In the suburb of Morristown, N.J., a fine-dining restaurant might be busy three nights a week, says Jockey Hollow owner Chris Cannon. “The trend is toward casual dining; it’s taken hold everywhere,” he says. So the 20-year restaurant-industry vet made what he calls a smart business move, opening four distinct spots—a high-end dining room, cocktail lounge, oyster-and-wine bar and basement rathskeller—all under one roof. “[Diners] are not constrained to any one thing,” he says.
While Jockey Hollow functions as one concept, there are two kitchens—a glassed-in one visible from The Dining Room and another in the basement for holding oysters, desserts and more. Staff also are shared. “It’s more efficient that all staff rotate to learn ... and can work the entire restaurant,” Cannon says.
A focus on art
Cannon brought in and commissioned contemporary art to keep with the original intention of the mansion, which was built in 1917 by the first president of AT&T as a pied-à-terre and personal museum. The bones of the building also serve as focal points, such as the fireplace in The Dining Room, the fine-dining spot.
Less risk, still challenges
Jockey Hollow carries a larger management team than traditional restaurants to handle the four different spaces simultaneously. To Cannon, it’s worth the expense. “But our [sales] goal is $10 million a year. It’s a larger fixed-labor cost, but in the long term, it’ll outweigh itself,” Cannon says.
Vibe by design
Cannon felt the basement’s brick walls and terra-cotta accents looked like a German rathskeller, or cellar. So that’s what he built, to cater to a younger crowd. “There are different demographics in each area,” Cannon says. Upstairs, for example, Vail Bar has an older clientele, while the oyster bar is mixed.