Steve Margulies remembers feeling apprehensive when he and his wife, Michelle, were looking to purchase Stan & Lou’s Grill and Pub, now known as Pappy’s, back in 2005.
While he and his wife were excited for the opportunity, Margulies was looking for a more laid-back location.
This would be different.
“This was a lifestyle change. This was going to be full time,” Margulies says. “But I felt that there was tremendous potential.”
Pappy’s Grill & Pub, 2501 Messanie St., would open its doors shortly thereafter, featuring a variety of foods, from breakfast items like omelettes, biscuits and gravy and pancakes to a lunch and dinner menu featuring different types of burgers, tenderloins, wings and sandwiches as well as a full bar.
Margulies has expanded the menu over the years, eventually adding 25 different burgers about six years ago.
“That has been a tremendous success,” he says. “We sell thousands of burgers a year. Consistency is the key. I’m on the kitchen all the time — if you come in on a Tuesday for a cheeseburger, it’s going to be the same taste that you get on a Friday.”
Starting with around six to eight employees, Pappy’s currently employs about 19 people.
The restaurant’s biggest draw, according to Margulies, is the friendly atmosphere supported by a staff that seems to embody the theme of “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name.
“The familiarity with me, my wife, the front of house with our servers — there’s just a comfort level when people come in here. We think that’s the primary reason for our long-term success,” Margulies says.
Various memorabilia, chief among them sports posters and pictures of people and events hosted by the restaurant, hang on the walls, along with signs Margulies says resonate with his cynical sense of humor.
Nevertheless, he says there have been some challenges. Not being on the Belt Highway means quality is that much more important to the overall experience to keep people coming back, he explains. He remembers the restaurant going smoke-free in 2012 and raising awareness through various media outlets. That forward-thinking led to a near-20-percent bump in sales for nearly two months afterward.
“We have to keep our prices a little bit lower, we have to give them the customer service that they may not be getting at those places, we have to give them the quality in the food that they may not be getting elsewhere,” Margulies says.
Pappy’s is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Monday through Thursday and from 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.