You know them all by name — mostly, because they’re all kind of the same.
First, there was Off the Hook in Bethany Beach. Before long, Just Hooked followed in Fenwick Island. Then, more success. More restaurants. More puns. Eventually, Hooked opened up in Ocean City, Md.
But just when you thought Steve Hagen and the Off the Hook Restaurant Group were running out of names, they’re at it again — launching Hooked Up Ale House & Raw Bar in Millville this week, their fourth restaurant in just six years.
And, this time, there’s a real hook.
“It’s totally different than anything else that we’re doing,” said Hagen of the new venture. “We want to take the same concept of fresh products and original sets and put them into things that appeal to everything and everybody.”
While Hagen’s first three restaurants, of course, all offer their fair share of variety in terms of both menu and atmosphere, Hooked Up aims to break the mold by offering a more casual gastropub setting.
And with 24 beers on draft, 24 screens, the NFL “Sunday Ticket,” a long and lively raw bar, a game room equipped with pool tables and murals dedicated to local teams, and plenty of seating — the approach is not only new for the OTH Group but, according to Hagen, the local area in general.
“We felt like there was a need for it in the community,” he said of the sports bar-like setting. “Obviously, we’ll be specializing in the local games — every single one of the Ravens games, every single one of the ’Skins games, every Eagles games — everybody will be well-represented.”
The pub menu is also set to reflect the relaxed atmosphere, staying true to the signature “farm, ocean, table” approach responsible for the group’s continued success, and putting a sports-bar spin on it.
In addition to the raw bar and steamer menu, “Triple-B” wings tossed in a bourbon-glaze, bacon, and blue cheese; kung-pow calamari with peppers and chopped cashews; boardwalk-style hand-cut french fries; and pork belly corndogs are just some of the light-fare items patrons can start off with.
For lunch, the truffled-cheesesteak subs on delivered-fresh-daily Philadelphia bread, the California BLT with fried avocado, and the “Ridiculous Ruben” on rye straight from New York steal the show — but don’t forget the award-winning truffle burger.
“We’re definitely gonna have our truffle burger,” Hagen said of the burger ranked among the best in Maryland by Thrillist.
The menu also features homemade soup and fresh salad choices, such as Texas short-rib chili with black garlic croutons. But there are also options — and dining space — for those looking for a more traditional sit-down lunch or dinner.
“You’ll have entrées also,” said Hagen. “We’re gonna have nice ribs here. We’ll have a bone-in cowboy steak.”
Keeping in gastropub style, Hooked Up will feature a daily happy hour, with not only beer, wine, and drink specials, but $5 burgers, nachos, steamed shrimp, fried pickles, wings specials and more.
“We’ve got a huge happy hour,” Hagen noted. “We’ll always have a tap designated for $2 pints.”
For the rest of 24 tap handles, they’ll feature plenty of local favorites on draft, with crafts from breweries including Burley Oak, 16-Mile and Third Wave, and continuing to bring in others as they become available.
Even before the grand opening on Monday, Hagen’s newest venture had already seen overwhelming anticipation from local patrons who have been supporting his vision for years — which, for him, is what’s made it all possible.
“More than anything, we’re humbled by the support we get from the community, in every single way,” he said. “It’s awesome, because it goes from that spot where it feels like family — that’s how familiar it ends up being. They just support us, through anything and everything.”
It’s that support that highlights the local area for Hagen — something that revitalized him now more than 10 years ago, allowing him to free himself from a life of addiction and to instead put his efforts into his passion for the culinary arts — going from once being somewhat of a “lost boy” to establishing a new name for himself behind the word “Hook.”
“To go from where I came to being successful in something that we absolutely love doing — we surround ourselves with great people,” he said of his personal journey and a restaurant group that has gone from just 50 to more than 700 seats. “We love putting out good food. We love the service that we put out. We put out a restaurant group that people seem to enjoy.
“We’ve got phenomenal chefs, phenomenal managers, phenomenal servers, bartenders, hostesses, you name it — you can’t do this stuff by yourself — every single person brings something to the table. That’s the cool thing.”
Hooked Up is located at 38069 Town Center Drive, #19-20, in the Millville Town Center. For more information call the restaurant at (302) 539-4111, or check out the full menu on their Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/HookedUpMillville.