by Edie Moser
Steam Pub is a staple on Southampton’s Second Street Pike and co-owner Martin Hoeger is justifiably proud of the venue that is a community gathering place celebrating its fifth anniversary on July 2nd.
“We opened with the idea for a place where the local community can go and have good food and drink for an honest buck. All the art on walls was created by employees or local artists. It’s been an amazing five years.”
Steam Pub attracts a diverse crowd that includes families, couples, and groups of friends. He is delighted to share that “on a Friday night you might see an older couple there for happy hour and as they are walking out the door, you can see their kids coming in.”
Speaking of kids; those under 12 eat free on Sunday nights and there is a special children’s menu.
Although Hoeger loves what he does, he didn’t come by this passion naturally. He laughs about how he got into the business. “There’s that joke about being an actor/musician and you are always asked what restaurant you work in.”
He has been a professional musician since 17. “I fell in love with the industry, since I love people.”
He found the music industry not lucrative and not conducive to raising a family and then considered restaurant management. Jerry Walsh who owns Big Head restaurants was his mentor and “taught me everything I knew as far as the business is concerned. I had a vision of my own and was young enough and desperate enough to make that leap. Friends Gene Agnew and Paul “Tubby” Kushner shared the vision with him and the three are co-owners.
The menu and the venue are described as, “New American that takes typical pub fare such as burgers and wings and kicks it up a notch.” Their “quality ingredients, which are locally sources as best we can manage,” are blended into dishes that emerge from their 98% from scratch kitchen. “Brendan Gillespie is our chef who does a good job for us, back with us for two years after a brief absence.”
The building looks like a train ready to head down the tracks. It seats 185 in the winter and 235-240 in the summer when the deck is open. He describes it as “A lot of wood and windows. Long and narrow. When laying out the design, we thought back to Philadelphia row home bars.”
The 60 -foot bar runs down the one side of the dining area and there is a dance floor for DJs and bands that appear five nights a week.
Hoeger waxes enthusiastic, “The local art gives it a cool city vibe, and people say, “I feel like I am in the city here.” It’s not cookie cutter or like chain restaurant bars. It has a little edge, it’s a little cool. Hip, but not hipster.”
Knowing that diners have diverse dietary needs and preferences, he says, “We’ve tried to be diligent. The menu gets switched every six months. We focus on the question, “what are we missing here?” There are a “bunch of vegetarian options which can be made vegan. Just a word to the wait staff and they can get word to the chef.” Some items are gluten free.
Food is considered a symbol for love. The dishes at Steam Pub are infused with it. “You don’t get into this business for the money either. You definitely need to love it. This business picks you. It grabs you and you can’t see yourself doing anything else.”
Steam Pub has daily specials that include:
- The Wass Burger, which won Best in Bucks and Best in Philly several times
- Award winning wings
- Prime Rib Night
- Seafood night featuring 1 and 2 lb. crab legs as well as other dishes from the sea.
- Cheese Steak
Their Spring/Summer drink menu includes beverages with tempting names such as Strawberry Blond and Summer Fashion and Jack Sparrow. A new drink called Bourbon Legend was just entered into a competition for the Burger Brawl organized by Rob Wasserman from Rouge to raise money for Philadelphia Public Schools.
Upcoming events are, “All over the board, as we book different acts. In the Winter the music is top 40 for people who want to dance. Derek Forbes, bass player from Simple Minds is coming in July 22nd. Michael Allman from Allman Brothers family will be performing August 26th.