Every day, co-owner and lifelong Fanwood resident, Brian Walter, gets dozens of calls from local residents asking when The Chippery, a beloved local landmark, will reopen its doors. Now, two years after he first began rebuilding, all that stands in his way of revamping the local eatery are two 16,000 gallon gas tanks.
Walter had originally the doors of his favorite childhood restaurant last March. After his team had gutted the inside of the still standing Chippery, they discovered that beneath the earth, were huge gasoline tanks dating back to the 1920s. The tanks had been installed back decades before the Chippery opened up in the 1960s, when the property was used as a truck stop, Walter explained.
“We couldn’t find evidence of the tanks on any of the borough’s maps,” Walter said. “Back then, you didn’t need a permit or documentation to install tanks and pump gas. We are looking into donating the tanks to a historical society.”
Once the tanks were discovered, Walter hired a private company based out of Westfield to test the ground to make sure the earth was not contaminated by the gas tanks. That company has now determined that the earth is not contaminated. Still, the New Jersey State Department of Environmental Protection must confirm the results before Walter can demolish the standing Chippery structure on South Avenue.
Walter is confident that the building will be demolished by the end of the summer, with the new and improved Fanwood Chippery opening in September.
“I believe in this project a hundred percent,” Walter expressed. “My father brought food home for us from The Chippery all the time, and so did his father. When they closed their doors back in 2006 and I heard it was going to be turned into a hot dog stand, I knew that I wanted to save the Chippery.”
The Fanwood Family man is hoping to continue that tradition by the running the business with the help of his parents and siblings.
“My mother, father, and sisters are all going to be involved in the business,” Walter said. “They have a lot of skin in the game – we have all invested a lot of time and money into making this happen.”
The new, nautical themed Fanwood Chippery building is being designed and built as a modular building in Pennsylvania. The building will be the same size, but will include a basement for storage. The inside will be slightly redesigned with the kitchen in the front to accommodate additional seating. Walter quelled resident concerns stating that the smell many complained of in the past will no longer be an issue due to a brand new filtration system and increased trash pickup.
“We knew we had to be smart about how [the building] looks,” Walter said. “We are very aware that this is the first and last thing people see as they enter and leave Fanwood.”
Walter, a trained professional chef has also revolutionized the Chippery’s menu. In addition to the classic fish and chips, patrons can also enjoy light and healthy options such as fish tacos and salads. Walter has also added a kids menu and family friendly, fairly priced meal options.
“I want to encourage local youth and residents to apply for a job at the Chippery,” Walter said. “It’s important to me to continue to build community in our town. Hopefully re-opening the Chippery can help us do that.”
And one more thing – you won’t find Flannery’s Fish and Chips on the Fanwood Chippery’s menu. When Walter purchased the business, he also became keeper of the Fanwood Chippery’s secret fish and chips recipe.
“It’s our secret to keep now,” Walter smiled. “I am really looking forward to working with my family; everyone is very hands on. The Chippery has been around our whole lives. I couldn’t be more excited to bring it back to life.”