Westville NJ’s beloved Speranza Ristorante is adding another level to their offerings, as they are in the process of acquiring a full-alcohol liquor license. The license was previously used at Westville’s Cousin’s Irish Pub, which has been closed for several years.
This is still early in the transfer process, as the required legal notice was just published.
We do know that the license will be used at the existing Speranza restaurant located at 158 Broadway, but we aren’t clear at this time the timeline for the final legal takeover of the license, or if Speranza intends to do building updates to better support a full liquor license.
Liquor licenses in New Jersey are capped per town based on that town’s population… one license per 3,000 residents.
There are some exceptions, such as if you build a hotel of 100 or more rooms you can get a special license, and some older towns such as Gloucester City and Wildwood have more licenses than population as many bars existed in those communities before the new laws were put into place in the mid-1900s.
In the case of Westville New Jersey, the only way a successful and thriving restaurant like Speranza can obtain a liquor license, is to acquire someone else’s.
Speranza Wood-Fired Italian Ristorante
Speranza is currently a BYOB Italian restaurant featuring innovative Italian cuisine, although as part of a special New Jersey ABC program they have been offering wines from the Plagido Winery.
A 2013 NJ.Com article features the opening of the then new restaurant, and does an excellent job of describing the owner Pat Finney, and the restaurant’s food philosophy.
“I love this business and I love people,” Finney said. “Speranza is more upscale and has the look of being in the middle of the city.”Speranza Owner Pat Finney – NJ.com 2013
The menu offers a wide variety of Italian options such as chicken parmigiana, penne alla vodka, shrimp tortellini, shrimp & crab risotto, grilled prime pork chop and more!
A wood-fired oven creates a focus to their delicious entrees and appetizers… including delicious pizza! Recently the Philly Bite website named their wood-fired pizza one of the best in New Jersey!
This area of Westville is becoming quite the hot-spot, with several delicious eating and beveraging options all within one block of each other… and Speranza will be upping their game even further with the addition of alchohol.
Almost directly across from Speranza is the well loved Westville Brewery. Down the side of that building to the back is Schileens Pub, one of the area’s #1 local hangouts. And almost directly across from Schilleens is Grabbe’s Seafood.
All four of those establishments will be offering some version of alcohol.. and the distance from the door of Speranza to Grabbe’s is a football field away. Plus there are other delicious food options such as Lorenzo’s Cabana!
Cousin’s Irish Pub
Which brings us to Cousin’s Irish Pub (previously know as Murphy’s Tavern).
Cousin’s Pub has been closed a few years…. I was trying to pinpoint when.
The building is located on Gateway Boulevard but its really the start of South 130 towards South 295.
It is a large multi-unit building with apartments upstairs, and the lower level was home to Cousin’s,
I visited Cousin’s several times, especially when I lived close by in Bellmawr and I spent some time 10 years ago in cover bands.
While on the first floor it always felt to me like it was a basement bar… with basically no windows in the building (the roadway behind the building is elevated). I always thought with a little investment it could turn itself around… but at the same time, parking was very limited.
So obviously with the liquor license being sold we shouldn’t expect to see Cousins Irish Pub reopen again.
In 2020 the property was taken over by CA Enterprises which appears to specialize in outdoor advertising.
Westville also has a closed bar with Hot Shots. Hot Shots was a popular rock live band club with a small stage and dedicated stage lighting and sound system.
The attached liquor store remains open, but Hot Shots closed around the time of Covid.
We recently stopped in and spoke to the owner. He is interested in reopening the space, but is not in a rush to start that process as he would like to completely rebuild the Hot Shots bar and kitchen… presumably into something completely new.
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