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NJ locations with failure after failure

In the late 80's in Ridgefield Park, they built a plush new restaurant near the railroad tracks and I can't count how many places opened and quickly closed there over the next 15 years. You'd think after a while someone looking to open there would learn the history and wonder what they had planned that was so special that could possibly succeed. Anyone know of other such locations?

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  1. There's a little place just south of the Collingwood flea market, just before the circle. If you miss the driveway, you have to go all the way back around. Right now it's empty, but I've seen at least 5-6 restaurants in there. The last one was Middle Eastern food and lasted about 3 months.

    1. Rt.23/Pompton Ave in Cedar Grove.back in the the 80's it was the Cedar Grove Inn , "CGI". Nothing has lasted on that spot more than 2 years or so and i can think off three places that opened and closed and one which was very good. It's a nice building, attractive interior in a well travelled area, go figure.

      1. One that's been discussed here is at the intersection of 516 & 79 in Matawan. It was an Italian Hot Dog place, a cheesesteak place, then salads. The various owners didn't even bother taking any of the old signs down, they just kept piling one on top of the other.

        Another one is in South Amboy on 35 that was at one time Martini's. It's been done over at least 5 times in the last few years & nothing seems to stick there either.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Jerzeegirl

          That location on 516 & 79 has been 3/4 things in the two or three years it's been there.....and is currently empty.

          The one time Martini's is now Atlantic Standard which I have been to a few times and have reviewed it's actually very good but based on my observations upon my visits it's not going to last too much longer this time around.

          1. re: jrvedivici

            We tried Atlantic Standard & didn't care for it. BF was not happy the beer taps weren't working, the service was terrible & we really didn't see too much on the menu we liked. He ended up with fish & I had the tacos which were meh. I don't think it's going to last every long either, unfortunately. Whoever owns it now sure made a lot of changes from when it was Martini's.

            1. re: Jerzeegirl

              Just out of curiosity when were you there? It is my understanding the Chef they brought in left within the past two weeks. (The food was excellent the couple times I was there with large parties nobody had any complaints.)

              1. re: jrvedivici

                It was over a month ago, so maybe we'll give it another try. We also couldn't get over the difference in the decor and ambience from when it was Martini's.

                1. re: Jerzeegirl

                  If you didn't like it over a month ago then I'm not sure it got any better. lol

                  I was never at Martini's but I like the decor and ambiance now.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    Martini's was verrry what I call "frou frou". It looked like a cherub explosion with Louis XIV furnishings, but the food & service were excellent. They had 2 menus - 1 for the men & 1 for the ladies - the ladies menu had no prices listed. It was our go to for Valentine's Day for quite a while. It was also in a small Cape Cod house on 35 when it started, then bought the house next door & expanded. Once they did that, it was all downhill from there.

            2. re: jrvedivici

              We drove by the 516 & 79 location yesterday and saw activity inside it (and also inside the defunct ice cream parlor a couple of doors down).

          2. Mine would be what is now CJ Mcloon's on Shrewsbury Ave. in Tinton Falls, NJ.

            It use to be the Airport Inn way back in the day. In the early 90's it had a good run as The American Pizza Kitchen which I truly enjoyed. That folded after a 5 year run...then it was a number of forgettable places, Nicky's, Brix 516, (one or two other nameless entities) then CJ Montana's had about a 5 year run now it's CJ Mc loon's and again I don't see much of a future for this incarnation either.

            1. Mine would be where Nemo's in Keyport is now. That location has been at least five other very short lived businesses in a row before the owners of Nemo's took over.

              I hope writing this is NOT the kiss of death.

              1. In Westfield, the location on Broad St. where Wild Greens is currently located. That has been about a zillion places. Wild Greens, though, has stuck around for a while....

                2 Replies
                1. re: jbsiegel

                  i'm glad wild greens has stuck it out. cosi didn't stand a chance across the street from panera. i think china light was the chinese restaurant that was in there for quite some time. since it left, it seems nothing has been able to stay there for too long!

                  1. re: benn2009

                    I loved Cosi - that flatbread was heavenly. The franchise that was the Westfield one and the Cranford one had some sort of "issue", and they both ended up closing.

                    I still worry about WG because it never seems all that busy, but at least it's been there for a while.

                    Overall, though, TOO many restaurants in Westfield. Natural selection demands that there is relatively big turnover (at least of the ones that don't have big coorporate roots)...

                2. The location currently occupied by MJ's in Tinton Falls comes to mind. Trying to maintain a 300 year old building up to code next to a waterfall is quite a feat. The bar seems to be pretty busy but the restaurant seems an afterthought.

                  15 Replies
                  1. re: equal_Mark

                    The location of MJ's in Middletown on Hwy 35 northbound is no better. That all brick free standing location has been at least eight different businesses since I'm living in Mon cty.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      we went to the MJ's in Middletown about 6 or 7 years ago when it was one of the other incarnations, can't remember the name. BF ordered a draft beer, they charged him $6 for a 12 oz. glass. He was not happy, told the manager & said with these prices, the place wouldn't last long & he was right. Less than a year later, it was closed.

                      1. re: Jerzeegirl

                        Yeah I think one or two of the buyers never even got as far as opening.

                      2. re: HillJ

                        And there is mention in another thread that MJ's has purchased the Buttonwood Manor location. Can anyone explain this?

                        1. re: jrvedivici

                          Not me. Especially if MJ's is going into the wedding/catering business..

                        2. re: HillJ

                          Yeah I was going to say the old sebastians pub. This place has been through many hands.

                          The middletown police didn't help the cause. They would just sit outside in the adjacent parking lot and continuously pull people over coming out later in the evening. That didn't help the cause.

                          The old Red Heads is another. NOTHING lasts there.

                          1. re: corvette johnny

                            So true. Some locations really have a hex on. I wonder how the bldg. owners manage year after year. The remodeling of a property over and over starts to work against a structure.

                            Hwy 35 is so over developed and so much of Hwy 36 is terribly neglected....no rhyme or reason in mon cty.

                            Not to mention the # of restaurant and retail bldgs that stay vacant for years.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              I thought of another one.. the store next to Carvel on Rt. 9 North in Freehold, just before Rt. 79. It was.. I forget what, then KavKaz Kebab (at any rate, a Kebab place), then Eggs, Pies, Burgers and Fries (I think the name alone killed that place).. but after Sandy, they never came back. Shame, because I wanted to try their "homemade Greek specialties."

                              Carvel continues to thrive right next door, though, which makes this one even stranger.

                              1. re: MarlboroMan

                                The current Park East location in Hazlet also had a few failures in between when it was the Seagull (or was it the Cove?) & Park East.

                                1. re: Jerzeegirl

                                  MM & Jerzee..so true. Gosh, it's quite common when you start to think about it. The current Park East and Rt.9 North are prime examples.

                                  So what's the formula for success? Interesting question.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                I live in Flemington, and we have the exact same problem here. Lots of empty retail and restaurant space, it's been this way for a very long time - and yet they just keep building more. I'm not claiming to be an expert on the subject, but that just doesn't seem smart to me.

                                1. re: flourgirl

                                  You make a good point, flourgirl. Except owners who build aren't always the occupants so filling the business space can have several scenarios..and different outcomes.

                                  And, I wonder how many "flips" winding up being are sublets.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    I was just pointing out that if there is so much empty retail space and restaurant space in a particular area, maybe building more isn't a smart investment. I would say MOST of the builders in our area are not the occupants, they are developers. But if the owners/developers of the existing spaces can't fill them, why would builders of yet MORE space assume that they will do any better? (And we do have a lot of NEW retail/restaurant space that is not being rented,or the businesses that do rent the space aren't lasting long, so it clearly wasn't such a hot idea for many of those people.)

                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                      Yes, you are so right! I know I don't have a clue why!

                          2. re: equal_Mark

                            That really is a nice location. Its a shame they can't get that place to be more popular. I do really like that old building too.

                          3. Mine would be a location on Rt. 202 N in Branchburg, close to Milltown Road. There's been so many restaurants in there I can't even remember them all, but it's last few incarnations were a sports bar, an Indian restaurant, an IHop (which only lasted about a year I think), and some kind of hippy dippy sounding place that had a completely confusing sign, and which lasted about 2 months, it seems like.

                            1. someone mentioned Westfield. The place in the parking lot where the Christmas Tree is in the back left corner has been: Cheeburger Cheeburger twice, 25 Burgers and now Burger Palace(not sure if it is still open or not). And that has been since we moved in the area in 2006!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: foobuc

                                I went there once when it was Cheeburger. The metered parking was a nuisance. That can't be helping any.

                              2. Another one that's maybe worth mentioning is the restaurant on the ground floor of the Inn on Main in Manasquan. The Inn was built a few years ago and has housed four restaurants to date. The first three temporarily showed signs of potential and then tanked. Currently, Firefly is in there which seems to be developing a following. Hopefully, they stick around as they are certainly better than any of their predecessors.

                                16 Replies
                                1. re: MGZ

                                  Firefly is scheduled to move to Point Pleasant Beach, where Blue Water Grill was.

                                  1. re: rcript

                                    I don't think they're moving, but rather opening a sister steakhouse there.

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      There was an article in yesterday's Coast Star (1/24, page 52) about Firefly and the owners' plans to open a second location - Prime 13 in Point, scheduled to open February before Valentine's Day. I work with one of the sous chefs, I'll see what I can find out the next time I see her.


                                      1. re: missybean

                                        We went to dinner at Firefly last Thursday. The owner, who I helped after the Storm, came over to proudly tell me that they were opening a steakhouse in Point.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Something else to look forward too! I find it interesting Point is becoming the new Mecca for South Jersey Steakhouses. Any idea as to the "type" of Steakhouse? Are we talking higher end prime meat or Outback/Charlie Brown Prime Rib type place?

                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                            My guess would be, knowing both of the original places pretty well, that the Sister to Firefly will not have the rich ambiance, level of service, or time of aging on their steaks. I'll likely try it, but I'm certainly not all that excited for it to open.

                                            Shipwreck Point was close to a NY Steakhouse with the benefit of overlooking the River. They had a solid approach to drinks (albeit heavy on the expensive wines). I'd think it hard for Firefly to be better. Perhaps they think they can do it at lower price points to attract a different crowd?

                                            On the subject, Pete Wells recently raised the question, "Is the Steakhouse Done?" (See, http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co... ) (see also the link to the review that inspired the blog entry contained therein). I found it sorta funny that Firefly chose to go in that direction with the new location.

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Great article with many valid points which I could talk hours about. To simplify my answers I will touch upon a few quick points, all steakhouses with exception to very few such as Lugars, have to expand their menu offerings to bring their food cost vs. profit into line. With the cost of prime aged beef being what it is even the best steakhouses are working at below a 100% mark up on the cost of product. Once you add in the other expenses if, bread, water, linens, labor, electric, dish washing, toilet flushing etc. they are lucky to be at a 25% profit. So at best a $40 steak the house is lucky if the clear $10. Profit off that sale.

                                              This is why sides are always pushed by servers at Steakhouses. I've been to places that charge $8. for a baked potato! Traditionally in a steakhouse it's the salads, sides, wine and desert where the money is.

                                              This has led to the need to expand menu items to include many non-steakhouse type options most note able pasta. It's no secret pasta is the highest mark up or profit in the business. That's why the Olive Garden can charge $12/$15. per entree because their food cost for that dish is $3/$5. per entree. So the mark up is 2/300% vs. the 50% on a prime steak.

                                              With the extended downturn of the economy many people who would splurge on a meal like this once a month it has been removed from their budget. Instead of once a month it's once or twice a year. Combined with a more "health" conscious view on eating this greatly reduces the audience you have to draw from. So again offering more pasta options or vegetarian options has become fashionable at many of these locations. If you have 10 people going out and 1 is a vegetarian the other 9 will compromise to accommodate the 1.

                                              I could go on and on with this.......maybe over 1vodka and 1 gin martini when Shipwreck re-opens. Based on your comments I'll let you try the new Firefly and report back your findings before I decide to give it a try.

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                "Based on your comments I'll let you try the new Firefly and report back your findings before I decide to give it a try."

                                                Fair enough. Do try one of the Shipwrecks, in the meantime.

                                                As to the Wells's article, I had thought it worthy of wider discussion on the Boards. I just never got around to posting it. Feel free to cut and paste your comments and the link into a new thread on GT, if you like.

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  That will have to wait till Monday as I'm on my iPhone and that would be too much work. (Home PC has windows 8 and I refuse to learn how to use it)

                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                    For what it's worth, jr, Firefly's sister will be called "Prime 13" and is scheduled to open on February 27th.

                                                    See you at the Molly Pitcher for brunch on Sunday?

                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                      Why have I heard of Prime 13 before? Where is it located?

                                                      What time on Sunday? Monday is my son's birthday but I can probably get out for Bloody Mary.......do you take your's with gin as well?

                                                      1. re: jrvedivici

                                                        I was at Firefly last night. Prime 13 is going to be doing soft openings next week. The place is in a little mall on Arnold Ave. in Point Pleasant, kinda tucked behind Miletto and across the street from 709. It is going to be a steakhouse with some seafood offerings. As I said, I'll try it, but I really am looking forward to Shipwreck Point reopening more.

                                                        My birthday is today. Your boy is in a good astrological space. Couple that with his RBC education, and you better hope he never discovers food, music, booze, or weed - otherwise, you'll be proud and always confused. I know my Dad is both.

                                                        We have 1:30 seating reservations tomorrow, but Mom's feeling a bit off. Given the occasion, however, I may just have to have my bloodies with tequila . . . .

                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                          Happy Birthday! I will have to see if I can escape the simmering pot of gravy to run over. Our company isn't coming till closer to 3 so I might be able to make it. If I'm there you will know. (Just look for the Bloody Mary)

                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                            Obviously I didn't make it, my apologies. You have an official rain check for a gin Bloody Mary my friend. Hope mom enjoyed and Happy Birthday once again!

                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                              I gave the bartender ten bucks to alert me to the arrival of a forty-something bigguy showing up. As I was leaving, he told me no one fitting that description had shown up and offered me the bill back. I declined and suggested to him that the next time he saw a man like come into the bar, he should serve him a chilled vodka on me.

                                                              Sorry I missed you. I had eight plates of food and am seriously still hurtin'. Good brunch.

                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                Sir, my apologies again, your gesture is greatly appreciated.

                                                                Glad to read in the other thread you enjoyed the brunch. Perhaps our path's will cross in the near future. I am anxiously awaiting the return of Ship Wreck.

                                                                Although I am also anxiously awaiting the opening of Char in Red Bank I have the sad feeling Char, similar to Ashes, will suffer the ill fate of what I call the "Red Bank scene". I've been over that scene for the past decade.

                                  2. My nominee for "epic fail location" would be the resto site located on Route 206 South in Hillsborough, just south of Duke Farms. This is where Jasper's was located for many years.

                                    After Jasper's left--about 15 years ago--the number of new incarnations in this location has been so numerous that I can't recall how many there have been, but suffice it to say that there have been...many...in the space of about 15 years. The site has been vacant as often as it has been occupied.

                                    The most recent (failed) tenant even did a complete tear-down/rebuilding, only to go belly-up within a couple of years. I can't even recall the name of this place at this point. Now the site is sitting vacant once again, for an extended period of time.

                                    There are some restaurant sites that just seem to have a bad karma about them, and it really makes me wonder why someone would choose to open a restaurant in the same location where so many predecessors have failed and have left the stench of death in their wake.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                      is that where that Cocos place was ? If yes, i agree!

                                      1. re: Ted in Central NJ

                                        It was Maestro 206 last and has been gone for a while now. The Jolly Ox and Jaspers lasted for years, but since then, not so much!

                                      2. in garwood, at the corner of center street and south avenue. the location definitely seems to be cursed. i've lived in the area my whole life and it seems like nothing's lasted more than a year or so. i chalk it up to a lack of parking - there aren't very many street spots around.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: benn2009

                                          is that where the steakhouse place is/was? and The Station?

                                          1. re: foobuc

                                            Station is still there. I think we're talking about the location across South Avenue from The Station?

                                            1. re: foobuc

                                              referring to the corner spot across south avenue from the station. i think now it is a burger and bbq restaurant. for how long, though, is anyone's guess!

                                              1. re: benn2009

                                                I wonder too, although the BBQ is awesome. Hoping that one stays around. Went to do take out on Friday (again) and they were out of sides because of so many people coming in. Been a huge hit the first few weeks, and while still working out kinks, food is delish.

                                                1. re: mickeygee

                                                  Does this establishment of indeterminate location have a name?

                                                  1. re: equal_Mark

                                                    Ah, yes :) Loaded burgers and BBQ.

                                              2. re: foobuc

                                                not like i'm hoping they fail or anything...but nothing has ever lasted there for too long, unfortunately.

                                            2. Add this location to the list


                                              As soon as I saw Woodridge, I had a strong suspicion where it might be. I was right.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: ebchower

                                                Hasn't Red Hen been in business for a couple of years now? I'm confused as to why you would put it on the list

                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  It's possible. For some reason I assumed it was newly opened from the review. I don't get up that way too much anymore. Regardless, I remember several other restaurants at that location. Google street view doesn't show it as being Red Hen.