The outside of Rosecran’s Florist Shop and Cafe in late October 2022
Ever since I started Graduate School at New York University, I walk to school every day from Port Authority to the Greenwich Village to get exercise and clear my head before classes start. This gives me a chance to walk around the Village and explore the shops and all the wonderful concepts that people are developing in their stores with creative merchandising and wonderful window displays. What lured me into Rosecran’s was all the beautiful floral displays in the window and the beautiful little cafe that was outside that seemed to be popular with the locals in the neighborhood.
The entire outside of the store was surrounded by flowers and plants and on a warm September or…
Haunted Hasbrouck Heights returns with the Second Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorated House Contest 2022
It was a series of long drives around town, late nights looking at spooky lights, figures of fright and things that go bump in the night but the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorating Contest made a decision who had the best decorated house and downtown business in Hasbrouck Heights.
Decorations at 85 Woodside Avenue
Like last year the decision was tough but we chose 85 Woodside Avenue, the home of Matt and Lisa Fiduccia, last year’s runners up. The house was decorated to the hilt with ghosts, ghouls and figures that frightened the passersby. “We learned more from last year,” Matt Fiduccia said when they found out they won this year’s contest. “We added more to it.”
85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights Halloween 2022-Winner
The zombies and ghouls of 85 Woodside Avenue
The committee liked the theme of the property, the organization of the props and decorations of the doorway and the lighting of the house the night before Halloween which really showcased their creativity. The family was really excited about winning this year and the whole Fiduccia family joined Chairman Justin Watrel and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association President Steve Palladino for the presentation of the plaque and official sign from the organization declaring them winner. It was an award well deserved.
Chairman Justin Watrel with the Fiduccia family at 85 Woodside Avenue
Winners Matt and Lisa Fiduccia with their children and the official sign from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association
It was a tough decision to make this year as last year’s winner, Scott Vicario and runners up last year Frank and Mary Rose Blunda also created wonderful displays that would dazzle and delight trick or treaters the next night for Halloween.
253 Henry Street-The Runner-up this year
This is the second year Scott Vicario created a moving cemetery and ghoul fest all over his front lawn starting with a possessed woman climbing a tree outside the property and a variety of ghouls and zombies climbing popping and walking around the yard. “I keep finding new things to add to the display,” Scott told the committee when he was presented his award. “I look for professionally made displays.” Mr. Vicario who lives at 253 Henry Street said he “has more planned for next year” to win the award back.
Last year’s winner, Scott Vicario, was runner up this year
Some of the decorations were truly frightening
Ghosts and ghouls at 253 Henry Street
Scott Varicario in front of 253 Henry Street
253 Henry Street was full of zombies and ghosts
The other runners up last year, Frank and Mary Rose Blunda, keep creating frightening but friendly displays that dazzle their Halloween visitors. Trick or Treaters keep coming back for the displays of vampires and pumpkin headed beasts.
510 Henry Street
“We really love Halloween and we do this for the kids,” Frank Blunda said. “The families get such a kick out of visiting our house every year.” The Blunda’s love that families take a special trip to see their home.
The Ghosts, Ghouls and Pumpkin Heads of 510 Henry Street
Mary Rose and Frank Blunda of 510 Henry Street were runners-up again this year
Chairman Justin Watrel with Mary Rose and Frank Blunda at 510 Henry Street
The House Decorating Committee added a Merchant Division this year and we were dazzled by Heights Flower Shoppe, who always displays their holiday merchandise so nicely. Ray Vorisek, the owner of Heights Flower Shoppe was very thankful to the committee for the award. “We always like decorating the store to the hilt for the holidays.
Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
People come from all over to visit us.” Both inside and outside, the store was full of all sorts of merchandise to decorate the house and for creative Halloween parties. Ghosts and witches flowed all over the store.
The decorations of the windows at Heights Flower Shoppe
With winner and owner, Ray Virosek
Chairman Justin Watrel with owner Ray Viroske outside the store with the official Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association sign
The Runner-up was Spindler’s Bakery, owned by Bob and Ginny Spindler, whose family business has been in Hasbrouck Heights for over fifty years.
Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard was this year’s runner up
“We have a creative team that works together here,” Mrs. Spindler said as she accepted her framed award. “It is a team effort that got the store ready for the holiday.” Spindler’s Bakery not only decorated the windows with pumpkins and bears ready for Trick or Treating but the store had all sorts of delicious looking decorated pastries and cookies, perfect for any Halloween Party.
The inside of Spindler’s Bake Shop with decorations and Halloween treats
Chairman Justin Watrel with runner-up winner, Ginny Spindler and her co-worker
We also wanted to mention the Honorary mentions, whose decorated home made the first and second round cut of the contest and we wish you luck next year. These are 110 Central Avenue, 458 Jefferson Avenue, 415 Madison Avenue, 115 Ottawa Avenue and 310 Bell Avenue. Good luck and have a wonderful and safe holiday season from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.
110 Central Avenue
458 Jefferson Avenue
458 Jefferson Avenue
115 Ottawa Avenue
115 Ottawa Avenue
310 Bell Avenue
310 Bell Avenue
415 Madison Avenue
We will see everyone when Santa arrives when we start Christmas Tree sales the day after Thanksgiving. We sell out fast!
I have been teaching “Introduction to Business 101” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.
This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
This semester’s project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.
The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:
I chose Rutherford because it was the next town over from the Lyndhurst campus where I was teaching and the fact that Lyndhurst did not have a cohesive downtown area to promote. When I walked it, their downtown was in sections instead of one long stretch. Also, Downtown Rutherford had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of an old church dominating the downtown and a park with a band shell at the top of the shopping district. There was more you could do with it.
The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City and one into Newark as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Rutherford has all of these.
I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.
I entitled the project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.
The second week back from the Spring Break I presented the project and handed out the positions of the company and then explained the project. I go the usual ‘Yeahs’ and ‘groans’ from the students. I also got those panicked looks from the students who looked at me like they could never handle their position in the company. I would like to think as a CEO, I know them better than they know myself. After that, I had the Teams break up into their groups, met with my Executive Team and then met with the President and Senior Vice-President of Operations before they left for the night. It is always an interesting experience when meeting your Executive Team for the first time. They look nervous about being in charge.
The Project “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town”:
This all changes over the next few weeks as the students start up group chats and meet with one another after class. Then it was time to take the students out “into the field”. Right before COVID hit, I was going to take my class who were creating the project “From Revolution to Revelation-Visiting Historic Bergen County, NJ” out to visit historical sites, museums and farms all over the county. Then the virus hit, and we could not do any of that. I had seen how successful these field trips had been just by visiting our own campus or our trip to Downtown Paterson, NJ. I had to help the students overcome their fear of that city and see it gems and benefits.
I arranged for the students to take a field trip to Downtown Rutherford, NJ one night of class three weeks after the Spring Break. Of course, it has been raining the whole week and I asked the students in advance if they wanted to take the field trip even if there was a chance of rain. My Senior VP of Operations emailed me and said that people did not have a problem with it. It was the most rainy, miserable night to walk around a town!
We all met in class where I gave my speech about behaving themselves on a field trip and how they are representing Bergen Community College. That always helps. Then the heavens opened up on our way to the first stop, the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford, an elegant church at the top of the downtown that was going to serve as the location for the “Snowflake Festival”.
The First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford at 1 East Passaic Avenue
The church was an example of Victorian architecture not seen today
I could not believe how beautiful this church was with it wooden carved benches, Tiffany windows and elegant pews. The whole church was done in carved wood and since it had an endowment to keep it up, the church was immaculate. It was one of those churches that you want to attend during the holidays to enjoy the pipe music and flowers. It also had lots of meeting spaces that were perfect for the project. I could tell that the students were impressed.
The inside the First Presbyterian Church of Rutherford is so elegant
After we left the tour of the church, we had to endure the elements and walk to Lincoln Park across the street to view the band shell for the “Big Band” concerts that we would be holding there in the month of August. I could not believe that most of the students were not carrying umbrellas (this is after I told them all to bring an umbrella with them twice). The rain was really coming down at that point.
We walked the park and I showed them how we could set the whole thing up and how operations could work. We could even use the meeting rooms at the church and their kitchen to cook the refreshments for the concerts. While we were finishing, one of the students snapped a group shot of us at the band shell.
My class at the Band Shell in Lincoln Park in Rutherford, NJ on that rainy night
After the tour of the band shell, we walked the entire side of the downtown going south with me pointing out historical points like the WWII Memorial at the circle and historic businesses like Varrelman’s Bake Shop at 60 Park Avenue (it was closed at this point of the evening). We then stopped at the railroad station and talked for a bit where there was a covering from the rain.
I explained how people could come into town by both rail and by bus where they did not need a car. This way people from other parts of New Jersey could join in the fun without having to look for parking.
Then we walked north up the other side of Park Avenue to our final destination, dinner at Da Mario Pizza at 25 Park Avenue for dinner. I had planned a pizza dinner for my class (which I pay for) which is a Team building event and also gives the students a chance to bond as a group. Plus, I feed them and on this gloomy night, they deserved it.
I ordered five large cheese pizzas and then let the students pick their beverages. I gave a little speech about the town and then about the project. We would be having another series of field trips to other places in town over the next few weeks while they worked on their project. They would also have to take trips to the town on their own. After that, I let the groups get together and work on their game plans for the project.
It was nice to just get out of the rain. I was hoping by the time we got out of the restaurant that the rain would stop. It poured more! After dinner, the Teams walked to the Williams Center to see the complex and I explained what would be happening in the future to the site with a new condo building and parking garage. It would bring more people to the downtown creating a new base of customers to the businesses downtown. Then I let them go home. It was a wet evening.
“Welcome to Rutherford” video promoting the attributes of the town
Over the next two weeks, there were two extra credit trips, one to the Meadowlands Museum on a Saturday so that the students could see the museum with time to visit all the exhibitions. The other trip was to City Hall for a Council Meeting to meet the Mayor and the Borough Council. Those were eye openers for not just the students but myself as well. These were the trips that I was to take with my students two years earlier to promote their projects before COVID shut us down. I could imagine the extra work that could have been done on those projects if the virus had not come.
I was able to arrange with the Meadowlands Museum, a small historical museum in Rutherford that concentrates on both the town and the County’s history from the Native Americans to the rise of the agriculture industry in Bergen County. I lead my class on a tour before class one Thursday evening and it was an eye-opener to students who lived nearby and never knew the museum existed.
We toured the first floor with its local art exhibition, communications display and section dedicated to a local doctor. Then to the second floor where children’s toys were located, the mining exhibition and a display of glowing minerals to show off New Jersey’s Mining past. Then it was to the basement level where spinning wheels, farm equipment and a turn of the last century kitchen was displayed. Some of the students had never seen displays like this before. After the tour, it was back to class for their quiz and lecture.
My class touring the Meadowlands Museum during class time
For the next three weeks, I gave the students class time to work with their Teams on the project and then on their own they revisited the town, created their commercials and put together their presentations.
The Historical tour of Rutherford, NJ brought to YouTube
On the night of April 28th, 2022, the students dressed in professional dress and presented their project to the Honorable Mayor Frank Nunziato and the Rutherford Borough Council. This is when I present a group of Generation Z students as Generation X consultants, and they are the executives of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
Each group presented their part of the presentation to our invited guests and creatively introduced their section of the project. I could not have been prouder.
The PowerPoint Presentation of “Rocking it in Rutherford: Being a Tourist in your own Town”:
These videos of the presentation are available on YouTube:
The Introduction and the Talent Team:
My Introduction of the Project and the Talent Team Presentation
The Historical Team Presentation:
The Historical Team describes their ideas for the Historical Tour and updates at the Meadowland Museum
The Marketing Team Presentation:
The Marketing Team presented their ideas for Special Events and Advertising plus the new town song “Rutherford 07070”.
When the presentation was over, I could see that the Mayor and the Council as well as the Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce were blown away by the whole presentation. They were so impressed by the work that the student consultants did on the project. I had not seen the full presentation at that point and have to say that I was blown away as well.
Everyone had such great questions for the student consultants, and they were up for the challenge. I even had our Team Leader sing “Rutherford 07070” live to the Mayor and his Team and everyone enjoyed that.
The song “Rutherford 07070”
Each of the Council men and women got up and talked with each Team on their ideas and were very impressed by the thoroughness of the budgets and the realistic numbers that they presented. They even noted the student’s followed things like budgeting for the police and DPW for the Special Events. They also liked that everyone from locating our offices in the Rutherford area to using downtown restaurants for catering and for our company “Wrap Up” party. Everyone got a chance to give the student consultants their input on the project.
After the presentation, the Mayor and the Council along with the Vice-President of the Rutherford Chamber of Commerce took a group shot with my class and that meant a lot to me. It showed both myself and the students that they took the presentation seriously.
My Business 101 student consultants with the Mayor and Council and Chamber of Commerce of Rutherford, NJ
After we finished, I had a light reception for the students, their families and our invited guests. It was a nice evening, and I was so proud of my students. It was another group that has now entered to the Alumni of “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.” (Acronym for Bergen Community College-Paramus Campus).
I went to Heights Bar & Grill that evening to celebrate their success. It had been a long semester in the post-COVID era. We overcame the difficulties with masks and stress and achieved the goal! This is when a thin-crusted pizza and a drink taste even better.
Have you ever walked around Manhattan when it is 25 degrees outside? When the picks up, it gets cold!
My best friend thought I was nuts when I started to walk the lower part of the Garment District on a sunny but cold Saturday. This part of the neighborhood is bound by the campus of the Fashion Institute of Technology in the middle of the neighborhood and what remains of the Flower District on the eastern border with NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park) neighborhood and the new Hudson Yards neighborhood to the west. In all parts of the neighborhood, old is mixing with new as this area of Manhattan continues to change.
As I crossed the border into the neighborhood at West 34th Street, I was greeted by Golden City Chinese Restaurant near the corner of West 34th Street
Golden City Chinese Restaurant at 423 Ninth Avenue
This is the restaurant I braved the cold last Christmas to pick up my best friend, Maricel and I’s Christmas dinner. Over orders of Lemon Chicken, Roast Pork Lo Mien, Hot & Sour Soup and egg rolls, we chowed down our dinner in our hotel room toasting Santa. The food is very good here and they have reopened their inhouse dining.
Walking down Ninth Avenue, you can see how the neighborhood is transiting from the former working-class neighborhood and docks to the upscale office and apartment buildings of the Hudson Yards to the west. Little by little the small brownstone buildings are disappearing and being replaced by shiny new glass structures.
Between One Manhattan and Two Manhattan West in the Hudson Yards complex between 389 and 395 Ninth Avenue is the Citrovia display. I was trying to figure out if this was a company display or an artist’s display. There were all sorts of lemons all in the trees and in the gardens. During the summer, these must be an amazing place to sit but between the snow and the winds that sunny day, I just walked through the display.
The Citrovia display at One Manhattan West on Ninth Avenue (Manhattan West Website)
Citrovia is a fantastic outdoor interactive outdoor installation that transports the visitor to a sprawling citrus garden of whimsical displays, a sitting area with a lemon tree forest and I swear when you walk through the whole thing you can smell fresh lemon (Manhattan West website). It is almost like the ‘Land of Oz” with lemon trees and slices all over the place. It is a whimsical journey through the lemon display.
I walked through the Manhattan West complex, and it really dawned on me how the neighborhood has changed so much in the last decade. They took a run-down neighborhood and made it shine with modern buildings housing new tech companies and a series of restaurants, shops and hotels. It is a neighborhood onto itself.
Manhattan West complex (Manhattan West.com)
Across the street from the Manhattan West complex old meets new with the former NYC Post Office, which is now finishing its renovation and is now the Patrick Moynihan Train Station, The James A. Farley building.
The James A. Farley Building was designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White and was designed in the Beaux Arts style, the sister building to the former Penn Station (where the current Madison Sqaure Garden now sits). The current renovation of the building to turn the dream into a reality is by the architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Wiki).
I was able to walk the halls and staircases of the complex that afternoon and the interiors are still not finished with a few of the restaurants now opened but the polished floors and new artwork is in full view. The public bathrooms are a nice change from the ones in Penn Station. The rest of the complex will be open by the spring.
The new rendering of the James A. Farley Building to the Patrick Moynihan Train Hall (Vno.com)
Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a former politician and diplomat.
When I reached the border of the neighborhood at West 28th Street, I saw that I was across the street from the Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue, where I volunteer for the Soup Kitchen. I realized that afternoon that I have not been there in almost two years. The last time I had volunteered was the Friday before the government shut the country down on March 13, 2020. It dawned on me how long COVID has been going on.
What I never noticed in the almost 17 years that I have been volunteering at the Soup Kitchen was Chelsea Park across at the corner of Ninth Avenue and between West 28th and 27th Streets. I had always thought this was part of P.S. 33, the elementary school next door complex. This was a whole separate park.
Chelsea Park extends all the way to Tenth Avenue with soccer and basketball courts and places for people to not just run but relax under the blanket of trees in the summer. Facing Ninth Avenue in a small courtyard is the statue of the ‘Chelsea Doughboy’.
The statute was designed to honor the war veterans of WWI. The term “Doughboy” no one is too sure where it originated. Some think from the fried dough dumplings that the soldiers eat or maybe from the way their uniforms looked which were a little baggy or from the dough clay that they used to clean their uniforms (NYCParks.org).
Artist Philip Martiny was a French born American artist who settled in New York when he immigrated here in 1878. He was a contemporary of artist August Saint-Gaudens and known for his decorative styles in the Beaux-Arts fashion. He created many sculptures for buildings in New York City and Washington DC (Wiki).
Across the street is the Church of the Holy Apostles, where I have been volunteering for years in the Soup Kitchen (mentioned in many of my blogs between 2015-2020 before the COVID shutdown). The Church of the Holy Apostles was built between 1845 to 1848 and was designed by architect Minard Lafever with the stained-glass windows designed by William Jay Bolton (Wiki).
The church has always been progressive, and it was rumored to be part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. The church had been an extension of the Trinity Church downtown for the working-class people in the area. Now it also runs the second largest Soup Kitchen in the United States. The biggest is in San Franciso (Wiki).
The Church of the Holy Apostles at 296 Ninth Avenue feels like a second home to me
Behind the church is the housing that formally union housing for the International Ladies Garment Union housing, now known as “Penn South”, that was created in the 1950’s for housing for union workers. Contruction started in 1960 and these ten building still house some of the elderly members of the union. In the courtyard of building Seven is dedicated to Bayard Rustin, a civil rights and union member who lived there. There is a memorial plaque to him in the courtyard Wiki).
The plaque dedicated to the activities is outside Building Seven between Eighth and Seventh Avenues
As I traveled the border of the neighborhood on West 28th Street from Ninth to Sixth Avenues, I have never seen so much transition on a street. On one side of the street is the back part of my Alma Mater ‘The Fashion Institute of Technology’. It seems that the college is taking the back loading dock area and building an addition to the college. On the other side of the street between Eighth and Seventh, the entire street has either been knocked down and rebuilt or older buildings renovated but the entire block between the two avenues is brand new.
As you cross Seventh Avenue at West 28th Street are the last remnants of the former “Flower District” which dominated these blocks here and along Sixth Avenue until the area was rezoned in the 1990’s. Now Sixth Avenue in this area is now apartment buildings and hotels. Still there are many commercial flower shops here and some amazing floral businesses along this block.
Mahir Floral & Event Designs at 156 West 28th Street is one of the nicest flower shops in the district. The store is so beautifully designed to showcase not only the flowers but the decorative items that they sell along with the plants and flowers.
Mahir Floral & Event Designs at 156 West 28th Street
There are all sorts of interesting design pieces that not only make the perfect gift but also to create the perfect event.
The store is so beautifully designed to showcase their items
Another wonderful store is Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street. What I love about the store is the way it is designed when you walk through it. It is like walking through an enchanted tropical garden with paths down exotic trees and flowers on all sides. They have a big commercial and retail business according to the salesperson I talked to that day.
Foliage Paradise at 113-115 West 28th Street
In the front of the store when the weather is warm, it is lined with the most seasonal flowers and plants. When you walk through the store, it is like walking through an Amazon jungle in a warm climate at any month of the year. Just touring this store is fun.
Walking through Foliage Paradise is an experience
What brought back a lot of good memories when I walked down West 28th Street was walking past the Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street. This was my starting point of my morning of walking “The Great Saunter Walk”, the 32-mile excursion around the Island of Manhattan over the summer of 2021 (before I pulled my back out).
The Moxy Hotel at 105 West 28th Street has the most amazing views
I had the most interesting room on the 10th floor with the most breathtaking view of Midtown Manhattan. I would just sit on the bed looking at the views before going to sleep. You have never seen a site than Midtown all lit up at night.
The Lower Garment District shares the border with the NoMAD and Koreatown neighborhoods and even over the last few months I have noticed some significant changes in the blocks that I had explored for the blog. Many buildings had been finished that were under construction or were in the process of being renovated. They still looked empty but there were better days ahead when they will be filled with the latest tech and advertising companies. Sixth Avenue is becoming a big commercial and residential neighborhood.
Sixth Avenue from West 28th to West 34th Streets has been going through a big transition over the last twenty years as the flower industry has moved mostly to Hunts Point and new apartment buildings have sprung up along the avenue. Many of the Beaux Arts buildings have been or in the process of being renovated as this are served as Midtown from the Civil War to the end of WWI. Not much has changed along the Broadway corridor.
I started my walk on the 34th Street border of the neighborhood by looking at Macy’s window displays along Broadway to see if much had changed since the holidays. They never were the most exciting displays even when I was working there. Lord & Taylor and B. Altman’s had better windows. Long gone now. I am amazed at the change of the department store scene in New York City since I worked there in the 1990’s. I could see it from the corner of West 34th and Broadway.
I started my walk from the front door of Macy’s and walked down Sixth Avenue from West 34th to West 30th Street. Things have changed so much in thirty years. The whole area has gotten so much better. It was so run down when I worked there. Also the retail scene was so much different. Where the H & M is now used to be Herald Center, an upscale mall that never did well and the concept closed two years later when I returned to work in the buying offices. The only thing that survived was the food court on the top floor.
Macy’s at 151 West 34th Street
At the very edge of the neighborhood on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 35th Street is the most interesting piece of artwork on a building that once housed the Desigual flagship store. The work is by Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel and entitled “Multicultural Freedom Statue” and was created in 2019. It is a tribute to multiculturalism in New York City (Artist Bio). The store has since closed.
The painting at Sixth Avenue at West 35th Street by artist Okuda San Miguel (now painted over in 2023)
Artist Okuda San Miguel was born in Spain and known for his colorful geometric styles in painting. He graduated from the Complutense University of Madrid with a BFA and has shown his work all over the world (Wiki).
The last building I noticed for its beauty was on the corner of Sixth Avenue and West 34th Street, 47 West 34th Street (1378 Broadway or 2 Herald Square) the Marbridge Building. The Marbridge Building was by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in 1909 in the Classical Beaux Arts style and has been used as an office building since its opening (Wiki/Photo/Street).
Before 1965, this was home to Saks 34th Street before its move to its current Fifth Avenue location. The store was founded by Andrew Saks and opened its doors in Herald Square in 1902 just five weeks before Macy’s opened their doors. The store was designed by architects Buchman & Fox in the Classical style. The store was bought by the Gimbel family in 1923 and that is when it was moved to its current location at 511 Fifth Avenue. The original store is now covered with new siding to give it its modern look for H & M (NYC Circa). The building stretches from West 34th to West 33rd Street along the Broadway corridor.
The Saks 34th Street Building on the corner of West 34th Street and Broadway
Next door to that was the old Gimbel’s Department Store building that closed in 1986, a year and a half before I started at Macy’s. Gimbel’s had always been considered our rival for years but I think because of the sheer size of Macy’s I have a feeling that we beat them in sales. Gimbel’s had come to New York City by way of Philadelphia by the Gimbel’s family. It was founded by Adam Gimbel in 1887. The store in Herald Square opened in 1910 in the classical style by architect Daniel Burnham (Wiki). The store stretches from West 33rd to West 32nd Streets along Broadway.
Gimbel’s Department Store at Sixth Avenue and 33rd Street
When the store closed in 1986, it was renovated and was called A & S Plaza when that store moved into the space. When A & S closed in the mid 1990’s when it merged with Macy’s, the store was renovated again and now is called Manhattan Mall. It is mostly office space now (Wiki).
When I worked at Macy’s in the early 1990’s, Herald and Greeley Squares were places to avoid until about 1994 when the parks were renovated and new plantings and French metal café tables were added. Now it is hard at lunch time to find a table. In the process of the renovations, the City also restored the statues dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and Horace Greeley.
The statue dedicated to James Gordon Bennett and his son James Gordon Bennett II
The statue is to Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom and Invention and two blacksmiths who flank a bell that once topped the Herald Building where the New York Herald, which was founded by James Gordon Bennett in 1835. The statue was dedicated in the park in 1895 (NYCParks.org).
Antonin Jean Carles was born in France and was a student of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Toulouse. He was known for his monument sculptures.
In the middle of this former shopping district and just south of Herald Square is Greeley Square named after Horace Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune. The square was acquired by New York City in 1846 and turned into the park. The statue that dominates the southern end of the park was designed by sculptor Alexander Doyle in 1890 (NYCParks.org).
Greeley Square was named after Horace Greeley, who published the first issue of The New Yorker magazine and established the New York Tribune. He was also a member of the Liberal Republican Party where he was a Congressman and ran for President of the United States after the Civil War.
Publisher and Politician Horace Greeley famous for his quote “Go West, young man, Go West”
The Horace Greeley statue is located in the park just south of Herald Square in Greeley Square.
The statue was created by artist Alexander Doyle. Alexander Doyle was an American born artist who studied in Italy with several artists. He is best known for his marbles and bronze sculptures of famous Americans including many famous Confederate figures that have come under fire recently.
Once you leave Greeley Square and walk south you will be entering what is left of the old Wholesale district where once buyers used to come into these stores to commercially buy goods for their businesses. Slowly all of these businesses as well as most of the Flower District is being gentrified out with new hotels, restaurants and bars replacing the businesses. It seems that most of the district is being rebuilt or renovated or gutted.
The Broadway side of the park opposite the old department stores starts some of the most beautiful architecture in South Midtown. This portion of Broadway until you reach the Battery has the most unique stonework and embellishments on the buildings that show the craftsmanship of another era when companies built headquarters that were meant to last.
One building that faces Greeley Square is 1270 Broadway at the corner of West 33rd Street.
1270 Broadway, known once as the Wilson Building, was built between 1912 and 1913 in the class Beaux Arts style. It now serves as an office building. You have to look up from the square to admire its beauty.
Next to the building is across the street at 1265 Broadway, the former Browning, King & Company building. The building was built in 1910 by developer William R.H. Martin for commercial use. The building was designed by architects Townsend, Steinle & Haskell in brick, stone and terra cotta. The interesting decorative top was designed for the Men’s retail company Browning, King & Company. You have to look up at the detail work and the eagle at the roof of the building (Daytonian).
1265 Broadway-The Browning, King & Company building
Another building that stands out is the former Martinique Hotel at 49 West 32nd Street (1260-1266 Broadway). This was also built by William R. H. Martin in 1898 with the design by architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh in the French Renaissance style. The hotel had a notorious reputation in the 1970’s and 80’s as a welfare hotel that closed in 1988. It is now a Curio Hotel of Hilton Hotels (Wiki). It looks like it recently opened for guests as the lobby was lit and people were milling around.
I remember this hotel well when I worked for Macy’s in the late 1980’s and all the people yelling and screaming outside the hotel with fire trucks all over the place. The hotel had been nothing but a problem for almost twenty years. It had once been one of the most notorious welfare hotels in the 1980’s.
1260 Broadway-49 West 32nd Street-The Martinique Hotel
A couple of buildings that stand out when walking down Broadway are 1234 Broadway on the corner of Broadway and West 31st Street, a elegant Victorian building with a standout mansard roof and elaborate details on the roof and windows. I did not realize that it was the Grand Hotel built in 1868 as a residential hotel. The hotel was commissioned by Elias Higgins, a carpet manufacturer and designed by Henry Engelbert. Currently it is being renovated into apartments (Daytonian). It shows how the City keeps morphing over time as this area has become fashionable again.
1234 Broadway in all its elegance, the former Grand Hotel
After rounding the southern part of Greeley Square, I headed back down Sixth Avenue to West 30th Street, the southern border of the neighborhood with the ever changing NoMAD (North of Madison Square Park). This southern section of South Midtown as I have mentioned in other blogs is being gutted, knocked down and rebuilt into a hip area of the City with trendy hotels, restaurants and stores. Even in the era of COVID, the streets were hopping and most of the hotels were still open. Broadway has even been closed off for outdoor dining.
In the middle of this new ‘hipness’ there is an old standby, Fresh Pizza & Deli at 876 Sixth Avenue (see my review on TripAdvisor and DiningonaShoeStringinNYC@Wordpress.com). I needed a slice of pizza and with the budgets being tight, a dollar slice is always nice on a cold day.
After my snack, I walked back down West 34th Street to Ninth Avenue, passing new construction and scaffolding along the way. As I have noted in many of my blogs, West 34th Street from Broadway to Ninth Avenue has changed tremendously in the twenty-five years since I left Macy’s. Blocks that we would have never walked on then are vibrant and full of shoppers and diners now.
I made it back to the Hotel New Yorker by the end of the afternoon. The Hotel New Yorker like a Grande Dame guarding the Garment District. The Hotel New Yorker on the corner of Eighth Avenue and West 34th Street at 481 Eighth Avenue. The hotel was designed by architects Sugarman and Berger and designed in the Art Deco style. The hotel was constructed in 1928 and opened in 1930. The hotel now managed by Wyndam Hotels put the hotel through a full renovation in 2006 to bring it back to its glory years now reflected the resurgence of the neighborhood (Hotel New Yorker History website/Wiki).
I think the lower part of the Garment District like the rest of the area is in a state of transition. There is so much change and building going on you would never have thought that COVID was on the radar.
I think the City is ready for people to come back to work.
Please read my other blogs on walking the Lower Garment District:
Day Two Hundred and Seventeen: Walking the Borders of the Lower Garment District/Flower & Fur Districts:
The Ginseng Museum Cafe by CheongKwanJang is a combination small museum of the development of the ginseng root for tea and its history, part cafe for tea and part store. This small store front is packed with information on the history and processing of ginseng.
The Ginseng Museum Cafe at 315 Fifth Avenue
To the right of the store, is the video history of the company and how they process and produce their product which is very interesting. The conditions that the ginseng is processed under may have advanced over the years but not by much. There is still a lot of care that is used to make the tea. There is also a display on the extractions.
Having been to many food shows over the last few years, I have come across so many new food items that are not seen in the larger supermarkets. You see those niche products that end up either at fancy gourmet stores, specialty grocery stores or you might see at select Whole Foods. Packaging and pricing will depend on what grocery shelves they end up on.
It is nice to see so many vendors that are American made and some made locally in the Tri-State area. Some are priced for the high end, but others are reasonable and will hopefully be found in many outlets.
This site was actually inspired from a trip to my local Dollar Tree. People really underestimate this store. Our local branch in Lodi, NJ is an amazing store. Not only does it have ample parking, always clean, well merchandised and well stocked but has the most diverse selection of smaller food vendors and American made products in their frozen food and grocery sections.
Imperial Garden Egg Rolls
The Dollar Tree buys from vendors that sell in smaller qualities or package their products differently so that it caters to single customer. You won’t find the big box items or a lot of the name brand products here unless they are packaged dissimilarly with smaller portion sizes.
These smaller manufacturers produce a quality item that competes on a lesser scale with the bigger names and since their production levels are smaller, their retail base is not as extensive as the name brands like Coke or Kellogg’s.
Having found products like Mrs. Freshley’s Snack Cakes and Imperial Garden Egg Rolls, I have enjoyed the taste of new companies making their way into the large grocery industry. I will share with you all the grocery items that you will want to add to your grocery list in the future.
Mrs. Freshley’s Snack Cakes
I will also feature all American made brands to support our manufacturing base in this country. This way we know not only are we supporting products made here in the United States but connecting with local channels of distribution that need support.
The Creation of the shop “Bud N’ Mud” a Coffee/Flower Shop:
Every semester when I am teaching ‘Introduction to Business 101’ at Bergen Community College, I have my class create a major class project in which the whole class becomes part of an Executive team of a mythical company. This way the class benefits from getting to know one another and starting to form their connections with each other both professionally and as a student body. As a commuter campus, you don’t get to know each other too well.
In the past we created Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc., my main company that I have used for the last three semesters, Orion Malls Inc., a Mall design firm and Buscomonzefi.com, my tech company. Each was an example of how a business team needs to interact with one another and create their part of the business. It was a real chore last semester when the College shut down because of the COVID pandemic and we had to do finish both projects virtually.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. logo from last semester
This semester because the classes were all virtual and stayed virtual, I had to create an individual project that each student could do and had to be consistent with the rest of the class. Inspired by a real life store, Remi Flower & Coffee in the Turtle Bay section of Manhattan, at 906 Second Avenue, I created the a similar store, “Bud N’ Mud”. “Bud” coming from the part of the flower that blooms and “Mud” which is slang for coffee.
One of my student’s “Bud N’Mud” logos
From here as we covered Chapter by Chapter of the textbook “Understanding Business” by Nickels and McHugh covering such subjects as job creation, small business creation, customer service, hiring and job descriptions, store design and flow, ad creations and promotions and Mission Statements for a firm. I also got the students to think less as students and more as new entrepreneurs. I wanted this project to be a stepping stone in creating a new business which many of them put as one of their goals in class.
Another great “Bud N’ Mud” logo created my one of my students
First I assigned the project. I had just finished walking the Turtle Bay neighborhood for my blog project, “MywalkinManhattan.com” and passed Remi Flower & Coffee when I was walking around the neighborhood.
I thought what a clever idea it was to combine the two totally different products and thought that the students would come up with some interesting ideas if I let their creativity run wild. It was to be an interesting semester in watch the project unfold.
So chapter by chapter we built the store from ground up. First I had each student create a logo for their store, then we moved on to the menu of the items that they each wanted to carry in their store, then we moved to store design and layout, where they had to show me how the flowers were going to combine with the food and beverages.
Their menu’s got very creative with various beverage and pastry options
We moved next on creating a Mission Statement for their store. I asked them what their business was all about and who did they want to be in the community. I had them then create a job description to hire employees as their business grew and the last thing I had them do was design an ad for a Bundling idea to promote sales in their store (Bundling is a business concept when you promote various items with one price like a two for one or a combination meal).
The store designs got very creative
The ideas flowed out of these students as if they were currently running the business and I saw many different approaches on how to run a business. When I wrapped the project up at the end of the semester, I heard from all the students on what they learned from the project and how they felt about the business they created.
What I enjoyed was that many of them thought they were really running the business as we were creating it and how much they took each part of the project personally especially when I questioned them on how they would do what they were doing and how it would make a profit. Some of them didn’t realize that you can do just what you want to do precariously. You had to have reasons and think it through. I saw a lot of students grow in this class without ever meeting them.
Some of the students even created flower menus
This was the interesting part, I felt like I was teaching blind. I had no idea who these students were or what they looked like because when I offered the optional lecture twice a week so few students (especially many who needed it) did not take advantage of it. When they did, I never got to see what they looked like because they hid behind the computer. It did add an air of mystery to it but still I like to have that one on one with my students. This is something that COVID has robbed from most in the teaching profession.
One of my favorite “Bud N’ Mud” logos
Still the project was a complete success for the class in general and I saw quite a few students really put their all into their work. They really did run their own business for three months. This is what makes being a CEO & an Consultant fun as a Professor. You get to live out your own dreams while watching others do the same. I credit my Fall Semester students with their creative and ingenuity of the above work.
It is funny to go back to a place that you have not visited since 1975 and realize that time does pass by. I had not been to Beach Haven, NJ since the summer of 1975 when I was just a little kid. We used to visit friends of the family who had a house there and we would visit for about three days. It was interesting to visit a beach community as we never went farther than Sandy Hook, NJ. Going to the Jersey shore was a hike from our home in Bridgewater, NJ and since we belonged to a swim club, my parents saw no reason to run “down the shore” as we say in New Jersey. Why deal with the crowds and lousy parking?
Still I remember visiting there in 1974 and 1975 before these friends no longer belonged to our pool. All I can remember of those visits was swimming in the ocean and diving in the waves wanting to impress these two twin sisters and all I did was tumble in the waves. They and my older bother dove into the waves with no problems. The other thing I remember is the planes going by and saying to eat at “Tilly’s Pizza”. So we begged for it one night for dinner. It was terrible pizza and we ordered this cheese pizza that was just dried out and no flavor. It is funny the things you remember as a kid.
Touring The Barnegat Lighthouse Park is a nice way to spend the morning
I returned to Long Beach Island last summer on my way to the Firemen’s Convention in Wildwood, NJ to visit the Long Beach Island Historical Society, which I had read about in a beach magazine for my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com. I had a long visit at the museum and it was nice afternoon. I had not realized that the NJ Maritime Museum was a couple of blocks away but I did not have time that afternoon to visit. I said that I would go back later. Later was September 2020 over a year later. Hey better late than never. In the age of COVID, it has been a pleasure and escapism.
After visiting the museum for my blog and then visiting the Barnegat Lighthouse, I gained a new found respect for Long Beach Island and all it has to offer. I also realized how much it had changed in 45 years. It went from a sleepy somewhat ‘honey tonk’ working class resort to an upscale community with the growth of Wall Street in the late 90’s and the rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Many of those small little cottages that once lined the streets were long gone and they have been replaced by stilted ‘McMansions’ by the sea. The whole town has been practically knocked down and completely rebuilt. Even the stores were more upscale in their wares and the restaurants were expensive. I did not see too many tee shirt stores or beachy knick -knacks being sold. These are not Boardwalk businesses.
The NJ Maritime Museum
Still there are some great stores and restaurants to visit, cultural and natural sites to see and of course the beautiful beach with its calming sounds and gorgeous sunsets. You never know the complexity of a place until you visit a few times and find the true beauty of the surroundings and people. The downtown of Beach Haven has a lot to see and do as does the surrounding areas of Long Beach Island.
I started my last two visits to Long Beach Island exploring Beach Haven, a small beach hamlet towards the southern part of the island and where I had spent a few summers when I was a child. I do not remember much of the trips except visiting the beach and how rough the waves were to swim. I don’t remember venturing out that much.
When I returned 45 year later, the town changed so much especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy flooding the island as well as the rest of the Jersey Shore. It leveled homes and tore though businesses with a vengeance. What it left was a chance to build the island again from the ground up. Everything is so new all over the island. Still there are a lot of older homes and businesses that did survive. Some adapted and some just changed.
I walked the whole town and it was a interesting visit over the past two summers especially on two recent tours of the town in the late summer and early fall. My first stop on my recent trip is where I started touring last year at the Long Beach Island Historical Society at 125 Engleside Avenue in Beach Haven for their Ghost Fest, a family event that the Historical Society was running that afternoon for local families.
The ‘Ghost Fest’ at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
The Historical Society had not opened yet when I got to Long Beach Island so I started my tour of the island at the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern part of the island. Even on a gloomy morning in October, the park was very busy.
The cloudy weather did not deter the fisherman from casting and boats were dotting the bay. It was still a warm day and people were out and about. I joined other visitors to the park on the breakers watching the fisherman discuss the days catch and politics about the upcoming election. Some people were admiring the boats or just relaxing to the sounds of the waves. I just enjoyed the salt air and the sound of the waves crashing.
After I left the walkway, I took a tour through the woods in the sand dunes. It was what is left of some virgin woods at the shore. The woods are very interesting because of all the native plants that can live in a sandy shore and survive the winds are harsh winters. Plants such as Jersey Pines, Beach Plum and American holly are native to the area and played an important role in Colonial New Jersey especially during the holidays.
In November 2021, I revisited the lighthouse again and it finally reopened after a year and a half of being closed. I was able to climb the stairs all the way to the top on a sunny but extremely windy day. Talk about views from the top. You could see the surrounding park, the inlet area and beautiful views of the sea. A lot of people walking up the lighthouse seemed to suffer from vertigo halfway up but trust me there is no way to fall down these stairs with barely enough room to move either way and no gaps in the stairs. All the views from the three landings on the way up also offer views of the ocean.
The lighthouse itself was built in 1859 replacing another lighthouse that fell into the sea with the changing tides (see my review on TripAdvisor). The lighthouse has been closed since March with the onset of COVID but the grounds around it were still open and people, masks and all, were walking along the trails and conversing at the picnic tables. Families were walking the trails and paths along the bay. For an early morning in October the park was busy.
The Barnegat Lighthouse and surrounding park is a nice to tour in the early morning
My next stop was the Barnegat Light Museum but it had been closed all season due to the COVID pandemic. I was able to call one of the Board Members of the museum and I would have to tour it later that afternoon. So took another tour of the park and drove back down the island.
Maybe it was the salt air or maybe it was the two hour drive down the shore but I was getting hungry again. Not wanting to eat another breakfast, I stopped at an old time restaurant, Surf City Pizza for a slice. They had just opened for lunch and I could not believe I was eating pizza this early in the morning but it was good.
Surf City Pizza at 1017 Long Beach Boulevard in Surf City, NJ
When I made my trip up to the lighthouse in November 2021, the pizzeria was still closed when I drove up so I went to Baked on the Beach, a small funky bakery at 2101 Long Beach Boulevard in Surf City. The bakery was open that morning and I had wanted to try it on my last three visits to the island but it always closed early.
There was a nice selection of pies and cookies but what caught my eye was these Cinnamon rolls that had just come out. One was a traditional Cinnamon roll which she would ice on the spot for you and the other was filled with sharp Cheese and NJ Pork Roll. Sold! I needed something savory for breakfast and this filled the gap.
The Cinnamon and Cheese and Pork Roll buns looked delicious
The Cheese and Pork roll was delicious and would have been better warmed but it was still good. As I rolled out each layer, I could taste the sharp cheese and the spicy pork roll that was thinly sliced in between the layers. I munched on it on the outside benches and that must have done something because all of sudden other people were stopping for baked goods. I guess the big smile on my face had something to do with it.
I got to the Long Beach Island Historical Society as they were in full swing of their Ghost Fest and what a nice event it was that afternoon.
The Museum was decorated for Halloween
They had a pony ride, marshmallow roasting and smores by the fire pit, corn hole games, a maze, games of chance, a small gift shop, tours of the museum and even a costume parade with the Jersey Devil. The museum had a nice turnout on a somewhat gloomy afternoon but by the end of the event the sun started to shine.
The ‘Jersey Devil’ lead the Costume Parade that afternoon
For Christmas in 2021, the Historical Society sponsored an “Elves Workshop” for kids and their parents with all sorts of arts and crafts happening at twelve different tables lining the front room of the museum. There was cookie decorating and Christmas tree creation with beads and cloth and gingerbread house making. To end the evening, they had Smores and Marshmallows roasting over open firepits in the park across the street.
The Elves Workshop at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
The museum knows how to welcome in the holiday season.
Santa finds his way at the Long Beach Island Historical Society
I had a while before I had to meet the President of the Barnegat Light Museum so I decided to explore the downtown strip of Beach Haven. What an interesting downtown for a shore community. The days of tee shirt shops and beach gift stores has given way to a collection of interesting restaurants, upscale boutiques and gift stores, small specialty shops and art galleries. When you are selling million-dollar homes in the area, you need places for those residents to shop and Long Beach Boulevard has an eclectic group of stores to choose from.
When I first visited Beach Haven after my 45 year absence, I discovered The Woo-Hoo around the corner from the museum. On my first trip to Beach Haven last summer, I came across this impressive little ice cream and lunch stand around the corner from the Historical Society and on a recommendation from the staff had lunch that afternoon. It was excellent!
The Woo Hoo at 211 South Bay Avenue in Beach Haven, NJ
I had one of their Classic Burgers with hand cut French Fries which was just excellent. The burgers have a rich juicy flavor and the mix of ingredients was delightful to eat. The fries were perfectly cooked and salted. I was so impressed by the lunch I went back later for their homemade ice cream that is just excellent.
I had the most amazing Strawberry Cheesecake which was rich and creamy and a Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which was loaded with the cereal. On a recent trip, the hot food had closed for the season but the ice cream was still going. I have this amazing holiday special called ‘Cookies & Scream” for Halloween. It was made with holiday M & M’s and Halloween oreos. It was worth the trip to Beach Haven just for that.
The burgers at the Woo Hoo are delicious
When I visited again in November 2021, I had this flavor that just caught my eye, “Pillow Fight”. When I asked the girl working the stand what it was, she told me it was marshmallow ice cream with Oreo Cookies and Rainbow sprinkles mixed in. Then she gave me a sample and I swear I heard angels singing. The ice cream was mind-blowingly good with that mixture of sweetness between the cream and the marshmallows with the Oreos and sprinkles mixed in.
What I love about walking around downtown Beach Haven is the interesting array of stores and food establishments they have on the strip. They are fun to explore on a nice sunny afternoon. I lucked out on my two most recent trips here. The weather broke both days and it ended up a sunny warm afternoon. So I set out to explore the town and I discovered a small community that was much than the beach.
My first stop when I exited Engelside Avenue onto South Bay Avenue is the unique little gift store, “How to Live” at 7 South Bay Avenue, which has a great selection of local artisan gifts, artwork, children’s clothes and books, women’s clothes and art and book items created by the owner, Sandy Gingras. Her whimsical books and art work dot the store.
‘How to Live’s’ owner, Sandy Gingras
Walking into the store is an experience with the smell of fragrant smells of body products and the musical sounds of the 1980’s. It is a step back in time to when people took time to decorate their homes and give small host gifts. I really loved the homemade Christmas ornaments by a local artist. Her Christmas decorations and home products are beautifully packaged and will mix in any home decor.
Further up North Bay Boulevard, the main artery of the town is Chicken or the Egg at 207 North Bay Boulevard with its constant crowds, popular outdoor dining and creative menu. The menu is stocked with interesting sandwiches, burgers and sides. The outdoor seating on a nice day is the way to dine. I have not had a chance to try the restaurant but it is on my bucket list on my next trip to town.
The Chicken or the Egg is at 207 North Bay Boulevard
North Bay Boulevard has a long stretch of eating establishments that are opened at various times of the week.
When I returned for my Christmas visit, I ended the evening having dinner here. I swear on a cool night, it was the perfect place for a meal. I had their New England Clam Chowder with its thick roux and heavy cream base and it was loaded with clams. It warmed me up immediately. For dinner, my waiter suggested the ultimate comfort food in cold weather, the Chicken Pot Pie that was just amazing.
Loaded with chunks of chicken and a creamy base topped with a flaky crust, each bite warmed me up after the cool walks by the bay and down the main street of town. You could really taste the roasted chicken in the gravy and its rich flavors. The service here is always friendly and very welcoming.
I stopped at Fourchette at LBI at 511 North Bay Avenue to enjoy the smells of the array of cheeses and look at their assortment of host gifts. They have a lot of interesting cheeses in the case line and the woman behind the counter was eager to explain them all to me. I love the smells of cheeses when you walk in. It is a mouthwatering experience when you see them all lined in the cases.
Another interesting store was Sandy Banks Art Store at 515 North Bay Avenue in which the first afternoon I visited a local artist was having an art show in the small courtyard adjoining the store. The art was vibrant and the artist was proud of the paintings she was showing off.
Anchoring the main part of the downtown is the local shore department store, B &B Stores, which has been a Jersey Shore staple since 1932. Located in many well known beach communities, B &B stocks not just bathing suits and swim gear but an array of clothing, gifts and accessories for the local community. I have been in the store during the summer months and it is wall to wall swim suits, tee shirts and shorts but as the cooler months approach and the rushing of the holidays, I saw my first Christmas tree down the shore.
That afternoon there was a nice rush of locals and tourist grasping the last days of warm weather down the shore and even though we were all in masks (COVID is big down the shore too), people were going about their shopping with a vengeance. It was nice to see a crowd of people enjoying a shopping trip and conversing with one another talking over their masks.
The selection of merchandise at B & B Department Stores give me faith in the department store industry.
When I visited in November, the holiday season was in full swing and the store was full of locals talking about their Thanksgiving holidays and getting back to school the next week. The store was stocked with holiday and winter merchandise for those making the island their home for the winter.
Crossing the street , there is a tiered mall, The Seaman’s Village, stocked with small stores and restaurants that is big with the beach going community on a rainy afternoon. During the two trips to Beach Haven that I made most of the stores were closed or has partial hours during the week and weekends. It seems though with the warmer weather extending into November and the exodus of people out of the cities, the stores are staying open much longer than usual.
Another homegrown store that I have enjoyed visiting on my last few trips to town is the Crust & Crumb Bakery at 9 North Bay Boulevard. This old fashioned bakery has the usual assortments of cookies, cakes, pastries and doughnuts and an array of Italian pastries as well. I have enjoyed their jelly and custard filled doughnuts and their seasonal pumpkin glazed doughnuts are delicious.
Trust me, after a day at the shore or just walking around enjoying the beautiful weather, a trip here can satisfy any sweet tooth. The selection is extensive and don’t miss the giant cinnamon elephant ears.
There are a lot of delicious items to choose from at Crust & Crumb
Walking back down North Bay Boulevard, passing Fantasy Island Amusement Park reminds you that this is still a shore town. On my first trip to Beach Haven in September the park was still open just very quiet. On a warm sunny Friday afternoon, there were not too many people walking around and the staff spent most of their time on their cellphones or chatting amongst themselves.
Fantasy Island Amusement Park at 750 North Bay Avenue
On my second trip in late October, the park was closed but the arcade was open. Talk about bells and whistles with lots of music, lights and excitement. There were only about a dozen of us in the arcade but it was a lot of fun taking a step back into time when I used to visit the pinball and skeetball machines when I was in high school. There were a lot of the old machines that I remember including a version of PacMan and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
The arcade at Fantasy Island Amusement Park brings back memories of a simpler time.
Walking around the arcade before dinner was an experience. The few people who were playing games were laughing and having a good time. The adults were having just a good time as their kids and I saw that it brought the kid back in them.
I stopped for a snack before venturing further at Slice of Heaven Pizza at 610 North Bay Avenue. The restaurant was closed for indoor dining so I ate outside with the pizza chef who was taking a break. The pizza was pretty good and when I was talking to the pizza cook he said how sporadic the business had been all summer. It was just starting to get busy by the end of the summer.
Another wonderful gift, design and furniture store is The Spotted Whale at 500 North Bay Avenue. The store has a light and breezy beach feel to it with light colors and a lot of nautical looks. This store is more geared to the shore customer.
During Christmas, the store was ablaze with a lighted tree and ornaments twinkling from it while all sorts of decorating ideas for the shore houses were on display. Christmas ‘down the shore’ must be interesting.
The Spotted Whale at 500 North Bay Avenue has some interesting looks about it
Walking further south, I took detour into the Coffee Nest at 106 North Bay Avenue to see what their baked good were like. The store is a combination gift store, coffee shop and bakery with some floral arrangements up front. There was not much left in the bakery area when I got there but they have a nice assortment and the prices are a bit high. I liked the music playing though. A step in here and your would think you are in Williamsburg or Bushwick and not Beach Haven.
When I visited the first time, I came to see the NJ Maritime Museum that is located around the corner from the Coffee Nest on Dock Road towards the bay. The NJ Maritime Museum is located across the street from two very popular restaurants facing the bay at 528 Dock Road.
The NJ Maritime Museum is located at 528 Dock Road by the bay
This small but interesting museum contains not just the history of the towns of Long Beach Island but also has the history of the hotels that once dotted the shore, shipwrecks, the Coast Guard and the 1916 Shark Attack that inspired the movie “Jaws”. Several cruise disasters have interesting displays with documented accounts and all sorts of memorabilia. The museum was founded in 2007 by collector Deb Whitcraft.
The museum’s nautical displays are very detailed
Take time to explore each room and read the details of the displays. You will delve deeper into the history of Long Beach Island and its rich history as a fishing and hunting area for the Lenape Indians, then the Dutch and English traders to its time as a resort community to the new morphing during COVID as a full-time community catering to the residents on their exodus out of New York City and Philly. The museum is rewriting history again in the era of COVID. Don’t miss the Moro Castle luxury cruise display room in the back of the museum with accounts on the fatal trip.
For lunch on my recent trip I had to find a place to watch the Michigan State versus Rutgers game. It was depressing watching us get tapped danced on by Rutgers during the third quarter. What made it less depressing was the food at Tuckers Tavern, a restaurant facing the bay at 101 South Bay Avenue( see review on TripAdvisor).
The bar area was socially distanced and they had plenty of TV’s to watch the game. We ended up losing 38-27 but I knew the game was over pretty much by the end of third quarter and I did not travel two hours to sit at the bar and get depressed.
Michigan State lost to Rutgers that afternoon
What perked me up though was the food. It it was excellent. I had a crab cake sandwich that was out of this world. It was loaded with crab and was so sweet. The fries were freshly cut and deep fried to perfection. The whole meal was delicious and picked me right up to keep going for the rest of the afternoon.
Do not miss the Tuckers Tavern’s Crab cake sandwich
It was nice after lunch to just walk around the bay area and admire the sunshine. The views from the restaurant that lined the bay was just amazing. It was so nice to just walk off lunch and admire the views. I watched the boats coming in and out of the docks.
The bay side restaurant row is breathtaking
After visiting both museums on the lower part of the island, I headed back to the northern part of the island for an appointment that I had to see the Barnegat Light Museum at 501 Central Avenue in Barnegat Light, a tiny museum that housed the original Barnegat Lighthouse light.
The original Barnegat light from the lighthouse
It was an old schoolhouse built in 1903 that had been converted into museum. The museum housed interesting artifacts like dinosaur bones found on the island, housewares from local residents, notes from the students who went to school at the schoolhouse and nautical items.
The President of the museum took me on a private tour of the museum and she told me about all the pieces in the space. I also got to tour the gardens that surrounded the museum that were tended by the Long Beach Island Garden Club who did a wonderful job.
The gardens at the Barnegat Light Museum
As the day wore on, I walked the Barnegat Lighthouse State park one more time and admired the inlet and enjoyed the breezes. People were walking along the pathways before the park closed at 4:00pm.
As I walked the around the area, exploring Andy’s at the Lighthouse at 202 Broadway, an old general store that had a lot of handmade wood works by a local artist and has a nice selection of tee shirts and gifts.
Another store that stood out was Wildflowers by the Lighthouse by owner and artist, Cricket Luker and the store really stands for it innovative clothing and accessories. The owner is a local artist who took her art studio and turned it to a clothing store over time. She also opened Wildflowers Too! an art gallery at 506 Broadway that shows local and metropolitan artists with a collection of paints, sculpture and gifts.
Before I made the journey to the southern part of the island on my November trip, I stopped by the “Santa’s Viking Christmas Village” to see the arts and crafts festival at Viking Village at 19th and the Bay Barnegat Light. It was a sunny but cool afternoon but the winds had calmed down and I was able to walk the booths with no problems. I was in search of homemade Santa’s for my mother’s upcoming birthday. I found them in two different booths, one made of a conch shell and another made of wood.
The local seafood restaurant was open for takeout and you could smell the fried fish in the distance along with the horrible singing by a guitarist who could not carry a note. Thank God he took a break in time for the Barnegat Light Fire Department to bring Mr. and Mrs. Claus to the Village for a visit to the local children.
Santa’s Viking Christmas Village at dusk at closing
After touring the Village, I made my way back down Long Beach Boulevard to the LBI Foundation of The Arts & Sciences Holiday Market 2021, which was mostly full of more expensive artwork and home decor products. It was not as festive as the Village Market and all our mask wearing steamed up everyone’s glasses which was a big complaint.
It was later in the afternoon on my October 2020 visit, when I headed back down to the southern part of the island to Beach Haven and I had some dinner. When I was walking past the NJ Maritime Museum, I came across Polly’s Dockside and Clamhouse at 112 Northwest Avenue. The restaurant is a small establishment right on the dock facing the bay and has the most amazing fried clams and clam chowder.
Polly’s Dockside & Clamhouse at 112 Northwest Avenue
I sat at the bar facing the water and watching the sun set. I ate the richest clam chowder while watching boats come in and out of the dock. The sun set right in front of all of us as we ate and it was like watching a movie. Mother Nature can really treat you to the most beautiful things in life. I swear I snacked so much during the day that I could barely finish my fried clam appetizer which was much larger than I expected so it came home with me.
The food is just as good as the sunset at Polly’s Dockside & Clamhouse
I left when it got dark much later than I thought I would leave and I had a two hour drive home. I stopped at the Custard House at 6403 Long Beach Boulevard for some vanilla custard that settled my stomach. It was the right pick me up after all the food, touring and walking. This popular little stand has plenty of outside seating on a warm evening.
I was able to visit the island once more before the dark days of winter came upon us. Surprisingly enough when I visited in December, it was warm. The whole weekend was going to be in the high 50’s. It did not disappoint me as the sun came out.
I started this journey by visiting Barnegat, a small town just north of the cross-way from Long Beach Island. I was exploring the downtown and visiting a store named the ‘Unshredded Nostalgia’, a antique store that carried everything from old movie posters to local history books, 70’s posters and records to house hold decorations. It was one of those stores that a movie scout might look for props.
The town of Barnegat is a small hamlet just north of Long Beach Island on the mainland a few miles from the cross-way. The Victorian architecture is a little shabby and the downtown has a lot of potential if it was renovated a bit more. It does have a unique look to it. It was a stop over for me on my back to Long Beach Island for a pre-Christmas visit.
During the late summer I had came across a flyer from the Surflight Theater for a Christmas production entitled “We need a little Christmas”, a COVID related play about Christmas in Maine. I had thought about it and at the last minute decided to visit Long Beach Island to see what the Jersey shore is like at the holidays. This was pretty shocking how quiet it had gotten.
The play was cute and not too serious with a happy ending and a lot of Christmas songs that trust me everyone in the audience needed to hear. It really cheered me up and put me into the holiday spirit.
“We need a Little Christmas” at the Surflight Theater
The irony of the show was that when it was over and we walked outside the theater, the clouds gave way and it was sunny and 56 degrees out. It was so nice outside and no wind that I walked down the block and walked on the beach which surprisingly I had not done in all my trips to Beach Haven. This was the first time I had touched the Jersey Shore all year and since 1975 here.
This is when I believe in God when we can enjoy the Christmas holidays with late summer weather. This is what I liked about visiting Hawaii during the holidays. I could walk on the beach and dig into the sand and smell the salt air without freezing. It was nice to just walk on the beach and hear the waves crash.
Beach Haven beach, what a day!
After the walk on the beach, I decided to walk around the downtown. I was amazed on how much was now closed. “How to Live” was closing for the season and everything was 50% off, the Crust & Crumb and a whole list of other restaurants has closed for the season. The arcade closed for the season as well. B & B Department Store was still open and decorated for the holidays but pretty much everything surrounding it was closed for the season.
The museums, art galleries and some of the bay side restaurants and attractions were shut down for the winter months as well. I thought with so many people staying on the island as residents more would be open. I had lunch at The Shack at 302 North Bay Boulevard, which was one of the few places that was still open. I had noticed it when I was visiting in October and they had a nice selection of lunch specials for $8.00.
Just wanting a snack, I had their $5.00 pizza combination, which was two slices of their fresh pizza and a Coke. I highly recommend their pizza. It must have been cooked in a hot coal oven because the crust and bottom were really crisp and pillowy. The sauce was well spiced and had a nice flavor and the slices were very generous (see review on TripAdvisor).
The Shack Pizza is delicious
After lunch, I decided to head up the coast and explore how the island was decorated for Christmas. In the downtown areas of Ships Bottom there were some nice decorations of lighted trees but outside that with a few store fronts with lights, the area was dark. Everything had closed for the season. With each town I passed, it was really quiet.
When I got to Barnegat Light, the lighthouse was dark and the park was closed as was all the stores surrounding it including Wildflowers at the Lighthouse, which I enjoyed visiting on my last two trips. The stores either were closed for the season or closed at 4:00pm when the park closed.
On my trip back down the island, it was eerie how quiet the neighborhoods had gotten since Halloween. I thought more people were staying down here full time and I did not see that many homes lite up let alone decorated.
The one thing I did see was the most amazing sunset over the island and especially the bay area. The whole sky was reflecting off the clouds and had the most beautiful array of colors in reds, oranges and whites bouncing off the sky. The sun really gives a performance on Long Beach Island.
Beach Haven sunset
Before I left the island for home that evening and for the rest of the season, I stopped at the Chicken or The Egg for dinner which had been on my bucket list to try since the end of the summer. The food and the service were excellent and everyone was so laid back.
The dinner was excellent (see review on TripAdvisor). I had a sandwich named the Chicken Slammer, which was a fried chicken breast topped with Bacon, Jack Cheddar, Lettuce and Tomato and capped off with tangy barbecue sauce with a side of fries and pickles. it had such nice flavor in each bite.
The Chicken Slammer sandwich at The Chicken or The Egg
The restaurant has the most amazing desserts. I had their Cinnamon Roll Ice Cream Sandwich, which I highly recommend. They bake their own cinnamon buns and then cut it in half, load it with vanilla ice cream and top it with caramel syrup and then top it with cinnamon sugar. I swear that their is nothing like each bite of that dessert! No wonder it is so popular.
Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream sandwich is heavenly
I was so stuffed from dinner, I needed to take one last look around and I went back to the square and walked around all the lit Christmas trees , all twenty five of them surround the gazebo, and then the main one inside. On a warm night, with the waves crashing in the background, I thought this was an amazing place to admire a Christmas tree.
It was a treat to come to Beach Haven and Long Beach Island again after a forty-year absence. Who knew that the island in its transformation from working class resort to high class residential community offered so much in the way of shopping, restaurants and cultural sites packed onto one island? There is something for everyone here including the beach.
As I keep visiting Long Beach Island, I keep finding more and more things to visit and explore which show the true beauty of these shore communities at various times of the year.
To end my evening after an afternoon of visiting Christmas activities and cultural sites in November, I decided to drive to the end of the island to see what was there and I came across the Holgate Nature Conservatory at 11 West Lincoln Avenue. It was cool and still sunny out when I reached the park.
This natural preserve at the southern tip of Long Beach Island was very quiet, less some laughing surfers and a few seagulls. The waves just lapped the shore and I could see the skyline of Atlantic City in the distance. There is something about a quiet beach in the Fall that seems serene and picturesque. It was like watching a nature documentary.
The Holgate Nature Preserve at the tip of the island with Atlantic City looming in the distance
After dinner on my visit in November of 2021 at the Chicken or the Egg, I finished dessert at The WooHoo and walked up through the downtown to see the last of the people roasting marshmallows in the park and walked to Kapler’s Pharmacy at 1 South Bay Street. The drug store was sponsoring horse drawn carriage rides around the neighborhood. I thought what a nice way to end the evening with a twilight view of the sun setting and watching the Christmas lights going on at houses around the neighborhood. The Jersey Shore at Christmas can really surprise you.
Kapler’s Pharmacy event at 1 South Bay Avenue in 2021
I thought it was a nice group of visits to get my mind off what is going on in the world. What’s better than the Jersey Shore in warm weather? Visiting at all times of the year in warm weather and then returning for the Christmas holiday events. Who says the Shore closes at Labor Day?
Later that day I found out that Michigan State beat Penn State 30-27. What a way to end the day on my November trip!
Christmas at the Shore!
The Beach Haven Christmas Tree Lighting 2020 (virtually of course):
I took time from my walk to be a supportive Alumni and go up to New Haven, Connecticut for the Cornell versus Yale game on September 30, 2017. I also watched us get our butts kicked with the score 49-24. I swear, every time I thought we would catch up, we fell behind. We kept going through quarterbacks throughout the game.
It was even worse for the September 2019 game. We were tie with Yale, who does not look that good either, at 3-3 at half (I thought that was bad enough) but in the third quarter were lead 10-3 with an 85 yard run touchdown and looked really good. Then our quarterback threw an interception that lead to a Yale touchdown and at 10-10 he was so rattled by that, the game was never the same. He threw three more interceptions and we botched an onside kick (Cornell is not good at these, trust me!) and resulted in three more touchdowns for Yale.
We ended up losing 27-16 and it was not fun leaving that stadium. It was no big deal though because the students at Yale DO NOT support their football team and there was more people from Cornell at the stadium than Yalies and the Yale Bowl (their stadium), which is a relic of the 1920’s with uncomfortable wooden seats, was 80% empty.
The Yale Bowl (which only fills up for the Harvard Game)
In September 0f 2021, it was another spectacular day in the Yale Bowl but the renovations are not working so well and the seats are peeling again and the place looks worn down. The game was pathetic from both sides. Yale looked lackluster and we kept making so many mistakes. We lost again 17-23. Not exactly the blood bath we took in our previous games here but it was not much of a game.
What I find most insulting is that the food vendors at the game charge an arm and leg for food. Come on, a regular hot dog is $4.00 and a soda is $3.00? That is really gouging people especially ones using their credit cards. I just made my way down Chapel Street after the game and revisited some of the delis I had been to before. It was more than half price than at the game.
Still I got another amazing tan at the game and it was nice to just take the train up and then walk to the stadium to see if there were any changes along Chapel Street. There were a few more stores open in the downtown near the Yale campus and some homes had been renovated but not as many as I would have thought.
A lot has changed in New Haven since I lived there in the late Eighties. I lived in New Haven from 1988-1990 at a time the city was being revitalized during the boom of the early 80’s. I also saw what the Crash of 1987 would do to the city when the effects of the financial meltdown started to do to the economy. I lived on College Street at the time working at R.H. Macy on Church Street (where a college stands now).
The old Macy’s New Haven before it closed in 1994
Our little area was really nice around the Shubert Theater with lots of shops and restaurants but even those were affected by the economy as well as the store was in the end and it closed after I got promoted in 1990. The store closed with almost thirty years in service in 1994. Even though I moved from the city twenty-seven years ago, I still consider it in my own way ‘home’. There is always a piece of me in all the places I have lived in the past. There still is a part of me in the city. Going up for the Cornell-Yale game has given me an excuse to visit New Haven in the last six years.
I was lucky to make the 9:02am train out of Grand Central and arrived in New Haven at 11:20am. Walking through the train station brought back a lot of memories for me as I used to head home every Sunday for dinner with my family the first year I lived there. I watched the station get renovated in 1989 and morph to what it is now with the vaulted ceilings and the specialty shops. It is the weirdest thing about the city. They have the most beautiful train station and then the city builds public housing right across the street from it.
When I visited in 2021, all the public housing that was across the street from the train station has since been knocked down. It will be interesting to see what gets built as this side of town by the Nine Block has gotten more desirable and more built up.
For me, stepping out of the station brings back a flood of memories for me. As I walked from the station to downtown a few blocks away it reminded me of the first time I truly became independent as an adult with my first real job and my first apartment alone. I still had the feeling when I exited the train station in 2021. The memories just keep flooding back.
In 2019, driving up I-95 was the worst experience. I teach college now on Saturdays and we finished class a little earlier today so I got on the road in plenty of time for the game but a few trucks not doing the speed limit backed traffic up for almost a half hour. I took the Merritt Parkway back and it was a much more pleasant experience. It is a much nicer highway to drive down with less traffic. Plus it is tree lined.
The beauty of the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut
I walked to Church, Chapel and College Streets now and it is so much different. New Haven has become a restaurant and shopping destination. So many independent restaurants have opened to much acclaim and many small creative shops have opened up along the Chapel Street corridor. I was able to pop in here and there before the game.
I was able to walk around the ‘Nine Block’ of downtown New Haven, which is where the city was founded around the famous ‘Green’. When I lived there, this was an area of cut rate stores and empty historical buildings. To have the hindsight thirty years later but being the home to Yale University, I figured eventually in time this area would gentrify strong.
It is now home to many top-rated restaurants, shops and the most beautiful lofts. The buildings have been sandblasted back to their original beauty and its just fun to walk around and look at the architecture from the 1800’s. The city and the buildings owners have done a wonderful job bringing this area back to life. It is worth the afternoon to just look around the lower downtown.
I walked all around the ‘Green’ and not too much has changed over the years as way of the park. It has been fixed up and reseeded but still picturesque. The office buildings still add to the backdrop of the park. What has changed is the quality of the stores and restaurants over the years that line Chapel Street next to the Yale campus. They have gotten a lot more fancy and expensive, much more than when I was there.
Chapel Street seems to have become the new ‘Columbus Avenue’ of New Haven (terminology is based on Columbus Avenue in Manhattan when it went upscale in the 1980’s and 1990’s). From Church Street downtown to the edge of the Yale campus on Dwight Avenue is lined with new restaurants, shops, art galleries and upscale boutique hotels. Even the area between campus and the stadium, which has seen better days has changed. The extension of the hospital has turned everything from Orchard Street to Yale Avenue by the Yale Bowl into “Upper Chapel Street”.
Chapel Street by the Yale Campus
You can see this is an up and coming neighborhood, lined with Victorian homes that are now being snatched up and renovated. It must have been some neighborhood back between the 1880’s to the 1920’s. It is still pretty run down but here and there especially around the new hospital extension things are changing. Homes along Edgewood Park on and off Chapel Street are starting to get spruced up and landscaped. You can tell this is the time to buy in that neighborhood.
I passed old haunts of mine from back in the 80’s that are still in business. Willoughby’s Coffee and Tea was still there at 258 Church Street, where I went for late night snacks. I thought it was in another location but still here. The Owl Shop at 268 College Street was still there as well but is now a dining place as well as a smoke shop.
Claire’s Corner Copia at 1000 Chapel Street still stood on the corner of College Street and Chapel Street, where I used to go for my morning sugar fix. Claire herself still mans the counter after all these years. Further up Chapel Street is Union League Café at 1032 Chapel Street, where I took many special employees from Macy’s for a meal when they did something special.
In 2021, I took the 9:02am train again so I had didn’t have much time for breakfast that morning trying to catch the bus into the City and then walk to Grand Central to catch the train. Still it was a spectacular sunny day and watching all those towns at stops I knew so well pass by. I could not believe how Stanford and Bridgeport have changed. They are so built up now.
When I arrived in New Haven, I made my way up Chapel Street on my way to the stadium and stopped at a cute bakery called Four Flours at 1203 Chapel Street for breakfast. I had the most amazing Bacon, Egg and Cheese sandwich on a freshly baked roll. They put a spicy Jalapeno Cheese on it that really made the sandwich. The baked goods looked good too.
The place is really cute inside and out.
Four Flours at 1203 Chapel Street (Closed August 2022)
When stopped for lunch before the game in 2019 it was one of the most famous restaurants in New Haven and was right around the corner from me, Louis Lunch at 261 Crown Street (See review on TripAdvisor). It was a block from where I lived at the Taft Apartments and in the two years I lived there, I never ate there. The food was excellent.
Louis Lunch at 261 Crown Street
Their hamburgers are legendary in the food world and Louis Lunch has been written up in countless reviews, blogs and articles on the best hamburgers in the country. I got their at opening at 12:00pm and there was already fifteen people in line. It does go quick though and my suggestion is to order the burger medium well and then it comes out perfect.
They are right about one thing, the burgers do not need ketchup. One slice of fresh tomato adds to the complexity of the flavor. It has a crisp, caramelized salty flavor to the outside and a juicy meaty center. This is not your typical burger and is worth the $8.00 and change I paid for it and the Pepsi. The restaurant is an institution in New Haven and should be tried at least once when visiting the city.
Louis Lunch for Hamburgers!
I then continued up Chapel Street to the stadium. The upper parts of Chapel Street start to give way from the college campus to residential homes, more like Victorian mansions and you can see the wealth that once dominated the northern part of the Yale campus.
Yale Bowl Stadium is unusual for such a wealthy endowed school. It looks more like a prep-school, high school field. For a team with such an hollowed reputation and the team doing so well the last few years, I think the stadium, even after the renovation, is falling apart. It has the most uncomfortable wooden seating and I am still afraid of getting splinters from the place.
That did not stop the team from running all over Cornell. I have to admit for every play we had up our sleeves, they had two to counter act it. They really are a good team. Even though we tried to put up a good fight, we made too many mistakes and the second half of the game, we were done. We lost the game 49-24 n 2017. We really need to work on our offensive. At least the Yalies were good sports about it.
The Game Highlights
In 2019, they ran over us again only because we kept THROWING THEM THE BALL! I know that the quarterback was rattled by the first interception but recover from it! It is just a play! The fourth quarter in 2019 was painful. At least the $4.00 hot dog and $2.00 bag of chips for lunch tasted good. Because of the ride up there was no time to eat anywhere else and make the game. Their concession stand (and parking $10.00 for a spot by the Field Hockey stadium) was pricey but no different from other stadiums.
The one thing about Yale that I have found with most of the Ivy league games I go to is that none of the students seem to want to go to the game. We always sit in empty stadiums. When I visit the Penn Stadium, Cornell dominates the stadium both with the band and the Alumni. Columbia the same way. Cornell seems to be getting a more loyal following (in hopes of a winning season). The Yale game was no different. I think there were more of us then there were of them and they were home. Most of the people in the stadium looked like the parents of the players than the students.
After the very disappointing result (both times), I walked back into the downtown, taking peeks at the side streets to look at the graceful homes. For all of you home flippers reading this, buy in this area NOW! It will be hot, hot, hot in the next two years as it is already starting. I really do believe that people are moving back into New Haven.
I turned around ‘the Green’ and looked at the downtown one more time. For the most part, it had not really changed in twenty years. By walking the city streets, I could tell it was a lot more vibrant than it was when I lived there and for the better. I am proud of the city I once called home for working so hard to improve it.
My last stop of the day in both 2017 and 2019 was at Frank Pepe Pizzeria at 157 Wooster Street (See reviews on TripAdvisor both in 2017 and 2019) in the heart of the city’s ‘Little Italy’. I had not eaten here in twenty seven years. My first and last time dining there until today was my last night living there. My buddy manager at Macy’s, Rose, had taken me here for dinner with her fiancé, Kenny. The Pepe’s vs Sally’s conversation is one that I have had with many a Yale Alumni.
The restaurant has morphed into a small chain over the years of about eight restaurants but the original is still iconic. I had the 12 inch Clam Pizza with a Coke and it is the best $20.00 (with tip) that I had spent in a long time. The clams are so sweet and fresh tasting on that pizza that it was worth the wait in line for it. People were so happy to be eating there and wait staff is extremely friendly. It is worth the trip to Wooster Street.
Frank Pepe’s Clam pizza is the best!
I had dessert at Libby’s next door at 139 Wooster Street (see review on TripAdvisor) and is worth bypassing. The $4.00 soggy cannoli was just not worth it and you can not even buy individual cookies. The place needs a renovation as well.
Wooster Street and the area that surrounds it has improved over the years like the rest of the city. Many of the homes and businesses have been fixed up and the factory when you cross the bridge to this area of the city has been turned into lofts. You know where this neighborhood is heading. You could see it in the cars in the parking lot.
I left Wooster Street to head back to downtown and to the train station to my way back to New York City. The streets were quiet except for a few diners leaving restaurants and the walk back to railroad station didn’t seem as dangerous as everyone says. No one was walking around at 8:00pm at night.
In 2019, I took a drive up Chapel Street and parked by the Green. I walked all over downtown watching it come to life. A lot more people from the suburbs are coming into New Haven to dine and shop than ever before. With all the housing going up in the downtown area, more people will be milling around.
In 2021, I had been walking all over Downtown New Haven surprised at what a restaurant city New Have had become. I could not believe that Chapel Street and the surrounding streets around the Yale campus had changed so much. It was all trendy restaurants and shops.
I walked around the Yale University Art Gallery at 1111 Chapel Street. It was funny to finally go there. After all the years of living in town and then visiting I never had a chance to see it. Since the game was over by 3:00pm, I was able to sneak in for the last hour and a half. What an interesting museum.
The bottom level was all ancient art from the University’s digs at the turn of the last century. This and the Middle Ages art was on the rest of the first floor. On the Upper Floors was art from Africa, Asia and then the modern art on the upper floors. There was an exhibition on “Women Artists of Yale over 150 Years” on the top floor featuring artist from the Art School. I was able to race through all the floors before it closed at 6:00pm.
The Ancient Art Galleries at the Yale University Art Gallery
After the museum, I was getting starved and walked around to find someplace interesting to eat. Deep down I wanted to go back to Pepe’s for that Clam Pizza but I wanted to see what else was around. By the time I convinced myself to go to Pepe’s it was too late. Both Pepe’s and Sally’s both had over an hour wait. Not only that but all over Wooster Street everything was a mob scene. So it was back to downtown.
What I thought was funny about the area is that all the old factories that were in the area were all knocked down and now is becoming expensive condos. Who knew that Little Italy was going to become so fashionable. It reminded me of what was going on up in Poughkeepsie.
I had passed a noodle house in the Nine Block and decided to try that instead. I ate that night at Ten Sounds Yunnan Noodle at 756 Chapel Street. The restaurant was located in the heart of the old Nine Block section of the City. The food was excellent.
I had the Steamed Gyoza with ground pork, the steamed Shrimp Shaomai, which were small open faced dumplings with little shrimps on top and then the Roast Pork buns. I was in the mood for Dim Sum. Everything was wonderful. So nicely cooked and spiced. The Roast Pork buns were a real treat accompanied by a hot sauce.
It was a wonderful dinner, and the restaurant was nicely designed and it had a real college crowd that evening. The students really dominated the restaurant, and it was nice to see everyone having such a good time. The music was wonderful as well.
It was dark when I walked back to the train station, but the streets were really quiet, and it was nice to see the changes in this part of the City. New Haven really is surprising. Just when you hear of all the problems you see another side of the City that is really impressive. The whole Nine Block is now all trendy restaurants and condos mixed in with all the older architecture.
It was a real treat to take a step back in time and see part of my past. I really loved living in New Haven, CT over twenty years ago and it still holds a special place in my heart being the beginning of my professional career. Okay things were not always perfect, but it was first real sense of adulthood in the ‘real world’.
Who knew a Yale/Cornell Game could bring this flood of memories back to me?
As for the next football game, GO BIG RED!
The disaster of the 2019 game/we just handed them of the game.
In 2021, it was another disappointed ending to a long day: