A breathtaking $13 million renovation of the Glen Ridge Country Club has resulted in the creation of a state-of-the-art kitchen, a new 150-seat a la carte restaurant, for the interior, and another 150 seats outside, as well as a new 250-foot ballroom, tennis pro shop, driving greens, pool facility, and fitness center.
“The club was founded in 1894, so, as you can imagine, we were working under some very challenging conditions,” said Chef Jim Haberstroh, who oversaw the rebuild of the Glen Ridge Country Club kitchen facilities. “This was the original club house from 1911. And now it’s completely updated.”
The Glen Ridge, N.J., country club has two kitchens. “The upstairs kitchen – the older one – was renovated three years ago. I did some minor modifications up there, before we started this mammoth rebuild,” he noted.
After speaking with the board of directors and the members of the house committee to see exactly what they were looking for, Haberstroh got down to work, menu first. Then it was on to the equipment.
“When I was at Trump National in Bedminster, we had brought Lester and Glenn Reiff in from Corbo Restaurant Supply,” noted Haberstroh. “They did a great job for us there, so I wanted them to bring that same expertise with them when I moved to Glen Ridge. They very quickly understood the need for us to create a kitchen that could handle both our a la carte and expanded catering needs.
The initial collaboration included Chef Jim and Corbo focusing on creating a line that would generate the fire power to support the expanded demand. “We went with Jade for the firepower and the durability,” Haberstroh explained. “We also did the stainless steel S-style grates for quick sautéing and clean ability. I like the fire and ice, I love the high ovens. And then, just the overall power from the BTUs of the burners. They’re all just very high quality,” he said.
“They definitely wanted fresh pizza so our first move was to redesign the line to accommodate pizza prep flow,” noted Glenn Reiff. Corbo once again brought its eye for production flow. The Reiffs created a pizza prep suite to handle dough prep and storage. “We needed flexibility to be able to increase production by stacking full size sheet pans.”
The Corbo/Glen Ridge design also includes the latest in Blodgett Combi cooking. “The Blodgett enables us during special events to deliver consistency and increase production by stacking full size sheet pans in the unit.”
Many of the touches that Lester Reiff has built his design reputation upon are on display in Glen Ridge’s new kitchen. These include a chute on the cooking line to handle sauté pans after cooking.
“But we also talked pots and pans, everything you’d need in a kitchen. Then we mapped out the space. We fit as much productive equipment in here as we possibly could,”
Haberstroh added. With such an old building, ventilation was key. “Everything was brand new – the hood ventilation system, everything,” he explained.
Among the key challenges that the Corbo team responded to was the design and installation of a pair of new bars. Among the Corbo design features were Lester Reiff’s suggestion to enable golfers to come to a new sliding window for food and libation so that spike damage in the dining area was eliminated. In the main dining area of the new clubhouse the Reiffs have created a spectacular new 20-foot plus bar that will serve as a show piece for the club’s soon to be busy function schedule. Corbo turned to local manufacturer Krowne to supply a modular bar system that delivers both functionality and structure. “Our approach is that when a bartender moves both within the space they are working in and another bar in the facility, we want the same look to maximize their ability to serve their customers,” Glenn Reiff explained.
“With Krowne, legs are eliminated and the chaseways inside the bar die wall hide plumbing, electric, soda and beer lines,” Glenn Reiff continued. “These features along with stainless steel panels above the backsplash and below the units give it a sleek, neat style that is easy to keep clean.”
Much of the creativity of Haberstroh has been his ability to bring a magical touch to events with a beverage menu that has included the use of liquid nitrogen to create crowd-pleasing items such as “dragon’s breath popcorn,” “Jack Daniels Cracker Jack,” “adult root beer floats” and “smokin’ sangria.”
“Because many of the 540 members live within five miles of the property, they would drive by, maybe grab a cocktail and then go out to some of the local restaurants in Montclair, where the dining scene was up to par,” according to Haberstroh. “So part of my job was to make us the member-saver restaurant. We don’t have to be the best in town, but we want to be the favorite – where they can bring their kids. We’re a family-oriented club, so we do have a kids’ menu, a pasta menu, and that’s where the desire for a pizza menu came in,” he recalled.
The club recently held a soft re-opening for its members. The initial reviews were stellar for both the fare and the new kitchen and bar designs that Glen Ridge and Corbo completed.
To learn more about Glen Ridge Country Club, visit their website.