LITTLE FALLS - The owner of a bar in Little Falls says that he lost a fight with the New Jersey Department of Transportation over eminent domain, but was able to save his bar in the process.
Rich Hempel says that his grandfather ran a speakeasy in Little Falls in the 1920s. In 1939, the state took part of his land to build a highway. Rather than move away, they rolled the bar on logs and in 1939 the Great Notch Inn was born.
"It's a little taste of the past. It still is. A lot of the bars now are very sterile. This is a real roadhouse,” says Hempel.
Hempel has been in a decades long eminent domain fight with the state DOT, who has now begun the Route 46 interchange project. A third of the Great Notch Inn property was relinquished to build the interchange, but the bar itself has been spared.
The Great Notch Inn will now sit in a little island of land surrounded on all sides by Route 46.
The bar often has a long list of musicians passing through playing shows there. They say that the Great Notch Inn is important to them.
"My keyboard player is undergoing chemotherapy right now and he had his chemotherapy pushed back until Monday just so he can play The Notch [Thursday] night with us,” says Carmen Cosentino of Real Rock Drive. “That's how important a place it is."
Construction on the Route 46 Interchange project will take about six years to complete.