For those looking for a cold beer and a good burger, the Verona Inn has been a mainstay just up the road for 65 years.
The popular pub opened its doors in June 1947 on Bloomfield Avenue near the Annin Flag Company and remained there for 62 years. Earlier this year, the Verona Inn moved to its new home at 642 Bloomfield Ave. in the center of town. Let's just say this is not your grandfather's "V.I."
Now more than just a pub, the contemporary yet comfortable restaurant and upscale bar manages to maintain a warm, pub feel, striking the perfect balance between old and new.
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 original location. Teaming up with his brother-in-law, Brian Mazzie, an engineer and builder for this venture, the two recreated the Verona Inn, giving it everything from a new look to a new logo and menu.
“We took advantage of one another’s talents and put the place together,” said MacEvoy who owns several other restaurants in surrounding towns including and in West Caldwell and Murphy’s Bar and Grill in Dover.
While the pair have revamped the look, they assert the ethos of the original pub has remained the same.
“For 50 years we were known as having the greatest burgers and coldest beer so we kept that framework,” MacEvoy said.
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 its 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.”