Iconic Spot: The Cellar’s Change

Call it a community-spirited acquisition shot with a tradition chaser. The new owner of The Cellar in Fair Haven would.

That new owner is Little Silver resident William (Bill) Kenney, owner of Little Silver Bottle Shop, who grew up in Rumson and lived some of his adult life in Fair Haven. Kenney recently “bought the assets of The Cellar, Inc.,” he said. That means that he purchased its liquor license, furniture, fixtures, trade name (The Cellar), inventory and everything that comprises the store, which recently moved from its seemingly forever location, next to the Acme at what has now been dubbed Fair Haven Center, to the new spot in the breezeway (next to the post office) of the revamped plaza.

“We’ve used those assets to create a brand new store,” Kenney said. “We have completely revamped and expanded the selection, brought in new display pieces and added more refrigeration and instituted a 20 percent mix/match case discount policy on all wine.”

Coupled with the logical business sense the acquisition made for Kenney, the area, considering his roots, is home to Kenney. So, he said, the investment “just seemed like a perfect fit.”

About owner Bill Kenney …

Having grown up in Rumson, Kenney was one of eight siblings. After graduating from Georgetown University, he ended up on Wall Street where he managed equity portfolios for “high net worth individuals and institutions.”

After September 11th hit, Kenney and his wife, who were newlyweds, moved from New York City to Fair Haven. Once the couple’s family starting expanding, they relocated to neighboring Little Silver. Shortly after the move to Little Silver, though, tragedy struck the Kenney family.

“My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer,” Bill said. “She passed away after an extraordinarily courageous four-year battle.”

Left with two very young children, 5 and 6, Bill decided that it would be best for his family to work closer to home, so he acquired Little Silver Bottle Shop in 2012.

Calling himself “the luckiest man on the planet,” Bill said he ended up remarried to Dorothy, who also works at the shop with him. “I guess that makes us a true Mom & Pop business,” he said. The kids are still too young for that line of work, though they are part of the family biz scene at times.

So, now Bill is back on his Rumson-Fair Haven turf. And while some things change in a gentrified Fair Haven, Kenney assures that the name and traditions of The Cellar will remain the same, he said, keeping in mind that the only reason why there was a change in ownership is because the former owners of the shop that has been operating since 1947 retired. The most recent owners (since 1990) were Barbara Cremeans and her daughter Mahrya McNamara.

“We applaud Barbara for the long, successful run she’s had,” Kenney said. “She and her team served the community well and we wish her continued success in the future,” 

Why not leave the Kenney family business to one liquor store? Community and tradition.

“We saw an opportunity to expand (our business) into an amazing, contiguous community and to carry on a tradition that’s been in place since 1947.”

The Cellar, Fair Haven, at its original location
Photo/Elaine Van Develde