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Jan 13, 2011 05:20 AM

Re-opening for O'Connor's/Stage House Tavern in Somerset?

The old O'Connor's restaurant in Somerset was purchased by the Stage House folks from Scotch Plains last year, and then it closed for renovations sometime in the late summer. I observe activity and workmen's trucks there often, but thus far there is no indication of when they might be re-opening the place.

Does anyone have any inside information regarding the status of the new Stage House location in Somerset?

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      1. I just saw that they are looking for a general manager for a high volume account so maybe that is for O'Connors.

        1. re: Spaetzle75

          This is a bit odd, but I am going to respond to my own question!

          Because I live only about 1.5 miles from old O'Connnor's/new Stage House Tavern, I drive past the place several times a week. Since the restaurant closed for renovations on August 30th, this has to count as one of the most time-consuming renovations in the history of the restaurant trade! What type of work was being done that necessitated over 5 months of almost constant work by the tradesmen who are almost always in evidence?

          Well, late last week the signage was finally changed to "Stage House Tavern", and a temporary banner beneath the name stated, "coming soon!".

          So, Ted in Central NJ, in answer to your query, I can tell you that the establishment will apparently be re-opening soon, although the date is uncertain at this point.

          Ted in Central NJ

          1. re: Ted in Central NJ

            I loved Ted's answer. What a coincidence to have "Ted" answer Ted's question! BTW, Luchento's on Route 33 took many, many, many months for renovations. It seemed endless, but finally they opened, so Stage House may actually open, too! I guess the Salad Bar is over. [sigh]

      2. i also live about a mile from o'connors and have heard from some ppl that there are TONS of renovations happening there including a covered patio for summer nights. i believe it is going where the "catering hall" section was....boy am i going to miss that salad bar!

        ditto on luchento's except making it more "lounge-like" on the inside didn't help their food. i'd prefer the old luchento's any day!

        5 Replies
        1. re: p314n

          The website is up with menu. Looks more upscale than O'Connor's was.

              1. re: chuck98

                Thank you, Chuck!

                Yes, it does appear to be more upscale than O'Connor's was, but the prices are not bad.

                1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                  If the *Full Rack of Lamb* is indeed 8 bones and priced at $19.95, that may very well be the best price in the state....on paper, the menu is very nice.

        2. I work at the Stagehouse in Scotch-Plains, and the New Stagehouse in somerset is now open. The reason the renovations took so long was because the owners had encountered many problems with construction and permits(being the building is so old). The entree's are priced low so as to celebrate the opening of the new restuarant, however they will soon become the same prices as the Stagehouse in Scotch-Plains. We will also have a HUGE outdoor dining area for the spring and summer months. The outdoor dining area here in Scotch-Plains is what contributed to the restaurant being so successful, most other restaurants are slow in the summer months, not us. They will even have the free BBQ promotion as the one in scotch-plains in the summer. As for the salad bar, its gone.

          2 Replies
          1. re: richman516

            So to your knowledge, how long will the under 20 buck promotion for entrees last until the prices increase?

            1. re: richman516

              The Scotch-Plains menu wasn't working for me; do you have a working link? I'd like to see the prices.

            2. Here is the link to our original site

              As for the under $20 entree, they said they will increase the prices slowly in a manner of 20.5, 21,21.5...etc. As for the time frame, i would say about 2-3 months max

              9 Replies
              1. re: richman516

                Barring unforeseeable market conditions, if they hold the under $20 prices for a minimum of 1 month, I would deem that to be fair.....anything less, then I would say it was a deceptive tactic to garner a favorable reaction.

                1. re: fourunder

                  the owners would not do it that quickly. Their intention is not to deceive anyone, just to promote the new look and the menu of the restaurant to the area. Although if you are going to try out the new place, i would wait about a week so they can work out any kinks in the restaurants, and root out any servers that don't measure up. I know i will be eating at the new restaurant on wed. so i could test the servers and such

                  1. re: richman516

                    The other location has the lamb rack at $29, so 19.95 is pretty good. I think I'll go as well.

                    1. re: chuck98

                      I have worked at the original restaurant for 2 years almost 3 and i have had everything on the menu. The rack of lamb is by far my favorite, followed by the sirloin, then the pork tenderloin, the hash it comes with is AMAZING!!

                      1. re: richman516

                        The rack of lamb was excellent, sides were good. Scallops were very good, although the sauce and sides had some sweetness (pecan sauce and cranberry risotto); I was expecting savory. Coconut sorbet was nice, service was quick and attentive.

                          1. re: fourunder

                            8 ribs, arranged in 4 portions of 2. Nicely seasoned and cooked, although slightly bloodier would have been good too.

                    2. re: richman516

                      I had lunch at the new place yesterday, and I have to say that I was quite impressed overall.

                      First, the parking lot (which had previously resembled Berlin after the Allied bombardment) has been extensively repaired. While it has not been totally repaved, it is no longer pockmarked with craters. That was a good start.

                      While there are no exterior changes to the building, the interior has been completely redecorated, and it looks spectacular. Most importantly, the HORRENDOUS wallpaper of old has gone to its rightful grave. Every time that I ate at the old O'Connor's, the quote from Oscar Wilde ("Either that wallpaper goes or I do") came to mind. Good riddance to bad taste!

                      The entry area features slate flooring and new partitions separating the dining area from the entry area.

                      The bar has been moved from its previous location to what had been the banquet room. The wall that used to close-off the old banquet room has been removed, giving a nice opened-up feel to the place. The windows in the old banquet room have been replaced with much larger ones. So--the overall effect in what had been the old bar area and what had been the old banquet room is much brighter and more contemporary-looking.

                      So--what had been the bar area is now the main dining area, and what had been the banquet room is now the bar/dining area. The bar itself is now a giant U-shaped structure, and is very attractive.

                      The "porch" area that used to serve as the main dining area is not yet open, but it is finished and appears to be ready for customers. That area, as well as the rest of the place, features dark wainscoting, wide-plank floors, and a 3-color paint scheme that is contemporary and bright. The seating in much of the restaurant now consists of high-backed black banquettes, along with cherry wood tables and chairs. Some walls in the dining area are now brick-covered.

                      What had been the salad bar area is now apparently a coffee bar, complete with some very large coffee-making equipment.

                      But, what about the food, you ask? No worries there, mate!

                      My friend and I both ordered the Tempura-style Fried Tuna. They apparently take a "loin" of Yellow Fin Tuna, coat it with Panko crumbs and seasonings and then lightly fry that whole piece. It is then sliced and arranged on the plate with Wasabi Aoli and a small amount of stir-fried green beans and peppers. It was artfully arranged, and most important of all, it was delicious and clearly of high quality. The tuna was properly under-cooked, and was nicely red in the center. I would definitely order this dish again!

                      My sister-in-law ordered the Short Ribs, which she pronounced to be very good. The waitress--who also works at the Scotch Plains location--even remarked that the Short Ribs are one of their best dishes. Just as with the Tempura Tuna, the presentation was very pleasing to the eye.

                      My brother ordered the Prime Rib. Again, it was clearly of high-quality. I sampled it and found it to be very tender and flavorful. This is one dish that had been available at the old O'Connor's, and had been one of their specialties. However, I think that the new management turns out a better Prime Rib than O'Connor's did.

                      Key Lime Pie was very good and was of the correct yellow color, rather than the artificial green that is the trademark of a so-so restaurant. Espresso and Cappuccino were both good.

                      The service was good, although one would expect good service in a lightly-attended restaurant. However, it was only the third day of business--with only word of mouth, rather than advertising--so I expect that business will pick up considerably once they advertise and once word of mouth continues to spread the good word. I think that the management was very wise to do a "soft opening" in order to get the kinks out.

                      I will definitely be returning to the new Stage House Tavern, especially since it is so close to my home. However, how often I return will be governed to a great extent by the future prices. Right now, everything is a bargain. Price increases would certainly not be out of line, but I just hope that the management holds the prices down to a level below those of their Scotch Plains prices. Otherwise, the old O'Connor's clientele will not return in droves.

                      Anyway--this was a very promising start for a new establishment, especially considering that I was there on their third business day!

                      1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                        thanks for the great report Ted. We never visited the old O'Cs but look forward to trying the new. Grand opening prices look to be a steal for our area!