On a Saturday night in November of 2014, a kitchen fire broke out at the iconic Old Canal Inn in Essex County NJ. Located on the border of Bloomfield and Nutley, the Old Canal Inn has experienced a resurgence in attendance after Nutley’s Conca brothers restored the landmark four years ago.
The fire, which was restricted to the kitchen in the rear portion of the inn, was contained by 7:30 pm on Saturday November 15, 2014. The restored bar was not affected by the fire. The condition of the dining room was not immediately known as the kitchen is adjacent to the dining room and water damage is always a concern with a fire. As daylight broke it became apparent the kitchen was pretty much a goner and the dining room was ready for extensive restoration work. The Old Canal Inn is known for the Death Seat Burger as well as one of the best dirty martinis in Essex County.
I first heard of the “Death Seat” at the Old Canal Inn when I found a copy of weird New Jersey at the Barnes and Noble in Mission Valley in San Diego. Who would have thought that several years later I would not only have the opportunity to see the actual death seat, but eat the burger after which it is named!
Of course before eating the Death Seat Burger Platter it’s always good to know a little about the background on Nutley’s most infamous piece of furniture.
The Old Canal Inn opened in the 1930’s on East Passaic Avenue along the Nutley –Bloomfield border. The township boarder actually runs through a portion of the building – the shuffleboard is actually in Bloomfield. A working class fixture for decades, the establishment was owned by the same family until it closed in the early 2000s. The Conca Brothers of Nutley knew a bit of the history, found the building to be structurally sound, and saw an opportunity create the next chapters of this landmark by building on the past. The original maple floors and chestnut bar have been restored to their mid-20th Century appearance, the old beer taps are back with some new additions, and the Death Seat is featured near the front of the bar.
According to legend, somewhere in the latter part of the last century, a patron of the bar died in one of the barstools. A burger was not involved. Not that long thereafter another patron met the same fate, in the very same barstool. And a legend was created.
Since reopening after the fire, a new kitchen has been added and the dining room has been fully restored. In recent months the Old Canal Inn has hosted several private parties and a large number of charity events.
Did you know that the Old Canal Inn has over 30 beer taps? Thirty.
2 East Passaic Ave
Nutley, NJ 07110
John Lee is Black Tie and Flip Flops’ Raconteur-In-Chief: the World of food is his playground ~ the whole world! Having a Navy Dad gave John the passion to discover the world. Whether in one of Mr. Boeing’s flying machines, as an armchair traveler with a great book, or a plate beaming with the exotic flavors and fragrances, his day is all about discovering the world and sharing the stories with everyone he meets.