The Manor, Beloved Wedding Site, Closing After 66 Years

The West Orange catering facility hosted families and the famous, from Stevie Wonder to Ronald Reagan.

The Manor was a top wedding and events place in New Jersey. Photo: Shutterstock

On New Year’s Eve, 1956, relative newlyweds Harry and Doris Knowles took over a moribund Moroccan restaurant on Prospect Avenue in West Orange and renamed it the Bow & Arrow Manor. Harry and Doris had met at another New Jersey restaurant, the Robin Hood Inn, where she checked coats and he bartended, served and bussed tables.

That is the origin story of the Manor, according to Keith Sly, veteran communications manager of the establishment, long one of the top catering sites of North Jersey. “It started as a casual place, but quickly became fine dining, based on the clientele,” Sly says.

That chapter is coming to an end. The Manor will fulfill its remaining bookings as a top-drawer wedding and events place, then close on July 5. The reasons?

“Unforeseen circumstances. Operating through the pandemic and then record inflation brought us to a point where we had to make that abrupt and hard decision. It was not made lightly. We’ve been here 66 years and were hoping for a hundred. For the first 30 years, Harry felt he was in the construction business he was so busy adding and renovating. His philosophy was to provide the same fine Manor experience to everyone.

“There were events here every Friday through Sunday 52 weeks a year, often as many as nine events in a weekend, from the early ’60s to this day. An episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey was filmed here at least 10 years ago.”

A feature of the property not to be missed was the glass dome. “People dined downstairs,” Sly says, “then went upstairs for cocktails and dancing under the dome for the rest of the evening.”

Visitors to the dome, Sly says, include George Burns, Ronald Reagan and Stevie Wonder. “There was a Sweet Sixteen here in the ’60s,” he says, “when a helicopter landed in the parking lot, bringing guests for a Sweet Sixteen.”

Operation as an a la carte restaurant ceased with the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Sly says. In 2021, the Manor reopened strictly for private events.

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