Restaurateur gains final approval for new Olde Silver Tavern

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MANALAPAN – A new Olde Silver Tavern will rise on Freehold-Englishtown Road (Route 522) in Manalapan and locals who recall their former hangout with fondness may be enjoying a meal and a drink at the new restaurant by mid-2020.

Five years after receiving preliminary approval for his plan to resurrect the Olde Silver Tavern, the applicant, 149 Freehold Road, LLC, and owner, James Lawson, returned before the Planning Board.

During a meeting on Sept. 26, Lawson received final approval to proceed with the construction of a 7,400-square-foot building just west of Route 522’s intersection with Main Street in the Tennent section of Manalapan.

Lawson said he hopes to start construction as soon as possible with the goal of opening the restaurant in the late spring or early summer of 2020.

The building that housed the previous Olde Silver Tavern was demolished several months ago.

Work is proceeding to bring public water and sewer infrastructure to the property to service the new restaurant, according to attorney Frank Accisano, who represented Lawson before the board.

Lawson, a resident of Manalapan, said he will be the owner and operator of the tavern. He described several changes in the plan that have been made since preliminary approval was granted.

Lawson said plans now call for a basement to be constructed under the area of the first floor where the bar will be located. He said that would provide direct access for beer to flow from a system in the basement up to the bar.

In another change from the initial plan, the new building has been moved farther away from Route 522. The space created by shifting the building will be used for a bocce court that will be available to patrons while they wait for a table, Lawson said.

He said landscaping will be provided to separate the bocce court from Route 522.

Board members and the board’s planner and engineer who review an applicant’s site plans did not object to the changes. They asked Lawson to confirm the bocce court would be shielded from Route 522 by landscaping and that the basement would only be used for storage, and he confirmed those items.

Engineer John Ploskonka, representing Lawson, said the applicant would provide 143 parking spaces, which exceeds the required number of spaces; a sewer line, which is coming up Tennent Road from the vicinity of Church Lane, would be completed within the next month or so; the Gordons Corner Water Company would service the restaurant; and the well and septic system that served the former building are gone.

“If construction begins this year, it is possible you could be stopping in for a pizza next spring,” Ploskonka said.

Architect Michael Testa said the design of the building has not changed, that there would be a sprinkler system in the basement and on the main level, and that there would be two gas fireplaces in the building.

No members of the public commented on the application when given the opportunity to do so and no board members expressed concern about what Lawson has planned for the site.

Board member Barry Fisher made a motion to grant the 149 Freehold Road LLC application amended preliminary and final site plan approval.

On a roll call vote, Chairwoman Kathryn Kwaak, Vice Chairman Todd Brown and board members John Castronovo, David Kane, Richard Hogan, Township Committeeman Barry Jacobson, Deputy Mayor Jack McNaboe, Steven Kastell and Fisher voted “yes.”