31 January 2021

Charlie's Farm Inn (circa 1930 - 1981)

Cesare and Maria Quirico came to the United States from Italy in the first quarter of the 20th century eventually settling in Hillsborough. Here they operated a guest house which eventually became the extremely popular Charlie's Farm Inn. Today it is known as The Landing.

Charlie's Farm  Inn circa 1974 - 
Note the hunter and game bird in acknowledgment
of the roots of the establishment. 

The property where the inn was located on Amwell Road was for decades the home of Peter Sutphen Van Doren. He worked his 70-acre farm prosperously until his death in 1899 at the age of 93. 

Part of a New York Acreage Estates map from 1944

After the turn of the century, many hundreds of acres of land bordered by the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad and Millstone River Road - west to east, and Amwell Road and Hamilton Road - south to north, were owned by New York Acreage Estates, Inc., and styled as Sunnymead Farms. This large corporate farm raised a little bit of everything - wheat, poultry, etc. - and was especially known for its pear orchards. There was also seasonal hunting over 1200 acres and in later years private hunting clubs on the property.

Vintage matchbook cover - 
collection of Gillette on Hillsborough

It was around 1930 that the Quiricos opened their home as a guest house catering primarily to hunters. It's Hillsborough lore that hunters would arrive at Charlie's Farm after a day of flushing pheasants from the grass to have their birds prepared for an evening's dinner.

3 September 1959 Courier News

In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, Charlie's Farm Inn became the premier destination in the south end of Hillsborough for an Italian dinner or any special occasion. From weddings and anniversaries to retirement parties and testimonial dinners, the Inn hosted it all. Every type of civic and fraternal organization utilized the dining and meeting space for their functions. It was here that the Belle Mead Rotary Club - now the Rotary Club of Hillsborough - first formed in 1955 and awarded their first student scholarships in 1959. In the 60s and 70s, it was also the meeting place for Sophisticated Suburbanites - a kind of singles' club with membership open to men between the ages of 24 and 40, and women from 21-39!

Ads from 1962, left, and 1970

Charlie's Farm Inn incorporated as a restaurant with Cesare (Charlie) Quirico owning 52% of the company and sons Frank and Angelo each having a 24% stake. After Cesare passed away in 1963, and Frank in 1978, Angelo sold the restaurant to Neil Van Cleef and Vince Lipani in 1981. They reopened that same year as Pheasant's Landing - including featuring pheasant under glass on a revamped menu.

Charlie's Farm Inn entrance, circa 1975

The old inn is now in its third iteration as The Landing and continues to be a popular destination for events or just a great dinner.

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