ROXBURY, NJ – Muldoon’s Irish Pub, a Ledgewood watering hole and restaurant that’s become something of a landmark after 30 years in business, has new owners and is getting a new name next month.
On Aug. 13, Muldoon’s will become Iron Hills Tavern, said co-owner Ken Olsen. He and partner Joe Malazinsky bought the Route 46 establishment June 13. They acquired it from longtime owner Doug Winch, who retained ownership of a second Muldoon’s inside Rockaway Townsquare Mall.
More than the name is changing. The new owners are abandoning the Irish pub theme. Instead, Iron Hills Tavern will offer a broad variety of international food, said Olsen, 37, a Ledgewood resident.
However, he stressed that he and Malazinsky, 60, of Rockaway, want to retain the bar's friendly, community atmosphere. They are making no major changes to the building’s interior – other than refurbishing the floors and restrooms. “We want to keep this as a local tavern,” said Olsen, who’s managed several area restaurants including Caffé NaVona, Sushi Lounge and Morris Tap & Grill
“We’re rebranding in August,” Olsen said. He said there will be a new website, Facebook page, signage and menus. There will also be a new executive chef, Craig Norcross, according to Olsen.
“But the whole staff is staying on with us,” Olsen said. “They’ve all been here a number of years and there’s a lot of loyalty for them and this place. So, we want to keep everybody on.”
Olsen said the new menu will “celebrate the diversity of America through food.” While that might sound a bit ostentatious, Olsen said he’s not talking about a “white tablecloth” scene.
“It’s going to be, more or less, international comfort food,” he said. “We want people to realize there’s more out there than just the Italian, Irish, Mexican and Chinese food that dominates the area.”
The partners’ plan doesn’t include tap upon tap of fancy draft beer. “We want to keep this a local tavern,” Olsen said. “We don’t want to go the craft beer route. But we do want to diversify from the other restaurants.”
Olsen said most of the regular customers already know about the upcoming change. “There was a lot of apprehension about us coming in here,” he acknowledged.
“People thought we were going to be changing everything around and thought we were firing the staff,” he said. “But this place is like Cheers. We love fact that people are all friendly to each other and love the staff.”