New Jersey is home to many unique restaurants, all special in different ways. One that stands out for its history is the Cranbury Inn. The inn was established in the mid-1700s and is the oldest restaurant in New Jersey.
Cranbury Inn, Front View
The current structure includes two 18th century taverns (built together) and a main dining room added in the 1930s. The murals in the Lafayette Tavern Room (Tap Room) were painted as part of a project by the Works Progress Administration.
Cranbury Inn, Side View
In addition to the restaurant, the inn housed guests until 1982. The liquor store was once home to the justice of the peace and a telegraph office. In the 1930s, a lighted 18-hole mini golf course (now defunct) was built on the grounds.
Cranbury Inn Barn
One notable aspect of the inn's history relates to the Underground Railroad. Records show that there was an Underground Railroad stop in the town of Cranbury, many believe that the inn was this stop. According to the inn's website, "an unusual amount of wear on the steps to the attic of the innkeeper's house and remnants of a door to a room and a shelf below which are nails to hang your cloak on, indicate that this attic space was used for far more than just an attic."
Also historically significant, Albert Einstein was a frequent diner here. Other notable guests include the Prince & Princess of the Netherlands and the entire City Council of Moscow. Brooke Shields dined here as a Princeton student and portions of the film, "I.Q." starring Meg Ryan and Susan Sarandon were shot here.
Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982, this restaurant serves up classic American fare and is a popular spot for weddings and other social gatherings. In fact, it has a 5-star venue rating on bridal website, The Knot.
Located at 21 South Main Street in Cranbury, visit for the history, delicious dishes and unique decor items including vintage firearms, an eclectic collection of plates and antique clocks. To learn about other historic New Jersey Restaurants, see my previous post:
These 16 Amazing New Jersey Restaurants Are Loaded With Local History.