Zweben Family Exits But Shadowbrook Endures

first_imgBy John BurtonSHREWSBURY – Nothing is expected to change for the Shadowbrook catering facility under its new ownership, including its name.“The same reason everybody booked this place is the reason we bought it,” noted Jim Kourgelis, who is one of the six new owners, who took over the site in the last couple of weeks.Kourgelis, Saddle River, along with his five partners, have taken over the venerable facility, operating at 1 Obre Pl. for more than four decades by the Zweben family and “We want to continue the wonderful job that they did,” Kourgelis said.The only real changes planned are to “give it a little shot of love,” he said. And that means sprucing up the location, refreshing wallpaper, making minor repairs and revitalizing the garden and grounds, Kourgelis explained.“Our goal is to continue to have this the best catering facility in the area,” he said.Kourgelis and his partners own and operate two other catering facilities, the Venetian, in Garfield, and Seasons, Washington Township. They’ve owned them for 15 and 27 years, respectively, with Kourgelis calling them more traditional sites, as compared to the Shadowbrook. They had considered renaming the institution, “but being here for a couple of weeks, getting to know the history and tradition,” he said, “we felt it was important to keep it as Shadowbrook.”That attitude and the new owners’ experience sat well with the former owner, Robert Zweben.“The Shadowbrook is a very, very special place,” Zweben said, wanting to hand it over to someone who would appreciate its history and reputation.Zweben, along with his father, Sidney, and brother Sandy, bought the approximately 18-acre property and restaurant 43 years ago. The site originally had been Shadow Brook Farm, established in 1910 by wealthy New York physician Dr. Ernest Fahnestock.The site had been an a la carte restaurant and wedding facility when the Zwebens bought it and they continued operating as that for a number of years before gradually shifting to catering only. “Which is a much easier operation,” Robert Zweben acknowledged.The site has lush, decorative grounds and garden area and its interior is decorated with items, such as ceiling panels, from such historic sites as the former Paramount Theater, New York City; and from the day room of the former Villard Mansion (Now the Helmsley Palace Hotel, on New York’s Madison Avenue.)Zweben confided there was any number of developers anxious to purchase the property. “And a lot of those people were willing to pay giant numbers,” for it, he said.“But it’s in our heart and I just couldn’t do that,” to the facility and to his long serving staff, he said.He decided to sell to Kourgelis and his partners because, Zweben felt, “After 43 years I think these are the people to maintain it and bring it to the next level.”Kourgelis is keeping the existing staff and bringing some additional employees to operate the site, which in past years, Zweben said, had as many as 250-300 events a year.“We plan on being here for a while,” Kourgelis said.For Greg and Christina Cambeis, a Middletown couple, the Shadowbrook was an ideal choice.“We wanted to get married someplace outside,” opting to have their ceremony on the grounds’ garden, said Christina. “It was perfect. We loved it.”“It was a perfect place,” Greg added.He feared the location might have become a condo or townhouse development. And that it’ll continue largely as it is, “I think people appreciate that,” Greg Cambeis said.last_img

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