part of his city`s landscape as Constitution Hall and the Phillie Phanatic. 

With his legendary eateries serving up to 20,000 cheesesteaks, roast pork, chicken cutlets, and hoagies a week,the bear-sized Luke has taken his success to the big screen with the independent feature The Nail, " co-written by and starring Luke.  The film is now airing on Showtime and The Movie Channel, after earning the audience award for Best Film at his hometown film festival, Cinefast 09. Impressive versatility for a former martial artist and would-be boxer, born and bred on the streets of South Philly.

Acting and performing were Tony`s first passions. Born Anthony Lucidonio, Jr., he graduated from the acclaimed Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts. But the family business was always food. With his father, a former chef and lunch truck operator, and brother, Tony and the Lukes sold their first cheesesteak in 1992, and Tony Luke`s has since become one of the nation`s most popular eating destinations.

Tony Luke`s has been celebrated in nationwide magazines like Gourmet and GQ, as well as on countless television shows " including the Food Network`s Man vs. Food, " where Tony Luke`s five-pound Ultimate Cheesesteak " was put to the test.  Now, Tony Luke`s PRONTO " frozen take-home versions of the cheesesteak, roast pork, and chicken cheesesteak sandwiches " are being distributed to supermarkets and retailers by Rastelli Food Groups, and is already on shelves in over 2000 stores. (The frozen offerings are also available online or via QVC, for Philly ex-pats who need their fix immediately " in fact, California is the state that ranks #3 in orders).

Tony Luke Jr. has made his family`s restaurant part of the renaissance experienced by Philadelphia in the last two decades.  That pride in his hometown has now extended to film, with the production of The Nail, " for which Luke wrote the screenplay and the soundtrack music.  In the film, Luke draws on his lifelong artistic and athletic inclinations to tell the story of Joey Nardone, a one-time promising boxer who has just been released after serving a prison sentence for a single, terrible moment from his past. 

With a second chance, Joey befriends 14 year-old Jesus (newcomer Paul Orrantia), a scrawny Hispanic boy who wants to learn how to fight.  In a world of domestic abuse and poverty, Joey knows that Jesus won`t stand a chance unless he has someone who can show him the ropes.  Critics and audiences have hailed the film`s sincerity and the powerful, genuine performances of Luke, Orrantia, Dayanara Torres (the former Miss Universe who plays Jesus` mother), and outstanding supporting work from William Forsythe, Leo Rossi and Tony Danza as characters from Joey`s past.  The film screens on Showtime, the Movie Channel, and is available on DVD.

With his food business going nationwide, Tony Luke isn`t sitting on his laurels.  He`s set to appear in two upcoming feature films, Our Lady of Victory " with Carla Gugino and Ellyn Burstyn, produced by Pat Croce; and Mafioso II, " which will shoot in Philadelphia and co-star Angie Everheart and David Proval.  He`s also set to serve as the Philly Chef " for the Food Network`s Guy Fieri`s national live stage show tour.

For more information, see Tony`s movie website at or his restaurant website at

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