Knoll Country Club in Parsippany NJ to open a public restaurant

PARSIPPANY – The wall of windows in the township’s newest restaurant offers panoramic views of some of the greenest acres that many residents have probably never seen.

Parts of the view from the Knoll Bar & Grill are actually real greens, as the 100-seat dining room overlooks the clubhouse of Knoll West Golf Club, considered the crown jewel of golf utility managed by the municipality of Parsippany.

The restaurant, long an underutilized lounge, has been completely renovated and can now serve as a sports bar with 10 televisions. Four hang above a long bar with 10 beers on tap. The restaurant overlooks the tee of the first hole, well above the fairway and the rest of the course.

After an inauguration ceremony last Tuesday, the bar and grill is in “soft opening” for the moment, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. The selection of dishes is so far limited to menus for breakfast, lunch and bar. But Andreas Rotsides’ Katina Caterers, which won the restaurant and catering concession this spring, plans to add dinner service, officials said.

Knoll manager Kevin Brancato couldn’t offer a time for the dinner opening, but said “we’ve done tastings of his food and it’s phenomenal.” The menu, still in the process of being finalized, was described as “premium continental”.

The three-year contract provides that the caterer will pay $95,000 per year in rent or 10% of gross revenue. The contract includes the operation of the restaurant, 450-seat banquet halls at Knoll West, a 250-seat hall at Knoll East Golf Course and “transitional” concessions on the two courses between the ninth and 10th holes.

“If this restaurant takes off, we think it can make $1 million to $2 million a year,” said Brancato, who will retire next week. “It could be a real profit for the city.”

As a municipal utility, the Knoll is expected to generate revenue for the township. After a few years of struggles that officials have blamed on the COVID pandemic and an outside management company, the Knoll has been back in the black since 2020. The recently passed 2022 township budget projects annual revenue to exceed $5, $1 million, producing a surplus of $1.1. million.

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Brancato, a longtime member of the township’s golf advisory committee, was hired to turn things around in December 2019 and was preparing to open for the 2020 season when the coronavirus emerged. Operations have been closed or limited until 2021.

Still, the Knoll experienced a quick turnaround.

Public records show the golf utility lost $1.5 million, on sales of $2.7 million in 2019 before the pandemic. Despite the COVID shutdowns in 2020, revenue that year improved to just over $4 million, producing a surplus of $700,000.

The utility produced another $1.5 million surplus in 2021, with another windfall expected this year.

Membership also rebounded. The Knoll West is expected to have a waiting list for a third consecutive year in 2023, according to the township.

“I see a lot of positive things happening at the Knoll,” Mayor James Barberio said. “COVID hasn’t helped for sure, but what it has helped is membership has grown because there wasn’t much to do and people wanted come and play golf. We had other hurdles to overcome. We didn’t have a caterer for a while and now we have one.”

Barberio said he backed the restaurant concept with a condition.

“I wanted it to be for the public as well, not just for the golfers,” he said. “It was important for me, because why have an installation if the public cannot use it? »

Additional renovations to Knoll facilities are underway. Brancato said a driving range opened at the resort in 2015 continues to be a success. Barberio said he wanted to revive plans to build a miniature golf course on the land as another revenue generator.

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“I’m looking forward to strengthening it and making it the best municipal course in the country, if possible,” he said.

Twelve millionaires, including the founder of IBM, financed the construction of the Knoll Club in 1929, choosing an old cemetery for their course, according to “Images of America: Parsippany-Troy Hills,” a publication of the Township Historical Society. Bloomfield College purchased the property in 1966 with the intention of building an on-campus annex, but the school ran into financial problems that forced it to sell the land, and the golf course continued.

In 1976, Parsippany used Green Acres preservation funds from the state to help purchase the Knoll, including the adjacent Knoll East Golf Course which opened in 1961. The 339-acre Knoll complex has been operated by the township ever since. as a revenue-generating municipal utility.

In 1986, a fire that broke out in a kitchen and injured seven firefighters emptied the majestic brick pavilion of Knoll West. The township replaced it with a new pavilion in 1992, which included dining and banqueting facilities.

William Westhoven is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

E-mail: [email protected]dailyrecord.com

Twitter: @wwesthoven

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