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Historic 'The Washington House' to Open in Ridge Tavern Building

Restaurant in restored building tentatively set to open on March 1.

'The Washington House' was the original name of the building that later became The Store and The Ridge Tavern. By Linda Sadlouskos
'The Washington House' was the original name of the building that later became The Store and The Ridge Tavern. By Linda Sadlouskos
Since the Ridge Tavern — which a few years earlier had replaced the longtime restaurant, The Store — closed last summer, residents and regular visitors to Basking Ridge center have seen the historic building shuttered, stripped down to its frame and then begin to take shape again. 

But owner Mark Marrazza said what's new is really a return back to the original style of the 19th century building at 55 S. Finley Ave., at the corner of Henry Street.

And when the building reopens with a new restaurant, it also will bear the name of The Washington House, its original name, Marrazza said. The opening date for the new "upscale" restaurant and bar with "contemporary American cuisine," has been set for March 1.

According to information on the website for The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills, The Washington House is the name given to the inn at that location when it was constructed in the 1800s.

Before closing last summer, the building had been occupied by The Ridge Tavern — a restaurant and bar that had been installed in 2011 to replace The Store, a restaurant that had been located that corner in Basking Ridge for about three decades. 

The building's current co-owner, Mark Marrazza, who also is owner of The Tewksbury Inn in Hunterdon County, acquired The Store from Growth Restaurants in 2010. He waited until the next year to open the new restaurant.

After closing The Ridge Tavern last summer, Marrazza said he partnered with Scandic Builders, who already have gutted and restored a historic home further down the street on S. Finley Ave.

Historic details

The renovations at the building involved reframing the structure — which he said was based on some very large, old beams — so that now, unlike before, floors are level throughout the building.

The porch is being restored to its original style so that windows can open, he said.

Overall, he said the new structure will be more faithful to the time period than the building as it had become after evolving over many decades.

While Marrazza said The Washington House will in some ways be similar to The Tewksbury Inn in downtown Oldwick, he added the Basking Ridge establishment also will include casual menu options such as burgers and sandwiches.

He said he wants The Washington House to keep the feel of a local eatery, a gathering place for nearby residents, even though, given Scandic Builders' workmanship, "The building is going to be absolutely gorgeous."

The site comes with a liquor license, and the renovated building will include a bar and three other dining rooms, Marrazza said.

"Every room is going to have it's own personality," he added.

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