Steaks on a grill

The owners of the historic, landmark Pub in Pennsauken last week bought another longtime steakhouse — the Library II on Route 73 in Voorhees.

Future plans? "We're going to do the same thing," said David Gelman, a Cherry Hill lawyer who bought the property and business with his father, Marc Gelman. "It's a landmark that's been there a long, long time," Gelman told in a telephone interview.

Library II, which was owned by Bruce Claypool, closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March and did not reopen. Gelman said his family has had the restaurant deeply cleaned and is eager to open it, given any new COVID-19 orders from Gov. Phil Murphy. 

The new owners plan to serve meals again at the beginning of December. The Pub reopened in October and has made adjustments, such as serving at the salad bar. Diners stand about 10 feet away from the salad bar and tell restaurant staff what they want from the selections. Gelman said a similar process would be introduced at the Library II during the pandemic restrictions.

Much of the Library II's former management and staff will be rehired as the new owners spend four to five months evaluating operations, Gelman explained. 

Gelman said his family now owns "two great steakhouses" in South Jersey and, with each, comes a loyal following. "We want to meet the clientele," said Gelman, adding that the new owners are seeking opinions and suggestions. The family also owns Rocco's steakhouse in Newtown, Pennsylvania and the Gelman Building on Route 70, the home of Gelman Law.

In 1951, the Pub opened at the Airport Circle and the Library II was established in 1972. A website for the Library II recalls that Route 73 was a two-lane road when the building was opened in 1947 as The Rafters and, later, The Saddle and Spur.

Former owner Claypool got to know Marc Gelman because of the Pub and, over the years, the family told Claypool if he ever planned to sell Library II that they would be interested in taking over, said David Gelman. Claypool could not be reached for comment.

Marc Gelman is a Pennsauken native — thus, his interest in the Pub, which he purchased in 2000 — and ran his restaurant supply firm, Gelmarc Distributors of Cherry Hill, until he sold it in 2004, his son said. Gelman said the restaurant industry runs deep in his family: His grandfather managed the former Peacock Inn in King of Prussia.

Gelman, who grew up in Moorestown and still lives there, as does his father, acknowledged the pandemic makes it rough owning a restaurant.

"The restaurant business is going to suffer," he said. "We're prepared to weather the storm."