Penn's L&I's Food and Spirits offers hearty, homemade fare
When two families with decades of restaurant experience decide to open their own place, what else to call it but by each of their surname’s initials?
Dan Ickes and John Lehnhardt and their wives, Ashley and Jaime, respectively, considered several sites before opening L&I’s Food and Spirits in March in Penn Borough.
According to the menu bio, the partners’ goal was to create “a place for people to gather and enjoy themselves with great food and delicious cocktails in a clean environment that was family friendly and inviting to everyone.”
After gutting, remodeling and expanding the site’s kitchen, the restaurant serves what Ickes describes as “comfort food, bar food,” with a menu of appetizers, wings, pizza, salads, soups and sandwiches.
“People tell us, ‘We haven’t had a place to eat here (in Penn) in 20 years,’” Ickes says.
When the couples decided to open a place of their own, they brought touches — and flavors — of their own as well.
Pappy’s Homemade Hot Pepper Casserole, a blend of hot banana peppers, Italian cheeses, hot sausage, tomato sauce and more cheese, is a dish Jaime Lehnhardt’s father made for Fourth of July parties. It’s becoming a signature dish for the restaurant, John Lehnhardt says.
Ickes’ fondness for Cuban sandwiches led to the item landing on the menu. It’s described as “pulled pork, ham off the bone,” grilled together and topped with Swiss cheese and mustard and covered with pickles.
“I was always a big fan. I said if we’re going to make one, we’re going to make it the right way,” Ickes says.
The partners take pride in their food preparation.
Fries are fresh cut and chips homemade, the menu states.
“We bread our own (hot pepper and mozzarella) cheese wedges and zucchini. There is nothing that comes out of a can or a freezer,” he says.
What menu items are proving most popular with diners?
The New York strip steak sandwich, served with sauteed mushrooms, peppers, onions and provolone cheese, the hot pepper casserole and the Cuban sandwich are frequent requests, Ickes says.
The restaurant also offers a weekly rotation of four sandwiches diners look forward to, including a hand-chopped burger with short rib, brisket and chuck; a Buffalo chicken sandwich; a “whole hog” (ham, pulled pork and bacon) club sandwich with bacon jam and bacon mayo; and a smokey tuna melt.
“We also offer weekend dinner specials, including Chicken Cordon Bleu and steak tips over pasta,” Ickes says. “We like to take a basic and elevate it a bit.”
“We have six rotating craft and micro beers on tap, and drink specials weekly,” he says.
The restaurant has an open floor plan and, though it has five, 50-inch television sets, Ickes does not describe it as a sports pub or bar. “It’s a place that is comfortable for kids and adults. We get a lot of families and a nice bar crowd,” Ickes states.
People are discovering the restaurant, the remodel and a menu far expanded from previous operations at the site, adds Lehnhardt.
“It’s been a steady climb since we opened,” he says.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @MaryPickels.