WESTFIELD, NJ – For half a century it was a staple in Downtown Westfield. But on Sunday, May 8, The Office Beer Bar & Grill – formerly known as The Jolly Trolley Bar & Grill – on 411 North Ave. will close its doors forever. That gave residents all the more reason to enjoy a few cold ones this weekend and reminisce about the good old days at one of the town’s oldest hangouts.
David Jacob, 55, a Fanwood resident who had his first legal beer at the Jolly Trolley nearly 40 years ago recalled one of the memorable moments of his life, which happened to take place at the North Avenue establishment in 1986 when he proposed to Mary Beth, now his wife of 29 years.
“When she got up to go to the salad bar, I put the ring in her glass of champagne,” Jacob recalled as he and his wife discussed vividly what happened at that exact table 30 years ago. “We’ve had so many great memories here and it’s going to be sad to see it go.”
Westfield residents Chris and Kimberly Baker, both business owners, had worked a long day at their jobs before enjoying their final drinks at the establishment that they’ve come to enjoy over the years. Both took an Uber car to The Office and stressed the importance of responsible drinking during the conversation.
“We’ve always had a great time here. The bartenders are great,” explained Chris Baker, a long-time Union County resident who has been coming to the establishment for 30 years. “We’ve always enjoyed having a few drinks and a lot of food whenever we come.”
“I’ll never forget all the great nights hanging out with my friends here,” added Kimberly Baker.
Deterioration of the building was a major factor in the owner’s appeal to the Board of Adjustment in September to allow it to be torn down and to replaced with a new three-story mixed-use complex. Immediate needs for more repairs expedited the closing date of the popular downtown restaurant, which was expected to shut down at the end of the summer, according to General Manager Toni Lynn Colantino.
“The building is old and they can’t do renovation on it. It needs to be taken down and rebuilt again,” she explained. “The customers are sad because this is their ‘Cheers’ and the bar has been here for many years.”
Colantino, an employee of both The Office and Jolly Trolley for more than two decades, had nothing but good memories to talk about.
“For generations people have been coming here, from the grandparents down to their grandchildren, so everyone’s sad to see it go,” said Colantino. “A lot of people have made their visits in the past couple of days to say their goodbyes to the building. I’m really going to miss the people. It’s hard to leave, but I was very fortunate to have these people in my life and that’s what I’ll miss most.”
A relocation of The Office in 2016 does not appear imminent, but Colantino would not rule it out.
“(The Office’s) hopes are to purchase something in town, just not in this building,” added Colantino. “There’s too much going on with renovations and projects at other locations for an immediate relocation, but I do think that we will eventually find another home in Westfield.”