ROXBURY, NJ – Just about two years after Muldoon’s Irish Pub got new owners and a new name evoking nothing about the Emerald Isle, it’s Gaelic time again at the Ledgewood landmark.
The Muldoon’s signs are back up at the place that became Iron Hills Tavern in July 2016. And longtime owner Doug Winch is back in the picture too.
“We just really weren’t making money,” said Joe Malazinsky, one of the men who took charge of Muldoon’s in 2016, changed its name and tried to make a go at altering the place’s three-decades-in-the-making Irish pub brand.
Malazinsky is still at the resurrected Muldoon’s, but his Iron Hills Tavern partner, Ken Olsen, is not.
Winch, who had retained ownership of the building, bought out Olsen’s share, and part of Malazinsky’s. Winch, who is also the owner of Muldoon's Steakhouse & Pub in the Rockaway Townsquare Mall, could not be reached immediately for comment.
Stick with the Celtic
“It couldn’t stay what it was (as Iron Hills Tavern), Malazinsky acknowledged. “It had been Muldoon’s for like 30 years … I don’t think we were necessarily a good fit for the place. I didn’t realize the history of what was here until I got here.”
Also returning is longtime Muldoon’s chef Abel Areujo, Malazinsky said. He said the chef who was at the helm for Iron Hills Tavern “did not want to do a lot of Muldoon’s type stuff and that kind of hurt us."
He said the prior chef wanted only to offer creative, international comfort food. "But I kind of felt we should have kept some of the Muldoon’s fare," Malazinsky said. "That would have helped.”
During its Iron Hills Pub days, the establishment gained some new patrons, but it lost a number of longtime Muldoon’s fans. “We did see a new crowd, but it didn’t work for some of the people who had been coming here and wanted some of the things they always got at Muldoon’s,” he said. “In hindsight, we should have been sooner in bringing some of that stuff back.”
That's happened, but it doesn’t mean a complete eschewing of unusual, international fare in favor of nothing but boxty, bangers, soda bread, black pudding, shepherd’s pie and corned beef. The current menu remains diverse, but those seeking traditional Irish items will find them.
And those seeking a place to party on St. Patrick's Day will be welcome, Malazinsky said. "With Iron Hills, we still tried to do a good St. Patrick's theme for a whole week. But next St. Patrick's Day we'll probably do even bigger than we did in the past couple years."