Do You Remember…Jack O’Connor’s Restaurant (Bridgewater, NJ)

Why do certain restaurants pop into our heads? Ones that we are fond of, and some we wish we had still forgotten. That’s where this series comes in. It’s not quite in the “Restaurants We Miss” territory. These are just the places worthy of a quick reminisce, or maybe because I cannot remember enough about them to develop a lengthy post. 

I had been thinking of Jack O’Connor’s Restaurant a lot this week. No idea why. Nothing happened which should have sparked such a memory. My dad’s passing in June has led us to go through a lot of photo albums and family collections. We’ve actually found some old menus of family-favorite restaurants. Not the case for this place. No menu to be found—just a few pictures from my dad’s 50th birthday party which was held there. I have vague memories of the location. It was a large building to this kid who could not have been more than 10 years old on my last visit prior to their closing in the early 2000’s. I was four years old for his 50th. 

In talking to my mom, we went there once every few months for Sunday brunch. It was such a “90’s place”. Inspired, I went online. Many popular defunct restaurants have websites or groups for dedicated former customers. Some even pop up on dining message boards. There you can find pictures and discuss the food and staff of these restaurants long gone. However, there is almost nothing for Jack O’Connor’s. A Facebook page was created titled, “I Worked at Jack O’Connor’s”, in 2010. 78 people liked the page, but there were only two posts and one tiny, barely view-able picture. A further image search revealed only two other results: a restaurant which occupied the location before O’Connor’s on Route 22 in Bridgewater called the Stockholm (when it was actually route 29, pictured below) and a family photo with the following snippet:

What had been Briar’s Olde Colonial Inn in Oakland Township has become P. J. O’hare’s under the new ownership of Dermot O’hare, a naturalized American citizen who hails from County Antrim, Ireland. He and his wife, Brooke, who is from Connecticut (of Irish descent) along with their daughter, Katrina, and nephew, Eamonn, from County Cork, Ireland are equally involved in transforming Briar’s into an authentic Irish pub and family restaurant.

The restaurant is named in honor of P. J. O’hare, Dermot’s father, who was in the bar trade all of his life in Ireland. It has been his dream, Dermot said, to have an Irish pub. He brings a wealth of experience with him, having introduced Jack O’Connor’s Irish Pub in Bridgewater, NJ, which he managed for seven years, as well as experience managing a high volume restaurant and six years with the New Jersey Restaurant Association.

That’s all for now on Jack O’Connor’s. I wish I could remember more. I wish there was more information online. It was a special place for my family for a few years, though my mom now cannot figure out why we drove almost an hour to go there. Do you remember? Please share your memories and photos.

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