Growing up, I went to businesses with names like “Esposito’s,” “Rosebud’s,” and of course, “Rutt’s Hut.” Little did I know as a child, supporting a small business is an important part of keeping alive a community and contributing to what continues to be the history of New Jersey.
Thankfully, The Great Notch Inn will continue to be part of the living history of New Jersey. The owners of the Inn have been fighting against an expansion of Rt. 46 that would have flattened the bar that has been in business since 1939.
Originally opened by Gregory and Florence DiLeo, it was run by Mr. DiLeo until his death in 1988 and the torch was passed to his daughter Florence, and her kids, Rich and Gail. This bar has been in the same spot since before Rt. 46 was even in place! The Notch’s origins can actually be traced to 1924, when the original owners opened the Green Chateau right nearby the Inn’s location.
Is it fair that Rt. 46, a road that didn’t even exist when the Great Notch Inn opened, send the bar to the bulldozer? Absolutely not!
A written statement from NJDOT reads in part: “NJDOT goes to extensive lengths to minimize the impact to residents and businesses when it designs projects, particularly when it relates to acquiring property.”
Now in the interest of full disclosure, I have never actually been inside the Inn. I have passed it while traveling Rt. 46 more times than I can count, but it was one of those places I was told since I was a kid, “you don’t belong there.” This does NOT mean I have an issue with bikers! Everyone just needs their own place. The Great Notch Inn is a place for bikers to take a break from their ride and relax. When I stopped by a few nights ago to take pictures for this post, I had the opportunity to speak quickly with a couple getting ready to get back on their ride and they couldn’t have been nicer!
The Inn did, unfortunately, lose about 30% of their property via eminent domain, but that one battle loss gave them the opportunity to win the bar preservation war!
Now I will say I hate eminent domain, but that is a complaint for a different blog.
The important part of this story is that the bar owners have been assured by the DOT that the Rt. 46 expansion will go around them so they can continue to serve their customers on that awesome front porch.
It is businesses like the Great Notch Inn that make New Jersey the wonderful place it is! Now that I am an adult, I understand fully the importance of patronizing our locally-owned businesses. Given the choice, I will always go to the local diner instead of a chain restaurant and use the local pharmacy instead of a big box store. You get a feel for the area and support a small business owner and town.
I am very happy to see that this special place will continue to offer a front porch to all who decide to stop “Inn!”