Athan Margetas said many newcomers have low expectations before they come to his Spring Garden Township restaurant.
A strip mall overshadows The Vault Pizza & Deli, tucked away under a blue and white awning with neon beer signs in the window. It looks small, like a carryout food and beer business.
"It gets lost in that shopping center," said Margetas, 29, of York Township. "It's not what they're expecting to see."
Inside, a spacious dining area with beige tile and hardwood floors welcomes patrons. A casual bar stands before flat-screen TVs, most likely showing ESPN. It seems like neither a sports bar nor a laid-back restaurant, but rather a combination of both, catering to a more diverse clientele.
I dined there for lunch recently and took note of the customers: a pair of middle-aged women likely on their break from work, a couple of guys at the bar talking about sports, a few people stopping in for takeout.
Margetas said it's a family-oriented business, with minimal focus on the bar scene.
"You can bring your kids in there," he said. "You're not going to get heckled by the drunk at the bar."
I ordered a slice of pizza with broccoli and mushrooms and a tossed salad with Greek dressing. My server delivered the food in less than 10 minutes. I enjoyed the crust of the pizza most; it wasn't too thick or too thin. The pizza wasn't at all greasy - always a plus in my book - and the toppings were in good proportion. All in all, a satisfying lunch on an average work day.
Margetas opened the restaurant in 2003 after graduating from college with a political science degree. He said his parents, who own The Spring Garden Tavern, always urged him and his siblings to have professional careers. On track to becoming a lawyer, Margetas had a change of heart.
"At the end of the day, I'm doing what makes me happy," he said.
Margetas makes sure to share that happiness with his customers. He said it's important to get to know his patrons and to make them feel welcome. He learns about their families and their lives.
"I always tell my servers, 'You can't just say "hi" and "bye." Create a relationship with the customers. It makes people feel good,' " he said.
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants with meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 771-2101, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
LOCATION: The Vault Pizza & Deli, 1125 Edgar St. in Spring Garden Township
LEIGH'S PICK: One slice of pizza with broccoli and mushrooms, tossed salad, diet soda ($8.38)
HOURS: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday
PRICE RANGE: $1.75 to $10.99
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit
KID'S MENU: No
DETAILS: Call 717-718-2222 or visit www.vaultyork.com