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   THE HEART OF SERGEANTSVILLE
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STORY BY ED PETERSEN - PHOTOGRAPHS BY KATHLEEN CONNALLY


"THE LIBERAL SOUL SHALL BE MADE FAT: AND HE THAT WATERETH SHALL BE WATERED ALSO HIMSELF."
                                                                                                                                   - PROVERBS 11:25


What is the soul of a great pub? Is it the building, the bar, the menu? Perhaps it's the stories; those seasoned by time told together with those concocting right now aided by the tongue loosening tang of a fine, hoppy ale?  We human creatures have a tendency to search for a soul that is separate but existing within the corporeal much like an egg fried sunny-side up. We look for the golden yolk of a soul, not quite as solid nor constructed as the cooked white container surrounding it, but substantial nonetheless and perceivable in its own right. I submit an omelet is a more apt metaphor; that the form and the spirit of a pub, or a person for that matter, are whisked together into one delicious mishmash, and that it's impossible to extract or even distinguish a separate soul out of the conglomeration.



Geroge Hrehowesik of the Seargentsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
Every pub has among its patrons an "alpha male." Former mayor, fish slayer, and expert builder, George Hrehowesik unquestionably holds that honor at the SERGEANTSVILLE, INN. The regulars know to surrender unto him his favorite stool when George arrives to hold court.



Undeniably, an essential ingredient in our metaphorical omelet is the communion of people who congregate amidst the bottles and the glasses. These are the customers of course, and the management, chefs, line-cooks, hostesses, kitchen workers, and dishwashers too, but for the purposes of this essay, I want to introduce you to the Friday evening serving staff at The SERGEANTSVILLE INN smack dab in the middle of charming Sergeantsville in heavenly Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

I want you to meet them because they deserve some recognition, not only because they are as smart, congenial and as good at their jobs as any staff you will ever encounter, but also because  these fellows well met are truly the heart of the place and being served by them is like taking a bite of our aforementioned existential egg dish. We get a taste of the  pub's soul even if we are unable able to adequately define it. It's the Friday evening staff that I present herein because that's the time every week when my good friend, WDVR FM and AMERICAN PUBLIC HOUSE REVIEW colleague, Chris Poh and I lay claim to a pair of stools at the SERGEANTSVILLE INN'S amenable bar.



Dylan Carew of the Seargentsville Inn in Huterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
The bartender's bartender, Dylan Carew, a product of Hood River, Oregon and Minnesota State University, Mankato  is, to our good fortune, now a local Jersey boy.  He will serve up your pint of  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale  with wit and good humor.  Dylan knows all of the latest bawdy jokes, but if you would rather  engage in a discussion regarding ancient Greek politics or the history of our republic, he can accommodate you in that confabulation as well.



Servers are the Rodney Dangerfields of professionals; "they get no respect." Perhaps it's because we harbor the illusion that anyone can do it.  It may be true that most of us could go through the motions, but how many of us can do it well? Bartenders and servers can make or break an establishment.  A customer feels welcome when served with warmth and grace. She returns again and again to delight in the hospitality. Conversely, when served by a disgruntled grouch obviously demonstrating his wish to be somewhere else .  .  .  well,  it prompts the customer to wish that she were somewhere else.  To serve well is an inborn talent much in the manner of musical or artistic aptitude. It requires a specific class of empathetic intelligence with which but a few of us are blessed. It might be expected that good service requires a recognition of one's apparent place in the social hierarchy, but the opposite is true.  Accommodation is actually only given and received when the equal value and selfsameness of all human beings are understood and accepted. In fact, the gift of service can only truly be interchanged when it is realized that to give is to receive as the proverb above reminds us.



John Barknorn of the Sergeantsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
John Barkhorn works the dining rooms so we don't know him quite as well as some of the other crew. We of course are bar rats. But John has an interesting extracurricular life nonetheless. He is attending the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service where he is studying the art and science of embalming.



For better or for worse, in this country, it has become the modus operandi to have our servers work primarily for tips. The practice certainly adds a psychological wrinkle to the service relationship, but it probably is the reason we don't have to pay twenty bucks for a sandwich at the bar. Please remember that when you tip your barber, or your mailman it is in actuality a bonus, but a tip is the very manner in which your bartender gets paid for her work. It's the only way she can pay her mortgage, feed her family, and buy gas for her commute back to work tomorrow so that she can brighten your evening with a smile as she creates that perfect foamy shamrock in the head of your pint of stout.


So, let's raise our glasses to the fine staff at the SERGEANTSVILLE INN, And here's to Joe Clyde, their intrepid employer, and to Lisa Walker, the manager, overseer, and sweater-of-the-small-stuff; both of whom, are very familiar faces to us, but were not available for picture taking  this particular Friday afternoon. And here's also to everyone everywhere who makes their living in service to their brothers and sisters upon this ever-spinning ball of exchange, of quid pro quo, of give and take, of tit for tat .  .  . of life.




The Sergeantsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE SERGEANTSVILLE INN started as a private residence in 1734 and opened as a restaurant in the first part of the 20th century. The Inn's additions and annexations of smaller adjacent stone buildings over the years exhibit an interesting exterior elevation and a comfortable interior ambiance complete with real fireplaces, bare stone walls, and conspicuous, original, hand-hewn timbers. This popular landmark is now owned and operated by the celebrated chef, Joseph Clyde. Joe has created an atmosphere that is casual, yet elegant and the fine dining is exceptional. Chris and I both believe that the pub menu available in the bar (the Covered Bridge Lounge) is among the finest we have ever experienced in terms of value, originality, and delectability.



Kasey Goyette and Casey Maliscewski at The Sergeantsville Inn in  Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in Americab Public House Review
Kasey Goyette, resplendent in red and Casey Maliscewski beaming in her black uniform are ready to cordially create the martini of your dreams behind the bar, or warmly welcome you in the foyer. Kasey G. is the consummate professional server and juggles her career with the motherhood responsibilities of two young cherubs; one brand new. Casey M is a past president of the National Honor Society, and a student at Mount Holyoke College. We know without a doubt that just beholding these beautiful smiles has already brightened your day.


Carol Weichler at the Sergeantsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in Americab Public House Review
Carol Weichler is definitely designed for determination as well as service. Not only is this dynamo a topnotch waitress and bartender, but she is also employed as a real estate agent for Century 21 all the while working on a nursing degree at Somerset County Technical Institute.  When do you sleep, Carol?


Ryan Irven at the Sergeantsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
Ryan Irven gets all of the dirty jobs at the SERGEANTSVILLE INN because he is the young pup of the crew. But aside from cleaning tables, toting ice and mopping spills, he is an extremely talented artist attending The Fashion Institue of Technology in Manhattan; and we do not say "extremely" in vain. Ryan is pursuing a career in fine arts and computer graphics. He also exhibits a maturity beyond his years that can belie the fact that you are talking to a man not even twenty years old.


Sergeantsville Inn's original building in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
As in many old buildings with a history, there are haunting stories of ghosts spirited within the walls of the SERGEANTSVILLE INN. One of its annexed buildings, now a dining room, used to be the town's ice house where, in times past, corpses were kept as they awaited burial. The staff's disquiet becomes palpable if you ask them about any personal encounters.  Kasey G had the fright of her life one night downstairs in the wine cellar, and even the extremely skeptical Dylan reluctantly admits to an unexplainable, otherwordly experience that he'd rather forget. Madeleine, the owner's young daughter asked him one time, "Daddy, who are the men in the attic?" .  .  .  Suffice it to say, there were no men in the attic.


The exterior of the ice house at the Sergeantsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
This is the exterior of the above-mentioned ice house. It encloses an intimate and cozy dining room which is preferred by some of the regular patrons. Perhaps that is a hapless ghost at the door who has locked himself out. Other frequenters enjoy the Wyeth Room, the Library, or the Wine Cellar downstairs as their favorite dining rooms.




The Sergeantsville Inn in Hunterdon County, NJ as seen in American Public House Review
THE SERGEANTSVILLE INN




THE SERGEANTSVILLE INN

601 ROSEMONT RINGOES ROAD
SERGEANTSVILLE, NEW JERSEY 08557

(609) 397-3700

www.sergentsvilleinn.com


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