Park and Orchard Restaurant (P&O) has been a dining landmark since 1981. For almost four decades, brothers Buddy & Ken Gebhardt built a business with tens of thousands of loyal customers—a business predicated on healthy, organic cuisine along with one of the finest wine cellars in the country.
The Gebhardt brothers were culinary pioneers. Organic cuisine or farm-to-table are common trends in the restaurant industry today, but when Park and Orchard opened their doors there was nobody doing this. Like the food they served, they grew this concept organically.
New beginnings for an old favorite
In July of 2015 Buddy and Ken retired, and P&O was sold to two partners, David Madison and Andrew Guarino. This marked the end of one era and the beginning of another.
Guarino is a successful businessman who grew up in the restaurant business. His father was a restauranteur and butcher, and his childhood was spent in his father’s restaurants in Manhattan.
Madison, former owner of the Saddle River Inn, has a reputation for creating successful restaurants. Having worked with renowned restauranteurs like Jean George, Tom Colicchio and Steven Starr, David knows what it takes to create a successful restaurant.
The building has been gutted and the interior and kitchen are all new. The restaurant will now feature an exhibition kitchen where patrons can see their food prepared.
The interior space has been redesigned with an “industrial chic” motif. Cozy dining spaces have been created in the large room with booths and intimate lighting. Emphasis has also been placed on the acoustic environment in the new design to further enhance the intimate dining experience—allowing diners to converse comfortably with their guests. The newly designed dining room is as perfect for a date as an important business lunch.
Food & drinks
Partners Madison and Guarino hinted that there will a mixture of new dishes along with their take on many of the Park and Orchard favorites—yet they are still holding close the exact menu details.
“Its so important to carry on the Park and Orchard tradition while at the same time, evolving and creating new traditions in order to continue to build this great brand,”according to Madison.
The new P&O will offer American fare but elevated so the familiar becomes exciting and memorable—with a wide range of ethnic influences.
“We are retaining the fresh organic, locally produced meats and produce you expect from P & O. Also, we will make our own stock from scratch, nothing from a can, the way my father used to do it. For example, we will serve pomme frites, freshly cut potatoes. We will never serve a frozen fry,” commented Andrew Guarino. “The new kitchen is outfitted with a wood burning grill and a smoker, providing that set of flavor profiles to some of our dishes. Diners will enjoy viewing the excitement of the kitchen as each meal is prepared.”
The bar has been redesigned and rethought. “We thought this should be a really important part of the new P & O, vital and exciting,” remarked David Madison.
The bar area is now a place where you can mingle, talk, enjoy a fresh cocktail or dine—and all craft cocktails are made using the freshest ingredients, juices, herbs, spices and fruit.
Park and Orchard has long been known as having one of the best wine cellars in the country and that will not change. However, P & O is rolling out a twist on BYOB. They are redefining that acronym to mean “Buy-Your-Own-Bottle.” Wine lovers will be very pleased to see pricing closer to retail prices on many bottles, rather than multiple markups as is customary for many establishments.
The grand reopening
While no date has been set at the writing of this article, P&O is scheduled to open in March of 2016. Both Guarino and Madison expressed how honored they are to carry on the legacy of Park and Orchard—and the importance they place on re-earning the loyalty of the many fans of the original P&O.
The true test of the dedication and commitment to carrying on this storied brand will be in the dining experience itself. We invite the entire Meadowlands community to re-experience the New Park and Orchard. We will keep you updated on the status of this landmark restaurant.