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Rails Restaurant To Feature Speakeasy-Themed Basement

Rails will offer VIP membership and one unique feature is the chef’s vegetable and herb garden on the rooftop.

Looking out onto the railroad tracks from one of the outdoor dining areas
Looking out onto the railroad tracks from one of the outdoor dining areas

As part of a mixed-use facility called Towaco Crossing LLC, Rails, an upscale eatery, will be opening its doors at 8 Whitehall Road in the Towaco section of Montville Township sometime in Spring 2014. Towaco Crossing features Rails Steakhouse, six ground-floor shops and six second-floor apartments.

In an earlier article, Patch looked at the first and second floor of Rails and in another article, Patch covered Towaco Crossing’s role in the revitalization of Towaco’s Main Road, the incoming apartments and The Village Shops At Towaco Crossing.

Here’s a more in-depth look at Rails basement floor, menu, and progress timeline. Check out the video above for a brief sneak peek of the restaurant. For more photos, go to this gallery

Basement Floor

“The motif down (in the basement) is going to be entirely different. It’s going to be a 1920/30s prohibition speakeasy style with stone walls and restored wood,” said Jim Stathis, design and construction manager. Some of the hard-to-find Heartwood pine they used in the design of the speakeasy was reclaimed from a building fire in Hoboken.

The room will be dimly lit in keeping with the motif and there will be rooms where cheese is stored and meat will be aged. For the meat-aging room, there will be several opaque glass windows that will turn clear via a swipe of a card or a facial recognition camera, to allow patrons to see inside. It only remains clear for two minutes.

Also in the speakeasy basement are two rooms for private parties with u-shaped couches, a bar reminiscent of one from the 1920/30s.

For public access, there will be a speakeasy-style door with a little window, which can be used for passwords to private events. However, there is another entrance for customers who have become Rails VIP members.

There will be a mini library with a secret bookcase that opens in the cellar. This entrance is only for customers who are VIP members and the bookcase will open via a face-recognition camera.

The bookcase entrance connects the speakeasy with the private wine lockers for member customers.

“If you’re a member, you get a private locker and you come” down to the wine cellar in the basement and “we’ll have a camera” by the door “with face recognition software.” There will be lockers with padlocks inside the wine cellar for customers to store their wine to avoid corking fees.

There will be hors d'oeuvres in the wine locker room and customers can bring guests down as well to have a glass while they explore the speakeasy section of Rails.

Also in the basement is storage space for residents, extra space for Towaco Crossing to grow into if needed and a green room for a video production company.

Outdoor Space

There is plenty of outdoor dining with a covered patio on the main floor and second floor.

Features for the main floor patio that faces Main Street and the connecting bridge between Towaco Crossing and the existing railroad crosswalk include:

  • A waterfall feature
  • Fireplace
  • Couches
  • Tables and chairs
  • This area will mostly be for Rails, but is open to the café during non-peak hours.
The second floor dining patio features:
  • A fireplace
  • Faces the sunset—there will be sunset happy hours

On the rooftop, is the chef’s vegetable and herb garden with flower planters and trees surrounding the garden.

Its journey

Historically, a farm sat in its location before being torn down many years ago and over time, shrub oaks and brush took over the property turning it into a heavily wooded area.  

Here’s a quick breakdown of its timeline. For full details and videos, go here.

  • 2010—Concept and design
  • November/December 2011—Stormwater management
  • February 2012—Heavy timber fabrication
  • March 2012—Rails rock crushing
  • April 2012—Groundbreaking ceremony
  • May – June 2012—Concrete and masonry
  • June – August 2012—Masonry and steel
  • October 2012—Porta Cochere
  • November 2012—Timbers
  • March 2013—Construction progresses

Menu

Rails will feature a more casual and Tavern-styled menu mid-week with burgers, sandwiches, BBQ, seafood and steaks. On the weekends, Rails’ menu will offer an “ingredient-driven, farm-to-table dining experience with the grandeur of old-fashioned fine dining,” according to the restaurant. “The tavern-styled menu is, however, also available at any of the three bars, lounges or in our speakeasy. On Sundays, we celebrate the family with a lunch menu and dinner specials meant to be passed and shared.”

Dishes will rotate on the menu depending on the season and the latest harvest from farms as well as the chef’s inspiration. Some staples will remain, of course, and the restaurant is seeking customer feedback via an online survey. 

They’re keeping it local and stocking their bars with Sea Breeze, a company located just up the street on Main Road in Towaco.

“One of our exciting new product lines is our Sea Breeze Iced Teas and Hard Teas that Rails will be serving,” said Josh Sanders, Vice President of Sea Breeze.

Their iced teas include a regular unsweetened, Lemon Sweet (which comes in diet), Peach Passion with Ginger, toshimi Green with Ginseng and Honey, and many more.

Their Hard Iced Teas include a Peach Pirate (Peach Passion iced tea with Gin and Triple Sec), Pippa Mintleton (White Iced Tea with Mint and Gin), Skinny Sweet (Diet Lemon Sweet Iced Tea with Whiskey or Vodka) and many more.

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