Business Opportunity at Eagle Rock Reservation

by Melody Kettle

The following advertisement appeared in the Sunday Business section of the Star-Ledger on March 11, 2012:

"The County of Essex is seeking a fine dining restaurant operator for the Eagle Rock Restaurant, located in the Essex County Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, NJ[.]  A Request for Information (RFI) has been issued to find an operator interested in developing and operating a fine dining restaurant.

A statement was also posted on the popular online forum,, by "Rosie":

Due to the phone calls we received about an advertisement that ran in the Star-Ledger, we felt the need to provide the following response:

In 1984, Harry Knowles became the first private businessman to partner with Essex County when he signed the 30-year lease for the opportunity to fully restore and operate the "casino" at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange.

Since then, Highlawn Pavilion has gone on to win numerous awards under the Knowles direction including "4 Stars" from The Star-Ledger, an "Excellent" from The New York Times, "Most Romantic" and "Best Restaurant" from Suburban Essex Magazine and "Best Chef" from Montclair Magazine.

Under the current lease agreement, the Knowles will operate the facility through October 2014. Catering opportunities beyond October 2014 will depend on a lease renewal since the property is owned by Essex County.

But most importantly, Highlawn Pavilion will remain open for business as usual through 2014 and we have every intention of working with the County to continue operating over the longer term.

The same statement is also posted on the Highlawn Pavilion website.