Skipper's sizzles with savory sandwiches, sides and student smiles
As I walk into Skipper's Pub, well, let's just say I instantly want a burger and fries. The grill sizzles with each new slab of meat that smacks the surface.
The Jukebox, TVs and beer signs all illuminate the inside. The walls look like a collage: filled with posters, signs and pictures. Not one of the tables are parallel with one another. Televisions don't usually catch my attention at restaurants, but I am instantly drawn to the Olympics shown on all four.
"Who is it?! Who's the girl?!" I could hear the employees embarrass their co-worker, cracking jokes and smiling while flipping patties. The customers wash down their sandwiches and fries with a refreshing, cold beer from the bar in the back of the room.
"What's up sunshine?!" One of the owners Andy Amarantos said to a well-known customer as he enters the pub. I go into his office for an interview. He smiles and greets me in his raincoat and casual, black slacks and starts going on about his kids loosing the remote control for the fourth time.
Andy Amarantos and brother Terry Amarantos have been the owners of Skipper's Pub for 30 years.
"We showed up here in the fall of '83 with a bag full of nickels and a bag full of nails, two Greek carpenters and a hammer and we put the place together," Amarantos chuckled.
The two brothers, as well as their mother, father and younger brother, grew up in the heart of Chicago, where they went to school and worked for their father's hot dog stand in their free time.
"My dad would say, 'your butt's going to work,'" Amarantos said about his hard-work attitude and experience in the food business.
The Amarantos boys became best friends with their three Danish boy neighbors, who were all of the same age. His older brother Terry and neighbor Kevin were all close in age and became best friends.
Amarantos said Terry and Kevin were finishing up college and weren't sure what to do after, so the three got into business together.
"It was basically a couple of guys after college not sure what they wanted to do, so they opened up a restaurant and bar," Amarantos shrugged.
Since then, the menu hasn't significantly changed. Amarantos said he likes to stick to his original roots of the famous burgers, gyros and sandwiches. Even my parents, attending Miami the time it opened, rave about the food. Skipper's always reminded me of my parents.
"You would go to get a beer and a big fat hamburger for cheap, basically because you drank too much the night before," my mom told me, laughing between sentences. "It was hangover food!"
Over the years, the bar sees influxes of employees who do not know old customs, but Amarantos said they will teach the new workers the traditions and old ways of the Pub.
"Once in a while we try something new, but I'm in the belief of, you know, you guys know who we are, you know what we do, and once you guys come and visit us, if the food is cooked properly and the way it should, they're pretty good damn sandwiches," Amarantos said. "We just do good."
I could not agree more with Amarantos. The chicken sandwich and fries were to die for. My teeth sunk into the soft bun and patty but the crisp lettuce and tomato gave it a crunch. The waffle fries were perfectly cut potatoes, crispy but soft on the inside. Having recently turned 21, I washed it down with a cold bud light. The meal cost no more than $10.
Skipper's employee and Miami junior Erika Spragg said her favorite part is the relaxing atmosphere and "chill" employees she works with. She said not a lot of places are as laid-back or offer outside dining, so Skipper's stands out amongst the assembly of Uptown restaurants.
"I was working a Saturday afternoon and people were coming in after beat the clock and broken clock, and I looked over, and I saw a kid taking napkins and wiping off his face and I asked him what happened," Spragg said. "They were all laughing and having a good time. He said that his friend 'Ketchup slapped' him, where he took a big ketchup bottle and jokingly slapped him in the face."
As I got up, I could see the rain droplets streaming down the window, illuminated red by the fluorescent Skipper's sign. I dreaded going outside, but I still had a smile on my face.
Maybe it was Andy's laid-back, enjoyable personality. Or maybe it was the way the employees made fun of each other as they were grilling, frying and flipping. Or maybe it was the fact that after the burger and fry smell, I was excited to order one later.
Whatever it was, I left Skipper's that day feeling a part of a tight-knit community. Oxford may not have a mall, a beach or skyscrapers, but it does have good-hearted people and delicious eateries.
When asked how a slice of life is at Skipper's, Amarantos smirked, "give me a great, big cheeseburger, a hot order of regular fries and a cold Budweiser."
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