A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

History: Don Quixote Inn, Matawan

The Don Quixote Inn, a restaurant on Route 34 South in Matawan, was established in February 1964. Its distinctive windmill edifice was a local landmark for about forty years. Civic meetings, parties, and other affairs were routinely hosted at the inn, according to local newspapers.

A photograph of the opening ceremony (above) appears on the cover of the 20 February 1964 edition of The Matawan Journal. The caption reads: Mayor Edward F Hyres, Matawan Borough, cut the ribbon to open officially the Don Quixote Inn on Route 34, while Christopher Heuser, left, and Patrick --, two of the owners, watch. Other businessmen in the operation of the new restaurant are Michael Dominick, Mrs Grace Reeves, Ralph S Heuser, Sr, C Randolph Heuser, and Ralph N Heuser, Jr.

An advertisement for Easter dinner can be found on pg 14 of the 26 March 1964 edition of the same paper.

Easter dinner at the Don Quixote Inn in Matawan, 1964.
The inn appeared as a venue for public meetings through at least 2000-01. It was used to host a science fair in January 2004, but it is unclear whether the restaurant was still open then as all publicity for building use disappeared from local media circa 2001. It was certainly closed by 2006, when the Matawan Fire Company practiced fighting fires there, per the 11 Oct 2006 edition of The Independent. Six months later the building had been torn down and public hearings were discussing the pros and cons of erecting a daycare center in the vacant lot, according to the 13 June 2007 edition of the same paper.


  1. What happened to the Heusers?

    I work there in the mid 80's!

    1. My mother worked there around 75'ish. I was a young lad and just barely remember the cook who's name was Doug (I think). Now I don't know if someone was pulling my leg or not, but they told me he had a room in the windmill where he slept.

    2. Hi, the Heusers (owners/managers of the Inn) were my grandparents and I spent a lot of time at the DQ Inn... I can tell you that yes, there were definitely rooms in the windmill tower where various employees stayed over the years, because I was in those rooms. Of course, I'm not objective about
      the place, but what a special establishment it was for Matawan for so many years. A great, quality restaurant, and a great bar, really a "Cheers-like" bar, where everybody knew your name... I know it fell into a sad state of dis-repair after it closed and could not be salvaged, but what a shame that it was demolished... it was a renowned architectural landmark in Monmouth county.

  2. The 1930 Federal Census for New Jersey shows the Heuser household with Christian Heuser, age 56, as head of household. His wife was Mary, age 54. Their sons still living in the household were Randolph, age 24, and Ralph, age 22. There was also a daughter Isabell in the household, age 20. The whole family was born in NJ, but Christian's parents were German and Mary's were Irish.

    Randolph "C. R." Heuser was born 24 Mar 1906 and died 10 Feb 1999 in Matawan, according to the Social Security Death Index (SSDI). Find-a-Grave said he is buried at Tennent, NJ. (Note: www.findagrave.com seems to have gone out of business. Too bad. It was a great resource.)

    Ralph S Heuser was born 10 Jul 1935 and died in Matawan on 9 Nov 2010, according to SSDI.His Asbury Park Press obituary, which is available online, says he was buried at Old Tennent Cemetery.

    Anyone have additional info?

    1. I must commend your research; very impressive.

  3. My family owned the resturant from the 80-90s till it closed. They are still the "Heusers'". Pete was the owner then. He has to since passed. Such a shame! What a place!

  4. Yes, Doug was the "Chef". Doug and a few of his friends started "Disco Night" in spring of '75. I became there "Ace DJ". A couple of years later the friends "split" and started a "Disco Nite" up the road @ Diamond Jims... I was also the DJ. Great memories, and yes Doug had a room upstairs in the "Windmill". It was "tricky" getting up there I recall a latter. Many thanks to "Pete" for allowing the Monday Disco Night. It was a full house every Monday Nite... truly legendary... DJBilliy Prest 2015