Jim Malaby, chef and owner of Blueplate in Mullica Hill, knows a lot about restaurant renovation. After 14 years in operation, he began a major renovation project in early 2018. However, just eight months later – in August 2018 – an exterior electrical fire spread inside Blueplate. At first glance the damage seemed cosmetic, but upon deeper inspection they found extensive water and smoke damage.
It took just over a year to put the pieces back together, but Blueplate is open once more. In fact, they were even able to retain nearly all the same staffers (18 of 24, to be exact).
Return to Form
Since reopening, Blueplate is as busy as ever, which should come as no surprise; many frequent patrons have been waiting for the spot to come back ever since the fire. But even still, the turnout continues to impress the team. “With no announcement until we actually were opened, it’s amazing that we had a full restaurant 90 minutes after announcing it on social media,” says Malaby. “Our customers are coming back full force plus a lot of new faces.”
Malaby stuck to the restaurant’s original vibe in the remodel. They “tried to stay true to who we are when it came to remodeling—Main Street America,” he says. “We continued with making sure the restaurant was cozy and comfortable, but was clean and modern. We blended country, modern clean lines, and a little industrial feel; to create a cozy place to grab a quick bite or sip coffee with a friend all day.”
New to Blueplate is the second floor banquet room, which used to be an apartment. This space adds an extra 75 seats to the restaurant, bringing the total up to about 200 in total. They also added a covered porch and French doors to get more natural light into the dining room.
A Few New Menu Options
This farm-to-fork restaurant (which works with local farmers) changes their menu seasonally. What doesn’t change is their commitment to serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Of course, fans of Blueplate know the spot is famous for its pancakes. These pancakes also rotate with the season; for instance, pumpkin pancakes come around during the fall.
The reopening also brings new breakfast items, as well, like the chorizo benedict or baked falafel breakfast with eggs. Meanwhile, the dinner menu now offers a stronger focus on pasta. One current hot dish is speccatelli pasta (which they import from Italy) with lobster and shrimp.
Blueplate also hosts farm and seasonal dinners, such as their recent four-course pumpkin dinner. Malaby also has plans for what he calls “Century Farm Dinners” next year. This program will work with farms that have been in NJ for over a century, sharing their stories with guests.
All Photos: © Blueplate / Facebook