GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — When the Ram’s Head Inn closed in January, no one knew whether it would reopen and whether the Knowles family would still own the establishment.

Seven months later, one thing is known.

The Knowles family no longer wants to own the White Horse Pike venue and has put it and the more than four acres of land it sits on up for sale for $3.495 million.

“The reason why we are excited about it is that it gives us a lot of opportunities here. You have a restaurant dwelling with very capable wedding venues with plenty of parking and additional ground for expansion with the possibility of a hotel,” said David L. Bonanni, president of Mercerville-based Bonanni Realtors, who has been hired to sell the property.

The serious and extensive problems with the restaurant’s sprinkler system that closed the facility have been fixed, and the property has been up for sale for two months, Bonanni said.

Kurt Knowles, one of the co-owners of the Ram’s Head, said the selling of the business is bittersweet for the family, who have owned the restaurant for more than 40 years.

“It’s sad. Restaurants are living things that evolve and change with the times,” said Knowles, adding it took from January until last week to fix the sprinkler system.

Since its closing in January, the Ram’s Head has been frozen in time. Menus are visible inside the restaurant. Introductions to the waitstaff are still written on a chalkboard.

The Ram’s Head employed 25 full-time and 35 part-time staff and hosted about 60 weddings a year with an average size of 125 to 175 people, according to the Realtors.

Potential buyers have been coming in, and last month, there was an average of three showings every two weeks, Bonanni said.

Interest has been generated in this state, Pennsylvania and among business owners in other coastal communities, Bonanni said.

The business model of the next owner will determine whether the Ram’s Head would return as a restaurant open to the public, Bonanni said. It is possible the venue could reopen for weddings, corporate and private parties and catering jobs only, he said.

The building also does not have to reopen as a restaurant and banquet facility, Bonanni said. It could be used for the medical field, adult care or educational facilities, he said.

With a sale price of nearly $3.5 million for the building and surrounding property, it would cost $8 million to rebuild the Ram’s Head from scratch, Bonanni said.

“It needs an upgrade. There is a tremendous opportunity for the right person,” he said.

The Ram's Head property is included in the township's latest redevelopment area, Mayor Anthony J. Coppola Jr. said. This allows for incentives for developers to do improvements to the property and apply for an abatement on any added tax associated with that improvement, he said.

Having a viable operation there is important to the township in many ways, not only for the tax revenue, Coppola said. The property could potentially employ 100 people or more and have a positive impact on the hotels in the area, he said.

"It is one one of the iconic properties in the township that we would love to see flourish again," Coppola said. "I see opportunity where others don't. That property is a great opportunity for someone."

Bonanni said his company is working hard to sell the property. He believes it will be sold during the fall, with the closing taking place between January and March.

The state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control and the township will have to approve the transfer of the liquor license, Bonanni said.

For the past 90 years, there has been a business operating at the site of the Ram’s Head. It was a roadhouse during the 1930s and ‘40s, followed by a family-style, Dutch-themed restaurant until the mid-1970s, when it became the Ram’s Head after being purchased by Fred and Ethel Noyes.

Staff Writer

Twenty years as a staff writer in the features department, specializing in entertainment and the arts at The Press of Atlantic City.

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