WEST HAZLETON — Tucked away on a side street off the main drag through town, the 4th Street Pub might not have the most prominent location.
But that hasn’t stopped this popular bar/restaurant from acquiring a prominent reputation that extends well beyond Luzerne County and even Pennsylvania.
If you don’t believe us, just type owner Marty Beccone’s name into Google.
It will spit back results from Newsweek, a Dutch publication and even a newspaper in Scotland. And that’s just a short list of the journalists who have passed through.
Why do national and international media organizations flock to 4th Street like Hazleton-area patrons flock to its wings and burgers?
For that answer, we have to go back to the contentious 2016 presidential election.
We aren’t going to get too partisan here, but to understand where Beccone’s loyalties lie, just know that decades ago he worked at Trump Marina in Atlantic City and had several close encounters with the man who sits in the Oval Office.
“I waited on Donald Trump three times,” beams Beccone, 53, a New Jersey native.
And he’s been very vocal about his support for the billionaire-turned-president whenever the opportunity presents itself, whether on Facebook or in his bar when a customer chooses to engage him on partisan subjects.
Beccone’s views became a matter of interest nationally in the wake of Trump’s victory since Luzerne County proved so crucial in that stunning win. Some would even go as far to say the county turned the whole election for Trump.
So, once one journalist who traveled to Luzerne County encountered Beccone and found him quotable, a steady stream followed.
They were all fascinated by the 4th Street, a place where you could get a great pulled pork sandwich with a side of politics, or a tasty tuna sub while arguing tax reform.
“I was on TV in the Netherlands,” Beccone said. “They came here.”
So did the BBC. And CBS Nightly News, though “I didn’t make the cut there,” Beccone says, meaning his segment did not actually air.
There was another visiting journalist from China.
“He said to me, ‘This interview will go out all over China. … My response was ‘I don’t want to start an international incident,” joked Beccone.
A Newsweek writer directed to the pub loved its atmosphere and sent a photographer for pictures to go with his story.
Beccone says the questions he gets usually have to do with why he supports Trump, and his own personal views on race relations and issues important to women.
It’s logical to ask, however, why a businessman would risk offending customers — and steering away potential dollars — by being so political in a such a divisive era.
“I just think what’s right is right. I’ll engage people all the time,” said Beccone.
And he noted debates are “not confrontational in any way.”
The proof no one minds: His customers keep coming back.
“We’re busier than ever,” said Beccone, who boasts 14 beers on tap and serves up award-winning grilled steak-and-cheese sandwiches. “We get every walk here. We get a diverse crowd. There’s every age group. There’s every ethnicity.”
And while he got to a point where he had stopped giving interviews, he did grant a recent request by none other than Ben Bradlee Jr.
Bradlee, son of the famed Washington Post executive editor, is writing a book focused on Luzerne County’s role in electing Trump.
So, of course, the writer had to stop by 4th Street.
Bradlee ended up interviewing the pub owner for two-and-a-half hours on the phone.
He might “put a picture of me in the book,” said Beccone.
Night editor Michael Reich can be reached at 570-991-6117.