Today I’m speaking with Joe and Javier, the owner and manager of Popei’s Clam Bar in Bethpage, NY. A neighborhood favorite for 37 years, Popei’s Clam Bar cooks up big flavor from their menu that features seafood, steaks, bbq ribs and pasta dishes.
Joe and Javier have been doing to their best to keep their customers happy and give back to the community during these challenging times. Popei’s employed about 40 to 45 employees prior to COVID which has now been cut in half. As the restaurants slowly re-open for dining those numbers will change but it’s important to note the financial impact this challenging time has had on our local restaurants.
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From Humble Beginnings
Popei’s originated in the Nassau County Farmer’s Market. Joe’s Mom and Uncle started the clam bar and moved to its current location in 1983 when the farmers market closed down.
Having grown up in the neighborhood in Bethpage, I can’t remember a time driving by Popei’s Clam Bar when the parking wasn’t packed with cars. They’ve been a neighborhood favorite since they opened and have continued to expand its menu to meet the tastes of its customers. Joe discusses how much he loves his customers, walking around seeing tables full of families all enjoying the type of food they love most.
Joe himself grew up in the business. He’s held every position in the restaurant from dishwasher to the front of the house to line cook. Javier came on board in September of 2019 and prior to working there didn’t know about the history of this long standing restaurant. Hearing how the two compliemtn each other as a team is what has put Popei’s in a position to thrive even during these challenging times.
it's all about the fresh seafood
Joe works directly with local fisherman out of the Oyster Bay area to get everything local as much possible before going out of state to find it. At Popei’s they rely on fresh seafood with deliveries coming to the restaurant in Bethpage 7 days a week. Ocean to plate in a day is how Joe describes it.
No menu is complete without a cocktail menu which is where Javier brings in his expertise. They revamped the entire beverage menu with Javier on board which became a big hit with customers to keep the restaurant feeling fresh for its long term customers and inviting to new customers.
delivering on big selection
The menu at Popei’s is enormous and so are the portions. People come for the seafood but if you don’t have a seafood lover in your family they will feel just as at home. Joe tells us how originally they cut the menu back during COVID but as time went on they brought back all the menu items it’s customers know and love.
Top sellers include the broiler combination which includes a stuffed flounder, scallops, baked clam, stuffed mushroom and shrimp stuffed with crab meat. For those seafood lovers looking for a kick, Thai calamari is Popei’s favorite as well. You can’t discount the classics like king crab legs and lobsters as well.
Believer it or not many of the items on the menu come in half trays. That means if you want to dine at Popei’s Clam Bar in Bethpage, I suggest you bring your appetite.