After starting out as a seafood restaurant a half-century ago, morphing into a nightspot with music and dancing a few decades later, and then reinventing itself as a family steakhouse in 1993, Scotty’s Steak House & Comedy Cove in suburban Springfield, NJ, has been enjoying a renaissance in its latest incarnation.
A decade ago, Scotty’s added comedy to the menu, and the results have brought the restaurant the same level of acclaim for its nationally known comedy acts as it has for its 24-oz. steaks, lobster dinners and its decadent desserts.
And, just as the decision of many independently owned local eateries to pursue financing in the form of a small-business loan can help entrepreneurs reach their goals, so can thinking outside the box and transforming a local steakhouse into something completely unique.
“We started booking comedy acts in 2007, and it’s really taken off since then,” said Laurielle Nagel, owner of Scotty’s. “Our entertainment director, Ed Cavanaugh, came to us from Rascals Comedy Club after that closed, and he asked us if we would be interested in doing comedy in our upstairs room. Since then, we’ve been having comedy acts every Friday and Saturday night with an emcee, a feature act and a headliner.”
Besides weekend comedy, other features at Scotty’s include poker on Monday nights, two-for-one burgers and drinks on Tuesdays, all-inclusive lobster dinners for $15.95 on Wednesdays, and Sangria Sundays, when the drink is discounted by $2 for a 64-oz. pitcher.
Scotty’s has revamped and upgraded the menu to include more salads, whole-wheat pastas and Thai specialties. But the burgers, 20-oz. Delmonico steaks and seafood for which the restaurant is known remain staples.
“Although we have been changing to and adding newer, healthier foods with fresh ingredients, we will always have steaks,” Nagel said.
Patricia and William “Scotty” McCormick purchased a bar at the location in 1967 and renamed it Squire’s Table. The name was changed five years later to Charlie O’s. Then, in 1975, the name was changed to Smuggler’s Cove, although the name Charlie O’s Inc. has been retained officially and remains the name of the parent company.
A decision to market to a higher-end clientele in 1990 with a name change to McCormick didn’t work out, largely due to the economic climate of the time, and three years later, McCormick became Scotty’s. William McCormick is from Scotland and has a Scottish accent–hence the nickname, “Scotty’s.” Scotty’s focus shifted in the mid-’90s to offering value.
While the economic downturn of the early ’90s was not kind to the business, which at that point had no comedy element, the establishment actually survived the much more dire economic environment that existed in 2008 and beyond, which occurred just a couple of years after the launch of The Comedy Cove.
“The first year (of The Comedy Cove), it brought in a lot of business,” Nagel said.
The Comedy Cove is an intimate venue with a capacity of 100 people. In addition to a slate of nationally recognized comics, The Comedy Cove also holds an “Open Mic Night” as well as comedy classes, new talent night, team building with improve and comedy competitions.
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