The Press Room
Cooking up classy comfort and mouthwatering cuisine, this Shepherdstown bistro welcomes natives and travelers alike.
Photographed by Katie Hanlon
When Mike Luksa first toured the old Independent newspaper building in Shepherdstown with his realtor, dreaming of someday owning his own restaurant, he decided The Press Room was an appropriately catchy name. Two years later, with a desire to make an investment in the town and their future, Mike and his wife, Deborah, bought the building, and in 2006, opened their dream restaurant. “Even though I’m from the Philadelphia area and Deborah grew up in the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Shepherdstown has always been a home for us,” Mike says. “We had been thinking about starting our own restaurant for so long that the final decision was easy, comfortable, and just made sense.”
The equation for success was undeniable. Mike worked as the head chef at The Yellow Brick Bank in Shepherdstown from 1979 until he established The Press Room. For the past 18 years, Deborah has experienced success as the owner and founder of nearby German Street Coffee & Candlry. Mike says, “Everything came together better than we ever expected. I wanted to create a neighborhood gathering place—on any given Friday night, probably 70 percent of our customers know each other.”
Mike hired local talent, including painters, construction crews, tablemakers, cabinetmakers, and artists, to get the building ready for opening. Today, the staff includes several friends who followed Mike from the Bank, and Mike focuses as much on welcoming local clientele as he does on tourists, making sure the space and menu prices are comfortable for everyone. Jeanne Muir and Jim Ford, owners of Thomas Shepherd Inn in Shepherdstown, can attest to the restaurant’s comfortable style: “Sometimes it’s hard for us to get away from the Inn, so we love to be able to pop down to The Press Room and have a quick, light meal at the bar,” Jeanne says. “The food is dependably delicious—we especially love the soups and seasonal appetizers. Deb and Mike have created the Shepherdstown version of ‘Cheers’—everyone knows your name.” Most people come in to eat at the bar, but guests can also dine in The Library with built-in bookshelves and a non-working fireplace set with decorative candles, or in the main dining room designed with African mahogany tables, leather chairs, an exposed brick wall, and richly-colored, tall-back booths that give a greater sense of privacy.
The Press Room offers a menu based on seasonal availability and Mike’s lighter style of cooking. With elements of Mediterranean and Italian fare, Mike serves a combination of old Bank favorites no longer on the menu there and some Press Room favorites, including Mushrooms, an appetizer stuffed with hot Italian sausage; Grilled Calamari served with sweet red pepper, butter, lemon, and garlic; London Broil, a marinated flank steak with sautéed mushrooms; and Linguine with artichoke hearts, hot Italian sausage, and roasted red peppers. “The Press Room does a really good job of creating thoughtful cuisine without trying too hard,” says Shepherdstown University alumna Katie Hanlon. “It’s the place where I always want to eat whenever I go back.”
The Press Room, 129 West German Street, Shepherdstown, WV 25443; 304.876.8777