02 September 2019

Garden State Lounge (1966 - 1968)

When Garden State Lanes burned to the ground on January 21, 1963, the Wengryn brothers - George, Walter, and Daniel - not only lost the valuable bowling alley on Route 206 in Hillsborough but also their investment in a liquor license. At least temporarily.

24 December 1965 Courier News

The Wengryns had been trying for years to add a proper cocktail lounge to Garden State Lanes which opened in 1957. After finally getting township approval for a liquor license transfer from the defunct Sourland Mountain Tavern/Amwell Inn at the beginning of 1963, and quickly opening the bar, it all went up in smoke three weeks later.

8 January 1966 Courier News

While the brothers kept their options open as to whether or not to rebuild the bowling alley, they received approval in 1965 to build a cocktail lounge on the site to be named Garden State Lounge. The cocktail lounge opened on New Year's Eve 1965 with an official grand opening eight days later. Live music and dancing to the likes of Walt Wengryn's own orchestra (foxtrot, rumba, cha-cha, waltz, and polka) were the featured attractions during that first year.

16 December 1966 Courier News

In 1967 the lounge added go-go girls and rock groups to their lineup. The Treble Tones and Duff & The New Disciples were Friday night regulars. 

Newspaper ads for Garden State Lounge

Garden State Lounge might have remained in business for years if not for a "special event" held on Monday, February 12, 1968. Usually, there was no admission fee or cover charge at the lounge, but for this event, for which the entire audience consisted of 75 middle-aged men, tickets cost $10. In addition, patrons parked off-site and were transported by bus to the club.

15 February 1968 Franklin News-Record

Even though the party had been planned for about a month, local police were tipped off on the night of the event that something different was going down on Route 206. When the twelve municipal, county and state police officers arrived about an hour into the show, they found two nude women, professional strippers from New York,  on the stage.

Ultimately, charges for the proprietors and organizers of the event were reduced to disorderly conduct, and the New Jersey Alcohol Beverage Control Board revoked the liquor license. 

The Wengryns sold the property later that same year to the group that developed Hillsboro Plaza on the site.

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