Patty Fallon said she never intended to buy a restaurant, but she certainly did it in style with her purchase of Gatwyns II in the Lake Hopatcong section of Jefferson Township, NJ 21 years ago.

“As teenagers, my friend and business partner, David Sturrock, and I used to work at Gatwyns for the original owners, Nick and Lorraine Gatto and Pat Kerwin, preparing food, serving customers, and bussing tables,” said Fallon. “I started there full-time when I was 18, after which it became The Hideaway under new owners” — who ultimately offered to sell Patty & David the restaurant in 1997.

“We were hesitant to buy a restaurant, but we received some financial help from our families and bought the building soon after that,” she said, adding that “Nick and Lorraine had been like family to us, so when it came time to name our restaurant, David and I simply put a ‘II’ after the original name of Gatwyns (a combination of Nick and Pat’s last names) to honor the original owners and pay homage to the brand they’d built.” Nearly two decades and much success later, “the restaurant is our life and it’s like second nature to us now,” she said.

A casual hang-out

In serving what she describes as “a small, local lake community,” Fallon and Sturrock hoped to keep things simple at their restaurant, an establishment which dated back to the 1960s and represented a bit of an area landmark.

“We wanted Gatwyns II to be a neighborhood place with an easy, laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere and great food that wasn’t extremely expensive — a casual place where you could go and hang out, sort of like ‘Cheers,’” she said. Along with a rustic décor and numerous updates and renovations over the years that have kept the 80-90-seat pub-style bar and restaurant — renowned for being ‘the home of the $2 pint’ — modern and appealing, the menu has consistently kept locals coming back for more.

Start your meal with any of Gatwyns II’s most popular appetizers like wings, which are priced at $9.50 for a dozen and are served mild, medium, hot or with a choice of teriyaki, honey BBQ, garlic sauce or a crowd favorite called triple threat sauce. “Customers love our wings because they’re fried and then sautéed, which keeps them moist on the inside but crispy on the outside without breading,” Sturrock said. “We’re also known for our Clams or Mussels Portuguese ($10.95), which are served in a delicious marinara-based sauce made with garlic, oil, hot cherry peppers and sausage, as well as our Loaded Pierogies ($8.95), which feature bacon, fried onions, and melted cheese and are served with sour cream.” For a lighter start, consider the restaurant’s classic French onion soup, topped with a combination of melted mozzarella and Swiss cheese and priced at $5.50 a crock.

When it comes to entrées, “we’re known for our large salads,” said Fallon of popular options that range from Green, Chef, Italian Chef, and Southwestern to a Dried Cranberry, Walnut and Blue Cheese version and more. “Our salads generally start at $7.95 but any of them can be topped with proteins such as steak, salmon, ahi tuna, shrimp or chicken for an additional charge.”

For those who prefer Italian fare, the restaurant offers its own thin-crust pizzas ($6.95 for a small and $12.95 for a large) as well as calzones and strombolis starting from $10.50. Meat lovers will enjoy the French Dip sandwich ($9.50), made with homemade roast beef.  Gatwyns II’s has a range of burgers. Among those is the signature Wrecking Ball Burger ($10.95), “a burger topped with bacon and Taylor ham and nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches,” said Fallon of the culinary creation that is particularly popular with teens.

For seafood lovers, grilled or blackened salmon options ($19.95) or ahi tuna served with fresh spinach in a light scampi sauce are popular, and nightly specials draw additional crowds from Monday to Thursday, especially the 16-ounce rib eye steaks served on Thursday nights with a potato, vegetable and house salad for $15.95; for those desiring gluten-free options, all entrées are available with rice noodles. Weekly specials start on Friday with an array of different items.

 “For dessert, don’t miss our Pie in a Mug,” said Fallon of the hot apple, cherry or blueberry pie served with ice cream and whipped cream that she always admired at former Jefferson-based restaurant The Warehouse Grill and opted to extend to customers at Gatwyns II. “We also offer pumpkin pie and pecan pie in the fall along with other seasonal specialties,” she said. Don’t forget to wash it all down with $2 pints of Bud, Bud Lite, and Rolling Rock every day, along with seasonal drink specials.

Committed community partners

With Fallon covering front-of-house duties, Sturrock overseeing the kitchen as a self-trained chef, and a team of 25-30 dedicated employees, “we’re so lucky — we have a very loyal staff and have experienced very little turnover,” she said. “We hire a lot of local kids to fill positions, which can often lead to other employment opportunities in the restaurant for them, and we’re excited to help support our local workforce.”

Gatwyns II also serves the area as a dedicated community partner and frequent sponsor of fundraisers for such organizations as the Lake Hopatcong Foundation, Jefferson Township PBA Local 190, DPD Catholic Charities, numerous sports teams, churches, we do dine to donates to help organizations raise money, JTFD and the Jefferson Rescue Squad (on which Fallon is an First Responder), and the local dog park.

“We love the community and the opportunity to provide a nice, casual place where people can go to enjoy good food at good prices,” Fallon said. Her favorite part of Gatwyns II after all these years? “David and I love the camaraderie between us, the staff and our wonderful customers,” she said.

Gatwyn’s II in Lake Hopatcong Jefferson, NJ is the perfect place to meet friends and family for drinks and delicious food favorites. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try the hidden gem.