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Perrotti's Cranford

Perrotti’s: 50 Years as Cranford’s Small Town Treasure!

Perrotti's CranfordThere are certain places that just epitomize “small town.” The barber shop that’s been cutting hair for generations…the ice creamery that still churns its ice cream from scratch…and of course, the local butcher. Cranford happens to be home to one of the best old-fashioned butcher shops you’ll find anywhere: Perrotti’s.

For almost 50 years, Perrotti’s Quality Meats has been the neighborhood butcher shop where locals go for quality meats and prepared foods. Brothers Mario and David Perrotti learned the art of butchering after emigrating from Italy to Elizabeth, NJ, where they worked in a pork store for years. In 1967, they opened their own shop in Cranford, 23 South Union Avenue at the corner of South Union Ave. and Cherry Street, and have been operating as a family business in that very spot ever since.

 

It just so happens that my mailer coming out next week of Stephen D’Amato’s painting of Perrotti’s and their upcoming 50th Anniversary coincide! That’s right – the store opened on October 18, 1967 and it’s a huge year for celebrating! I caught up with Nick Perrotti, David’s son and current owner with his brother, Dave, to find out what makes Perrotti’s such a town favorite and how they are going to do to celebrate their “golden anniversary”.

 

Besides having the finest quality meats around – it’s one-stop shopping for a family meal once you enter the store. Coming in for the perfect side dish is what keeps the door revolving at Perrotti’s. The family grew up in a household where guests were always served homemade food and family gatherings were a feast. They learned the art of cooking for a large family from their mothers and grandmothers and knew that you didn’t just serve a plate of meat – the sides were equally as important. “You are walking into my home when you walk into here,” said Nick.

What started out as a “butchering business” evolved into customers coming in for the entire meal. The staples are their homemade marinara sauce, cheesy mashed potatoes, meatballs in homemade tomato sauce, Eggplant Parmesan, stuffed shells, their famous lasagna, legendary rice pudding, and always fresh rolls. Perrotti’s takes the prep work out of the dinner dilemma and in thirty minutes or less you have a delicious four-course meal!

 

Perrotti’s draws you in because they represent customer service at its finest. Whether you visit the store every week or only around the holidays – they will all remember you, your name, and the last thing your ordered! Nick commented, “We have customers coming here since we first opened! Fourth generations of customers are even walking through these doors and that’s why we love Cranford – it’s such a great town and a close-knit community. My dad and uncle – they owe it to the people – they put out a good product – but word of mouth made this place a success. Neighbors telling neighbors – and that still happens today.”

 

Nick asks that you don’t be shy! He encourages you to ask for whatever you need: what side dish goes best with your meal, what you should cook for dinner, or what cut of meat is best for your recipe! They will gather all the ingredients and even tell you how to prepare your entire meal! If it’s your first time to the store, Nick says they’ll “give you a tour of the store and show you what we have to offer!” From giving cookies to your children, to carrying your bags out to the car, or calling when you meat has finally arrived – it’s home town service at every step! I visit on a weekly basis, and for that, my family is eternally grateful! As a matter of fact, my sister Aileen stops in EVERY time she visits from Maryland so she can stock up on the amazing homemade pierogies!

 

“We are involved in people’s lives here not because we HAVE to, but because we really like to be! Our customers like to stay and hang out with us!”

 

 

 

Perrotti's Cranford

 

Perrotti’s wants you to know that they will definitely be celebrating their 50th Anniversary. The original Mario and David will make an appearance in their white aprons on October 18. The rest of the week will be filled with free coffee, giveaways, and cookies. You can also commemorate the event and purchase custom-made shirts and sweatshirts or their traditional anniversary coffee mugs!

 

 

 

 

Of the Perrotti’s painting, Stephen said, “I went through a period of feeling intrigued about Cranford and what it meant for me to be a resident and to discover the history of Cranford, exploring these old buildings with so much charm and character that are still standing. Perrotti’s struck me as one of those hidden treasures of Cranford.”

 

Indeed, Perrotti’s is a treasure in every sense of the word, the kind you can only find in a very special town. Please don’t be shy next time you visit Perrotti’s – talk to Dave, Nick, Tony, or Jim and ask them a few questions or even how their day is going! You just might walk out with a four-course meal and some new best friends – I know I did!

 

You can find Perrotti’s on Facebook at PerrottisQualityMeats FB and at their website with a detailed listing of butcher items, prepared food, and deli selections: http://www.perrottiscranford.com/

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Get Ready For Some Fall Fun… Jersey Style!

cranfall 02141 ss25The chill is settling in at night, the leaves are starting to change color and wisp away in the wind, and football season is in full swing. The weather is gorgeous in our lovely towns and the area is packed with the most quintessential events to “ease into fall”! It’s nice to have a handy guide of what’s on the schedule to give you options for these autumn weekends in Cranford, Westfield, and neighboring towns!

 

Cranford Paint Out 2017, Cranford (Saturday, September 16, 1:00-5:00 pm)

Cranford Paint OutThere’s still time to register by September 13!(visit Registration) If you love to paint and love our town of Cranford– you HAVE to attend this event sponsored by The Artist Framer of Cranford. Whether you are an adult or child, everyone is welcome to head to The Artist Framer to check in (11 am – 1pm day of event at 17 North Avenue East) and then go paint your vision of your favorite spot in scenic Cranford. Visit the event’s Facebook page at Cranford Paint Out FB Page for inspirational suggestions by The Cranford Historic Preservation Society. Vasari Classic Artists’ Oil Colors will be on hand to give you an opportunity to try some of their newest paint colors! Whether you participated in the event or just enjoy seeing artists in action – head to Alden Street at the closing to view all of the finished masterpieces!

 

Centennial Village Group 10th Music Fest, Cranford (Saturday, September 16, 4:00 – 9:00 pm)

IMG_5376Walk over to Lincoln School in Cranford (132 Thomas Street) and bring your friends and family to this FREE event! There will be live bands including Hugo Furst and the Lovehandles, local food vendors, lawn games, 50/50 raffles, and a tricky tray! This will be an entire evening of fun! All proceeds go to preservation and beautification of Centennial Village where some of our favorite restaurants and shops reside! Head to their Facebook page for more info at Music Fest FB

 

22nd Annual Fanny Wood Day 2017, Fanwood (Sunday, September 17, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

IMG_7158Go to South Avenue in Fanwood, NJ and the fun begins! The lineup for this festival is crazy! Local business and restaurant have put together insane contests such as the “Pancake Eating Contest”, “Chicken Wing Eating Contest”, and the “Bubble Gum Blowing Contest”! The local YMCA will be a huge attraction with their Family Zumba Class at 11:30 am, “Paint Your Own Y-Shirt”, “Make Your Own Slime”, and obstacle courses! In addition to these fun events, festival goers can experience a car show, local vendors, petting zoo, pony rides, rock climbing, kiddie rides, and live entertainment. Sounds like non-stop fun! For more info head to their Facebook page at FannyWoodDay2017 FB

 

28th Annual FestiFall, Westfield (Sunday, September 24, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm)

IMG_7159The Greater Westfield Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce another fabulous lineup of events at FestiFall this year! Rain or shine – bring the entire family to Downtown Westfield to experience over 250 local vendors, arts & crafts, live music all day, children’s activities in the Kid Zone, and local culinary treats! For more information closer to the event, check out their Facebook page at FestiFall FB

 

7th Annual Rubber Ducky Race, Cranford (Sunday, October 22, 4:00 – 5:00 pm)

Ducky Race

Ducky Race

Cranford Ducky Derby

Hanson Park Conservancy brings you another highly anticipated event in October. Walk to Sperry Park and watch over 1000 individually numbered rubber ducks race down the Rahway River and spill over the falls to the finish line! Winning ducks will be announced at the event and coveted prizes are local merchant gift bags, local shop gift certificates, and monetary awards! Get your tickets for ducks now at Periwinkles (North Union Avenue in Downtown Cranford) or the Cranford Canoe Club (Springfield Ave). Single ducks are $5 and $20 will get you a flock of 5! These colored ducks are hot items and cannot be purchased the day of the race! All proceeds benefit Hanson Park maintenance and educational programs. Here is the Facebook page for the event: 7th Annual Rubber Ducky Race FB

 

 

13th Annual Feast of St. Michael, Cranford (September 28 – October 1)

IMG_7155Literally thousands of local residents will flock to St. Michael’s School Parking Lot (Holly & Alden Sts.) to celebrate the church’s patron saint during Feast Hours and enjoy fun for the whole family. Everyone loves this event and this year is no exception: popular bands every night including the Alden Street Band and Goldenseal, amazing rides, local vendors, and memories to last forever! The event kick-off is September 28th at 6:00 pm! For bracelet night/discount ride information head to their Facebook page at Feast of St. Michael FB

 

10th Annual Scarecrow Stroll, Cranford (October 24-November 5)

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For a decade, this has been a cherished tradition in Cranford. Everyone loves heading into downtown to see the newest and most creative scarecrow for the year and vote on their favorites! You, your family, or an organization from Cranford or any neighboring town can still register and design your own through their Facebook page at Scarecrow Stroll FB Page! Registration closes October 13. Since this is a special anniversary – it promises to be the biggest and best scarecrow event yet! I’ve heard there will be a special “Nighttime Stroll”. Get ready for some downtown fun!

 

Duke Farms in the Fall, Hillsborough Township (1112 Dukes Pkwy W, Hillsborough Township)

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Enjoy breathtaking sights at this sprawling estate in Hillsborough: just a 50 -minute car ride and you are in paradise! You’ll find “almost 1000 acres of land devoted to an ongoing exploration – of native species, preservation and sustainability efforts. Duke Farms brings you festivals, workshops, and an award-winning café! Come enjoy an “Autumn Waterfall Walk” where you can enjoy a 3-mile walk past 4 waterfalls and 6 water bodies, a Fall Mystery Walk, Bat Storytime for kids, and huge sunflower fields! Visit dukefarms.org for more info!

 

 

 

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton Township (80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township)

Grounds For SculptureCelebrating 25 years – autumn is the perfect time to get away and explore the grounds. This is a 42-acre sculpture park and museum where, no matter where you roam, you will always stumble upon some stunning installment of art. It’s a “magical place where art and nature are always at play”. Just one hour away – take a drive for a “Moonlight Tour and Dinner” at the renowned Rat’s Restaurant, Vineyard dinners, Sing-a-Long Happy Hours, First Fridays, picnic lunches, and Tots on Tour. Our own Cranford Library even has museum passes for this destination! See the full calendar of upcoming events at groundsforsculpture.org

 

Liberty Hall Apple Harvest Time, Union (1003 Morris Avenue, Union NJ)

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Throughout September enjoy strolling through Liberty Hall’s gorgeous orchards – out back by the historic firehouse and firetruck! You can have a “semi- private” experience picking your own apples in this stunning landscape of apple trees, flowing shrubs, and trees displaying their change of colors. $8 for a small bag and $15 for a large bag. Call ahead at 908-527-0400 to make sure the apples are plentiful and ripe before you come! http://www.kean.edu/libertyhall/events/apple-harvest-time

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Back 2 School

Patricia Perry Salon: A Westfield Experience Dedicated to Curls, Color, and Community!

Patricia PerryI know there are a million NJ hair salons to choose from– so why did I decide to pick the Patricia Perry Salon in Westfield (www.patriciaperrysalon.com)to write about this week? My friend told me about her positive experience at the salon – from the gleaming chandeliers, to the sweet woman who shampooed her hair, the first-class service, and finally how amazing her hair felt and looked! The more I learned about Patricia, her ideals, and what the salon means to her – I had to write this article!

 

Patricia was born in Portugal and came to the United States when she was four years old. She has been in the salon industry since she was 14 years old!! She started shampooing at a friend’s home and has been working in salons in Union County from 19 years old until the present! In fact, Patricia loves the “hair business” so much that she even quit law school for it! She decided to give the salon industry 100% of her devotion and dedicate her career to curls, color, and health conscience hair products! Oh – and don’t forget the community – she and her husband love to give back to the community that’s supported them through this crazy ride!

That’s right – this is a family business which is what I love about our community! Matthew and Patricia Perry met, married, and started this salon business together! They have two beautiful children, Jacob and Emma, and live in Clark, NJ. They opened Patricia Perry Salon in April 2015. She grew her extensive clientele in Union County salons and then came to a point in her career where they wanted to open their own salon and “do things the way we want to do it!” Matthew and Patricia went into this business as a total partnership. Patricia devotes her days to styling, the salon, and education – while Matthew handles the paperwork and marketing. You’ll always find him at the front desk so make sure to say “hi” next time you visit!

 

She decided to make it her mission to conquer CURLS! As she worked in the salons she noticed the curly-haired clients left with wet hair and tons of product while the other women left with a gorgeous blowout. She wanted every client to feel like they left the salon with a “finished product” and equally as beautiful. She made curls her “niche” and her main focus for Patricia Perry Salon. Did you know that 80% of the population has some sort of curl/texture to their hair? Patricia wants women to “fall in love with your hair all over again!” She says, “Love who you are – embrace your curls!”

 

Patricia PerryPatricia has been deemed a “Deva Curl Ambassador” – meaning she has done extensive education on her own and at the Deva Curl Deva Academy in the field of DevaCut, No Poo Transformation Service, and Pintura Highlighting. DevaCurl is a company devoted to curly hair products and stylist education of curl management. Everything you need to know is on their website here www.devacurl.com. Patricia is a “DevaStylist” and other stylists come to her salon to learn how to cut and style curly hair. All the stylists at Patricia Perry Salon are educated on curls and can formulate and prescribe styling regime for each person – it’s very individualized.

 

No harsh chemicals will ever be found at Patricia Perry Salon – even their keratin treatments are formaldehyde-free! “We are extremely environmentally and health conscience about the hair care products we use and sell and we stand behind them 100%. The salon specializes in boutique hair color. They use the “top of the line” Goldwell products (www.goldwell.us)– the standard for luxury hair color. Goldwell, founded in 1948 is “the most intelligent and caring system for creating and maintaining vibrant healthy hair color.”

 

Patricia PerryWhen you walk into the salon you will see a display case of the most beautifully labeled and packaged hair care products. They sell Davines ( www.davines.com) , a family company started in 1966 in Parma, Italy, and the leader in eco-friendly products. Davines is “farm-to-table “hair care. Earlier this year, Davines partnered with the Slow Food Foundation– “a global nonprofit that preserves food and agricultural biodiversity by connecting local farmers with alternative markets- to launch the next generation Essential Haircare. The concept is truly unprecedented. The line is comprised of nine product families. Each contains one specific active ingredient from a Slow Food farm in Italy and the name, face and story of the farmer who grows it with care and passion.”

 

Patricia Perry Salon wants to give you the whole package when you walk in their door. From going back to get your shampoo, to the styling experience, to walking out the door with your fresh, new look. You will be offered your choice of mimosas, wine, champagne, coffee, tea, or infused water! “It’s all about customer service. We stand behind everything we do. We know there are so many salons to choose from – we feel we are bringing something different to the table!”

 

Back 2 School

The salon also has an awesome “Back to School Drive” scheduled for Wednesday, August 30 –  between 10 am and 7 pm bring in a new lunchbox and your child will receive a free haircut! All proceeds benefit the YWCA of Union County. Please call the salon in advance to make an appointment for that day! “The community has completely embraced us and we want to continually give back to them!”

 

 

Trust me, I’m not trying to change anyone’s loyalty to their NJ local hair salon – but if you are looking for a new salon to experience or you haven’t had the best “curl” treatment – why not stop in? Every stylist at this salon is amazing and a true artist! You won’t be disappointed!

302 South Avenue East, Westfield, NJ 07090

 908-301-1001
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Solar Eclipse

The Great American Solar Eclipse: How to Celebrate NJ Style!

Solar EclipseThe greatest astronomical event in decades is about the take over the United States on August 21 and the country is ready to celebrate! This momentous experience has been coined “The Great American Solar Eclipse” because of the total eclipse’s path spanning across 14 states starting with Lincoln Beach, Oregon at 9:05 am PDT and ending in Charleston, SC at 4:05 pm EDT. NASA’s official website on the eclipse is here: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/. Americans are excited due to the fact this is the first coast-coast eclipse in 99 years – since 1918! The day will also be a memorable experience for all current adults and children. Are you ready for this event? Here is everything you need to know – from safety to solar party events!

 

A couple seconds after our fastest shutter speed exposure bracketing began, the slower shutter speeds reveal he extent of the sun's corona. The longer shutter speeds wash out the prominences erupting from the sun's surface.

A couple seconds after our fastest shutter speed exposure bracketing began, the slower shutter speeds reveal he extent of the sun’s corona. The longer shutter speeds wash out the prominences erupting from the sun’s surface.

According to NASA, the “moon passes between the earth and sun – totally obscuring the image of the sun”. Day becomes night for a few seconds! Will you see the stars? Scientists say “no”- but you may see Venus in the Western Sky – below and to the right of the sun. According to astronomers, this will be “the most photographed, most Instagrammed, most Tweeted eclipse ever!” Click here for NASA’s video of the path of the eclipse: The Path of the Eclipse

 

 

While New Jersey is not in the direct path of the eclipse, residents will definitely have a spectacular view! Our state will see a “partial” eclipse – about 70-75% of the sun will be covered. Here is the timeline of the day:

  • New Jersey will begin to experience a partial effect around 1:22 pm
  • The moon will gradually cover the sun until a maximum eclipse (75 percent sunlight blockage in the Garden State) occurs at 2:45 pm, lasting about two minutes.
  • The eclipse will be finished at 4 pm

Protect Your Eyes!

IMG_6176NASA warns eclipse watchers that homemade filters and sunglasses are NOT SAFE!! It is crucial that you and your family are wearing proper, certified solar viewing glasses and that they are held to your face with your hands (for children). All viewers in the Garden State need to wear their glasses for the ENTIRE event – especially prior to the maximum effect! Even a small amount of exposure is dangerous. There is never a safe time to look up at the sky when it’s only 70% blockage! Make sure your little ones are in constant supervision during the event and that they are never looking up at the sky without protective eyewear!

 

NASA recognizes 5 safe eclipse glasses that are “certified” – meaning that they meet international standards for safe solar view and they have the ISO Logo and letters CE (ISO 12312-2). These companies are Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optics, TSE 17, and Baader Planetarium. If you don’t have glasses, try to get them ASAP – most are sold out online! Do not buy from any street vendors and if it doesn’t have the logo, do not trust it! You cannot look at the eclipse through your smartphone or any unfiltered camera, telescope, or binoculars. Do not take pictures with your phone either! Your equipment must have a “solar neutral density filter” and you have to be wearing filters for your eyes. Here’s a guide to how to view the eclipse safely: Solar Eclipse Safety

 

Events in Town That You Won’t Want to Miss!

 

Cranford Public Library’s Solar Eclipse Viewing Party: If you are 7 years and older, head to the library for a science workshop about the eclipse starting at 11:00 am. Solar eclipse glasses will be handed out at this event. All families are welcome to join the library staff at Sherman Field down the street from 1:00 – 3:00 pm for the eclipse viewing. Bring blankets and chairs! Protective eyewear will be distributed while supplies last! Children must be with a caregiver.

 

Westfield Memorial Library: All are welcome to visit the library from 10:00 am till 3:00 pm to enjoy live streaming of NASA’s live videos of the eclipse!

 

Scotch Plains Public Library: Join them for a family friendly solar eclipse celebration at 11:00 am. The library will host crafts, activities, and themed treats. Come to make your own pinhole camera and free viewing glasses will be provided while supplies last!

 

Trailside Nature and Science Center: Head over from 12:00 – 3:00 pm for an eclipse viewing – weather permitting. Please bring your own solar eclipse glasses!

 

Elizabeth Public Library: Enjoy an eclipse viewing with presentations from a local astronomer (glasses provided) or choose to watch a live NASA Solar Eclipse video feed!

 

Other Events Throughout the State…

 

Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College Math Campus, Toms River, NJ: Members of A.S.T.R.A. and planetarium staff will be present for FREE eclipse activities including solar telescopes for safe viewing!

 

Raritan Valley Community College, Branchburg, NJ: Head to their 3M Observatory to view the eclipse from 1-4 pm! Bring your own solar glasses!

 

Liberty Science Center: Soon to be “the largest planetarium in the U.S.” – events start at 10:00 am and conclude at 5:30 pm. There will be a STEM team to explain the science behind the eclipse as well as fun activities, lectures, telescope viewings, sun spotters, and live views from NASA! Enjoy a special 4:45 pm showing of the “Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon Laser Show”. Here is the event link: The Great American Eclipse at LSC

 

Newark Museum Dreyfuss Planetarium: Starting this Wednesday, August 16 through Friday, August 18 at 3:00 pm every day, enjoy the special presentation of “Eclipse: The Sun Revealed”. Recommended for children 8 and up, this video gives participants an up-close view of a total eclipse and explains the amazing science behind this natural phenomenon. Here is their awesome trailer: The Sun Revealed Trailer and the event website is listed here: Newark Museum The Sun Revealed Event

 

Other Ways to Enjoy the Eclipse-

 

NASA LIVE: Watch unprecedented images and live video of the eclipse from numerous spacecraft, the International Space Station, and from the Eclipse Ballooning Project (teams from universities fly balloons as high as 10,000 ft. and send back views through NASA TV). Click here to be directed to their website for all the live feeds: NASA Live Stream

 

Solar EclipseSo why such a big fuss over two minutes of the moon covering the sun? Is it worth it? I found a quote by Anthony Aveni, a retired professor of astronomy and astrology at Colgate that sums the excitement surrounding this total eclipse event: “Science has taken the myth out of the eclipse, but not the emotion.” August 21 promises to be a memorable and exciting day – let’s hope it’s a beautiful and cloudless day in New Jersey!

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Cranford’s Yale Terrace Brewery: 25 Years in the Making!

Yale Terrace BreweryCranford residents and all surrounding towns began rejoicing at the very mention of Yale Terrace Brewery coming to town. The opening of a craft brewery right in the heart of town is pure joy to all! Craft beer lovers – your prayers have been answered. Welcome Yale Terrace Brewery to 26 Eastman Street.

 The Yale Terrace Brewery website is packed full of information at ytbrewery.com but I needed to know the information that wasn’t posted on social media. I met with Vinny Savinelli – longtime Cranford resident and beloved owner of Vinny’s Pizza and Pasta to get the real scoop. As he told me the story of how the brewery was created, it was immediately evident that brewing with his best buddies has been a life-long passion.

 

Vinny related that it all started on Yale Terrace in West Orange with four friends: Pete Merrigan (the brewmeister who has the ingredients down to a science), Tom Brisco (the first mate), Rob Jones (official beer lover and taste-tester), and himself (the most business-minded of the crew). They grew up together as children and have been best friends since 1992. “I was there every day since junior high school!” commented Vinny.

 “We all get together and brew – we experiment with many different things – all different grains and grain quality from Europe, Canada, Oregon, Washington, and New York.” He mentioned that they are “always brewing, mastering, and experimenting with new concepts”.

 “We are even putting berries in our beer! We love our wine-infused IPA – it’s absolutely fantastic!” exclaimed Vinny.

Yale Terrace Brewery 

All of their beers are named only by a number. Each number represents a house number on a street of someone close to them. It could be a friend, relative, or someone they met during the journey of growing up together. The number could also refer to a memory or experience that they had at one of those locations! The owners joke that these beers will make for great conversations with customers – trying to guess what each one means! Here’s a freebie: # 19 Morse Street has a special Cranford connection to one of the owners!

 

The brewery will always have their 4 core beers (just like their friendship). They are #17 Yale Terrace: Cream Ale, #26 Yale: Oatmeal Stout, #34 Yale Terrace: Vienna Lager, and #161 Main Street: IPA. You can meet all of these beers at their home website. Throughout the year they will frequently rotate seasonal beers and special brews– for up to 8 beers on tap at a time. “We have 24 beers that we are all proud of – and will rotate weekly!” Vinny’s personal favorite? A Scottish IPA with five different hops imported from Scotland – the hop extract is placed in the whirlpool at the end and he claims that it’s phenomenal!

 

Why did they choose Cranford for their brewery location? Aside from the fact that Vinny’s pizza parlor is next door, he mentioned that “it’s all about the community – most breweries are on back roads or warehouses. This is in the center of town and next to a commuter train station – it’s the ideal location! The response from Cranford and the whole area has been tremendous! The support has been great – from the community and local businesses.”

 

The majority of the extensive licensing process is complete so it’s full steam ahead for getting the brewery to open as soon as possible (they are hoping mid-September). The owners want everyone to know that this is not just a place to sit and drink! The plan is to be open at least 6 days a week. Customers can expect to have live music, trivia night, and sports games on the flat screen TVs throughout the room. They want to have classes on brewing beer starting with the fermentation process on the premises. They want people to come in empty-handed and they will walk you through the process of brewing. At the end of the experience you have created your own beer in their brewery. The owners will also conduct tours of the brewing process and hope for customers to come in to drink pints and go home with growlers!

 

The grand opening is going to be “major” according to Vinny. Craft beer lovers should anticipate giveaways of YTB merchandise, live music, and incredible food from Vinny’s. The first day will be “open for everyone to come – expect mayhem and craziness!”

 

Yale Terrace BreweryWhat can YOU do before the doors open soon? Their YTB green shirts are everything! If you don’t own one get it NOW! Head here: YTB Store. That shirt is your ticket to the hottest event in town and the key to getting VIP information before anyone else! Owner Rob Jones also has a VIP Member fundraising campaign found here: YTB GoFundMe. For a limited time, you can gain VIP status and earn reward levels ranging from YTB accessories to a personalized brewing session with you and your friends!

 

Want the most current events and brewery info at the touch of a button? Join the mailing list at YTB Website and like them on Facebook at YTB Facebook

 

Yale Terrace BreweryAt the end of the interview I realized that I wasn’t just excited for a craft brewery to be opening in Cranford, I was happy for these four owners. Vinny commented that “it’s crazy that the four of us get along so well!” It isn’t often that friends get to work together and create something that they’ve been doing for 25 years! I’m rooting for this town and the lifelong friendship of these four men. I have no doubt that the surrounding towns will embrace the brewery and the owners as well. So, when you visit YTB in the near future – raise a pint to these guys who have been “creating unique quality beers…from grain to glass”!

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NosVino

NosVino: The Euro Café Brought to Westfield

NosVinoHave you ever exited a restaurant at night with half a bottle of wine still waiting to be finished? (Ok, it doesn’t happen to me very often, either!) You get my drift, though, right? The party has broken up and you still want to keep the evening going! Chris LoBrace, manager of the new NosVino in Westfield, has the answer to your evening woes!

 

The new outdoor seating at NosVino, an upscale wine and beer store on Central Avenue, is a welcomed sight to the Westfield restaurant goer searching to find a seating area to complete the evening.  Re-opened in August 2016 under a new look and new name (formerly Cool Vines), the process of obtaining a sidewalk café license was a bit of a process. But now that the bistro and chairs are in place – everyone is wondering what to expect! This store is ground-breaking, being the first wine store of its kind to obtain an outdoor café.

 

“To be honest, this is a good town for couples and families, but there isn’t much public space to enjoy alcohol and just sit outside!” commented Chris.  

 

So, what exactly is this café connected to the store? Chris stated, “We wanted people to behave the same way as restaurants, but with our store.” A big dream, some bistro chairs and flowers, and the space was created. Here’s how it works. You purchase an adult beverage of your choice from inside the store and hopefully some of their delicious charcuterie (more about that later).  After that, the experience is all yours. They recommend bringing your own method of keeping your wine chill, your own corkscrew/bottle opener, and glasses – whatever accoutrements you would bring to an outdoor picnic! Then pick a spot outside and enjoy the scenery and the company of the people who came with you!

 

Basically, once you exit the store you are in downtown Westfield and have entered Café NosVino! Folks- this is not a restaurant, a bar, nor are they serving booze. What you do have is a “self-service café”, mentioned Chris. The employees at NosVino are “not allowed to handle the alcoholic products in any way.”

 

“We have a lot of cool stuff!” added Chris. Yes, they certainly do! NosVino means “our wine”. Owner Erick Garcia has truly hand-picked an impressive array of domestic and imported wine and beer. You can find the best rosé, microbrews, champagne, and ciders all cooling in their refrigerated section! The shelves are stocked with Asher’s chocolate products from Pennsylvania, Plymouth Artisan Cheese from Vermont, domestic pre-sliced prosciutto, figs, and chorizo.

 

NosVino’s vision for the present: They want to cater to restaurant goers who are frequenting the BYO’s in town. The store wants to provide an outdoor space for those who still “want to enjoy the evening in Westfield and finish their bottle of wine!” commented Chris. “We want people to have the Euro experience – that is how you kill the time- outdoor with friends! Maybe you go for that 2nd bottle of wine!” They also want to be that “rendezvous” point for parties.  “Start the night at NosVino and treat it as a “welcoming café!” said Chris. 

 

Plans and wishes for the future? They want to further define the café and individualize it. NosVino is planning formal food pairing suggestions with in-store wine and beer available for purchase. Streamed music outdoors is also in the works! 

 

Other notable features of the store?

·      Their Beer Club/Wine Club started this month. 

·      Free spirit/beer/wine tastings inside every Friday and Saturday.

·      Stop by for free wine tastings during Westfield jazz nights

·      Free delivery to all downtown restaurants Thursday-Sunday 5-9 pm

·      Schedule a private event for you and your friends for wine tasting classes, wine pairing seminars, whiskey sipping, and beer education!

 

For now, NosVino simply asks that you make use of this al fresco sidewalk café and do what the Euros do – sip the hours away enjoying the company of those around you!

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NNO

August 1, 2017: Out and About on National Night Out!

 

This national event keeps getting bigger and better each year! In this day and age – the communities and their police departments need to have a working relationship in order to keep the towns safe and maintain open communication. On August 1, 2017, the goal across the country is to “promote community interaction with the police and increase public awareness of police programs in the community.” Crime prevention is key! Cranford, Westfield, and surrounding towns have a great night planned for everyone. Head outside, walk to the downtown, and enjoy a night meant for families!

 

Cranford: (6-9 pm) Meet at the Patrolman Robert F. Hand Plaza and on front of the lawn of the Cranford Police Department Headquarters. Police/emergency vehicles and police motorcycles will be present for children to explore. Kids will be able to meet police and safety personnel and find out more about their professions. An annual NJ Blood Drive will also take place– residents should consider donating blood as there is a huge shortage in the state of NJ! Other fun events this evening will include a live DJ, face painting, animal performers, a rock wall, bungee run, and a demonstration from Hands of Life!

 

Westfield: (6-9 pm) Meet at the North Avenue Train Station area during the town’s Sweet Sounds Downtown Jazz Festival! Not only will you enjoy the outdoor music, but the Westfield Police and Fire Departments will be present with personnel to meet and vehicles to tour! Children will receive free hot dogs and soda! Other activities include a fingerprinting station, prizes, coloring station, and children 14 and up can register for the Police Explorer Program.

 

Clark: (6-9 pm) Meet in the parking lot of Arthur L. Johnson High School. Emergency responder vehicles will be present for children to explore as well as the opportunity to meet hired protectors of the town! Other activities include food & drink, safety vehicles, and fire/safety equipment demonstrations!

 

Fanwood: (7pm-dusk) Meet at LaGrande Park for an exciting evening with the local fire/police departments! Families will experience games, face painting, “Dunk a Cop”, a bounce house, food, police cars, and ambulances for touring!

 

Scotch Plains: (6-9 pm) Meet at Alan Augustine Village Green for fun demonstrations by police, fingerprinting, inflatables, rides, and music by the local band, The Broadcasters!

 

Union County: (6-10 pm) Meet at Meisel Avenue Park in Springfield, NJ. Children can explore emergency vehicles and participate in games, activities, and police/fire department demonstrations. The evening concludes with a showing of “The Secret Life of Pets” at dusk. Bring a blanket, some picnic food, and be ready to hang with the family all night!

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Color Race

NJ Summer Races So Hot You’ll Want to Take up Running!

When it’s pushing 100 degrees outside and you’re a runner, you need some motivation to hit the pavement! After my friend told me about the Sea Girt 5K and the town’s Centennial celebration – I made it my mission to find the top 10 fun races this summer in New Jersey -personal opinion, of course!

 

Saturday, August 5: Sea Girt 5K Run/Walk

Registration/Information: http://www.seagirt5k.com/

Times: 5K Run/Walk begins at 8:30 a.m., Kids Races begin at 10:00 a.m., and Kids’ Activities are from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.

Info: This is a traditional Jersey Shore race made even better this year by the borough and Police/Fire Departments celebrating their Centennial! The race brings competitors, fun

runners, walkers, and children all together! This is a chip-timed run for those looking to improve their time and enter the race competitively. The kids’ activities involve a climbing wall, inflatables, obstacle courses, and ice cream!

Entertainment/Food: Live music from Billy Lawler Band and an after-race party at Fratello’s Restaurant and Bar

Proceeds: Money raised will benefit the Sea Girt Recreation Center and their programs for children and adults. This year the Sea Girt 5K also teamed up with Red Sneakers for Oakley – which raises awareness of childhood asthma/allergies.

 

Stomp The Grapes 5KSaturday, August 5: Egg Harbor Stomp the Grapes 5K

Registration/Information: Stomp the Grapes Race Info

Times: 5K Race begins at 9:00 a.m.

Info: Take a chip-timed run through the Renault Winery – just minutes from the Jersey Shore! Complimentary glass of wine for finishers over 21 and souvenir wine glass for all finishers!

Entertainment/Food: Refreshments for everyone immediately following. For an additional $10, you can enjoy a lunch buffet by the renowned executive chef of Renault Winery!

 

Saturday, August 19: Insane Inflatable 5K (Drum Point Sports Complex,Brick Township)

Inflatables RaceRegistration/Information: FB link for Inflatable 5K

Times: Race begins at 8:30 a.m.

Info: It’s not about the running, it’s the #CrazyFun! Feel like a kid going through insane obstacles like the “Wave Runner” or the “Mattress Run” on a 3.1-mile course.

Entertainment/Food: Midway Games & Inflatables, local food trucks, live radio station DJs, adult beverages, and merchandise/goodies from national and local sponsors!

 

Saturday, August 19: 1st Annual All Cancers Suck -5K Color Run/Walk (Sussex County Fairgrounds, Augusta, NJ)

Color RaceRegistration/Information: http://allcancerssuck.org/

Times: Race time from 9:30 a.m. till 12:00 p.m.

Info: A fun 5K/Walk/Run dedicated to the celebration of life and to recognize those living with cancer. A flat course with water misters and colors spraying/painting you the colors of a rainbow – representing the ribbons of all cancer colors!

Entertainment/Food: Vendors, goodie bags, and live music during and after the race!

Proceeds: Support whatever cancer your loved one is a survivor of or currently fighting – proceeds go to cancer research and awareness.

 

Sunday, August 20: Ocean City Guts & Glory 5K Run/Walk

Registration/Information: Guts & Glory Race Info: Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation

Times: 5K begins at 8:00 a.m.           

Info: Certified track, run/walk through the gorgeous Ocean City beach town, pets & strollers welcome!

Entertainment/Food: Ocean City is a hot shore spot – and the race promises music, food, and tons of fun!

Proceeds: All proceeds benefit the Cohn’s and Colitis Foundation which is the only IBD research and support organization for this disease

 

RaceTuesday, August 22: The Brew Run Series 5K/Fun Run: Human Village Brewing Company (Pitman, NJ)

Registration/Information: Brew Run Sign Up/info

Times: Race is from 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Info: 5K/Fun Run followed by immediate entrance to the brewery!

Entertainment/Food: Following the race there is a brewery tour, sampling of the local beer, music, and raffles. Party continues till 9:00 pm. There’s also race swag! Participants

choose from a Brew Run Growler or Pint Glass!

Proceeds: Money raised will benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Gloucester County

 

Saturday, August 26: Apache Crossfit – Toms River Ratstafarian 5K/5-mile Run

IMG_5250Registration/Information: Ratstafarian Race Info

Times: Race begins at 10:00 a.m.

Info: If you’re a wilderness guy/gal, you’ll love this race! 100% off road running through swamps, creepy critters, streams (mid-calve deep), wood trails, and tons of yucky fun!

Entertainment/Food: Race ends with a celebratory party at The Bahama Breeze with dancing, eating, drinking, steel drums, and island atmosphere. All participants who pre-register get a hat, a rat bag, island drink, and food.

 

Saturday, August 26: Wall Township “Kids Tri for the Y”

Registration/Information: http://cymca.org/kidstriforthey/

Times: Tri events from 8:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m.

Info: Join the YMCA of Wall Township for their inaugural triathlon for kids 16 years and under! Swim in the outdoor pool, take a trail bike ride, and complete a trail run! All events take place at Camp Zehnder

Entertainment/Food: Participants will get a t-shirt, refreshments, and awards will be presented

Proceeds: All money raised will benefit the Y’s Annual Campaign which provides summer camp scholarships to families in financial hardship. Proceeds also go toward the LIVESTRONG campaign which delivers YMCA classes to adult cancer survivors – focusing on overall healthy living.

 

Saturday, September 23: The Heroes for Children 5K and Family Fun Walk – West Orange, NJ

Superhero RaceRegistration/Information: Super Hero Race Info

Times: 5K Run is 9 a.m. till 11a.m. and Family Fun Run/Walk is 10 a.m. till 11:30 a.m.

Info: Meet at the South Mountain Clipper Pavilion for a morning of family fun! Certified 5K course on flat pavement. Raise awareness about child abuse/neglect in NJ. Superhero costumes encouraged!

Entertainment/Food: Following the race is music, face painting, crafts, activities, $5 admission to Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Arena, and miniGolf (day of race only)

Proceeds: Money raised will benefit local Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) and Multidisciplinary Teams (MDTs) that make a difference in the lives of children of abuse/neglect

 

Sunday, September 24: Run the Vineyards – Down the Shore 5K (Cape May Winery)

Registration/Info: RuntheVineyardsDowntheShore5K

RaceTimes: Race time is from 9 a.m. till 12:00 p.m.

Info: Cape May Winery is the hottest winery destination this time of year! This is a chip-timed, 5K race with the last ¼ mile finishing through the winery! Walkers are welcome as long as you complete within one hour!

Entertainment/Food: Following the race enjoy 4 tasting areas with amazing views and plenty of seating in the vineyard. Your race souvenir will be a wine glass and tech shirt! Live music, food, and breathtaking views is all you need to complete the day!

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GaGa Pits

Cranford is Going Gaga Over GaGa Pits!

Gaga PitsAnyone know what these things are? I didn’t either – but I HAD to find out because one magically on a Sunday afternoon at Orange Avenue Pool! Adults were scratching their heads and kids were screaming with delight! You’re about to reach a new level of “cool” with the kids because I’m about to school you on the game of GaGa and how a community came together to give Cranford the hottest new pastime for children!

According to the GaGa Center, “GaGa is a fast paced, high energy sport played in an octagonal pit. The more players the better! Dubbed a kinder gentler version of dodge ball, the game is played with a soft foam ball, and combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Players need to keep moving to avoid getting hit by the ball. Fun and easy, everyone gets a serious workout.”

Remember dodge ball in gym? I believe that’s pretty much banned now so they had to reinvent the wheel! With GaGa, about 10 children enter the “pit” and have to avoid being hit by the foam ball. Last player standing, wins. Then it starts all over again. I hear it’s quite addicting! For reference or if you want to look “cool at the pool” – here are some “official” rules that I found online. Of course, our Cranford kids may make up their own “house rules”!  GaGa Official Rules

So how did the GaGa Pit come to Cranford? News travels, folks! The GaGa Pit was constructed Sunday, July 9 and I had the name and number of the “head honcho” within the hour. I called up local Cranford resident, Frank Klapinski to find out how this phenomenon came to be at Orange Avenue Pool.

The story that unfolded is the very reason I love our town. Someone comes up with an idea for the community and, with the power of the people and the kindness of their hearts, it just gets done! Frank and some other local fathers had been to a cub scout event at Camp Speers in Dingmans Ferry, PA. Everyone had a blast with this new GaGa Pit and they all thought, “We need to do this! We have to bring this to Cranford!”

Upon arrival to Cranford, a “team” was assembled and their feet hit the ground running. They scoured the internet and found their desired pit design. Around Memorial Day the team called and met with the Director of Cranford’s Recreation & Park’s Department, Steve Robertazzi. Everyone put their heads together to come up with the perfect spot for the pit. The old tether ball court in the back corner of Orange Avenue Pool seemed like the perfect spot for this new addition! The group continued to meet to develop the plan, fundraise, and construct their materials list.

When they say, “It takes a village” – it truly did in this case! All of the pressure-treated wood came from Home Depot. The fathers and their children met during two nights off and cut the wood and preassembled walls. The Orange Avenue Pool staff, DPW, and the GaGa team took out the preexisting asphalt court and prepped the area for the arrival of the pit. Then all of the pieces were transported to Orange Avenue in pickup trucks that the fathers’ owned. Finally, on Sunday, July 9, they assembled the GaGa Pit in about two hours!

The children who knew about the game GaGa were very excited and soon began teaching the other children at the pool. Everyone came to watch this new game being played! Frank commented that the attraction of the game is that all age groups can be included and the “simple, unstructured rules” are appealing. “It keeps kids constantly active!”

Frank said that this project was a lot of fun. He mentioned, “We had a lot of cooperation – the dads were very excited.” This “GaGa team” (including Frank) consisted of all Cranford dads: Dave Mehr, Steve Kelly, Keith Muccigrosso, Andrew Soytka, Dominick Lanzisera, Cameron Andre, Greg Wofsy, Craig Sjursen, Robert Kelly, Chris Bath, and Joe Uglialoro.

Frank wanted to add a note of thanks to Cranford’s Steve Robertazzi and the pool staff, the DPW, Pat Giblin for supporting the idea, and the spouses for supporting the dads and their idea! He mentioned that the whole GaGa team is “happy to donate a small, fun thing back to Cranford!”

Okay folks – there it is! Read the rules and head over to the pool! See what all the fuss is about! It’s bound to be a great summer over there! Thanks Cranford dads for taking action and adding to our wonderful town. Who knows – you may start seeing more GaGa Pits popping up in unexpected places!

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Cranford Porchfest

Cranford Porchfest 2017: Taking Porch Sitting to a Whole New Level!

Cranford Porchfest

I can’t think of a more perfect union: porches and music! Add our quaint town of Cranford into the mix and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect day! Here comes Porchfest 2017 to Cranford! Folks, get ready for October 21st from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm!

A great town begins with people who care and have an invested interest in the happiness of all who reside. Thank you Cranford Community Connection for finding this national phenomenon and realizing that Porchfest is exactly what our town needs! Founded by Lesley Green and Gretchen Hildreth in Ithaca, New York in 2007 – the concept of Porchfest has taken the country by storm. When so much negativity is surrounding us, the need to come together as a community through the power of music and neighborly love is overwhelming.

 

Porchfest is a FREE musical event and completely powered by the “do-it-yourself” concept. It is orchestrated by local volunteers, space provided by homeowners, entertainment performed by musicians donating their time, and a day enjoyed by the community!

 

The purpose of the Cranford Community Connection is to bring the neighborhoods of Cranford together to celebrate community and friendship. The masterminds behind Porchfest are all Cranford residents: Ashley Legg, Randy Geis, Jennifer Geis, Owen Dingelstedt, Chris Lenza, Jackie Carr, and Patricia MacLean. When the group was asked to brainstorm an event that would be perfect for the town, Jennifer immediately thought of Porchfest. The committee’s instant response was, “Wow, we gotta do this – we have to make it happen!” Within the first few minutes of Randy Geis’ Facebook post in December, the “Likes” started pouring in! Everyone wondered what this was all about and the anticipation kept growing!

 

I sat down with Randy Geis to get an idea of their vision for Cranford Porchfest in October and how you can submit your perfect porch or enter your band/music group for consideration! Randy indicated that they want to keep the first Porchfest very simple. “Every porch host, performer, and attendee is in effect a co-creator and real-time manager of the event.” It’s meant to be an afternoon of families walking around Cranford – “enjoying time together and the music we have put together.”

 

He said, “Our goal is to hit the four quadrants in town!” They ideally would like the participating porches to represent those areas with equidistant walking into town. There will be no streets closed, no outside food vendors brought in, and no souvenirs for sale. The committee encourages everyone to put a chair on their back, bring a stroller, ride a bike, or walk the town.

 

The event will take place from 2:00pm – 5:00pm with 8 porches participating in Cranford Porchfest. There will be 3 performances at each home and the set up and take down will all occur within the hour. At 5:30pm the “big act” will perform in the gazebo next to the Cranford Fire Department!

 

The call out is right now for musical acts and porches and all information can be found at their new website Cranford Porchfest

 

So you think you have the perfect porch for a musical act?

Deadline to submit is July 13!!

Pssst! You don’t even have to have a REAL porch! The committee will take into consideration stoops, yards, driveways – anything that allows a large crowd to gather and is street-facing. They ask that you are available the date of the event and are willing to work with the 3 musical groups that will be performing at your home. Also, they hope you don’t mind music goers enjoying your lawn! If you think that you have the hot spot for a band and the traffic on your street is minimal – hurry to submit your home with pictures and address to Cranford Porchest. They will be choosing 8 homes and hope to have porches that represent each section of town. Once selected, you will receive further information from the committee.

 

I have a great band or musical act and would like to be considered!

Cranford PorchfestSubmissions will run from July 1 – September 1

Randy said that the committee wants music from “across the board” – they want to consider everything! You’re in luck! If you or someone you know is in a jug band, church group, solo act, string quartet, kid band, rock band, or can play a mean harmonica – you may just have a chance! They encourage groups from all over New Jersey – not just Cranford. All genres are welcome as long as you love to perform! You must be available on October 21, be able to complete your performance within an hour, and are ready to celebrate music in Cranford! Start by submitting your musical act or band to Cranford Porchfest.

 

The fall will definitely be exciting with the appearance of a new town-wide event that is focused on family, neighbors, and celebrating music within the community. Cranford is host to so many beautiful homes and the fact that music goers can walk or bike the streets of town to congregate on lawns and listen to music is simply heavenly. Cranford residents are all in such anticipation for this October afternoon! Stay posted for a future blog from me highlighting the specifics on Cranford Porchfest 2017 and what porches you’ll be rockin’ on!

(p.s. Sneak peak! The homes posted in this blog are ACTUAL porches that have already been selected!)

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