Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eating out in Chester: Lamplighter Restaurant and Pub

Some restaurants are known for one specific item that people flock to, and that's where most of their business comes from. But the Lamplighter Restaurant and Pub in Chester has so many great items on its menu that floor manager and owner's son Bob Brady can't pick out one particular item that makes the restaurant so popular.

He thinks it has more to do with how long the community has loved the place.

'It's just the longevity of the place that I think people like," Brady says. "We've been here almost 30 years."

In that time, the Lamplighter has remained a fixture where people can get two distinct styles of food.

"We're Italian-American," Brady says.

The American portion of the menu offers several favorites.

"We have rack of lamb. That's a popular dish," Brady says. "And we have some great steaks."

On the Italian side, there are dishes that may not be so familiar.

"We have chicken Florentine and chicken pepperoncini," Brady says.

But say you just want to kick back, drink some beers and watch a game. Well, in an establishment that sells rack of lamb and chicken pepperoncini, you can do that too.

"We have the pub section, too," Brady says. "And that has the lighter menu. Probably one of the most popular items on that menu would be the Reuben. We also have individual pizzas and burgers."

Any of these items can be ordered and brought to the regular tables, as well as to the special tables up in the private-party room.

"It's in the back," Brady says. "It's called the Fireside room. It can fit about 55 people."

Running a business like this would take a lot of manpower, and luckily for Brady, he has it in his family. Whether it's a large or small contribution, almost every member of his family works to keep the place up and running.

"It's a family business, and my father has always been the owner," says Brady, who works as a floor manager, while his brothers work in a slightly hotter environment. His father is retired.

"My two brothers are in the kitchen," Brady says. "And then we have a lot of other family that share responsibilities. I have a son and a daughter who work here. Everybody works here part time, some more than others. And some are even full time."

The restaurants have additional assets besides great food and service. One of the most noteworthy is the antique vibe of the building. Lining the walls of the restaurant area are pictures of important-looking people with big mustaches. The pub area has more of a sports theme — not current sports heroes, mind you, but older photographs of boxing
and horse racing, which highlight the antique vibe.

The first photo that went onto the walls was of a boxer who was one of the restaurant's early customers, Brady says. He brought in the photo while the building was being renovated, and when the carpenter saw it, he said: " 'That's perfect. We're going to frame it and put it up,' " Brady says.

The boxer had a whole story about the bout that took place the night the photo was taken. There are many other stories in the Lamplighter, as regular customers have been coming here for years, sharing their stories and pictures.

WHERE: 190 W. Main St. (Route 24), Chester
TELEPHONE NUMBER: 908-879-4080
HOURS: 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays to Sundays
CUISINE: American and Italian
LIQUOR: Full bar
PAYMENT: Major credit cards accepted
DRESS: Casual
THE SCENE: Regular customers are everywhere, and "consistency" is a key ingredient. There are daily lunch and dinner specials, but the basic menu hasn't changed much in 25 years. No need. The regulars love it and so do the downtown shoppers who travel a half-mile past the main intersection
ATMOSPHERE: Low ceilings and exposed wooden beams make it feel like George or Martha Washington might walk in at any moment. And, since it's located on the site of the original 1750 building, who knows? Formal dining rooms are complemented by a more casual pub.
PARKING: Large lot
OWNER: Robert Brady

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