After years of planning and lots of local buzz + debate, a local restaurant moving into a historic building in South Orange has finally set an opening date. The long-awaited Village Hall Restaurant + Beer Garden, which will include a 40-seat bar, fire pits, and even an event space, is aiming to officially open in the third week of November. On Friday, November 18th, the beer garden — located at 101 S Orange Avenue — will open to the public from 5PM to 11PM and will include a variety of beers on tap as well as a food menu curated by the culinary team. It’s been a long road to get here, including a legal battle over whether a historic building should be transformed into a casual hangout spot. We’ve covered everything you need to know about the history behind this new business as well as what to expect when it opens its doors. Read on for what we know about The Village Hall Restaurant + Beer Garden, opening this month in South Orange.
(Photo credits: @villagehallnj)
About the Historic Village Hall
South Orange’s Historic Village Hall once housed offices and is well known as a landmark in the region — though it was admittedly falling apart.
Years ago, locals debated whether the village should keep the historic hall, revitalize it for community use, or simply sell it — and in 2015, the building was sold to Landmark Hospitality. Landmark owns a variety of restaurants — like Liberty House and Terra E Mare in Jersey City, Felina in Ridgewood, and Ferry + Main in New Hope PA.
“The board of trustees voted [to sell], and Landmark won the bid for the property, in a move supported by village president Sheena Collum,” North Jersey reported.
The hall was originally built in 1894 and is actually listed in the New Jersey Register of Historic Places. When it comes to its exterior appearance, it definitely catches your eye.
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“The German-style building looks like a gingerbread house, made of brick, stucco and decorative wood trim with a striking octagonal clocktower capped with a green copper dome,” North Jersey described.
As the Landmark Hospitality team moved in and began renovations, one of their main goals was to be sure to preserve the integrity of this historic building while also updating and revitalizing it. The team acknowledged the special opportunity they were given when they bought the space.
“Historic buildings have a story,” Frank Cretella, who has been overseeing the project for Landmark, told North Jersey. “You don’t get that with new construction.”
Local Backlash + Debate
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^ The Beer Garden
Once locals caught wind of plans for a new restaurant + beer garden to move into the historic Village Hall, there were a lot of mixed reactions. In fact, in 2017, there were event legal attempts to halt the redevelopment entirely, per Patch, with many locals arguing that it was inappropriate to turn a landmark into a tavern/beer garden — in addition to the potential noise and rowdiness that the new business may cause.
Others celebrated the revitalization, claiming it was a chance to give the decrepit hall new life + create a fun gathering place for the community. Plus, some argued it could also bring more business to the South Orange area. Nevertheless, the new restaurant persisted.
Now, after years of anticipation and overcoming obstacles, The Village Hall Restaurant + Beer Garden is finally almost ready to open its doors. The big space is going to include a 40-seat bar, fire pits, an event space, indoor + outdoor seating, and more — not to mention the extensive beer list the space is aiming to serve. The indoor dining room alone is said to be big enough to fit 70 guests at marble (yes, marble) tables.
Anyone eating indoors is going to have “views of the open kitchen, which has a custom copper and brass hood, allowing guests to view the culinary staff and rawbar,” a spokesperson told Tapinto.
Per Tapinto, the theme of the Village Hall Restaurant + Beer Garden “will be a ‘Parisienne-style restaurant meets classic NYC Tavern.'” The second floor will be the upscale yet vintage event space.
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After hosting a special grand opening party last week (complete with a giant red ribbon, acrobatics, live music, and more), the team is officially opening its beer garden on Friday, November 18th from 5PM to 11PM. There will also be a food menu available. The beer garden will be first-come, first-served.
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The Instagram post teased more details coming soon — and we’ll definitely be keeping an eye out. The beer garden will be open Wednesday-Thursday 5PM-10PM, Friday-Saturday 5PM-11PM, and Sunday 11:30AM-9PM.
You can follow along on the business’ Instagram to learn more about when other aspects of the restaurant will be rolling out. We personally cannot wait to visit this brand new spot.