At least, that is how Kortney Durante feels about her family-owned SpeakEasy Saloon and Resort, located at 9207 Route 171, Union Dale.
“We decided as a family to embark on this adventure, and now after almost two years, we would never be able to do it without each other,” Durante said.
Opened in May 2018, the 1920s-themed venue — situated close to Elk Mountain Ski Resort and various trails — offers an extensive menu that, in warmer weather, guests can enjoy on an outdoor patio with fire pit tables.
Chef’s Table chatted with Durante about what the Susquehanna County restaurant has to offer.
Q: What is the history of the restaurant?
A: The original establishment was built in 1965 and was owned by the Cantoze family. They owned it up until the day we bought it. When we started the SpeakEasy, it consisted of one dining room with a bar, a kitchen the size of a bedroom closet and 18 rooms that desperately needed some updating. After a whole remodel and addition, we have a brand-new kitchen, 18 completely remodeled hotel rooms and bathrooms, (and) a second dining room that has sliding windows that can be opened in the summer, and we can’t forget to mention our spacious outdoor patio with beautiful views. Our establishment sits on 104 acres that has easy access to the snowmobile and ATV trails, and we’re only about 8 miles from Elk Mountain Ski Resort.
Q: What type of food do you serve?
A: At the SpeakEasy, we like to make everyone feel like this is their place, so we decided not to just stick to one type of food. We serve all different types of food, such as seafood, Italian and American. We serve everything from all-homemade soups to calzones and pizzas to even as far as surf-and-turf dinners and pasta dishes. We also have a large dessert menu that offers a bunch of homemade treats and even gelato and Italian ice.
Q: What’s your specialty?
A: Our establishment has such a big menu it’s hard to pick just one thing. Monday night is Pasta Night, where we offer a variety of freshly homemade sauces such as Alfredo, marinara and sometimes a delicious pesto sauce. Tuesday night is Steak Night, and we do everything from New York strips with toppings like mushroom and onions, three shrimp scampi-style and Gorgonzola. Wednesday night is Wing Night, and we have 20 different sauces, but we are famous for our SpeakEasy Sauce. Thursday night is Seafood Night, and we have the freshest seafood around. We are serving everything from steamed clams to salmon, lobster tails and halibut. Friday and Saturday, we have all different varieties of specials that change every single week, but we also always have prime rib on those days, which is one of our biggest sellers. Sunday we do early-bird specials, and we also always have a pizza and wing special.
Q: How did your menu come to be?
A: Our Executive Chefs Jessica Dombrowski and Michael Lawler have been in the business for over 20 years and know exactly what people want and crave for this area.
Q: What are your most popular dishes and drinks?
A: We are known for our Famous Loaded Bloody Marys that we serve every single Sunday, open to close, for only $6. These handcrafted delights are topped with celery, olives, pickles, shrimp, cheese, bacon and a grilled cheese. We also have 16 draft beers that range from your traditional Bud and Miller Lite to local brews and IPAs that frequently change. We also have a very extensive cocktail menu that features delicious martinis to some fun 1920s-inspired cocktails. Popular dinner dishes are our homemade Prime Rib, our Crab-Stuffed Haddock and our Chicken Broccoli Scampi, and we can’t forget about our Garlic Parmesan Risotto topped with a 4-ounce lobster tail and grilled shrimp. As for appetizers, our beer and garlic steamed clams are a hit. People also seem to love our homemade French Onion Soup and pierogies.
Q: What type of seating do you have?
A: We have two full dining rooms that both have beautiful fireplaces and two full-service bars that have the newest amenities. Our main dining room seats about 60, and our back dining room seats about 100. We also have a beautiful outdoor patio with fire pit tables for an outdoor dining experience.
Q: What kinds of entertainment do you offer ?
A: We have local bands typically on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. We also do different varieties of music on different nights of the week in the summertime.
Q: Do you offer catering, event space, etc.?
A: We offer everything from intimate birthday parties to baby showers and beautiful, lavish weddings. Our second dining area is perfect for private events, and in the right season, our patio serves as another beautiful space for whatever event desired. At the SpeakEasy, we will accommodate any need you have for your special event.
Q: Where do you see the restaurant headed?
A: In all honesty, we never thought we’d be where we are today, so let us say we are beyond grateful for every single one of our customers because without them, we wouldn’t be here. But with accepting how great the past two years have been for us, the SpeakEasy is always gearing up for bigger and better. We plan to grow and become over time the best possible family restaurant that we can be. The sky is the limit, and we are reaching for it.
The SpeakEasy Saloon & Resort
Address: 9207 Route 171, Union Dale
Established: May 2018
Owners: The Durante Family, which includes Jeff, Doreen, Kortney, Jeffrey, Jordin and Nicholas Durante
Normal hours: Mondays through Thursdays, noon to 9 p.m.; Fridays and Saturdays, noon to 10:30 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 8 p.m.
Editor’s note: As of press time, the restaurant was offering takeout, delivery and curb-side pickup during the coronavirus pandemic.
Laura Rysz is the features copy editor and calendar editor at The Times-Tribune and runs the Talk of the Times column, which focuses on local fundraisers and other events. She also writes Chef’s Table that profiles restaurants around the region. Additionally, Laura curates events online on AccessNEPA.com. Laura is involved in the special Mother’s Day edition and curates occasional features Marry Memories and Times Travelers. She is a graduate of Haddonfield Memorial High School, New Jersey, and earned an English professional writing degree with a minor in mass communications from King’s College, Wilkes-Barre. She also earned a certificate in Social Media Marketing from Rutgers Business School. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9100 x5228.