The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is an oasis of serenity amidst Greater Morristown’s hustle and bustle.
But all that solitude can work up a powerful appetite, and unless you have the foresight to pack a picnic lunch, you’re left to forage for acorns and carrion.
That’s about to change, however.
Matilda’s Café is coming this summer.
“This helps make us a destination site,” said Lesley Parness, superintendent of horticultural education for the 127-acre Morris County park in Morris Township.
The café will occupy the Barkman Cottage, former home of the late Matilda Frelinghuysen’s vegetable gardener. Matilda Frelinghuysen was the great aunt of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-11th Dist.).
In more recent times–until about seven years ago–the cottage served as a gift shop.
Bids are being solicited from caterers to run the café, which is undergoing extensive renovations. Plans call for weekend operation and select weekdays between April and October.
It’s also likely to be open during the Christmas holiday for the annual Gingerbread Wonderland exhibit, Lesley said.
There will be free Wi-Fi, and about 25 seats with a splendid view of the gardens. In the spirit of farm-to-table dining, Lesley said, the vegetable garden may supply herbs to the caterer.
Expect to find sandwich wraps, ice cream and iced tea on the menu, she said.
The arboretum already is well known among horticulture fans, attracting visitors from all 50 states, Lesley said. The café should enhance their visits–while encouraging local folks to spend lunch hours relaxing at the site, she said.
“You’ll be able to place lunch orders online,” Lesley said.
In the meantime, some 1,000 varieties of plants will be on sale this weekend, May 4 and May 5, 2013, at the annual fundraiser organized by the Friends of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.
Hours are 9 am to 3 pm each day; admission is free.