A freshly upgraded new interior greets customers at West Deptford’s Colonial Cafe, and in the works is an expansion that will bring additional unique spaces with a big focus on outdoor patio experiences.
For decades the Colonial Cafe in West Deptford was a rustic older local bar with a loyal following, but at the same time thousands of potential customers drove by each day on busy Rt 45, never thinking to stop in.
But new ownership has been changing things up at The Colonial, bringing in more loyal followers… and even bigger changes are coming!
The Colonial Cafe is located on Broad St (Rt 45) just a few blocks North of the Colonial Diner. Keep scrolling to read more, and “Like” them on Facebook for the latest!
Colonial Cafe: Local Family With Strong Cafe History
Three years ago George Damminger and his wife Leslie took over ownership of the Colonial Cafe, and immediately started upgrading the classic bar and dining area.
Today the local pub’s interior is a nicely enhanced blend of the classic character that the Colonial had for decades, with new design elements including upgraded surfaces (floors, walls) which bring the space into 2023.
But George (who originally is from nearby Brooklawn) is far from done with the upgrades, as he is planning an expansion within the extended property they own down to the corner. With the property they plan to offer all new Colonial Cafe experiences!
There are two new structures planned and other outdoor features, with a key element being a new all-season building which will support year-round dining and “adult-beveraging”.
The main new building in warmer months will open up significantly to bring the outdoors in! There will even be additional bathrooms in the new building!
To be clear.. the original Colonial Café building, bar and dining areas are staying.
These “Phase 2” Colonial Cafe enhancements will be adjacent to the Café’s original building, and offer bonus spaces and experiences for the property,
George is also adding parking in the the area, as he owns another piece of property across the street which will be developed into a parking area.
Read on for more about the new upgrades, and what has already been improved at the Colonial Cafe these last 2 years!
Colonial Cafe Interior Upgrades
I caught up with George yesterday at the Cafe where I enjoyed a delicious lunch, a couple of cold beers and great conversations with George, one of his bartenders Christian and a few locals who recognized me as the “42Freeway guy”.
In chatting with George we connected that his Grandfather and my Father were both friends and Commanders at the Brooklawn American Legion Post 72! We shared a few Legion stories that we both remembered as kids visiting the legion bar with our parents.
Like I said.. the Damminger family is very local! Well so is the Matthews family, it seems.
George tells me he has worked at the Colonial Cafe since he was a teenager going back to the early 90s.
When the bar became available for sale, George with his 28+ years experience working in all aspects of the business, jumped at the opportunity to become its new owner. He really felt it was meant to be.
While the original efforts to take over the bar were being work on in 2019, the final settlement/transfer took place in early 2020.
Yes, the Dammingers took over the Colonial Cafe just weeks before the State of New Jersey headed into “lock-down” mode!
it definitely wasn’t the best timing to start out as new owners of a bar/restaurant… But the Colonial Cafe team were able to keep food going out the door to loyal customers, and the owners used some of that “indoor dining downtime” to upgrade the bar and restaurant interior areas.
Outside, the old bar building at the corner of Route 45 and Colonial looks mostly the same but freshened up.
The same retro signs are still there to identify the bar’s main entrance… ya can’t touch iconic signage like that!
Inside, the upgraded interior keeps the old Colonial Café charm, but adds a urban-modern feel to the space. A perfect place to hang with friends, catch the game on TV or even bring the family over for dinner.
it’s a delicate balance for a local pub to make customers feel at home as they cheer for their local team playing on TV, while at the same time others feel just as comfortable grabbing a bite to eat in the dining area with the kids and Grandma sitting at the table. The Colonial is that kind of place.
Throughout the interior space new flooring was installed, attractive wall surfaces were added, and I’m told that even the kitchen was fully upgraded during that time when New Jersey was not allowing interior dining.
I’ve stopped in a couple times in the last year or so since George and the family took over, and honestly every time I’ve visited the place he has had a great crowd of people in the bar. It’s clear that the locals love the bar and it’s improvements, as well as George and his staff.
If it’s been awhile (or never) since you stopped in, when you enter from the main bar entrance door, you’re walking right into the largest room which is focused on a rectangular bar filling out most of its space.
This is definitely the center of the Colonial Cafe’s action, fun and food… And from that center space there are two separate seating areas off to the sides.
Off to the right and up a single step is a tabled dining area, which I’ve been told at one time many years ago was a small local market.
Today it has new flooring, new wall surfaces, and a large screen television at the far end.
A really smart idea to accent the décor (while solving a storage problem), was they have all of the taps surrounding the upper perimeter of the walls in the room, as well as some beer cans appear on display
On the left side of the bar is a smaller dining area with high top tables and the “To-Go” refrigerator section.
This section has some interesting wall surfaces and graphics which proudly proclaim “Never Voted Best of Anything Since 1934″!
Ya gotta love that style of humor! Makes me wanna stop back and hang out with everyone again… My kind of people.
The Shed at Colonial Café
Which finally brings me to “The Shed at the Colonial Cafe”. Not sure if that is the official name but I that’s what it says on the renderings.
Today, directly next to the Colonial Cafe bar building is a small home, which then has a side yard extending to the corner. All of this property is owned by George and the bar.
Last year during some Phillies and Eagles games they used this outdoor yard space (which at the time was basically a lawn), set up a projector, and watched the Phillies night games.
Over the winter they added a new paver section, with two brick outdoor fire pits.
The plans for the larger upgrades include two structures actually.
To make room for the new construction, the small house directly next to the bar will come down.
The larger main structure to be developed will be closer to the bar… but will not be connected to the original Colonial Cafe.
This new building will be used year round. It will have a significant amount of surrounding doors and windows which can be opened up widely to the outside, giving customers the experience of sitting in an outdoor patio. But then closed up tight for the colder New Jersey winter months.
George shared with me the floor plan that they currently has for the larger building. I say “currently” because the plan is still evolving but he is very close to locking in his answer.
As you would expect, most of the building will be a dining area seating maybe 45-50 people.
There will be new bathrooms in the back left corner, as well as an area he expects to have a bar service-area setup… but that is a key portion of the design that George is still thinking about.
With the ability to open up the walls, in warmer weather the dining space will seamlessly transition into a new fully outdoor patio area.
The second structure appears to be more of a 3-sided building which on warmer weather will provide protection from the sun and rain, with comfortable seating and tables. I need to get more details on this building… well we’ll wait for the plans to settle in!
As mentioned, they are finishing up work on a new patio area on the property, along with two firepits.. so the final design and construction will offer a variety of fun settings for guests along with the upcoming new structures.
Links and Locations
1 Colonial Ave & Rt 45
West Deptford, NJ