Alice’s Restaurant in NJ: You can get anything you want (exceptin’ on Thanksgiving)
Can you get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant in Lake Hopatcong?
Well, maybe. But not today, not on Thanksgiving — Alice's is closed for the holiday, even as its namesake song gets played over and over on radio stations across the United States.
In truth, the lakeside restaurant doesn't have much to do with "Alice's Restaurant Massacree" by Arlo Guthrie (but then again, the Alice's Restaurant in the song barely has anything to do with a big part of the song). Still, we wouldn't be surprised if old Arlo's masterpiece gets hummed along by people walking through its doors.
The Guthrie song's restaurant is reportedly based on a restaurant owned by Alice Brock, called the Back Room, in Stockbridge Mass., directly underneath the studios of Norman Rockwell (as Gurthrie sings, "'Alice's Restaurant' is not the name of the restaurant, that's just the name of the song"). Brock and her husband Ray really did live in a nearby deconsecrated church, as the song says. Incidentally, that particular Alice later went on to illustrate a children's book Guthrie wrote.
The Lake Hopatcong Alice's Restaurant is one of several restaurants owned by Alice Szigethy of New York City. As its website describes, it features "vaulted ceilings, reclaimed-barn-wood walls, comfy booths, and a full bar that extends from the airy interior to the breezy deck."
The description continues: "A mahogany seating bar runs the length of the deck so guests can sit and enjoy a clear panorama of the water, and awnings give the outdoor diners a shady place to enjoy the view, the breeze — and, of course, the food. Downstairs, the Big Fish Lounge, features a rich ‘below deck’ feel where customers enjoy a drink at our bar, food and live music and other special events. "
Lisa Palanchi, COO for Szigethy's local companies, described the restaurant as a place with "rustic flair" to New Jersey 101.5 in 2015. "Right now, we're like comfort food with a flair. So it may be as simple as a meatloaf, but it has a lot of flair to it," she said.
Joe Sanfilippo, the head chef since April of that year, had been working on bringing his own style to Alice's kitchen, Palanchi said.
"Right now, he has a specialty menu — a duck, which is phenomenal. His gazpacho soup won second place in a soup kitchen competition in Chester (one of Szigethy's other restaurants, incidentally, took first place)," she said.
Alice's prices are moderate — semolina crusted tofu at $17, bacon wrapped pork loin at $24, crispy skinned duck Breast at $25. In fact, there's nothing above $25 currently on the dinner menu.
And while Alice's in New Jersey may not have much in common with Alice's in the "Massacree," it does pay homage to it in one way.
As you walk in the restaurant, you'll see an original album cover, signed by Arlo Guthrie himself.
Alice's hours vary by season. It's currently open noon to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays, and noon to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Alice's is closed for the holiday.
The story above was originally published by New Jersey 101.5 on Nov. 26, 2015.