Category Archives: Kenilworth

Keeping it Local! Tree City Vodka is a Cranford Original! Distilled in Kenilworth!

Tree City VodkaVodka. It’s everyone’s favorite spirit. Okay, maybe not everyone’s, but it sure has a wide fan base among us cocktail drinkers! Did you know that Kenilworth is home to one of the hottest new craft vodka distilleries on the market? Tree City artisan vodka launched just this past October, but you can already find it in nearly every restaurant and liquor store in our area! There’s a reason for that: it’s damn good!

Michael Maggio and Richard Bentricwz are Cranford neighbors who’ve share the same backyard for years, which they affectionately nicknamed “Tree City” for the large old trees scattered throughout. Rich has a career in IT sales, and Michael is an engineering consultant with a masters in chemistry and an MBA from Cornell–two very different business backgrounds. But both of them share a love of vodka, and over the course of their ten-year friendship (and many a friendly drink), they got to wondering if they could make a better vodka than what was on the market, and at a better cost.

Tree City Vodka Tree City Vodka So Mike and Rich did just that! They bought a machine to distill vodka, and according to Mike, “We went through hundreds of recipes and eventually got a second machine, and after a couple of years we got to the point where the vodka was good enough that we would use it in the mixed drinks that we made for friends and family, and no one knew it was our own vodka.”

Armed with a delicious vodka recipe, Mike and Rich opened a small distillery in nearby Kenilworth, where they began manufacturing the vodka on a larger scale under their brand Tree City, using only premium ingredients. Mike said, “Because I have an engineering background, I spent a lot of time analyzing the manufacturing process of the distillery to ensure reproducibility, in other words our first bottle will taste just like the thousandth bottle. The big difference between us and a lower-end vodka is that we don’t try for volume, we go for quality.” 

Tree City VodkaTree City currently makes one vodka, but they have plans to add a second product down the line, such as a vodka citron or perhaps even going in a different direction with gin. But first, Mike says, “Our goal is to be the #1 selling vodka in NJ.” Since they launched in October, Tree City has placed 180 cases of their vodka in restaurants and liquor stores! Dittrick’s of Garwood was the very first store to take a case, the first to host a tasting, and they are still one of Tree City’s biggest customers. Walk into almost any other restaurant, bar, or liquor store in our area, and you’ll find them serving or selling Tree City vodka.

 

If you’re of the “try before you buy” mentality, don’t be shy! Mike and Rich regularly host tastings at the Kenilworth distillery, complete with a tour of the facility! And bonus–you can purchase up to five bottles of Tree City at the distillery at cost. To schedule a tasting call Mike at (908) 499-0250.

For more information about Tree City, visit them on facebook or at www.treecityspirits.com. I know I’ll be adding a bottle (or two) to my bar at home.

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The Greek Store in Kenilworth NJ

image1If you attended the recent GreekFest in Westfield, you might be craving more delicious homemade Greek food. It turns out there’s a wonderful Greek gourmet store just a stone’s throw away in downtown Kenilworth.

The Greek Store was established in 1950 by Nicholas Diamandas and is still run by his family today. Their specialty is–you guessed it–homemade Greek and Mediterranean cuisine ranging from appetizers, entrees, dips, cookies & pastries, and more. They also have a wide array of cheeses (who knew there were multiple kinds of feta?), olives, oils, nuts, packaged goods, and frozen foods you can horde for later cravings. My Greek friend highly recommends their spanakopita, roasted red pepper dip, moussaka (layered eggplant entree), chicken with orzo, and baklava.

The Greek Store offers full-service catering for all occasions. In the shop you’ll even find gifts such as jewelry, Greek cookbooks and CDs, Greek children’s books, religious items, and more. Looking for a unique housewarming gift? Nicholas and his staff create gift baskets for all occasions.

The Greek Store is located at 612 Boulevard in Kenilworth and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 6:30 pm. For more information call (908) 272-2550 or visit their website at www.eatgreek.com. They accept all major credit cards.

NOTE: The Greek Store will be closed for a summer break from August 3 to September 1st, reopening September 2, so hurry up and get your Greek fix today!

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Forget “Black Friday” and Check Out “TRACK Friday”!!

Track Friday

It’s almost that time of year again. Time for millions of Americans to trample over one another trying to get to some discounted TV. I’m talking about Black Friday, of course, the day after Thanksgiving when prices are slashed, stores open in the wee hours, and all the crazies come a’running. But I’m thrilled to have discovered that a local movement has turned Black Friday into TRACK Friday, a day when people run (or walk) laps for charity instead of racking up credit card debt!

I just love the idea of raising funds and awareness for worthy causes while promoting good health through exercise. And, c’mon, won’t it feel good to burn off that epic Turkey Day meal??

photo 3Track Friday is the brainchild of Cranford resident and marathon runner Eric Rubinson, who established the movement in 2012 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. According to Eric: “It started as a spontaneous, individual fundraiser for the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. I issued an informal challenge to my friends and family: if they could collectively raise $5,000 for local charities by Thanksgiving, I would head over to my old high school track on Black Friday and run a full marathon–105.5 laps. As word spread, others wanted to join me on the track, even for just a lap or two. We reached the $5,000 in just nine days. By the time Thanksgiving came, we’d generated over $22,000 for charities, and had over 30 runners and walkers in four states.”

Track FridayThis year marks the third annual Track Friday, so it is now a well-established annual giving event. Participants can support ANY charity, raise any amount, and run or walk any distance, anywhere. You can choose to raise money for a charity that means something to you, or you can support an already-existing team’s cause by donating to their specified charity.

Track FridayInstead of paying a registration fee as you would to participate in a marathon, etc., make a donation to the charity of your choice. Track Friday uses Razoo, a reputable service for processing charitable donations, to support Track Friday fundraising. All of the resources for registering, donating, and fundraising for Track Friday are available on www.trackfriday.org.

David Brearley High School in Kenilworth will be a central meetup location for the many area residents who will participate in this year’s Track Friday. There’s no official start time–you can do your laps at any point that day–but CrossFit Treehouse of Kenilworth will be hosting a free workout at the Kenilworth high school track at 10 a.m. If you’re not going to be local for the event, you can participate ANYWHERE by finding a publicly accessible track, or even planning your own meetup. Meetups communicated to Track Friday are posted on a central map available on trackfriday.org.

Got kids? Bring them along! There are always oodles of kiddos joining in on Track Friday. Don’t expect a lot of fanfare–BYO snacks, drinks, games for the kids, and so on. But do make an effort to do a lap or two this year; I promise you’ll still have plenty of time to shop, and you’ll be supporting something wonderful. Now I just need a new pair of kicks!i

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