The History of the Cloverleaf Tavern
Nestled amidst the hustle and bustle of Bloomfield Avenue lies the Cloverleaf Tavern, a well-established staple in Caldwell, New Jersey. It is currently the oldest business in town. George Dorchak Jr. founded the Cloverleaf Tavern in 1933. George was 23 years old when he borrowed money from his uncle to purchase the first liquor license in Caldwell after prohibition. The building at the time consisted of two stores: a vegetable stand and a bakery. The bakery was called The Bake Shop with a shamrock as it’s logo. This is where George got the idea for the name of his Tavern.
In 1940, George made an election bet that won him a ride down Bloomfield Ave in a wheelbarrow. That’s right! The gentleman pushing the wheelbarrow (who remains unidentified today) lost the bet. Watch this amazing video below of George being pushed from the “flats” of Caldwell to Central Avenue.
In 1950, the bar that is currently at the Tavern replaced the original bar.
The bar was purchased used for $325.00 and is estimated to be over 100 years old. The establishment functioned strictly as a man’s bar up until the early 1970’s. In 1972, the present owner, Richard Dorchak, joined the business. Richard’s vision of developing the Cloverleaf Tavern into a family-oriented, neighborhood-kind-of restaurant became reality in 1976 when he opened the first dining room. Richard wore many hats while trying to overcome the “men’s only” reputation the Cloverleaf Tavern was known for. He served not only as the Cloverleaf’s bartender, but also was the cook and server for many years. In 1989 the restaurant was expanded to accommodate the growth that had taken place throughout the 1980’s. A sky-lit atrium and an outdoor patio were added to accommodate an additional 75 guests. Two more dining rooms would follow over the next 3 years. In 1993, George’s grandson, Ryan Dorchak joined as the third generation to assist in running the operation. Today, The Cloverleaf Tavern has the capacity to serve 200 guests and has a private party room which seats up to 50 guests.
The restaurant most recently received the title of #1 Craft Beer Bar in the Northeast for the second consecutive year.
We also earned a Reader’s Choice Award from New Jersey Monthly for the “Best Lunch in Northern New Jersey” and earned an additional award of “The Best Inexpensive Restaurant in Northern New Jersey”. In addition, an award for “Culinary Excellence” was given to the Tavern at Great Chef’s Night, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Fairfield, New Jersey.