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New Restaurant Opens At South Mountain


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This season, when you go to South Mountain to cheer on the Verona-Glen Ridge hockey team, you’ve got a new place to hang out pre- and post-game. The past weekend was the opening of McLoone’s Boathouse, the latest piece in Essex County’s redevelopment of South Mountain Reservation.

In just a little over five months, the county has turned what had been a scruffy lot at the corner of Northfield Avenue and Cherry Lane (the road that begins as Lakeside Avenue in Verona) into a destination restaurant. The eatery is operated by McLoone’s Restaurants, which has five restaurants down the Shore, including McLoone’s Run Runner in Sea Bright and McLoone’s Pier House in Long Branch.

The space that was usually given over to a worn-down, overpriced summer carnival has been turned into something that you will actually want to take the kids to. Oh heck, just leave the kids and take yourself over there for a drink on the patio: McLoone’s Boathouse has been built to showcase a part of South Mountain’s landscape that most of us rarely appreciated, the lake that once was the reservoir for the city of Orange. The restaurant, which has seating for 240 people inside, has another 100 seats outside on a patio that wraps around much of the building. And you’ll probably be able to use it even during hockey season because the architects (French & Parrello of Wall, N.J.) have thoughtfully built in fire pits and heaters. The county is currently in talks with Orange to lease the lake so that it can add recreation options on and around the water, like paddle boats and a biking/jogging  path.

Yes, the county did spend money to do all this–our money, $4.3 million of it. But at a press briefing to unveil the restaurant last week, County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. was adamant that the project, built on time and on budget, was money well spent. “Why do we want people to come here and not have a good place to eat?”, he asked, referring to South Mountain.  “Ten years ago, when I took office, this place was an eyesore. We can’t wait for the federal government or the state government. We have to do things for ourselves in Essex County.” McLoone’s, headed by Orange native Tim McLoone, put $600,000 into the restaurant’s development and will pay the County  $22,500 in rent per month for 15 years; it also has two additional five-year options on the lease.

DiVincenzo stressed that the other things that the county has done at the South Mountain complex are working.  Turtle Back Zoo, which has been the subject of a series of improvements in recent years, costs $2 million to run annually, but brings in $3.4 million in revenue. The safari-themed miniature golf cost $700,000 to build and, according to DiVincenzo, has been bringing in so much money that it will be paid off next year. The new Treetop Adventure aerial obstacle course has already made $20,000, although it is open only on weekends. “I don’t want people to have to go to south Jersey to enjoy themselves,” said DiVincenzo.

McLoone’s Boathouse is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner (and Sunday brunch), and you can reserve your table online.  The menu offers a family-friendly mix of sandwiches and burgers at lunch, and  surf, turf and sushi for dinner, at price points that are below those of the Highlawn Pavilion, the restaurant in the county’s Eagle Rock Reservation.

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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected]


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