If you’re looking for traditional pub grub in a friendly setting, head to Lake View to check out JP’s Pub 1986 Lakeview Road.
And say happy anniversary while you’re there. Karen and John Melisz will celebrate 35 years of ownership at the end of this month. While the pub has expanded to include a banquet room that also handles overflow seating at busy times like Friday fish fries and St. Patrick’s Day, customers still enjoy a cozy atmosphere where hearty food is served up seven days a week. JP’s motto: “Fine dining with pub prices.” Karen Melisz looked back on the 35 years that flew by as she and her husband raised their five children while perfecting their specialty Reuben sandwich.
Q: As you prepare for your anniversary, it must seem like a lot changed. What stands out the most?
A: We started with five tables. Now we have 14 up front and 20 in the back. We called it JP’s in honor of our first born, John Pat. I was studying to be an RN when we bought the place in the early '80s. It had been vacant for 25 years, but bowls of pretzels were still on the bar from the previous owner.
Q: How has the restaurant changed since you bought it?
A: We had about four items on the menu that was posted on the wall in the beginning. We had wings, fish fry, beef, and French fries. Now there’s definitely more to it. The menu is about four to five pages. It used to be a simple, neighborhood bar and restaurant. We added a takeout window in what used to be my living room. We expanded a lot. We added on the banquet room for showers, small weddings, graduations, baptisms, communions – you name it.
Q: How would you describe JP’s Pub today?
A: It’s a fun, local, old school tavern – or I should say pub.
Q: What are your favorite menu items?
A: I’d have to say the Reuben and the Beef on Weck. We’re known for our corned beef. It’s not the sliced deli meat style; it’s like corned beef and cabbage and we sliced it perfectly. Customers rave about it.
Q: How has the bar evolved?
A: Now in New York, you’re allowed to recork (a bottle of wine) so we see people ordering a bottle with dinner and they can take it home with them for later.
Q: JP’s was named after your son. Describe how the family helps out.
A: They grew up in the business – all of them – five kids. We would give them jobs to help out. Now Johnny (her husband) runs the kitchen and plans a special menu every week. I handle the front of the house and he’s the back of the house. It works!
Q: Do you have anything planned to celebrate your anniversary?
A: We’re doing 80s pricing in the first week of June. Next year, Lake View will celebrate 150 years are we have a lot planned for that.
Q: Do you have any regrets about getting into the business?
A: It’s a hard business, but it’s fun. It’s a gift to get to know the customers and to be a part of their lives. We’re very fortunate.