THE EPICENTER OF THE RAHWAY SOCIAL SCENE SINCE 1979
The Waiting Room offers a safe haven from the insanity that is modern day life.
Occupying a 19th century building at 1431 Irving St., a site that had been a tavern for as long as anyone could remember, two brothers, Mike and Paul Wenson, opened The Waiting Room in February 1979 as a neighborhood tavern. Word quickly spread that The Waiting Room was a comfortable place where all were welcome.
In November 1979 younger brother Chris joined the team as a bartender. In 1981 Mike left to pursue a teaching career. Paul stayed on until July 1985 when Chris came on board full time as manager. These were the days of late nights and Rock and Roll, as The Waiting Room hosted live music as many as four nights a week. Nothing lasts forever, though, and eventually the passion for live music ran its course. In 1992 The Waiting Room opened a full service kitchen to serve food as well as drinks. An outdoor dining area followed two years later, and The Waiting Room became known as much for its great food as its now famous atmosphere. The year 2000 brought a major renovation to correct structural issues (and a long festering termite problem) and an outdoor Tiki Bar followed in 2002.
As The Waiting Room grew and improved over the years plans were also underway for the revitalization of the entire downtown business district and in 2003 the City announced that The Waiting Room would have to close to make way for a parking deck and a 16-story hotel/condo building. Efforts to find and renovate a new location failed and on a warm night in January 2004, The Waiting Room hosted a closing party that spilled into the streets.
Dark days followed as efforts to find a new location proved fruitless. As the months dragged on, it became more evident The Waiting Room might never reopen.
It was a rainy December day in 2004 when Chris was downtown to meet with a realtor about a building that was for sale. He stopped in The Cherry St. Farmers Market to get a drink and visit with his friend, Mrs. Kim. She asked how things were going and Chris told her things were not good. The latest deal was not going well and it really looked like it was over and The Waiting Room would never reopen. It was then that she looked at him and asked, "Why don't you buy this building?". Fevered negotiations followed and in April 2005 66 East Cherry St. became the future home of the "Brand New, Same Old Waiting Room". Fifteen months of renovations followed with friends, family, bartenders, cooks and customers all lending a hand.
On August 1, 2006 The Waiting Room reopened at last. Please stop by if you are in the neighborhood.