The Pic-A-lilli Inn is an historic local pub and popular gathering spot located on Route 206 in Shamong, NJ.
The pub was established in early 1920’s, when Thomas Snyder, a chemist at The Evans Soap Co. in Camden, lived outside in a tent while erecting this building. He was a man of character, also known back then as the Justice of the Peace. What is now know as Route 206, was a dirt road formerly State Highway 39,which is where “Snyder’s Luncheonette” opened in 1927.
Snyder moved out of the tent and into one of the six rooms upstairs, while he rented out the other five. He not only used the upstairs as a hotel, but as a place to hold court meetings.
Once the luncheonette business picked up, Snyder needed help operating the business. He sent word to Arkansas that he would need his only daughter Lillian, her husband Pickett Russell, Sr., and their two sons, Tom & Pickett, Jr. to join him here in New Jersey. The family joined together to sell ice cream, sandwiches, and soda pop. This took place in what is now the main dining room.
In 1933, after Prohibition, Pickett Russell, Sr. decided to add our barroom and acquired the first liquor license in Shamong Township. The luncheonette was renamed, “Snyder’s Tavern”.
In 1937, Snyder passed away, leaving the business to his daughter Lillian. To show new ownership, Pickett, Sr. and Lillian felt a new name was needed. While doing her normal duties, employee Alma Hall, came across a jar of Pic-A-Lilli relish. It was her recommendation, and all agreed it was a great idea, since it included both of their names! Hence, the “Pic-A-Lilli Inn”.
During the 1940’s , Pickett, Sr. was an avid rodeo enthusiast and various riders would stop in for a little R&R. Gene Autry, a famous rider, movie star, and personal friend of Pickett’s, would often visit. A picture of the two can be found hanging behind the bar. Another famous patron of the time was Will Rogers, who had stopped in specifically to see his own resemblance to Pickett, Sr. About this time, Pickett, Jr., began courting Florence Hall, daughter of employee Alma Hall. Eventually Pickett, Jr., 16, married Florence, 17, and they immediately began their family of six children. Their children are Pickett III (Butch), Lillian Alma (Bonnie) Wallace, Bruce, Donald, and John Henry (Buddy, now deceased). In 1953, Pickett, Sr. passed away and his last wishes were to hold his funeral right here at the Pic-A-Lilli.
Later, during the 1970’s, the children decided to build another addition to be used as a package goods store. Presently, this room displays Pickett, Jr’s extensive bottle collection. In those days, the most famous patron was the Russell’s pet goat Billy, often seen living it up at the bar!
In 1974, Lillian Snyder Russell Bozearth passed away, and Pickett, Jr. and his wife Florence took over. For many years the business flourished and many, many friends were made. The whole family was involved in operating the business. Pickett and Florence poured their love and devotion into the food and drink while Donnie worked in the kitchen, Bonnie and all of the boys’ wives worked in the dining room, and the comic duo of Bruce and Wallace managed the bar. Sadly, Florence passed away in 1980, and Pickett, Jr. continued to run the business until his dying day in the year 2000.
When Pickett, Jr. passed on, he left “The Original” Pic-A-Lilli Inn to his remaining five children. The family is now in its fifth generation, and the business continues to grow.
The building was not only a hotel, courtroom, hospital room, wedding hall, funeral parlor, but also a great place to meet up with family and friends.