Why Is Rutherford a Dry Town?
The following was published in the directory that the Big Game Committee produced for the “large
football game” featuring the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks played at MetLife Stadium on
February 2, 2014.
Did you know that Rutherford is a “dry town?”
Why a “dry town?” For more than a century, the Borough of Rutherford has had the
steadfast reputation for not promoting public bars within its residential core. But
excluding Prohibition, spirits have always been available for sale through numerous
stores operated by some of the borough’s leading citizens. Many of our fine eateries
also allow their patrons to bring their personal selections of wine and beer
(conveniently available at neighboring stores) into their dining experience. And
many of the town’s social and civic organizations maintain limited licenses to
distribute alcohol to their members in a private club setting.
Over the years many voices have advocated for additional licenses. But sentiment
still remains strong to maintain Rutherford’s small town, family orientated nature
without the privilege of public alcohol consumption. A “dry town”… yeah, it’s still
just a Rutherford thing!
– William Neumann, Rutherford historian
So, tradition, family values and dearth of licenses contribute to Rutherford as a dry
town. New Jersey has approximately 35 dry towns, no dry counties. Many of these
are in Southern NJ based on origins as religious communities. Rutherford doesn’t
share the historical claim or even make the Wikipedia list because the town allows
alcohol in restaurants; it just must be purchased off premises. There are some clever
solutions to this, such as the wine store in The Village Gourmet.
Some find our liquor laws enticing, because it’s much cheaper to bring a bottle of
wine to dinner than pay per-glass charges. Others find them inconvenient, like
restaurants that have to stop serving when the retail sale of alcohol is
restricted—whether or not their patrons have finished dinner. Four years ago, some
of the dining establishments with adjacent wine stores tried to amend the hours in
which liquor and wine could be sold to better match their hours of operation. At the
time, the RDP president said, “We thought it wouldn’t be prudent to get involved
with an alcohol issue in a dry town.”
Where do you stand on Rutherford’s dry town policy? Please let us know in the