Country atmosphere, food, drink staples of Buck Hill

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  • The highly popular Buck Hill giant salty pretzel appetizer.

  • Buck Hill under the lights at night

  • PHOTOS BY LAURIE GORDON Buck Hill Restaurant & Brewery

Just down the road from Newton, behind the highly detailed, hand-carved wooden door lies a new restaurant and soon-to-be brewery with a farm-to-plate philosophy, incredible décor and a menu that's no holds bar. This is Buck Hill Restaurant & Brewery.

Located on Route 94, in Blairstown, the restaurant is in the building that, for years, housed The Forge.

“We purchased the building and property in November of 2014,” said Jay Mena, Buck Hill's Managing Partner. “Shortly there after is when I came up with the idea of turning the old Forge Restaurant into a Brew Pub. Although the community is not densely populated there we very few restaurants in the area and now brew pubs in the entire county.” Mena's partners are Regina Vininski, Rudy Perez, and Keith Delman.

“The location selected us," Mena said. "It sat vacant for over three years and plenty of people looked at it and no one brought due to the amount of work that had to be done to the building. The previous owners hadn't kept up with repairs and it was in dire need of some TLC. I own a liquor store four miles down the road and live just three miles from the location, but my other businesses kept me traveling throughout the metropolitan area. I thought if I can build a destination type restaurant, t would allow me the ability to stay close to home as I developed the concept and brand.”

Speaking of location, Buck Hill prides itself in catering to several modes of transportation that bring people to the restaurant. To this end, the parking lot is designed to accommodate cars, has special slots for motorcycles and even a place to tie up horses as the popular Paulins Kill Trail is located across the street.

The restaurant was named after the old Buck Hill Brewery, located in Hackettstown during the early 20th century. Until the brewery gets going, there are a host of draft beers offered and changed according to the season.

Since Mena does quite a bit of traveling, he eats out a lot.

“When I due I always pay attention when something catches my I in a tavern or restaurant. When I began the process of siting down with the architect I pretty much knew the type of restaurant I wanted to build," Mena said. "I was very lucky to have some very talented professionals to help me put this project together.”

Ray Obrien was their architect and Shawn Baldwin was their builder and general contractor.

“It was important to me to use all local trades in the building process as I have been a local resident for over 17 years," Mena said. "Blairstown and the surrounding towns are a small but very loyal community. We do a very good business at our liquor J.D.'s Wines & Liquors down the road so I knew if I put my heart and soul into the place that the community would and could support us.”

The build out had its challenges as all large projects do but the partners were able to over come them. Mena gives accolades to the town and state who he said were very easy to work with.

“Our biggest challenge was financing,” Mena said. “Once I realized the size and scope of the project I knew the budget was going to be very large. So we sought our financing through First Hope Bank and they were wonderful people to work with. They could not have been more supportive throw-out the entire process. Our agent at the bank Charles Luszcz could not have been more helpful. Have Good Partners also is the key to success of any project.”

The Restaurant opened on June 11 and the brewery should go online by the end of the year.

“We are going through the licensing process for the brewery and its is an extensive process,” Mena said, “We have our Federal Brewing license and are at the final stages at the state level.”

As to the menu, Buck Hill has pub items and entrees, but certainly done with their own flare.

“Some of the more popular items on the menu are our famous Short Rib Ragu, House Made Pastrami Reuben, Cuban Sandwich, Beer Butter Grilled Shrimp, and our local NJ Berkshire Pork Chop,” Mena said. Another unique appetizer is a giant salty pretzel served with two types of mustard dips.

“We look to stay engaged with the local community by offering benefit fundraisers where we donate a portion of the days sales back to the cause,” Mena said. “We are having our next event on Nov. 5. This will be an action and all day event to raise funds for a local young man Joe Mahaffey who was involved in a terrible motorcycle accident seven weeks ago. Anyone can go on our facebook page to find out the details if they would like to attend. We also have live entertainment every Saturday and look to make the Holiday Season a reason to party at Buck Hill.”

As the seasons change so do Buck Hill's offerings from local fields. Their dishes are seasonally inspired based on what is available at the area's local farms. Buck Hill owns a 64-acre farm in Knowlton where they grow their own hops.

Celebrate your next big event at Buck Hill. Bring up to 100 of your closest friends and family to one of New Jersey’s most unique event venues. From casual to formal, our warm and intimate atmosphere, customized menu and full bar are perfect for parties, meetings, reunions, workshops, showers, receptions and more. Book now for holiday events.

Buck Hill's hallmark wooden door was designed and hand-carved by Bret McClain, owner of Freehand Custom Carvings in Newton.

"Each piece I create has its own unique characteristics. It was a pleasure to design this door for Buck Hill," McClain said.

For information, visit Buck Hill's Facebook page or call 973-600-8236. Buck Hill Brewery & Restaurant is located at 45 RT. 94 in Blairstown.

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