Celebrity Chef and Jersey Native David Burke brings his magic to Morristown with a side order of fun
By Tara Jean McDonald
Dining out in New Jersey has been elevated to a whole new hip and contemporary adventure. There are many typical restaurants in the New Jersey and New York area to choose from. But there is only one place that offers you an exquisite dining menu with a top scale interactive media entertainment experience amidst an award winning architecturally designed space. A restaurant of luxury and style where guests will have a unique and memorable experience every time they visit. The dream became a reality when 1776 by David Burke opened its doors at 67 East Park Place in Morristown, New Jersey (www.1776bydb.com). Owners Chance Healy, George Schneider, and David Vorcheimer created a modern, chic dining experience with a world-class menu designed by well-known celebrity Chef David Burke. Schneider explains, “One of the main goals we had when creating 1776, was to create a beautiful open entertainment space that matched the fantastic culinary experience of David Burke.”
It all began with a Dad and his son hoping to have some quality time hitting golf balls one cold wintry afternoon. Realizing there weren’t any golf simulators anywhere close to Morristown, David Vorcheimer and his son Alec came up with the idea of opening a local golf simulator place or type of private club to fill the void. After some research he realized that food and beverage combined with entertainment would bring success to his new venture. But when the concept was brought to Chance Healy, a friend of Vorcheimer and later George Schneider, it soon began to evolve into a full-blown restaurant with a celebrity chef and a TopGolf Swing Suite partnership.
David Vorcheimer wanted it to be somewhere you can go and spend time in comfort and enjoyment. “You won’t have to leave to go eat, if you are coming for entertainment. If you are coming for food you won’t have to leave to go do something, you can go play games. You can be 8 or 80 years old. You can do anything there. It’s all under one roof.”
George Schneider was excited to be part of a restaurant that wasn’t anything like any other restaurant in the Morristown area. “We wanted to open a place where people could go for entertainment that wasn’t crowded and dark. We decided that the anchor of our whole place would be a monster rectangle bar that overlooked the Morristown Green. It would be large enough to accommodate people who walked in, be comfortable to everyone and it would have a ‘wow’ factor. A place where ladies could get dressed up and go out to enjoy a cocktail or sit down for fine dining or even for entertainment. That’s why we decided to put it all together. We made the TopGolf Swing Suites one of the nicest in the area.”
According to Chance Healy their concept is unique and unrivaled in the Morristown area, “We wanted to create a guest experience that was unmatched anywhere. From the brilliant Michael Graves design to the world class Chef David Burke culinary creations to the cutting edge technology of Topgolf Swing Suite. Our aim is to disrupt the concept of what “dining out” is.”
1776 by David Burke is not your typical restaurant. These passionate owners created a classy restaurant with an extremely entertaining space with TopGolf Swing Suites and an exciting bar scene that promises a unique fun filled atmosphere with every visit.
The owners chose the location for their new restaurant, bar and virtual sports venue to be at the 1776 On The Green a low rise office building in Morristown. The interior picturesque windows overlook the centrally located Morristown Green which has been on New Jersey maps since the year 1715. This 2.62 acre historic park located in the center of town once was the site of George Washington’s headquarters and a military parade ground during the American Revolution. Soon after 1909 it became the open space park that you see today. Now, the Green remains the heart and soul of Morristown, hosting political and cultural events for all seasons. The owners of 1776 by David Burke wanted their new space to enhance the character of the downtown environment
while contributing to the economic vitality and pride of the downtown Morristown area. In addition, they needed a unique plan that could accommodate a comfortable space for fine dining, offer an area for intimate private events and an inviting open bar space. They chose Michael Graves Architecture & Design for the challenge. Upon finalizing and opening the doors to the new 1776 by David Burke, Graves Design was given the ULI North New Jersey Excellence Award for Best Indoor/Outdoor Design. The outstanding architectural design features a sculpted live moss wall that reminisces of the lush greens at world class golf courses. This expansive 12,000-square foot space seats 298 indoors and offers another 200 outside. A long hallway leading to the sporting section of the restaurant glows from exquisitely designed orange Himalayan salt bricks stacked and highlighted. Art work throughout the restaurant gives the space a hip modern vibe. The painting titled 1776 Lady Liberty by Kathleen Palmeri of KPalm Fine Art resides in the Liberty Lounge. As stated on their facebook page this painting “has become the heart and soul of the restaurant and our brand. She inspires thought provoking conversations, she is a goddess, a queen and a superhero all-in-one.” The furniture is pure luxury with velvet lounging couches. The dining room tables are topped by marble or wood and are adorned by gorgeous chandeliers floating above. The outdoor space is sophisticated and there is plenty of seating that is perfect for the season. Indoor diners may gaze at the Green through classic French glass doors that open to overlook the posh scene. The decor throughout the restaurant is stunning and original.
The dining room has three separate areas and a variety of options with different vibes. The main dining room is an upscale smartly designed open showcase kitchen with a modern American restaurant feel. The energy and visual appeal is unique. Chef David Burke describes it in his own words, “All your senses are at work. You can smell the food, you can hear the clanking in the kitchen, you can see beauty, you can see indoor and outdoor sunlight, and then obviously you can taste it and you can touch it.” You might see Chef Burke sitting at his favorite spot at the corner table by the pastry area close to the windows. He says that he likes to sit next to the cotton candy machine, closer to the kitchen and near the salt wall, where he can relax, do some business meetings and catch a glance at who walks in. In addition to the main dining room there is a wine tasting room, second bar, and lounge area with conversational couches. The restaurant also features a private dining table in the kitchen that can seat up to 12 people for an exciting and unique experience watching the Chef and his team in action.
The sexy glass bubble lighting over the stunning 30-seat bar beckons passersby to come in from the nearby historic Morristown Green. The bar offers a casual vibe for conversation, people watching and live music on scheduled days. Ordering a drink at the main bar is another exciting experience. The bartenders call themselves the Four Horsemen and each wears a horse pin to represent the team work and success that can almost be compared to the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame. With great service and quality drinks the center bar social place is the place to go for any day Happy Hour. Cocktails include the 1776 Old Fashion with sagamore rye, tempest fugit banana, baking spices and walnut bitters. Another top pick is Monkey Business with “smoked” monkey shoulder, demerara and Peychaud’s is tasty too. Order the Purple Heart with Milagro silver tequila, jalapeno, hibiscus, pineapple and Lime. Find time to try the Tea Time cocktail with chamomile infuse Ketel One vodka, St. Germain, grapefruit and lemon. Tap beer includes top picks like Sam Adam Seasonal, Evil Genius and more. For dinner, golfing or lounging you can choose a glass or bottle from their superior international wine list.
Chance Healy describes what it’s like working beside Chef David Burke, “Chef Burke is famous for good reason – watching him scratch out a menu is like watching an artist bring a painting to life. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve been fortunate to experience at 1776. Chef Burke, executive Chef Brian Webber and our master of all things “drink”, Nick Castellano, have partnered to create an amazing menu.”
The menu features many of Chef David Burkes’ signature items such as the Bacon Clothesline with black pepper maple glaze, pickle and lemon. Delicious Lobster dumplings with tomato miso, chili oil and preserved lemon are a favorite. Appetizers also include Crispy “Paperboy” Shrimp with aji Amarillo aioli. On the menu there is plenty of beef to choose from with David Burke’s trademark Himalayan salt aging process. A favorite main dish is the Hay Roasted Rack of Lamb with Merguez sausage, couscous, Moroccan glaze, olives and curry oil. The Lobster dish is exquisitely presented in a pastry cage with spring pea puree, spring vegetables, lemon-herb lobster broth. There is also a succulent Lobster Roll offered for outdoor patio dining and seasonal pizzas. Chef Burke looks forward to presenting his new signature dish called Halibut T Bone coming soon. There is a beautifully prepared Roast Chicken, scrumptious pasta and their pizzas are unique to the 1776 by David Burke restaurant. Desserts are second to none. Award winning Chef Burke and his pastry chef put an amazing amount of effort and time into their dessert programs. Browse through whimsical names like Smart Alec in the Park a chocolate cake with bittersweet chocolate mousse, hazelnut crunch, raspberries, orange caramel. Don’t miss the Curious George Goes to Motown banana-butterscotch panna cotta, exotic spiced maple jelly. Chef David Burke’s classic Tin Can Cake with chocolate sauce, vanilla gelato and a lil’ bit of whip seems to be everyone’s favorite.
George’s Favorites: “My favorite entree is the Sea Bass. My favorite appetizer is the Lobster Dumplings, and the dessert is Tin Can Cake. My favorite drink is the Purple Heart, it’s a Tequila Drink”.
Chance’s Favorites: “Specifically, the new Halibut Francaise is divine – definitely my favorite item on the menu. (But I challenge you to find a better cheeseburger and fries anywhere;) I don’t have a sweet tooth at all but I’ve grown to absolutely crave everything on our dessert menu. The Tin Can Cake is an absolute party in your mouth. If you like chocolate cake, you have to try it at least once!”
David V.’s Favorites: “My favorite entree is the Roasted Chicken, and for dessert the Ice Cream Sliders and Tin Can Cake. The 1776 Old Fashioned tops my list for favorite cocktail”.
There is no better experience when you book a TopGolf Swing Suite for your next business lunch or dinner with friends. The acoustics were designed with specialty ceilings and side panels . You can feel and hear the realistic sounds in your own area. It’s not just a golf game to swing at, you can also play football, baseball, hockey, soccer, dodgeball/zombie ball or just watch the big games on a big screen. Compete with friends for a longest drive and Target Golf in your own suite. Or you can be set up to play Xbox or Nintendo games. Watching the Super Bowl or March Madness in the state of the art suites parallels being seated in a Metlife stadium suite. It’s so much fun for everyone. Who says you can’t swing in a suit? Or celebrate your 30th Birthday dressed to kill in your stiletto high heels, with a dodgeball aimed at zombies and a glass of champagne in your hand?
The owners of 1776 by David Burke make it a point to stay connected to the community through fundraisers and scheduled events. Recently they organized dinners to benefit the Western Kentucky Relief Fund, the local Hispanic Community, International Women’s Day Power Lunch, the fight against cancer and a fundraiser to support a local child Golf4Her Foundation Saving Grace. You can follow and join their events such as car shows, wine pairings and relief dinners on their website www.1776bydb.com or on their Facebook page @1776bydavidburke.
George Schneider offers, “You never know who you’re going to meet, what type of fun live music you will be listening to or what special event you can attend in the near future.”
The owners of 1776 by David Burke embrace their location overlooking downtown Morristown. They hope to see Morristown Green scheduling more community events like outdoor summer concerts, dueling pianos and local bands now that the threat of COVID-19 has diminished.
Chance Healy explains, “I think we’ll only continue to improve as we grow into our space. Our Morristown location is perfect – we could not have asked for a better spot in town. We’ve just opened our patio which faces the historic Morristown Green. I would like to see that space come to life with dining, special events, etc. There’s so much we can do there – we’re excited to use it to its full potential. We’re also adjacent to the newly redesigned HQ plaza pavilion. It’s a beautiful open, green space that we hope to optimize with partnerships with the town and local charities.”
David Vorcheimer talks about launching their 1776 Connect Program which is in the forefront of their future plans. The program membership includes business networking groups, discounted food and beverage, and discounted suites. The main goal is to match business to business, offer benefits for corporations, and connect people with good food and fun. Keeping their community together and focusing on local business and the needs of the community is part of the foundation that keeps these businesses thriving.
As for Chef David Burke’s future plan, he is excited to enhance the Fall menu by reviving some historic American dishes. He will be using talent and creativity to update colonial foods such as pot pie. And for the holidays he will be offering special jams and preserves that can also be purchased as holiday gifts.
Chance Healy: “Without question, I am most proud of our team. This is a very new concept with so many moving parts – this was a challenging deliverable by hospitality industry standards. Our team has never wavered in their commitment to making the experience world class. We still have improvements to make – but we make progress every single shift, every single day. The aim is perfection but you can’t get there without the team’s commitment – and that we have unquestionably.”
George Schneider: “I am most proud of fighting through COVID and being able to open a 10 million dollar restaurant that started from scratch, and originally in an office space, and to bring it to the community to enjoy. It’s a beautiful place. Everyone was saying no, and that we were crazy and it’s too much. But it’s an absolute home run.”
David Vorcheimer: “I was so proud when I walked in the first night and there were 70 year old people playing dodgeball, smiling, drinking and laughing. That was the total accomplishment of what I was trying to do. It’s to have fun at any age. It’s having your grandparents playing dodge ball laughing and having a blast. Then coming up saying this was the coolest thing. So, that was what I was trying to do, to make a place where you can go to eat, entertain and play.”
Chef David Burke: “I am proud of the fact that we were able to open up such a beautiful large place in the pandemic in the fourth quarter and be that busy that quickly and get such positive reviews. So that’s a nod to the teamwork between the ownership and the management team which is my team and the culinary and to be able to get a group of individuals and a whole staff that never really worked together and be able to lift something that heavy off the ground and put it in the forefront of what’s going on in Morristown. I’m proud of that and the collaboration and teamwork that we have amongst our staff, from ownership to management team.”