HO-HO-KUS, N.J. -- Laurie Hamm, co-owner of Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern (she runs it with her husband, Gordon, a former borough councilman) remembers eating at the Inn in all of its incarnations.
A longtime resident of Ho-Ho-Kus, she knew the property when it was the French restaurant, Claude's, then Marcello’s, then owned by Ho-Ho-Kus residents, Chris and Nan Kelly.
So when the Inn finally closed in January of 2009, the Hamms decided to revive the longtime institution, bringing it back to its former glory with a huge renovation that took up most of the summer and fall of 2009.
Now, especially at this time of year, the Inn shines with festivity and joy.
"We have a lot of really exciting things going on right now," said Hamm, "Including a holiday buffet brunch on Sunday, Dec. 13 where a local high school a cappella group, ‘Voices,' will serenade each room with holiday songs, a champagne brunch on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m, a Christmas Eve dinner and a New Year's Eve multi-course dinner, complete with festive noisemakers, hats, dancing, and champagne."
There's also, of course, the Inn's new chef, Hank Barrett, a Paramus resident who fits in perfectly with the Inn's mission of offering comfort classics.
"Hank really understands just what people here like to see and taste, with pleasing flavor profiles," said Hamm.
Community is important to the Hamms who, before they opened, reached out and asked the public to share their memories and memorabilia of the Inn through the years. Now, the walls are filled with Ho-Ho-Kus baseball uniforms, school photographs and both paintings and photographs of the Inn over its storied tenure. These now hang throughout the library bar and in the new tavern area, which had been the former taproom.
There are other changes as well, namely the addition of color to normally Colonial-white walls. On the ground floor, crimson washes over the inn's crystal room.
And at the inn's revamped library bar, formerly called the lounge, a depiction of George Washington peers out at visitors, while across the room, a whimsical bookshelf lined with classic novels and games sits next to mismatched, homey furniture.
One thing that hasn't changed: the Inn is still the only place in town you can buy alcohol.
Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern is at 1 E. Franklin Turnpike, (201) 445-4115, www.hohokusinn.com/ .
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