MONTVILLE, NJ - Mike Mulligan is a man who is passionate about his job. As director of operations for Rails Steakhouse, he has played a part in every decision that has gone into the restaurant, from the tile on the floor, to the wallpaper on the walls. He is extremely proud of the floor in the Rafters Lounge, which contains slices of logs from trees felled by Superstorm Sandy and has been in the making for more than a year. From the two-story-high fireplace, to the Edison-bulb light fixtures, to the glass staircase, Mulligan has crafted an impressive structure.
The restaurant, which will also contain adjacent retail space and apartments, has been under construction for more than two years, but when it opens, it will be an integral part of Towaco Crossing, the name coined for the revitalized area next to Towaco’s train station.
The Towaco location, stated Mulligan, was chosen for its convenience, location, and its proximity to the train station. “Towaco is adjacent to six major highways, and Montville Township was rated as the 13th best city to live in the U.S.,” Mulligan said. “We are excited to be working with architect Tony Garrett of Bilow Garrett, and the design and construction team live right in town.”
“The village shops are intended as a gathering place for neighbors and visitors,” said Maryann Bagan of Towaco Crossing LLC, the management company for the building. “This walkable town center will offer more than fine dining and shopping. We hope that Towaco Crossing will act as a hub of activity that spurs further revitalization and brings a close-knit community even closer.”
A portion of the 6,600 square feet of retail space, according to the Towaco Crossing website, will be filled with a gift, accessory, and apparel retailer called Charlotte’s Web. “We are currently reviewing the business plans for a café and fitness/health food facility,” stated Bagan. “Each shop will have its own secure storage space in the basement and will offer an on-site caretaker.”
The six apartments are above the retail space and consist of four two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units. They’ll feature granite-topped kitchen countertops, high-end tile, walk-in closets, and hardwood flooring. “We are having our first open house for the apartments on Sunday, Sept. 14 from 1-4 p.m.,” stated Bagan.
Rails Steakhouse features several dining areas, each with its own flair. The main dining room will feature Hollywood booths with a view into the kitchen, with seating for about 80 diners. Next to the main dining room will be the wood-fired pizza oven, with seating surrounding an adjacent bar and a large communal table, and will feature a raw bar. When the weather is pleasant, diners can be seated at the Trackside Terrace, which features its own fireplace and a stunning view of the Towaco Valley.
Upstairs, the Rafters Lounge features a view to the dining room below, as well as a closeup view of the three-story tree trunk post in the center of the restaurant, shipped in specially from Oregon, and the railing that surrounds it, made of tree branches.
Downstairs will be “33,” the speakeasy lounge. Members will have a special glimpse into the steak drying room thanks to facial recognition software that will turn on illumination in the chamber. The lounge is divided into semi-private rooms conducive to private conversations and the enjoyment of a large selection of whiskey, barreled bourbon, and single-malt scotch selected by Arthur Giron, Rails’ General Manager. Giron is no stranger to steaks, as he was the general manager of the Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse in midtown Manhattan.
Further amenities in the lower level will include wine storage for guests, for a fee, in the restaurant’s wine cellar. The downstairs prep kitchen will contain adjacent seating that can also be used for corporate events involving cooking lessons. Private dining rooms are spread throughout the entire restaurant.
While the menu has not yet been ironed out, Mulligan says that it will feature steaks, pasta, and seafood. “I want to provide a great experience for guests in a friendly atmosphere with warm service that’s not pretentious,” stated Mulligan. “We want to get to know our guests. We don’t want this only to be a special occasion restaurant. We want people to be comfortable and bring in the kids after a softball game or celebrate a special event.”