FORKED RIVER – Today marks one year since a massive inferno took out a local favorite: Caffrey’s Tavern.
On September 5, 2018, a fire sparked in the kitchen of the popular restaurant and bar, quickly spreading throughout the building. The large fire was later ruled accidental; however it did cause severe damage to a majority of the structure.
Caffrey’s Tavern was forced to close its doors after the blaze, much to the dismay of its many regular customers. Despite the setback, the restaurant’s owner’s immediately started making plans to rebuild.
Little did they know they would have to put up a fight.
On Sept. 21, 2018, the Lacey Township zoning officer denied Caffrey’s zoning application based on issues with compliance.
After several attempts over the course of three months, Caffrey’s owners Dan Coleman and Joe DePasquale finally received the official “OK” to rebuild by the township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment on December 12, 2018.
Demolition of the restaurant’s charred remains began on January 2 and they are now nearly done with the rebuild.
Today, one year later, Coleman told Jersey Shore Online that regular customers can expect to return by the end of September.
“We’re in the process of building an outdoor area,” called Caffrey’s Backyard, said Coleman. Caffrey’s Backyard is a new addition to the original Caffrey’s Tavern. Coleman noted that it will feature an outdoor pavilion, a full bar, kitchen, bathrooms, and fun games.
Caffrey’s Backyard was actually in the early planning stages when the fire occurred last year, he added.
Caffrey’s website notes that the Backyard was expected to be opened by late August 2019; however Coleman corrected this to “by the end of September.”
The restaurant itself will be reopened sometime in January. The website estimates “on or around January 1, 2020.” Coleman hopes to be open by at least January 24, which will be the 25th anniversary of Caffrey’s Tavern.
“There’s been a lot of heavy work that we’ve done,” Coleman said, regarding the rebuild. This “heavy work” includes new wiring, piping, all new bathrooms, and kitchen. Between now and the anticipated open date, they still need to work on the restaurant’s interior.
Many Caffrey’s fans will be happy to know that when they visit the new and improved restaurant, it will not look so different from what they always knew and loved.
“We’re trying to replicate it…right down to the popcorn machine,” said Coleman.
It has been quite a long and arduous year for the owners of Caffrey’s, and one not without great expense. Coleman would not say how much the rebuild cost, only that it was “very substantial.”
“We’re so happy with the support from the community, customers, and employees…Thank you,” said Coleman.
For updates on when the restaurant plans to open, you can visit the website at caffreystavernnj.com or visit their Facebook page.