The fourth interview of the series revival checks in with new restaurateur and owner of Deal Lake Bar & Co., Loch Arbour, New Jersey, Phil Villapiano.
ALLENHURST, NJ: New Jersey restaurateurs have been patiently waiting for Governor Phil Murphy to lift the capacity limits and restrictions on indoor and outdoor dining since the government-mandated shutdowns last March. Coming off the heels of the governor’s announcement that most restrictions will be erased by May 19th, restaurant owners are eager to fill their dining rooms and bar stools, including new restaurateur Phil Villapiano.
In the midst of last year’s mandatory state-wide closures, Villapiano was preparing to open his first restaurant, Deal Lake Bar & Co. in Loch Arbour, before the pandemic delayed his plans. During this time, Richard Santore, Vice President of Bielat Santore & Company, interviewed Villapiano for the “Restaurant Rap” series to see how the pandemic hindered the restaurant’s expected opening date. In the new revival series, ‘How Ya Doin?’, Villapiano provides an update since opening the restaurant’s doors this past Labor Day weekend.
Rookie restaurateur, Villapiano had no idea what to expect upon opening his restaurant, especially with a global pandemic challenging even the most seasoned restaurant owners. But after months of renovations, completely transforming the former McGillicuddy’s Lakeside Taphouse, he was ready for anything. “It kind of got us going quickly, which was good because everyone wanted to be outside,” said Villapiano referring to the limited indoor dining capacity. “But obviously, we’re not nearly [doing] what we could be doing when all is back to normal.” In preparation for the grand opening, Villapiano observed local businesses and spoke with fellow restaurateurs to find out what was working for others and what wasn’t. “We didn’t know what we were going to get into in the first year,” said Villapiano. “So, we’re just happy to be staying in business and making any dollar we possibly can.”
With restrictions loosening, Villapiano is looking forward to experiencing his first summer as a restaurant owner under hopefully normal circumstances. “It’s exciting! I know our staff has been waiting patiently; they’re ready,” said Villapiano. A highlight of the lakefront restaurant that Villapiano plans to utilize is the scenic views commanding the 90-seat outdoor patio area. “We can’t wait until it’s in full swing!”. Guests can also anticipate live music to be offered for both indoor and outdoor dining. “We enjoy that aspect when we go out as patrons and when we want to host at the bar, so we’ll certainly be trying to stack our entertainment calendars up,” said Villapiano.
Despite all the unprecedented challenges the new owner has faced this past year, Villapiano remains optimistic for the future. “I can see it leaving a little bit of a long-term mark, unfortunately,” admitted Villapiano about the long-term effects the pandemic will have on the restaurant industry. “You don’t know what you don’t know, so we’ve got to take it at a somewhat reasonable speed, even though we learn something new every day.”
To view the full video interview, visit Bielat Santore & Company’s website at www.123bsc.com and stay tuned for the next video of the ‘How Ya Doin?’ series.