–Theo and Lee Pagiavlas
The Pub, Airport Circle, Pennsauken, NJ
It was just last April when Samuels said goodbye to a friend, customer and legendary restaurant owner, Theodosios “Theo” Pagiavlas. Owner of the famous restaurant “The Pub,” Theo chased the American dream and made it his own. As a skilled restaurateur, he excelled and furthered the success of all his restaurants while remaining a dedicated family man and unforgettable friend to many.
Born in Chios, Greece, Theo arrived in New York in 1978. While on his way to becoming a captain of the Merchant Marines, Theo decided to make the U.S. his home and follow his dream of becoming a business owner. With an entrepreneurial spirit, dedicated work ethic and passion, Theo worked from the ground up to become one of New Jersey’s most talented and famous restaurateurs.
It all began at the Clover Diner where he began working and met his wife, Georgia. Eventually he became a short order cook at Ponzio’s Diner, and head chef of Indian Chief Tavern. Early on, Theo recognized the importance of becoming valuable to the restaurant owner and was often depended upon to run the daily operations. “He would watch the chefs perform, he’d observe how they worked and learned the tricks they used,” says Theo’s son, Lee about his father’s self-taught culinary skills.
Throughout this time, he was saving and saving. “My father, mother, sister and I all lived in a small rancher. I remember our family and my uncle’s family would take turns having each other over for spaghetti to save money.” The saving paid off when Theo became part owner of Copperfield’s in Swedesboro, New Jersey. Theo spent seven days a week running the operation at Copperfield’s. Over the years, he became part owner of Palace Diner, Starview Diner, Starview Diner 2, Merion Caterers and of course, The Pub in 1999.
The building that would become The Pub was originally established in the 1930’s when it was built at The Airport Circle, which was the first intersection of its kind and is now the junction of US 30, US 130, Route 38 and Kaighns Avenue. It went through a few names and was a hot spot for celebrities, bands and athletes. In the 1950’s, it was bought by three families and rebranded as The Pub. At one time, It was one of five restaurants named “The Pub” in the area and is now the only remaining. This popular restaurant is resilient as well. After a fire in 1960, the building was rebuilt and has been standing tall ever since. Recently, The Pub was voted “Best Steakhouse in the County” on the Steve Harvey Show. Guests also enjoy many fresh seafood dishes and famous salad bar while offering a larger than life, comfortable atmosphere.
As owner of The Pub, Theo took the dining experience to new levels and attracted new crowds. He applied smart marketing along with the freshest seafood, meat and produce. “My dad always spent time in the kitchen and remained hands on. He was also one of the smartest buyers you’d ever meet. He really loved the business,” Lee says proudly. Lee even mentions after visits in the hospital, his father would go straight to the restaurant. He says his dad’s work ethic and talent were respected while he was loved for his kindness and willingness to help anybody. Today, the business continues to grow and Lee is a living legacy of his father along with his iconic restaurant and great food.
Please visit thepubnj.com for a complete history of the restaurant and menu.