PENNSAUKEN — When the massive wooden doors to The Pub were unlocked to welcome lunch customers on its first day open in more than six months, in walked regulars Jim Falconiero and Orlando Munoz.
The two friends were there not only to eat in their favorite restaurant again but to celebrate Falconiero’s 60th birthday, which just happened to fall on The Pub’s reopening day.
“It’s our favorite place and I wanted to take Jim out for his birthday,” said Munoz, a Cherry Hill resident.
New Jersey restaurants were closed to indoor dining in March by state order because of the coronavirus pandemic. They were allowed to resume indoor operations on Sept. 4, but The Pub decided to stay closed until Oct. 1.
“We’ve been waiting for it reopen because it’s our favorite restaurant and we really missed it. Before the pandemic we used to come once a week for lunch. We love the great food and the staff and the service,” said Falconiero, a Pennsville resident who is superintendent of the Camden City Public Works Department and who was happy to see neither the menu nor the Pub’s famous salad bar had changed.
He enjoyed one of the most popular lunch items and one of his favorites— an open prime rib sandwich, medium rare. Orlando, a senior sanitation inspector in the public works department, devoured his packed burger well-done.
“It’s our favorite place and I wanted to take my friend out for his birthday and this couldn’t be a better way to celebrate,” said an ecstatic Munoz.
While some restaurants have limited or drastically changed their menus, not The Pub.
“We have the same food menu, the same staff and the same friendly service because that’s what our customers want and why they keep coming back,” said Stevie Logothetis, a Pub managing co-owner who also acts as hostess for the trio of owners.
The Pub’s owners say the business has endured for 67 years because of its proven recipe for success with its traditional menu of steaks, chops, prime rib, filet mignon, seafood, jumbo lobster and its famous salad bar with a myriad of choices and house-made zucchini and cornbread.
And the chefs are still cooking at the open-flame grilling pits that line much of the back wall of the great hall dining room, whose longtime decor resembles a medieval castle.
“We are so happy for everyone coming back and for us it feels like we’re back at home. It’s great and the phones have not stopped ringing for reservations since we opened,” hostess Stevie said this weekend.
However, for the first time the Pub is taking seating reservations as well as walk-ins because of the state-imposed seating capacity limit of 25 percent.
“We also did a thorough scrubbing of the Pub and we are taking all the daily anti-virus measures after each customer party leaves,“ Stevie explained, “ and we take everyone’s temperature when they arrive and make them sign in.”
The only change in the great hall dining room and bar lounge is the social distancing of tables and absence of low lounge chairs and cocktail tables. The rearrangement was necessary to help reduce the restaurant’s normal seating capacity of 600 to 125.
“We also have placed tables more than six feet apart with white cloth-covered tables in between so as not to create any issues.”
And no one is allowed to belly up to the bar. Instead, high tables seating two are placed up against the long wooden bar six-foot intervals.
The Pub is open for lunch and dinner and one of the few restaurants open until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Rebecca Smith and Nia Wordsmith were in a party of six friends sitting in the lounge Thursday.
“We’re regulars and we watched the Facebook page to see when they would open. We love the ambience, the food and the drinks,” said Smith, who lives in Burlington County and was sipping a Long Island Tea near a “fantastic bar.”
Meanwhile, veteran Pub bartender Dawn Collins was bringing a wine glass of sauvignon blanc to faithful patron and businessman Mark Naglee of Maple Shade and his friend Jim Sweeney of Mullica Hill, another regular who works in federal law enforcement.
“I work from home, so the Pub is a social outlet for me every Friday, but I also wanted to come on their first day back,” said Naglee.
And we really need to support these people,’ he added, referring to Collins and other staff. “They are wonderful and they were out of work for more than six months.”
Returning to work the dinner hour were long-serving waitresses like Linda Hollingworth, who is in her 44th year doing a job she loves for herself and her customers. “I’m just happy to be back — and making some money again!”
Bartender Collins said she is glad to see he customers again so she can tell them how much she and other employees appreciate them.
“It’s been a very long six months.”
Visit https://www.facebook.com/thepubnj or http://www.thepubnj.com/ for more details.
Carol Comegno loves telling stories about South Jersey history and our military veterans. Her book, “The Battleship USS New Jersey: From Birth to Berth” is the definitive history of the battleship. If you have a story to share, call her at 856-486-2473 or email [email protected]
Help support local journalism with a Courier-Post subscription.
This article originally appeared on Cherry Hill Courier-Post: The Pub is back: Same menu, salad bar and staff at Airport Circle in South Jersey