Owned by the Knowles family, The Highlawn Pavilion restaurant has been a staple in the West Orange community for 35 years. The building itself was created in 1906, making it an elegant venue for dining. However, the family has announced that it sold the property to the Frungillo family who owned Gourmet Dining, a business serving Seton Hall, Kean, Monmouth, and Rowan universities, and currently runs Frungillo Caterers. Read on to learn more about the new plans for The Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange.
The Pandemic Effect
As many other business owners can attest to, Knowles explained to NorthJersey.com that the strain of keeping the restaurant afloat and thriving during the pandemic proved too challenging. So the next move was to sell, and they chose to sell to Anthony Frungillo and his wife Jennifer of Caldwell.
However, the Knowles family will focus on the catering business at its other iconic locations in West Orange, The Manor and adjoining Marriott Residence Inn, and the Pleasantdale Chateau. “COVID put a big damper on our plans,” said Knowles. “We still had all the expenses of maintaining the building, the rent, all of it. It was just a tough struggle. We figured it was time to move on.”
Anthony Frungillo said that his family has celebrated every significant family event at The Highlawn, so when Knowles. approached him and his father about buying the company, they jumped at the opportunity.”We share a vision of what the Highlawn needs to be,” Frungillo said.
As for the Frungillo family, aside from Gourmet Dining, which catered to the nearby universities, Frungillo Caterers currently caters to many sites, including the Inn at Millrace Pond, Oakeside Mansion in Bloomfield, and Skylands Manor in Ringwood. Though they are not part of The Highlawn deal, Frungillo Caterers will collaborate with Anthony and Jennifer on special events there, Anthony Frungillo told the outlet.
The venue will reopen this summer, after renovations. The menu will be highlight dry-aged steaks, classic Italian dishes, and locally-sourced seafood.
Weddings and private events will be held there once again after it reopens, and there will also be a new outdoor glass structure next to the property that will double capacity for special events.
The Frungillo family aims to make the restaurant more accessible and plans on offering weekend brunches at the “right price point” and hopes to host holiday events and collaborations with local schools, overall opening the facility to more residents.
We will keep you updated as more details unfold and an official opening date is set for The Highlawn, we will keep you updated.