Paul Krulish is back in the kitchen, and he couldn’t be happier about it. The longtime area chef, restaurant owner and food and beverage manager recently took back his building that formerly housed the Library III, completely renovated it inside and out and reopened LB One Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge.
The end result? A booming new business thanks to quality food, great service and an updated dining experience that is certainly worth checking out.
LB One received a massive overhaul in decor. The outside features new siding, a new roof and signage. Inside, most of the books and shelving are gone. A cleaner, yet classic, appearance featuring burgundy-painted and wood-trimmed walls are decorated with artwork ranging from movie memorabilia to a tribute to iron workers. All of the furniture in the dining rooms has also been replaced by new three-inch-thick wood steakhouse tables and comfortable chairs, while the lounge features new bar stools and plush, low leather seating.
“We completely gutted the place, and it needed it,” Krulish says of the restaurant, located on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township. “Everything is new except for our old-fashioned bar, which is just too nice to replace. It’s amazing how many people have come back who stopped coming here when it was the former restaurant. It really was not in good shape. And people come in and thank me for renovating the place. And they are coming back again because it’s their favorite building. But we wanted to change the whole look of the building. We didn’t want it to look like Library III. We wanted it to look like a new restaurant.”
Krulish is certainly no stranger to the Egg Harbor Township dining scene. In fact, he started with the company that owned 10 Library restaurants in the early 1970s. The Rockaway native moved to South Jersey to manage the Library III, eventually purchasing it when the parent company dissolved in the late 1970s.
He owned the Library III for about 20 years, also opening Library V in Buena, which he sold and has since closed. After selling Library III and leasing the Black Horse Pike building, Krulish stayed busy, serving as opening director of food and beverage for Parx Casino in Bensalem, Pa., as well as the Golden Inn in Avalon. He also was a food and beverage manager for Bally’s Atlantic City, helping oversee the rebranding of The Reserve steakhouse as well as the launch of the former Red Pearl Asian restaurant.
Krulish says that when the Library III tenants moved to their new location at McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links in Egg Harbor Township, he decided to “take back the building, keep the format similar and modernize it at the same time.”
That means LB One still allows people to look at steaks and then order them directly from the chefs in an open kitchen, located directly from the popular salad bar that has been expanded to include twice as many items as it once had. However, if diners prefer not to order that way, they can be presented menus and order directly from the server. The upstairs dining room, also used for private parties, is strictly menu service and features its own salad bar.
“I like the interactive part of the window,” Krulish says. “It’s really good to see everyone. We get to talk to people and really be part of their experience.”
LB One’s menu has been adapted, however.
“Before, you would go up there and order it by the ounce and they would cut it and weigh it and that’s how much you paid,” Krulish says. “Now, we have steaks on the menu for a set price, but if people want additional ounces, it’s $2.50 or $3 extra per ounce.”
All steaks are certified Angus beef, which Krulish says offers great consistency and quality, and include a 10-ounce filet mignon ($29.50) plus a petite version for $26.95; the 12-ounce New York sirloin ($29.50), as well as prime rib ($21.95), ribeye ($21.95), chopped sirloin ($16.95) and more.
But LB One is not just about steaks. Other meat choices include rack of lamb ($27.95), chicken Kiev or Cordon Bleu ($18.95), and the new signature chicken dish, Chicken a la LB One ($19.95) with spinach, garlic, roasted peppers, olives and goat cheese.
Seafood also plays a prominent role, including 10-ounce lobster tail ($32.95), jumbo lump crab cakes ($24.95), shrimp scampi ($19.95), broiled flounder ($19.95), broiled sea scallops ($19.95), stuffed flounder ($28.95), salmon ($19.95) and various surf and turf combinations.
“We also offer king crab legs on special,” says Krulish, who notes that all entrees come with choice of baked potato, sweet potato, steak fries or rice pilaf plus the salad bar, which is available a la carte for $10.95. “We have fresh fish every day. Everything in the restaurant is made by us right here and is fresh, not frozen.”
Desserts ($3 to $8) are also given special attention as they are all homemade, including some made by Krulish’s wife Kathleen, who also manages the front of the house. Standouts include chocolate peanut butter pie with graham cracker crust, peanut butter and cream cheese filling topped with dark chocolate ganache; Mounds cheesecake with coconut cream and chocolate ganache; key lime pie; and specials such as chocolate pumpkin cheesecake and death by chocolate brownie.
When you walk into LB One, expect to see some familiar faces. Some of the servers and bartenders remain and worked for Krulish when he originally owned Library III before he sold it.
“Some decided to stay with us, and it’s great because people expect to see them when they walk in this building,” Krulish says. “I love having them here.”
Krulish says he is “walking a fine line” to make people want to embrace a new restaurant and not hold onto the past.
“I don’t want people to come in here and say, ‘Oh, this is the Library.’ Because it’s not,” Krulish says. “I want them to say it’s a different restaurant with similar qualities, but first and foremost it’s a great restaurant. We changed the menu and added things like a ribeye. We want to adapt for the seasons. We are going to be adding a macaroni and cheese for the winter that people can add lobster or crab to. We will have more comfort food in the winter that people can look out for.”
Although Krulish hasn’t been in the kitchen for a while, he’s glad to be back.
“I love it,” he says. “It’s where I started 40 years ago and it’s great getting back in there. When I opened Library V, I was in there every night. You don’t forget how to cook. It may take time getting used to equipment and timing, but I have it all back now. It’s fun.”
The Lounge at LB One
The lounge inside LB One offers a great place to relax and grab a bite while listening to live music Wednesdays through Sundays.
Popular sandwiches, served with choice of steak fries or a garden salad, include the open-faced N.Y. sirloin steak sandwich ($12) with mushrooms and onions; the half-pound cheeseburger ($8) made from ground sirloin; the French dip ($8); and jumbo lump crab cake ($12).
Munchies and appetizers include chicken tenders or wings ($8), nachos ($6), shrimp or crab cocktail ($11.95) and pan-seared scallops ($11.95) topped with bacon.
Entertainment — offered 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Satudays — includes Patty Lax on Wednesdays and Sundays, Andy Berlin on Thursdays and Saturdays, and Bob Mower and Nick Nicholas on Fridays.
“It’s acoustic guitars and very easy listening,” LB One Owner Paul Krulish says. “The lounge is just made for it. Pretty soon we’ll be turning the fireplace on, and it’s such a nice setting. There aren’t too many places left where you can sit, eat, relax, listen to music and have a conversation.”