SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Renovations are under way at the former Stuft Shirt restaurant at 19 Valley St., which will become “Ricalton's” under new owner Stony Johnson.
Named for Johnson’s great-great grandfather, James Ricalton, the famous Maplewood schoolmaster and world explorer, the restaurant will feature decor inspired by his travels and photography. Inventor Thomas Edison sent Ricalton on expeditions around the world and many of the photographs taken on those adventures will be on display in the restaurant, which will have an industrial 1800s look.
“Ricalton’s will be a place where you can get anything from a great burger, to grilled fish or a steak for two,” said Johnson. “It will be family-friendly but at the same time, if you want to have a quiet, intimate dinner, you’ll be able to do that, too.”
The main floor will be accessed via a main entrance in the walkway in between Ricalton’s and Toro Loco. On one side will be a large bar with live music a few nights per week. In the middle will be the main dining room, and at Valley Street end will be a room and bar for private parties.
The downstairs level, which will have an entrance from the Sloan Street parking lot, will be a pub, nicknamed The Snug, which will have the look of an Irish cottage with distressed brick and stucco walls and a tin ceiling.
Johnson hopes to have the restaurant open by late January or early February. Eventually, he would also like to put a Tiki Bar on the roof, but said that may be a year or two away.
“Everyone has been very enthusiastic and helpful so far,” Johnson said. “The police and fire departments, and the Board of Trustees have all been great.” Demolition has begun inside the building and renovation construction should start soon.
“The inspiration for opening this restaurant grew out of my wife and I wanting to go out to dinner somewhere in town with good food, reasonable prices, and where we could get a nice cocktail,” Johnson said. “We love Toro Loco and Bunny’s, but beyond those, the choices are limited.” So in Ricalton’s he is creating another option for a great night out in South Orange.