Opened in 1947 next to the Annin Flag Company, the restaurant’s new home in the center of town at 642 Bloomfield Ave. may be just down the street from its original location but it’s worlds away in terms of design.
The reimagined restaurant has a contemporary yet comfortable feel with an upscale bar that manages to maintain a warm, pub feel, striking the perfect balance between old and new, family-friendly and free agent. The huge, newly constructed space exudes an air of tradition with red brick façade complimented by a tastefully designed interior full of rich oak paneling, dark wood floors and walls partially lined in subway tile.
Reopened just a few months ago, the restaurant is “packing them in,” according to owner John MacEvoy, who for the past 20 years owned and operated the business at its previous location up Bloomfield Avenue near the Annin Flag Company. Teaming up with his brother-in-law, Brian Mazzie, an engineer and builder for this venture, the two created the revamped restaurant.
“We took advantage of one another’s talents and put the place together,” said MacEvoy who owns several other restaurants in surrounding towns including Cleveland’s and Hola Cantina in the Caldwells and Murphy’s Bar and Grill in Dover.
In relocating the restaurant, MacEvoy and Mazzie were adamant about staying in town.
“We picked Verona because of the people of Verona and the powers that be in Verona. These guys have invested their lives in Verona.”
While the pair have revamped the look, they assert the ethos of the original restaurant has remained the same.
“For 50 years we were known as having the greatest burgers and coldest beer so we kept that framework.”
In addition to burgers, the restaurant serves up sandwiches and wraps as well as an assortment of salads, tacos and their “signature spuds” in eight varieties. And it’s all served up by a staff almost entirely from town.
“It used to be 20 years ago my friends worked for me.” MacEvoy laughed, “Now it’s my friends’ kids.”
With the madness of relaunching a restaurant behind them, MacEvoy and Mazzie have turned their attentions to perfecting the menu, tweaking their offerings and spreading the word. They have already begun opening for lunch on the weekends, and MacEvoy said he hopes to extend lunch service to weekdays “eventually.” In the fall, the partners plan on introducing brunch, and will roll out a new menu.
MacEvoy, a former Verona resident who recently moved to a neighboring town, asserts his loyalties still lie with Verona, and he’s pleased his business is keeping it’s Verona roots.
“I did my first 46 years here,” MacEvoy said. “I love Verona. I still say I live here.”
As for the restaurant, he said, “We’re going to be here for a long time.”