The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
P.J. Clarke's, the historic Manhattan bar and grill, will be opening a location in Woodbury, in the Jericho Turnpike building that has housed the popular and reasonably priced Majors Steakhouse since 1994. Majors' lease is up at the end of May.
The distinctive, wood-paneled building is owned by Richard Monti, who also owns the adjacent Crest Hollow Country Club. "When the lease came up," he said Tuesday, "I thought it was time for a change. P.J. Clarke's is such an old-school place. Right now, in a time of change, it feels good to go back to your roots. And I thought it would be nice to bring some of that out to Long Island." He hopes the new restaurant will open by September.
Majors' owners, Gillis and George Poll, had wanted to renew their lease on the property. "We'd been doing better than ever during this downturn," Gillis said. "We would have loved to stay and renovate." The original Majors Steakhouse, in East Meadow, is located in a building the Poll brothers own; it will carry on.
While the Poll brothers' other restaurants -- Bryant & Cooper Steakhouse and Hendrick's Tavern in Roslyn, Toku in Manhasset, Bar Frites in Greenvale -- cater to an upscale Gold Coast crowd, Majors has always had affordable prices, making it popular with both families and thrifty business people. Steak prices top out at $30 for a 24-ounce porterhouse; the rest of the steaks range from $16 to $26. The much-lauded sirloin burger is $9.50, with fries.
P.J. Clarke's opened at Third Avenue and 55th Street in 1884, under a different name, and now operates two more Manhattan locations, one in Washington, D.C., and two in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In Manhattan the menu includes soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, seafood, entrees and Black Angus steaks (which range from $30 to $49).
Monti said he expected the prices at the Woodbury P.J. Clarke's to fall somewhere between those at Majors and Long Island's top-flight steak houses, such as Bryant & Cooper and Rare650 in Syosset.