Anthony “Big Tony” Blaylock grew up in west Philadelphia and moved to Texas in 1995 to start his own cheesesteak business.

After learning the ropes, he founded Big Tony’s West Philly Cheesesteaks in 2013 in Allen. Blaylock added stores in DeSoto and Dallas in 2015 and in Plano in 2018.

More than two years later, the Plano location has amassed a legion of loyal regulars whom Blaylock and his staff treat like family.

Blaylock said his mantra is simple: customers first. It is a philosophy that comes from his working 17 years at a public utility and earning a degree from Temple University in business relations.

Big Tony’s offers a full array of cheesesteaks, burgers, hoagies, seafood, salads and side items. Big Tony’s also offers monthly specials. May’s special is a Mexican Cheesesteak that includes chopped nacho-breaded shrimp in honor of Cinco de Mayo.

“If you walk in that door, you expect to get whatever’s on that menu, and you expect it to be top-shelf,” Blaylock said. “I eat everything on that menu. If it’s not right, it’s not in here. Everything that I deal with is quality.”

That commitment to quality includes buying rolls from Amoroso’s bakery in Philadelphia, which is considered the mark of a real Philly cheesesteak.

“Amoroso’s is the staple,” Blaylock said. “When we had the bread shortage last year due to corona[virus], we got bread from different places, and people could tell the difference.”

Even if a customer wants a dish not on his menu, Blaylock or his staff will make it. “One guy came in and said,’ I want bacon jalapeno cheese fries, but you don’t have it up there,’” Blaylock said. “[I said] I’ve got bacon, jalapenos and fries, so I made it for him.”

At the Plano location, top sellers are the No. 15 Broadstreet Cheesesteak (steak, mushrooms, banana peppers, sauteed onions, jalapenos and cheese) and the No. 24 Rocky Cheesesteak (steak, Italian sausage, bacon, sauteed onions, Cheez Whiz, American and Swiss cheeses).

“I don’t know what it is—the saltiness—when it comes to the bacon and sausage coming together,” said Patrick Green, who manages the Plano location. “People keep coming back for the 24. We probably get 15 or 16 orders of both of those each day.”

Big Tony’s West Philly Cheesesteaks

701 W. Parker Road, Plano

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sunday