North Plank Road Tavern in Newburgh Offers Fine Dining in a Former Roadhouse and Speakeasy | Newburgh | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

In the town of Newburgh, it can be easy to overlook the North Plank Road Tavern. But don’t be fooled by this spot’s humble appearance—it actually stands as one of the town’s oldest buildings, dating back to 1801. And throughout its long history, it’s operated as a stagecoach stop, a prohibition-era speakeasy, and now a fine dining restaurant filled with artifacts from its past.

When it was first built, the tavern was a roadhouse with 13 guest rooms, providing accommodations for travelers along a plank road. When railroads put plank roads out of business, the upper floors became a rooming house. Widowed businesswoman Augusta Sauer purchased the spot in the early 1900s, and she openly continued serving alcohol when Prohibition came into effect in 1920.

In 1928, Sauer sold the property to Anthony “Mitch” Nixon, who worked for gangster Legs Diamond. Nixon shut down the rooming house to make space for slot machines on half of the second floor and a still on the other half of the third floor. On the other halves of the two floors was a brothel accessible by a separate stairway. “It was a wide-open, in-your-face speakeasy,” says current owner Thomas Costa.

click to enlarge North Plank Road Tavern in Newburgh Offers Fine Dining in a Former Roadhouse and Speakeasy
Photo by David McIntyre
North Plank Road Tavern owner Tom Costa next to artifacts from the restaurant's long history, which includes operating as a speakeasy during Prohibition.

Costa purchased the tavern on St. Patrick’s Day in 1979 and saved it from demolition. Since then, he and his family have worked to preserve its historic integrity and appearance. Artifacts from its past are displayed throughout the tavern’s tap room and seating areas, including counterfeit Gordon’s Dry London Gin labels and one of Nixon’s business cards featuring a sketch of a nude woman. Below the trap door of Mrs. Sauer’s former kitchen, Costa found jugs of homemade liquor. Over the years, he has also uncovered items like a Colt Lightning revolver above the building’s rear gutter, a Stevens 410 shot pistol in the barn, and a slot machine from the second floor.

Today, the tavern is a fine dining restaurant offering a variety of dishes such as artisanal cheeses, cured meats, seafood like Faroe Island salmon and shrimp pasta, as well as classics like braised pork shoulder and fresh pasta carbonara. Additionally, they collaborate with various wineries for wine pairing dinners. Annually, on December 5th, they host a Repeal Day party, commemorating the end of prohibition with period costumes and music.

Behind the tavern, where carriages once stopped by, visitors can now charge their electric vehicles at charging stations. And the upper floors, which once home to antiquated rooms, can be rented as Airbnb units. “It’s gone full circle—back to being a restaurant and a hotel,” says Costa. “It’s good that we saved it and that it’s gone back to its full purpose. I hope it’s here for a couple hundred more years.”

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