Chef David Burke announced the addition of the restaurants of the historic 116-year-old The Bernards Inn to his collection of unique, award-winning restaurants, having just inked a partnership with the inn’s owner, Hampshire Destination Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of The Hampshire Companies.
He and his David Burke Hospitality Management (DBHM) team are taking charge of the AAA Four Diamond property’s food and beverage operations, including two restaurants (120 and 100 seats) and a bar/ lounge area, as well the 200-seat banquet room and, eventually, the management of the inn’s 20 guest rooms. The new partnership represents the 19th and 20th restaurant (ninth in New Jersey) in Burke’s current worldwide roster and the first time DBHM has entered the hotel management space.
The Bernards Inn restaurants, reimagined by DBHM, are slated for a Fall 2023 debut.
“This is one of New Jersey’s greatest, iconic properties. Our goal is to bring it back to its glory days,” promised Burke. “We’re looking forward to creating a must-go, top of its class and quintessential dining experience focused totally on the guest experience.”
“We are excited to partner with chef David Burke given his excellent reputation for owning and operating numerous award-winning restaurants,” says Alex Imperatore, owner and senior real estate manager of Morristown, NJ’s The Hampshire Companies, “We feel it is time to raise the bar and infuse The Bernards Inn with new energy and an updated concept. With his culinary achievements, creativity, finesse and solid professional connections, we believe Chef Burke is the right professional to help us achieve our goals.”
Burke will maintain the configuration of the inn’s food and beverage outlets with the 120-seat fine dining restaurant on the upper level and a more casual eatery on the lower level, for which Burke envisions a small plates menu.
For the décor, Burke plans to draw inspiration from the area’s moniker of “New Jersey Horse Country,” utilizing an equestrian theme, which he also embraced at his Red Horse restaurants in Rumson, NJ and White Plains, NY.
On both the culinary and ambiance fronts, Burke aims to breathe new life and fun into The Bernards Inn, while respecting its historic nature and its dedication to sourcing local ingredients.
As Burke said, “I have a great respect for New Jersey’s historic businesses, and I get a kick out of infusing them with new vigor and fun ensuring they continue into the future. When I walk in The Bernards Inn I feel its greatness like an old stadium or theater. I think, wow, if these walls could talk.”
Throughout its history The Bernards Inn’s reputation as a gracious destination has remained as rock solid as its stone foundation, which can be seen in the wine cellar, another food and beverage amenity. While the inn had numerous owners and renovations throughout the years, the impressive staircase that once graced The Plaza Hotel in New York City, remains. The Inn has persevered through several devastating events, such as fire, two global pandemics, floods and Prohibition – in fact, it was a popular speakeasy and rumored to have been raided several times.
The property is located across the street from the NJ Transit train station, where a porter greets guests to carry their bags to the inn. It is also a convenient 35-minute drive from Newark Liberty International Airport; 55 minutes from New York City; and 90 minutes from Philadelphia.