HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – The Historic Inn at Sugar Hill, located on the banks of the Great Egg Harbor River in Mays Landing, reopened to the public on Friday, July 16.
A large crowd was on hand on opening day to welcome new owner Wendy Fabietti and partake in culinary delights prepared by Executive Chef Israel (Izzy) Rodriguez at the outdoor dining area aptly named Izzy’s River Landing.
Fabietti purchased the property from Yogi and Selda Kumar on June 22 for $660,000. The Kumars bought the Inn from Larry and Tina Boylan, who owned the property for 32 years, the year before.
The Inn has a long history in Mays Landing dating back more than 175 years. Mays Landing resident historian Mari D’Albora Dattolo recently published documentation about the history of the inn.
“In 1845 William Moore relocated to Atlantic County from Norristown, Pennsylvania, and became involved in the iron trade, managing operations at the Weymouth Furnace,” she wrote. “With the production of anthracite coal in Pennsylvania, the southern Jersey iron business was short-lived. He moved to Mays Landing the following year and had his private mansion built on the bluff at Sugar Hill in 1846.”
The property has changed hands numerous times. In the 1950s the house was sold to Frank and Ella Watson who had charge of the property for 30 years until the Boylans purchased and renovated it in the mid-1980s.
In-between managing staff, managing parking and registering guests in the inn’s six rooms, Fabietti explained her reasons for acquiring the property and goals for the inn.
“I opened the Pork Island Grill in Ocean City in March of 2020, just before the start of the pandemic,” she said. “Fortunately, we made it through due to Izzy’s efforts.”
“Once we heard this property was for sale, we made an offer that was accepted. We bought it for Izzy as we know it is his dream to run an operation such as this. The recipes and the cooking are all up to him. My goal is to get it off the ground and then take a step back. Hopefully one day he will take ownership of the property.”
Unlike other restaurant owners, Fabietti has had no difficulty hiring staff, and currently employs 36 workers.
“Many people wanted to come and work with Izzy,” she said. “His reputation precedes him. He runs a clean and organized operation and strives for excellence.”
Fabietti plans to add a new project each year to upgrade the property.
“We are spending $27,000 to add a new roof this year,” she said. “Next year, we plan to paint the inn and add new windows. We want to bring the inn back to its glory days.”
There was literally no room at the inn on opening weekend as each of the six rooms was occupied. One of the guests was Bob Mulholland who arrived from Lowell, North Carolina, for a wedding.
“This is very convenient as it is only a 15-to-20-minute drive to the site of the wedding,” he said.
Room rates are $185 during the week and $190 on the weekends.
Many of the guests on opening weekend arrived by boat or personal watercraft. The docks can accommodate up to seven boats, although Fabietti recommends checking tide charts as it can be difficult to navigate to the site at low tide.
Izzy’s River Landing will be open throughout the summer. In October, the operation will move indoors to become “Izzy’s Steak and Seafood House.”
Jim and Loretta Morris split their time between residing in Mays Landing and The Villages in Florida. They enjoyed their lunch on opening day with daughter Michelle Morris-Phy and granddaughter Taylor.
“It was so nice to meet the wonderful new owners, they are very outgoing and friendly,” Loretta Morris said. “They are very much hands on and really know what they are doing. We wish them years of happiness and success at this beautiful riverfront restaurant.”