Two-hundred and sixty years ago, there was a stagecoach stop some three miles from what was originally Nazareth. The inn was owned by taverneer Jonas Hartzell, a familiar surname to most living locally.
Over the years, the building was an inn, a country-western bar, a go-go bar and a restaurant, but it has always been the Newburg Inn.
Today, the is owned by Lou Basta, an Italian-born, New York-trained chef of 38 years who has kept the restaurant running since 1999.
“You just don’t see this type of place anymore… this type of ambience,” Basta said.
What Basta is referring to is the fact that nearly the entire building that currently stands at the corner of Route 191 and Newburg Road is original -- dating right back to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century.
Inside, the décor is mostly dark wood paneling and hardwood construction, and the walls are adorned with paraphernalia that lends to the history of itself and the town of which it is a part.
First walking in the door, patrons are greeted with a display of classic kitchen appliances. Antique chandeliers and lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling.
“Everything in here is antique," Basta joked.
The Newburg Inn has a cozy, country atmosphere and several different dining areas. The upper dining room, with its linens and white-clothed tables, is more of an elegant affair, while the lower area of tables and booths is more casual.
Also part of the former inn are two event rooms; a party room that can accommodate up to 36 people; and a private dining room fit for up to 26 guests.
The menu features a diverse selection of mostly Italian and American influences, including a variety of pasta and seafood fares. When Basta took ownership in 1999, he added roughly 60 items to the menu, while keeping many of the classics.
The prime rib, which is a Newburg favorite, was one of the classics that remained on Basta’s menu; the inn has been serving the prime rib for close to 27 years.
Also available is a separate “light fare” menu, for guests who want a more casual meal. The lighter menu consists mostly of burgers, wraps, chicken sandwiches and salads.
Newburg’s soup-and-salad bar is another popular choice, especially for lunch. Fresh cut veggies and salad toppers like egg, black olives and pickled beets grace the salad bar, as well as the soups du jour and various dessert options.
But perhaps one of the more alluring traits of the old-fashioned inn are the ghosts of Newburg. Voices, shadow figures, footsteps and even sightings are nothing new for the restaurant’s employees.
“A hostess would hear footsteps -- like someone running -- and she’ll tell the server, ‘Tell the kids to stop running.’ And the server said, ‘There are no kids here,’” Basta explained. “You can just feel it sometimes.”
Ten paranormal teams and numerous psychics have visited the Newburg Inn to investigate, and all have had the same conclusion: there are multiple spirits roaming the rooms.
One psychic was certain that at least one of the spirits belonged to a native American. Later, Basta learned from a roofer that the inn’s attic had a feature called “Indian hatches,” which were used as vantage points from which to shoot at hostile natives in the 18th century.
On a lighter note, the Newburg Inn is a popular place for young and old alike. The restaurant has seen hundreds of marriage proposals, and families have kept the business alive by coming back again and again.
“We have generations of family that come in,” Basta said proudly. “We keep the place decorated for every holiday, the kids always like that.”
The Newburg Inn is located at 4357 Newburg Road in Lower Nazareth Township. The restaurant recently changed over to its summer hours; lunch hours are Wednesday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner hours are seven days a week, 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Newburg Inn accepts all major credit cards, takes reservations, and is group-friendly. Guests can expect lunch to cost around $10 to $18 per person, and dinner to range from $15 to $28, not including drinks.
For more information on the historic Newburg Inn, visit www.newburginn.com.