If the walls of the Linwood Inn could talk they’d tell some interesting stories. Fortunately they don’t have to because owner John Neshimka is typically happy to take on the task!
A man known by many names… Josh, Yash, Yosh, or John, he’s probably best known as that guy who will give you an earful about the Linwood’s battle against eminent domain, an effort by the township to usurp the historic building for their own purposes. The costly legal battle nearly tapped the family’s resources in the mid 2000’s, but 2008 proved victorious and the Linwood Inn, or Taphouse at Linden Station, has since made a proud comeback with a menu expanded to include some of the best pizza in North Jersey.
The culinary lineup is completed with classics including the Linwood’s long famed French dip, and host of new creations cooked up in John’s test kitchen - like the Winger potato chip Nachos, Hotsie Totsie, Drunken Clams, Bang Bang Shrimp, and various pasta dishes. The oversized portions can be washed down with a selection of 35 draft beers while watching all of the New York teams on widescreen TV’s visible from every seat in the house. With a separate dining room full of historical objects and sports memorabilia, the Inn is proud to identify as family friendly.
Linwood Inn's John & Lori
Like the township of Linden itself, the Inn has made some major transformations since the heyday of the G.M. plant in the 1970’s, when it was better known as a working man’s bar with an attached liquor store and tiny kitchen that churned out killer roast beef sandwiches. John’s parents had bought the historic boarding house and restaurant in 1971, and he started stocking shelves and slinging drinks there as a teenager.
The original Linden Park Hotel dates back further than the formation of Union County in 1862, and plays a significant role in the records of Linden, New Jersey history. Town council meetings were held there, and according to a set of handwritten minutes obtained by the Neshimkas, it’s where the original city hall was first planned.
In 2000, John did away with the attached liquor store and converted the space into a full restaurant kitchen. The tiny, original kitchen that once churned out 8 fresh whole roast beef per day became an intimate dining area perfect for private parties. There’s still plenty of room at the bar, too, for locals and regulars including the Linwood Inn Taphouse men’s over 50 softball team, who have been representing the Linwood and making regular Tuesday and Thursday appearances there since 1980.
When the eminent domain battle nearly tapped out the Neshimka’ resources, John, his wife Lori, and daughters Bobbie and Jenna sought a more palatable cost of living and underwent a temporary, self-imposed exile to Macon, Georgia. (Plans are imminent to make a grand return and “retire in New Jersey.”) With the girls as lab assistants, John continues to experiment in the Georgia “test kitchen,” decoding recipes worth duplicating and churning out new additions to the menu.
“I consider myself the Wizard of Oz, I’m the man behind the curtain,” he said of his constant tinkering, adding of his kitchen staff, “I drive ‘em crazy but everything we’re doing is working!”
With a former hotel turned boarding house upstairs and so much activity on the ground floor, the Linwood Inn has borne witness to some major changes, from the 1800’s to the industrial revolution, and now the revitalized commuter hub it is poised to be today. Linden Station is just a stone’s throw away, and with luxury apartments cropping up on all sides, the Neshimkas are looking forward to serving a new generation of guests with the best food and atmosphere in town.