Stockton Inn Enjoys New Lease on Life

by artfuldiner on May 27, 2015

in Breaking News, New Jersey Event, Restaurant Event, Wining and Dining

Stockton Inn - ExteriorThe 300-year-old iconic Stockton Inn in Stockton, New Jersey, is experiencing a major transformation that pays homage to its illustrious past while, at the same time, advancing it into the 21st century. The driving force behind this transformation is owner Mitch Millett, who purchased the struggling Inn in 2012.

Mr. Millett’s initial goal was to bring the Inn back to its former glory. Over the past two and one half years, the building has undergone a complete physical makeover, including new roofs, new electrical service, new kitchen equipment, extensive restorations to the historic murals, new furniture, and upgrades to the dining rooms and the Dog & Deer Tavern, one of the first taverns in New Jersey, which secured its operating license in 1796.

In its recent past, the Inn was known primarily as a popular wedding and banquet venue. “It became clear to me,” notes Mr. Millett, “that this property was ill-equipped to be both a banquet venue and a serious à la carte restaurant, at the same time, in the same space.” A major decision for the new owner: orchestrate banquets or operate a serious restaurant. Mr. Millett decided on the latter. In December 2013, he shut down the banquet and lodging operations and began the process of building a destination dining establishment.

In late July 2014, he closed down the restaurant to do a complete reset. During the interim, he hired an entirely new full-time-only staff of restaurant professionals. The “new” only-20-table-restaurant is now open for dinner five nights a week, Wednesday – Sunday, with alfresco dining on the Inn’s expansive outdoor garden patio in warmer weather.

In August 2014, Mr. Millett tapped Chef Alan Heckman, formerly of the Washington Crossing Inn, to execute an imaginative, progressive menu that remains true to the Inn’s Colonial inspirations. Chef Heckman, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, notes that his philosophy is to utilize locally sourced produce at its natural peak paired with complementary ingredients and seasonings, which fits in perfectly with the Inn’s Colonial inspired focus.

As part of the transformation, Mr. Millett also enlisted wine and spirits expert Brian Freedman to revamp the restaurant’s beverage program. Mr. Freedman has successfully reworked the wine list to include approachable vintages that marry well with the Inn’s seasonally changing menu. In addition, he has also put together a selection of reimagined classic cocktails, as well as a rotating variety of the area’s craft beers to complement the cuisine.

Stockton Inn - InteriorFor more information about the Stockton Inn, or to make reservations, please call (609) 397-8948 or visit

Bon Appétit!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Avi Eccleman May 29, 2015 at 7:08 am

Why did this owner suddenly take down his Facebook and Twitter pages? Why does the Stockton Inn not “monitor its phone” or permit customers to leave a message.

It seems like the owner has paid a PR consultant to manufacture buzz around a restaurant that people aren’t interested in.

Benoit Lehman May 29, 2015 at 7:10 am

Not much good to say about the Stockton Inn, but I will say that it’s pretty obvious that if you need a restaurant PR guy, Peter Breslow is your man. He seems to get these articles about the Stockton Inn placed in every outlet he can find.

Stockton Inn owner, Mitch Millet, should first learn how to treat his customers and staff before setting out to create a fine dining establishment.

There is so much logical dissonance in this restaurant’s approach that it’s hard to find a starting place.

He has marketed this restaurant as a place for pretentious Philly and & NYC foodies. (Keep in mind, there’s a difference between “marketing” and “executing.” Your customers, not the owner, decide what type of restaurant you are.)

Mitch doesn’t appear to have any interest in attracting locals and, presumably, that’s why he dropped the tavern and lunch menus. Stockton is beautiful and the Inn’s location was a perfect place for a weekend lunch or late Saturday/Sunday afternoon cocktail for area residents or those strolling along the picturesque D&R Canal

Of course, Mitch can do what he likes, but I find it quite odd that a restaurant owner would alienate (local) customers who could visit a good area restaurant 5-15 times per year in favor of people that might visit 1-2 times per year, at most.

He has made a point on his webpage to criticize previous owners, as if Mitch himself was carrying the bona fides of an Emeril Lagasse or Thomas Keller. Strangely, although he uses valuable web estate talking about how the Inn has gone down hill since the 60s, he has a previous Stockton Inn owner as a guest chef there next month.

Among the more bizarre decisions undertaken since reopening is the decision not to take phone calls or accept voice messages. So if you’re running late for a reservation, stuck in traffic on your way to the restaurant, lost and in need of directions, or just want to drive in for dinner, you can’t call. The voice message at the Inn says, “this phone is not monitored so please don’t try to leave a message.”

There’s plenty more that could be said about the new high priced menu or the lack of social media engagement, but I’m reasonably confident Peter Breslow will find another media outlet to plant another story where others will comment.

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