Mercer Space – 1/1/15

Newly renovated Blooming Grove Inn celebrates its anniversary

​by Jacquelyn Pillsbury, Mercer Space

Steve Jordan purchased Paulie’s Anna Rose at 234 West Upper Ferry Road near Villa Victoria Academy from Paul Villareal. After owning the restaurant for 12 years, Villareal had decided it was time to retire and move to Florida. As a nod to Paul, and to allow for continuity within the community, Jordan gave his restaurant the temporary name of Paulie’s Restaurant and Saloon.

After buying the business, Jordan began massive renovations on the 150-year old white clap-board Victorian home. “Ideally I would have shut it down [during the renovations], but I had bills to pay,” said Jordan. Instead, he turned the situation into a positive with his customers and went from table to table and showed them what was done, and what was going to be done.

Over the course of the year, Jordan transformed the place bit by bit. Shag carpeting was replaced with hardwood floors, old wood paneling was taken down, and the giant mirror on the back wall was removed.

The bar area now features classic mahogany shelves with amber lights, a fireplace that was formerly hidden was exposed, and many more changes were made to make it feel like their customers are entering someone’s home. Renovations were led by Steve Sr. and master carpenter Mike Bause.

“It is more open,” Jordan said. “Before, the main entrance was in the back. You didn’t know where to go [when entering the restaurant]. There was a narrow doorway to the bar area. You had to look around for someone to help you. Now we have French doors in the bar area so you can see the whole restaurant. This is a form house. It has a homey feel now. I live here. I want people to feel as if they are a guest in my house,” he said.

Last Nov. 21, when the renovations were complete, Jordan rechristened the restaurant the Blooming Grove Inn, which was its original name. That day he introduced a new menu.

“Our menu stands out. We have swordfish, roasted duck, rack of lamb,” in addition to traditional restaurant meals such as chicken Parmesan, said Jordan, who describes his business as “a casual fine dining American restaurant.”

Jordan has high praise for his staff. Chef Mike Sujansky “is good at taking things you don’t think go together, but do. It tastes really good.” Julia Lacava, in addition to being the house manager, also makes their famous banana cream pie.

Jordan is looking forward to the weather turning warmer. Once temperatures reach a consistent 60 degrees, customers will be allowed to dine al fresco. “We are one of the only area restaurants around where you can dine outside.”

By spring 2015, Jordan anticipates having a large vegetable garden in the back where they will grow spinach, kale, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. They also have plans for an herb garden on the side, and trees in the front yard.