Category Archives: Westfield NJ Shopping

Grilled Cheese Shoppe Opening Celebration TODAY in Westfield NJ 5/3/16

IMG_5763People often use the phrase “It’s as American an apple pie.” But I think we should start saying “It’s as American as GRILLED CHEESE!” Because who the heck doesn’t love grilled cheese?! The folks at the soon-to-be-open Grilled Cheese Shoppe in Downtown Westfield know just how much we all looooove grilled cheese, and they have one for every taste under the sun!

Owner Nick Louros hails from North Jersey, where he grew up amid the restaurant business. “I was a typical Greek diner kid, spending countless hours in my uncles’ diners, and working at one through college.” Nick got his degree in accounting, and he worked in that field five years, but eventually he wanted a change.

Nick began scouting locations for a restaurant, and had considered Ridgewood, but Westfield just “checked off everything on our list,” and with the closing of Robert Treat Restaurant, Nick found the perfect location.

When I asked Nick why he chose to start a business around grilled cheese, he said, “What I really wanted was to serve family comfort food, something that was a staple in most people’s childhoods. Something simple but still gourmet at the same time, with different flavor profiles. And something that would bring families together.”

Grilled cheese is the perfect meal to embrace what Nick was searching for–at its core it’s one of the most simple sandwiches, but it can also be embellished and changed into something extraordinary.

IMG_5762Nick himself created most of the recipes for the Grilled Cheese Shoppe. What’s on the menu, you ask? Well, you can always order a basic grilled cheese (aka the “Cheesy Kid”–good for those pick eaters out there), which is American cheese served on thick sourdough bread. But also on the menu are fried chicken and waffles, 6 different bread selections, several different varieties of cheese, and even grilled dessert waffles. Some of the sandwich names include “Buffalo Blue,” “Green Envy,” and “French Onion.” In addition to the savory and sweet grilled cheese sandwiches, there will be soups, salads, gourmet coffee drinks, and of course hand-spun MILK SHAKES, including one called the “Peanut Butter Dream.”

Are you salivating yet??

The interior of the Shoppe is sleek and fresh and totally hip. It was designed by well-known Vanessa De Leon Associates to appeal to the young and young-at-heart, and Nick hopes the place will quickly become “the town hangout.”

Here’s another great thing about the Shoppe–it will be open 7 days a week! There aren’t too many eateries you can say that about. I, for one, am looking forward to their “Cheesy Brunch” on Sundays.


Follow the Grilled Cheese Shoppe on facebook for updates about their grand opening celebration happening TODAY! The Shoppe is located at 113 Quimby Street.


Monday-Thursday 11-8

Friday 11-9

Saturday 9-9

Sunday 9-4:30

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Utopia Salon and Day Spa in Westfield Exceeds Expectations!

Utopia Salon and Spa

I can hardly type this blog right now. Why? Because my limbs are like Jell-O, thanks to the blissfully relaxing MASSAGE I just got at Utopia Salon and Day Spa in Westfield! My Executive Assistant, Marketing Director, and I had decided upon a girls’ spa day to get rejuvenated before the end of the busy year, and it turned out to be the best … idea … ever!

Located at 349 South Ave, Utopia wears two hats: upscale salon on one side, and full-service spa on the other. I’d known about the hair services in the bustling salon, but I had no idea that the spa area of Utopia is truly a retreat all its own. Nubia Suarez has owned the salon and spa for 10 years now, and she says: “The name ‘Utopia’ means the ‘most perfect place on Earth,’ and that’s exactly what we strive for here at our own Utopia.”

When you enter the spa, you forget all about being in a hair salon in Westfield! You’re greeted by soft music, calm lighting, and offered ice water or a mimosa. The pedicure area is luxurious, with silk pillows at your back and tropical-esque baths at your feet. I was delighted to see fresh rose petals sprinkled on the beds in the massage rooms–not something you see at every massage!

We all got massages from Tina Silva, whose deft hands worked out all the knots–heck, I almost fell asleep! Tina utilized hot stones as well, something new to me, and it was incredibly relaxing. I also had a facial with Sueli Cifarelli (a licensed skin-care specialist who knows her stuff!), and my skin was positively glowing afterward! My assistant Angela had a soothing spa pedicure, followed by a beautiful yet subtle makeup application in the salon area. I have to confess that once I took a look at Angela’s gorgeous makeup, I immediately scheduled an appointment to have my own makeup done for a holiday party! That Olivia is an absolute GENIUS!!!

After our treatments we all wondered: 1) Why hadn’t we tried this place before, and 2) When could we come back?!! 

Utopia is currently offering some fabulous spa packages as winter specials–check them out on facebook or visit You can reach the salon and spa at: 908-928-0008. Tell them we sent ya!

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Westfield’s New Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming’s Grand Opening!

It’s a good time to be a dog. And nowhere is that more obvious than at WOOF GANG BAKERY & GROOMING, a new business in downtown Westfield that’s all about pampering your four-legged friend!

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming

Located at 218 East Broad Street, Woof Gang’s grand opening celebration is slated for November 21st at 9 am. And get this: The first 20 dogs at the grand opening will receive a free bag of treats every month for a year! (Dog must be present to win, hehehe.)

Owners Michelle and Sherry Butrico are mother and daughter, and they have put a ton of TLC into the shop. It’s quite possibly the most cheerful boutique I’ve ever entered. From the bright paint scheme to the colorful array of toys to the selection of high-end leashes to the vast array of adorable baked doggy treats, this place is a feast for the eyes–and nose! No exaggeration, I overheard a child in the shop say, “It smells SO good in here!”

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming

So why did they choose Westfield as the outpost for their Woof Gang franchise? Michelle said, “I grew up in South Plainfield, and my mom and I used to come to downtown Westfield for coffee and shopping all the time. I always loved this town, so I moved here two years ago. I knew this would be the perfect place for Woof Gang.”

Lead Groomer Crystal Borsellino is also local–she comes from In ‘N Out dog grooming in Garwood, where she expertly groomed my very own dog! Of joining Woof Gang, Crystal said, “These owners are truly passionate about dogs, which is my passion as well, so we just clicked. It’s such a positive vibe here.” Even their dogs get along–on most days in the store you’ll find Crystal’s dog Zeke and Michelle’s dog Sadie greeting customers with some good ol’ fashioned tail-wagging.

Woof Gang will provide top-of-the-line, cage-free pet grooming in addition to the extensive variety of goods in the shop. Most of the food sold at Woof Gang is grain-free, and the Butricos take pride in offering only healthy, all-natural supplements, and will soon be baking their own pet treats from scratch.

I know what you’re thinking: Where do I park?? Remember that Westfield offers 15 minutes of FREE PARKING at every metered space (a fact that was lost on me for many of the years I worked in town!), so take advantage of that. If you can’t score a space right on East Broad, try the parking lot behind the Farmhouse Store, which seems to be one of the least crowded lots in town and is only a block away.

You can reach Woof Gang at 908-264-7452 or follow them on Facebook:

Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming Westfield  

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Some Local Shops in the Cranford/Westfield Area That Offer Gift Wrapping!

unknown_2I have a confession to make: I loathe wrapping gifts. Sure, I love the way a beautifully wrapped gift LOOKS, but I don’t have the motivation nor the Martha Stewart talents to make it happen. And don’t get me started on how much money I’ve spent on gift bags and tissue–the poor man’s wrapping! Needless to say, I really appreciate when stores offer FREE wrapping on your purchases, and I often make a point to shop at such stores for the gift wrap alone!

Here’s a list of some local shops that will pretty-up your purchases with custom gift wrapping or gift bags with tissue. They’ll save you time, money, and a perhaps few paper cuts. I know I will be the making the rounds this holiday season!

Periwinkle’s Fine Gifts

19 N. Union Ave., Cranford

Unique gifts, accessories, housewares, and greeting cards


19 Eastman St., Cranford

“Gifting with a conscience”–all items are fair trade or made in the USA

Augusta Mae

35 Alden St., Cranford

Fine consignment, jewelry, and accessories


11 N. Union Ave., Cranford

Art gallery, gifts, and expert framing

Cougar Headquarters

415 Centennial Ave, Cranford, NJ 07016
(908) 497-9900

Cranford’s Ultimate Spiritwear and custom t-shirt store.

Bittersweet Designs

212 Lenox Ave., Westfield

Accessories and gifts for any occasion

The Town Book Store

270 E. Broad St., Westfield

One of the last independent bookstores in Union County

Williams Sonoma

127 Central Ave., Westfield

Everything for your culinary and entertaining needs

Patricia & Paul 

20 Elm St., Westfield

Over 40 varieties of oils and vinegars, plus housewares, gifts, and specialty grocery items

J.Winthrop on Elm

33 Elm St., Westfield

Jewelry, accessories, clothing, and housewares

The Farmhouse Store

221 E. Broad St., Westfield

“Like no other store in Westfield”

Thinka Dinka

264 E. Broad St., Westfield

Children’s toys, books, and huge Lego selection

Learning Express

104 Quimby St., Westfield

Unique toys and FREE personalization

Gallery U Boutique

439 South Ave. W., Westfield

Art gallery and gift/accessories boutique

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Gallery U Boutique in Westfield NJ


Did you know there’s a store in Westfield that not only sells the trendiest boutique items and gorgeous artwork, but also is changing people’s lives? I’m talking about Gallery U Boutique, of course, and it is a must-stop on your next venture into town.

Located in the Root building on South Ave, Gallery U wears many hats. On the one hand, it is an upscale boutique, and quite possibly the prettiest you will shop in anywhere thanks to the discerning eye of manager Deneise Hyatt-Murad. The store carries an incredible selection of unique jewelry, housewares, clothing, accessories, and gifts, many of which are handmade by local artisans. Sue Frigand, who works part time in the shop, says, “We have the usual and the unusual here together. You’ll find a lot of one-of-a-kind gift ideas here.”

image1Gallery U is also a true art gallery featuring original artwork displayed in themed showcases. According to gallery manager and curator Robert Langdon, “With all of our exhibits, I like to include a little bit of every medium, all different styles, so that eight out of ten people will connect with something.” Robert is on the board of the Westfield Art Association, and he says, “We are working closely to develop an art scene in Westfield, and to develop the south side of town into a true arts district.” The current art exhibit on display until August 3 is titled Fotographia and includes some very striking photographic images.

But the most impressive hat worn by Gallery U is this: It is a vocation training site that provides retail and business opportunities for adults with traumatic brain injuries. In conjunction with the Universal Institute, Gallery U gives countless tasks to their clients (as the brain-injured employees are known) day in and day out that help with their fine motor and social skills, not to mention bolster their resumes.

The clients do everything from computer research; hand-making and packaging greeting cards that are sold in the store (and are a wild success!); creating original artwork for sale in the boutique; assisting with all aspects of marketing; and much more.

Some clients even work as salespeople in the boutique, including the ever-charming Eric, whose bright smile and helpful attitude would be a welcome addition to any store. Eric told me, “This is an eye-opener of a place that’s about getting people back on their feet.” How many stores can you say that about?

Here are a few upcoming events at Gallery U. Follow them on Facebook to learn about more events and the many ways Gallery U is giving back to the community. And don’t forget to stop by on Tuesdays during Jazz Fest throughout July for 10 percent off all purchases in the boutique. Jazz musicians will be playing right outside the shop.

Friday, July 24, 7-9 pm: “Poetry U” featuring readings by local poets.

Friday, August 7 6-8 pm: “Pequenos–A Group Exhibition of Small Works” featuring smaller-scaled artwork.

Saturday, August 15, 1-3 pm: “The Kidz Are Alright” featuring artwork by the students of Carl H. Kumpf Middle School (Clark); sales benefit the school.

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Blow in Blow Out Salon in Downtown Westfield

Blow In Blow OutSay goodbye to bad hair days, ladies! The best-tressed women in town are getting their hair styled at Blow In Blow Out, new salon in downtown Westfield that specializes in giving gals that elusive perfect-hair day.

Owner Tara Galatt opened Blow In Blow Out in Summit in 2012, and Westfield is now home to her second location. Blow bars, as they’re affectionately called, have become crazy popular in Manhattan, and Tara had the foresight to know that the concept would take off in our area.

image2The salon offers six different styles of blowouts (all of which include a hair wash as well), and the names couldn’t be cuter: The Straight Edge, Jersey Girl, My Little Pony, Hot Buns, Glam Girl, and Bay Head. Prices start at $35 and go up depending on your length of hair, desired style, etc. The blowouts typically take between 35 and 45 minutes, and the stylists are adept at working with all hair textures.

If you find yourself wanting great hair more often, you can purchase a Blow In Blow Out membership: for a fee you get several blowouts per month along with extras like deep conditioning treatments, discounts on hair products, and a free blowout on your birthday.image4

How about this for a knock-your-socks-off birthday: Blow In Blow Out offers Cutie Pie (ages 5-12) and Teen Dream (ages 13-18) Party Packages wherein your daughter and up to 15 of her friends get blowouts and their nails done, do a fun craft, and chow down on pizza. For adults there’s a Girls Night Out package for up to 8 women to get their tresses pampered while enjoying champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.

And of course Blow In Blow Out offers a special package to help brides-to-be and their besties get dolled up on the big day; their stylists will travel to the bride (and bring bubbly, no kidding!), or the bridal party can reserve the entire salon privately for 2 hours of beautifying.

You can find Blow In Blow Out at 17 Elm Street. Conveniently, you can book your next blowout online:

Or call 908-654-3904. Reservations are highly recommended on Fridays and Saturdays. Follow them on Facebook to learn about upcoming events.


Sunday-Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Thursday: 10 am to 5 pm

Friday-Saturday: 9 am to 6 pm

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Shoe Tying Classes for Little Ones Offered At Westfield’s Castle Bootery!

photo 1 Tying your shoes seems like such a basic skill — but for children who’ve never done it before, it can be really daunting! That’s why Castle Bootery of Westfield offers shoe-tying classes every week, to help kids learn to make those infamous shoelace bunny ears in a non-threatening atmospherec.

The classes are geared toward children ages 4 1/2 and up, and the cost is $5 per child. Classes are held every weekday at 4 pm, and at 10 am and 2 pm on Saturdays. You must call ahead to reserve a spot: 908-233-7172. Each class lasts approximately 40 minutes (parents must stay in the store), and coupons are given to all participants at the end of class, so you can save on your next shoe purchase. And let’s face it, kids’ feet seem to grow by the second, so you might as well browse the great shoe selection while you’re there!

Castle Bootery is an institution in Westfield, having been in business downtown for 65 years. They specialize in expertly fitting infants, children, and young adults for footwear, and they carry only reputable brands of shoes and dancewear, such as Stride Rite, Puma, UGGs, and Capezio. You’ll also find a wide selection of rain boots, umbrellas, socks, and adorable hair accessories in the shop.

Afraid your little ones will complain if you drag them to a shoe store? Castle Bootery has a great bribe–a free helium balloon for every child. Never gets old, I tell you.

You can find Castle Bootery at 52 Elm Street. Conveniently, there is an entrance on Elm Street as well as on Quimby Street.

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Westfield Community Players Theater

Westfield Community PlayersWho doesn’t love Broadway? The lights, the larger-than-life scenery, the songs, the talent, the timeless stories! But you know what I don’t love? Insanely high ticket prices, expensive parking garages (or worse yet, parking tickets), and lousy seats. So give my regards to old Broadway, and buy me a ticket to a Westfield Community Players show!

Now in its 80th season, the Westfield Community Players perform several shows every year, many of which win prestigious awards for their excellence. Productions are staged in an intimate 150-seat theater on North Ave. in Westfield, where such hits as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and “Man of La Mancha” have been performed to accolades, along with 200 other comedies, musicals, mysteries, and dramas.

There are two more performances remaining in the Players’ 2015 spring season:

March 7-28

“A Thousand Clowns” by Herb Gardner

Plot: A middle-aged eccentric lives a nonconformist life with his nephew but faces losing custody of the boy.

Tickets: $20; $10 for students

May 9-30

“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” by William Finn and Doug Wagner

Plot: Socially awkward youngsters find joy, heartache, and purpose at the annual regional spelling bee.

Tickets: $25; $15 for students

The Westfield Community Players regularly holds open casting calls and welcomes volunteers. For more information, visit their website:

For show tickets, call: 908-232-1221 or visit:

The theater is located at 1000 North Ave. West, Westfield at the intersection of Edgewood Ave. During performances the theater parking lot is reserved for emergency vehicles and handicapped patrons. Free on-street parking is available, as well as a free lot across the street at the American Legion (please cross North Ave. very carefully at the crosswalk!).

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