Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen “Hibernating” Until Spring

The Morristown restaurant will continue to sell wine and do small private dinners, but is otherwise shutting down.

Photo courtesy of Jockey Hollow

In a successful summer and early fall of outdoor dining, Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen (JHBK) managed to fill all its outdoor seats, owner Chris Cannon says. But with prospects dimming as winter sets in, JHBK shut down effective yesterday, November 18. They will still be fulfilling all Thanksgiving takeout orders (which have sold out) for pick up on November 25.

“Our feeling is the governor is going to shut restaurants down totally in a few weeks anyway,” Cannon said. “It’s becoming too cold to sit outside, now there’s a 10 pm curfew, and a lot of people would rather cancel than sit inside. It’s going to be a long, cold winter for restaurants.

“If we try to keep going indoors during the winter,” he added, “we’ll probably get a few cases [of Covid]. Then we’d have to shut down for a few days, and you can’t function like that. So far we have not had one single case of anyone getting sick, Covid or otherwise.”

Cannon said he would continue, in the meantime, to sell bottles and cases of reasonably priced wines for the virtual tastings he hosts. Buyers pick up the wines at the restaurant or can arrange to have them shipped.

“It doesn’t take a lot of labor to do these tastings, it’s just me on Zoom,” Cannon says. “The wine sales allows us to pay all our purveyors, so by the time we reopen the restaurant sometime in the spring we’ll have a clean slate and can buy supplies again.”

Though the restaurant has three separate dining areas, plus an event-oriented “Rathskeller” in the basement, “We’re not doing takeout,” Cannon says, “because it’s too much labor and the volume isn’t there. We’re trying to navigate this with the least amount of labor costs. We’ve laid off about 65 people, almost the whole staff. They’re understanding, they’re going on unemployment, and we think there will be another stimulus package.”

Executive chef AJ Capella and a few key kitchen staff are still at work. They enable Cannon to offer small dinners for up to 10 people in their homes or possibly in one of the otherwise empty JHBK dining rooms.

“Basically, it’s the chef personally cooking for you and me serving you the wine,” Cannon says, adding puckishly, “In other words, the tag team from hell.”

To sign up for Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen’s virtual wine tastings, email [email protected].

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