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

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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.

    2 Replies
    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.

      Cheers,
      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

          what is the url?

          1. re: p314n

            http://www.stagehousetavern.com/

            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

            http://www.stagehouserestaurant.com/
            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: chuck98

                        How many ribs in the full rack?

                        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!

              2. I am glad you enjoyed yourself Ted, i went there wed. night, i never got to try the prime rib because they were sold out of it, and we dont have prime rib at the other location, so sad. I agree the decor has changed drastically. The food was not what i expected, i ordered the rack of lamb and Wayne, the head chef, cooked it BETTER than the location. My friend i took there ordered the 14oz sirloin and it was much more flavorful, i think it because of the fire wood grill. Now i am not saying the other place does not have good food, but Wayne's goal as he told me was to be better than the Scotch-Plains location. So in somerset you folks have a good chef, new decor and a great menu, I really hope no one has any bad experiences like they had with O'Conners

                1 Reply
                1. re: richman516

                  I am going to miss the St. Pat's day specials, house band and step dancing. That was a family tradition.

                2. We stopped by for dinner last night. The place was PACKED with both rooms and the lobby overflowing. The bright lights illuminating the white exterior walls did a great job to announce the opening of the Stage House Tavern!

                  So when's the last time have you've been out for dinner and have been startled by a silver haired guy putting two fingers in his mouth and whistling (like he's calling for his lost dog down the block) to get the attention of a nearby group of friends? Yep, he was here last night and got everyone's attention. A bit later, another middle aged guy does the same piercing whistle to get the attention of a bartender. No big deal, but really?!?

                  Overall, the Stage House Tavern is a nice space. Lots of big screens in the spacious bar ensure optimal viewing and enjoyment of any game. As usual, there's nothing but hard surfaces and a full house results in .............. (sorry I can't hear you).

                  Service was absolutely exceptional considering the crowd and that they've only been open a few days. The kitchen was putting out a lot of food, at a good pace, and it appeared no one was in the weeds.

                  We ate at the bar and ordered the beet salad to start. For entrees, we ordered the tempura fried tuna and the rack of lamb, both described above.

                  The $8.50 beet salad was nothing more than cubed beets on a plate. The menu describes goat cheese, almonds, chives and black currents with a port wine vinaigrette. Trust me folks, the goat cheese was non existent. Maybe a few random flecks were somewhere on the plate? There were a few thin slivers of almonds. Chives and black currents, maybe.

                  The tuna had a weird look (a bit off color) and an OK taste. The $19.95 rack of lamb with roasted parsnips, carrots and potatoes, was a lot better and a great value. Put $29 on the rack of lamb and I'd probably order something else.

                  The Stage House Tavern is similar to The Cabin in Freehold in size, crowd and cuisine. More locally, I'd compare it to Old Man Rafferty's in Hillsborough, Wildflowers in Pennington or Tiger's Tale in Montgomery (if T'sT ever received a makeover).

                  Looks like a great local's place for a beer, a bite and a game. A nice spot to bring the family with exceptional service. We wish them well.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Foody4life

                    Hmmm...if the noise level in the newly redesigned interior is as oppressive as was described, that will definitely keep me from returning for dinner--unless I can be seated in the porch area. As I may have implied in my earlier report/review, the dining room was very lightly attended when I was there on day 3. At most, there were five tables occupied at that time, and as a result, high noise levels were not apparent.

                    One of my pet peeves with restaurants is the abundance of hard surfaces, with minimal acoustic material. The net result--having to shout in order to speak with dinner companions, and having to constantly ask the waitstaff to repeat their recitation of specials--is just not to my liking.

                    Perhaps if I was a few decades younger, this type of environment might be to my liking, but at this point in my existence, my attitude is, "If you can't afford to install adequate sound-absorbing materials, I can't afford to patronize your establishment". For me, the surest way to ruin an evening is to have to be subjected to extremely high noise levels while trying to converse and while trying to enjoy my dinner.

                    Most likely, I will confine my repeat visits to lunchtime, unless I can secure a reservation for a table in the porch area at dinnertime.

                    1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                      I was over there yesterday at lunchtime and I see that they are putting up acoustic panels. I guess they heard you over the noise Ted :-)

                      1. re: eyeLikeIt

                        That is really good news.
                        I would hate to have to eliminate another restaurant from my go-to list because of oppressive noise levels!

                  2. I live in Franklin Twp just a couple miles from the place, so am looking forward to trying the place out... early reports sound very encouraging.

                    In any case, I'm sure it will be better than O'Connor's was...that should be pretty easy, actually ;-)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: The Professor

                      We went to the Stagehouse in Somerset last night with our two kids. We ate at a booth in the bar. It was rather loud, but enjoyable. The service had a few glitches but they were acknowledged and corrected promptly.

                      My husband and I had the All You Can Eat Ravioli Monday Featuring Chef Eric’s Homemade Ravioli. Try one or Try them ALL!!! $14.95 per person
                      Choice of Tavern Soup, Caesar or Garden Salad
                      Classic Cheese Ravioli , Seafood Ravioli , Goat Cheese Ravioli , Spinach and Mushroom Ravioli , Smoked Chicken Ravioli , Luganiga Sausage Ravioli or Pumpkin Ravioli (served with Pecan Frangelico Sauce)

                      Choice of: Marinara Sauce, Vodka Sauce, Basil Cream Sauce, 4 Cheese Cream Sauce, Pink Brandy Sauce
                      Served with a1/2 carafe of Banfi Red or White and home-made rolls and butter

                      We thought it was delicious. We tried 4 varieties of raviloi with a variety of suaces. My favorite was the goat cheese ravioli with the pink brandy sauce. The salads were very nice too.

                      My kids had the french dip sandwich (huge) and the boneless buffalo tenders which they devoured. Even the warm ciabatta rolls were yummy.

                      I would definitely return.

                    2. Has anyone tried the Sunday brunch at the Stagehouse Tavern in Somerset?

                      1. The evening started out with being greeted by a young girl who seemed to be annoyed that a customer came in and she actually had to do her job. The flash dance attire didn't seem to match anyone else who worked there.
                        Our waitress as nice as she was didn't even know they have bottled water. I am getting ahead of myself.
                        We were seated and our waitress introduced herself. Then opened up with "NOT" the specials but the list of what they were out of.
                        That seemed a little strange. Then came the no bottled water when we were ordering drinks. I ordered a beer Guinness on tap that came in what seemed to be a taster size glass. Pretty bad for $5. My wife ordered a sprite which turned out to be a knock off lemon flavored drink that was what we guessed to be soda.
                        Then after our apps showed up, a new waitress or manager came to tell us that one of our dinners was ....well, they ran out of that too.(she did tell us you have bottled water thou)
                        There was 3 of us in our party.
                        My friend reordered his 2nd dinner since the first one they ran out of and wouldn't you know it his dinner was ready and sitting in front of him 7 minutes before my wife and I had our dinner. Really?
                        So, dinner is served and my steak was great. It seemed that I was missing my sides but then I noticed there was 2 little samples of sides on my plate. Not sure if someone else got the full serving or if they were trying to stretch it.
                        Hoping that dinner can be put behind us we decide to order desert. I can't even try and candy coat it. "Horrible". The brownie thing was disgusting. It was chocolate paste with a scoop of cheap vanilla ice cream.
                        This has been one of the worst dinners I have had since someone convinced me to go to white castle 28 years ago.
                        I can not imagine that we would return.
                        This is far from what a TAVERN would serve.
                        Mediocre food.
                        Mediocre service.
                        This is not worth your time or hard earned money. Expect better or go to McDonalds

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: fkmaconi

                          After a half hour wait on a Saturday night, I was fortunate enough to have a waiter who knew what he was doing and completely competent. My filet was great for $19.99, my vegetables were al dente (just the way I like them); however, the potatoes au gratin (or what they tried to pass them off as) just weren't for me. It was like something cut out of a casserole dish. Next time I know to ask if I can swap them out for some mashed or baked. Looking forward to trying Ravioli Monday.

                          1. re: hate2diet

                            however, the potatoes au gratin (or what they tried to pass them off as) just weren't for me. It was like something cut out of a casserole dish
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            Unless the potatoes are ordered a la carte as a side dish, like in a steakhouse, where it would come in an oven-proof ramekin or similar casserole dish/bowl.....a restaurant makes them in a hotel pan and will normally make nice square or rectangle potions to place on the plate, so what you received is appropriate and not unusual.

                        2. I returned to Stage House last week for lunch, and I have to say that nobody in my party was disappointed. Even before ordering, I did notice the acoustic panels that have been installed in various parts of the dining room. Hopefully this will help to control noise when the place is full. At lunchtime, there was no real need for noise control, although I would say that they had a decent sized crowd, even at ~1:30 when we arrived.

                          The Mushroom, Spinach, and Parmesan soup was a savory delight. I could have finished two bowls of it, if given the chance.

                          My brother and I both had the Tempura Tuna. As it had been previously, it was cooked nicely rare, and served with a tangle of sauteed peppers and green beans + wasabi sauce. Very good, although the portion is somewhat on the small side.

                          My SIL ordered the Rack of Lamb, and it is an incredible bargain--at least at this point, prior to elevating the prices to "Scotch Plains level". It was a generous portion of good-quality lamb, cooked nicely rare--succulent and memorable, as well as reasonably-priced at $19.95.

                          Cappucino and espresso were good, as expected. We will be returning!