Murphy dines outdoors at Nicholas Barrel and Roost while indoor dining is packed

By Art Gallagher

Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady Tammy Murphy dining with masks on at Nicholas Barrel and Roost in Middletown on August 26, 2020. photo by Art Gallagher

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy dined outdoors at Nicholas Barrel and Roost in Middletown last evening while the indoor Barrel Room was packed with knuckleheads.

Murphy, who seemed aware of my presence, wore a mask at his outdoor table while those dining in the crowded Barrel Room were maskless.

Prior to Murphy’s arrival, Middletown Deputy Police Chief John Kaiser and a Sergeant showed up the restaurant at about 6:45 p.m, circled the establishment in a black SUV apparently to observe the crowd through the open windows, which I had done at 6:14 p.m, before approaching the front door where they were greeted by proprietor Nicholas Harary.

Harary waived while I photographed the encounter.

The officers and Harary spoke for about five minutes and then they entered the restaurant. About five minutes later, Deputy Chief Kaiser and the Sergeant who accompanied him emerged from the establishment. They spoke on their cell phones and chatted with the Governor’s advance security Trooper. Then the police left at about 7:05 p.m.

The Governor’s advance security Trooper had arrived at about 6 p.m. He entered the restaurant at 6:09 p.m. and emerged at 6:10 p.m. He sat in a black Suburban while a steady flow of patrons entered the restaurant. He remained in the Suburban until after the Middletown PD arrived.

A Middletown PD Sergeant, Governor Murphy’s advance security and Middletown PD Deputy Chief John Kaiser chat after the Middletown Officers walked through Nicholas Barrel and Roost.

Deputy Chief Kaiser declined to discuss what he observed inside the restaurant. He referred all questions to the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor’s spokesperson has yet to return my call.

At 7:25 p.m., Governor Murphy and his party showed up in two black Suburbans and went to their waiting outdoor table.

Governor Murphy and his party at Nicholas Barrel and Roost, August 26, 2020.

Nicholas Barrel and Roost, formerly known as Nicholas Restaurant, advertises on their website that due to COVID-19 they are only open by reservation and seating is only in their outdoor patio and in the Barrel Room Bar.

They were packed last night.

Murphy’s Executive Order #163 was signed on July 8, nine days after we reported that he dined indoors at Martell’s Tiki Bar in Bayville and seven days after we opined that he should amend his Executive Order that prohibits indoor dining to allow open air dining, like what’s offered at Martell’s any many other establishments on the Jersey Shore.

EO-163 allows restaurants and bars that can open two walls to serve their guests under their roof.

As NJ.com put it on July 9, EO-163 “clarifies that eateries can offer indoor — or quasi-indoor dining — if they have no roof or a fixed roof or temporary cover with at least two open sides that allows 50% of their wall space to open.”

Nicholas Barrel and Roost, which recently completed a renovation and rebranding, does not appear to comply with EO-163. The following photos were taken the morning after Murphy’s visit.

Governor Murphy has yet to respond to a text message sent at 8:03 p.m. last evening. This story will be updated if he does.

Harary has not yet responded to a voice mail and a text sent this morning. This story will be updated if he does.

Posted: August 27th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: COVID-19, Monmouth County, Monmouth County News, New Jersey, News | Tags: , , , , | 16 Comments »

16 Comments on “Murphy dines outdoors at Nicholas Barrel and Roost while indoor dining is packed”

  1. Roy said at 10:37 am on August 27th, 2020:

    Of course the indoor dining room was packed – The laws apply only to us little people – The “Elite” are exempt. No surprise here.

  2. Bill Francisco said at 1:50 pm on August 27th, 2020:

    We need all these restaurants open – forget the owners and think of the employees and their families.

  3. Tom said at 2:16 pm on August 27th, 2020:

    If indoor dining was “packed”, why are no people visible inside in any of the pictures?

  4. Art Gallagher said at 2:19 pm on August 27th, 2020:

    @Tom, because I have not published any photos of the restaurant’s guests.

  5. No name said at 8:09 pm on August 27th, 2020:

    Wow! Amazing that you think it was “packed” inside, without entering! You must be great at choosing lottery numbers too!

  6. no name said at 8:05 am on August 28th, 2020:

    This restaurant is for the very rich. Everything is overpriced just to keep middle class people out.

  7. Ed said at 8:45 am on August 28th, 2020:

    So, which is it: you want restaurants to open or stay closed? Without mentioning Murphy please just answer. Lots of mixed messages coming from this “pro-business” blog.

  8. Art Gallagher said at 8:52 am on August 28th, 2020:


    I want them all to open legally

  9. @ No Name said at 9:15 am on August 28th, 2020:

    Wow, how cynical of you. I guess you are steller at not taking people’s word for something, such as Art’s, that it was packed inside.

  10. juma said at 9:42 am on August 28th, 2020:

    Open the polls & let us vote in person then we all can go out to eat @ our favorite place.

  11. @@ said at 10:23 am on August 28th, 2020:

    Why would anyone take the word of someone with such an obvious agenda without any proof? I was confused by Art’s decision not to publish the photos of any of the guests.

  12. Kayte said at 1:41 pm on August 28th, 2020:

    Of course it was packed, unless you think all those cars make it a used car lot.

  13. @ @@ said at 9:22 am on August 30th, 2020:

    1) See Kayte’s comment

    2) Maybe Art felt he would have made people uncomfortable by taking photos of them

    and then…


  14. Art Gallagher said at 2:27 pm on August 30th, 2020:

    I didn’t publish pictures of the people eating indoors because

    1) That could really have hurt Nicholas’s business

    2) It is fun to watch idiots argue that I did not provide proof that people were eating indoors.

  15. Yeah said at 3:46 pm on August 30th, 2020:

    but it’s more fun to constantly troll this site and only make it blatantly obvious when I get bored. Someone awhile back stated that only 3 people or so comment here, that isn’t too far off from the truth.

  16. Noname said at 7:09 am on August 31st, 2020:

    We’re way overdue to open indoor dining. My brother in law is an MD in Monmouth County- just yesterday told me his hospital has not one case of covid. It’s also time to open our schools. Our kids are suffering!