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Good news for fans of the venerable Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange. Essex County Executive Joseph N DiVincenzo, Jr announced at a press conference today that the Knowles Family has signed a 20-year lease to continue operating the restaurant in Eagle Rock Reservation.
The lease includes two five-year options that could extend the commitment to 30 years.
The structure, situated at the crest of the reservation, with a splendid view of Manhattan, was built in 1909 as an Italian-style casino or summer house.
The property eventually fell into disrepair. The Knowles family, which also owns The Manor, perhaps a mile away, also in West Orange, bought the casino, renovated it and opened it as Highlawn Pavilion in 1986.
Essex County's 9/11 Memorial stands 100 yards or so from the restaurant. On September 11, 2001, many people rushed to the well-known lookout point in the reservation as soon as they heard the Twin Towers had been struck.
The area became so clogged with cars and people that police soon blocked access to the reservation. Instead people gathered along Mountain Avenue / Undercliff Road, which runs north-south along the bottom of the rock face on which the lookout stands.