The Windlass
The Windlass
Main Lake Market
Nolan's Point
Lake Hopatcong Adventure Company
Live the Lake NJ
Lake Hopatcong Cruises
Lake Hopatcong Golf Club
Big Fish Lounge
Hawk Ridge Farm
Lake Hopatcong Taxi

News & Events

History of The Windlass

Delicious dining and breathtaking views. The Windlass is a historic and fan-favorite restaurant on Lake Hopatcong in Northern NJ. But what makes this restaurant so spectacular? Read on to learn why the Windlass has stood the test of time!

Where It All Began

Tourism on Lake Hopatcong began on September 6, 1882, when the Central Railroad of New Jersey ran the first passenger rail service to its station on Nolan’s Point, which was right behind where the Windlass is today.

By 1883, primary passenger rail services linked the lake to New York, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Newark, Elizabeth, Somerville, and Easton, making Lake Hopatcong accessible from multiple areas through the tri-state area. Throughout the years after that, Nolan’s Point became a favorite destination for visitors. As a result, the railroad leased land at Nolan’s Point to build an entertainment pavilion known as Allen’s Pavillion.

Summers Booming at Lake Hopatcong

Summer activity at Lake Hopatcong continued to grow by record numbers. In 1902, the pavilion offered boat rentals, billiards, a pool parlor, rifle ranges, a barbershop, grocery, and much more - which at its time, was very rare. 

Allen’s Pavillion turned into Nolan’s Point Amusement park from 1928 to 1935, which included a roller coaster, carousel, and other fun rides for lake-goers to enjoy. Later in 1935, the property reopened as a dance hall (turned roller skating rink), dining room and tavern, picnic grove, and beach for a few years.

The Windlass Was Born

The winter of 1947-1948 was harsh and significantly damaged the Lake Hopatcong area. The roller skating rink was salvaged and turned into Crater’s Tavern, open until 1963, then sold to Ralph Spinelli Sr. and his wife, Amelia. They renamed the tavern to the Windlass and operated it as a luncheonette for fishermen and boaters on the lake. Working with their son, Ralph Jr., they transformed the Windlass into a full-scale Italian restaurant, quickly becoming a Lake Hopatcong favorite. In 1981, they added the lakefront outdoor dining area.

For the next 51 years, the Spinelli family (later on, Ralph Jr. and his wife Rina and his mother would take over the business) worked hard to serve quality food to the lake community. In August 2014, Ralph Jr. and his wife were ready for retirement and sold the Windlass to Live the Lake NJ.

The Windlass / Photo Credit: The Windlass

The Windlass Today

Today, the Windlass honors the past and its rich history throughout its decor. Operating year-round, customers can enjoy a delectable seasonal menu featuring a wide variety of international and Italian dishes, wood-fired pizzas and other daily specials. In the summer months, lakeside seating is available on the covered patio or in the coveted glider seats on the dock. The Windlass also offers a bar boat, ‘On The Rocks,’ where hand-crafted cocktails and drinks are served.

Whether inside or outside, The Windlass is the perfect place to embrace all the beauty and history of Lake Hopatcong.

1. The crowds still come to Nolan's Point, the windlass. Lake Hopatcong Historical Museum.