FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Fair Lawn Dutch House owner Dave Drahouzal attributes the continuing success of his neighborhood tavern to the smoking ban of the early 2000s.
The Fair Lawn Avenue eatery withstood the test of time -- through the American Revolution and several changes of ownership -- but the Drahouzal Family feared that the legislative shift would put a damper on their beloved establishment.
Ultimately, it’s turned the restaurant into everything that the family hoped it could someday be — and more.
“We have high chairs now,” said Drahouzal of Wyckoff, who runs the Dutch House with his sister, Mariles Drahouzal. “We always wanted to get people who lived closest to come, and now they do.”
The house was built in the 1750s and stood as a simple, one-story farm house. The earliest-known occupant was Richard J. Berdan in the early 1800s.
The upper level, windows and tap room were added as years passed until the house was acquired by Frank Drahouzal, Dave’s grandfather, in 1961.
It was then that the tavern became well-known for its burgers, made with freshly-chopped meat from the Swiss Pork Store across the street.
“It’s truly back to being a family affair where we all pitch in and help,” said Drahouzal, whose 74-year-old mother came in on Sunday to help out during the Super Bowl.
Mariles Drahouzal — formerly a teacher at Tenafly High School and Bergen Catholic -- has fond memories of walking to the Dutch House in grammar school to have lunch with her dad while he worked.
She later started tending bar, cooking, cleaning and doing anything necessary to keep the Dutch House up and running.
The Drahouzals have become like family with many of their customers.
“It’s a place where people come when they don’t want to be home alone,” Drahouzal said. “We have one guy who we call ‘The Professor’ — his wife died and ever since he comes in once or twice a day.”
The tavern is among the few historic landmarks that still exist in Fair Lawn, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re very proud of maintaining a historic property,” Mariles Drahouzal said. “That’s what makes it special.”
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