Tag Archives: shops

Playa Bowls

GRAND OPENING!! Cranford is Crazy for Playa Bowls!!

 

Cranford is crazy for Playa Bowls and our newest Playa Bowl spot just opened at 102B North Union Avenue! The smell of the salty air, the waves crashing, the sound of seagulls, the wind in your hair…anyone who has been to this blissful place knows that you are immediately transported back to the shore! Not only is Playa Bowls known for their fabulous acai bowls and smoothies, but it’s how they have recreated the feel at the beach that keeps everyone coming back for more!

 

Playa Bowls was founded in 2014 after owners Robert Guiliani and Abby Taylor discovered that the people of the Jersey Shore had yet to savor the nutritious and delicious acai bowls like they had discovered on their many surf trips to the West Coast. They went to work to create their own version of a healthy acai bowl at small stand at the corner of 8th Ave and Ocean Ave in Belmar, New Jersey. Of course, they were an immediate sensation and soon after they opened their first store right behind the original stand!

 

Playa Bowls is now known throughout New Jersey and they have expanded into Rutgers Campus and up into North Jersey! Abby is so excited that they have been so welcomed throughout the state as more cities are going “bowls deep”! Abby described for me how much conscious selection goes into each and every ingredient in their bowls, smoothies, and other menu items. She said, “We have the best quality around – we don’t blend our acai with anything else to add sugar!” Abby also contributes the success to the “vibe” inside each and every Playa Bowls. She said that it’s truly a “culture” – people want to order and then actually hang out because of the “chill atmosphere”.

 

Playa Bowls is now a franchise and the Cranford restaurant is owned by Alan Valenti and nephew Stephen Valenti of Morristown’s Olive Lucy’s Kitchen Table. They are excited to bring Playa Bowls to Cranford! Alan initially fell in love with this acai shop as a customer. He wanted to pursue the franchise and his wife, Allison (originally from Cranford), drew him into this close-knit community. Alan and Stephen see Cranford as an “up and coming town” and love the momentum of the small businesses in downtown. (Hat tip to our fabulous Downtown Management Corp!!)  From families to young professionals – it’s truly the best town to introduce a hot new spot!

 

From our conversation, it was evident that Alan is excited about this venture. He mentioned that their acai bowls only have 10 grams of sugar and the highest quality of acai that no one else is providing. It’s such a thick acai bowl and “once you have your first bite you can taste the difference!” Playa Bowls appeals to those who are health conscious. You can add the best ingredients such as fruit, coconut, Nutella, pitaya, and chia! They will abe providing Fall Bowls all season long! Customers can add autumn flavors to their smoothies and bowls such as pumpkin granola, pumpkin butter, cinnamon, and caramel apple!

 

Alan feels that Playa Bowls is a big family and loves that Abby and Robert are 100% “hands on” with every store that they open. Abby does all the artwork for each and every Playa Bowls. Alan commented that her pieces are “beautiful and personalized for each store” – you will never see the same thing twice! Each creation of Abby’s is unique for a particular town and their energy! Even the flooring and lighting at the Cranford shop will be different and customized for Cranford!

 

Alan, Stephen, Rob, and Abby look forward to being a “part of the fabric of the community” of Cranford. I know that the area will be flocking to their gorgeous, beachy shop! Make sure you keep updated with their stunning Instagram feed and posts at playabowlscranford ! We are all ready to “go bowls deep”!

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Fish Stand

Cranford Fish Stand: Fresh, Sustainable, and Local!

Fish StandEveryone is excited for the opening of Cranford Fish Stand, located at 200 South Avenue East, this Thursday, October 19! We spoke with owners Jill Sabochick, John Sabochick, and Kevin Pipchick earlier this summer to find out how they differ from other markets, why they chose Cranford, and how they plan on making fish fun! While talking over coffee about this new fish adventure – I quickly realized that this group of friends are seriously having a great time working together! Jill, John, and Kevin all worked at a small business software company prior to 2014. They moved around from city to city together and finally ended up in Jersey City! While living in JC, the friends realized that they craved fresh seafood. Fish markets in NYC were in an abundance, but they found a lack of fresh fish in this downtown area. John commented, “We just said, we should do this!”

 

They all wanted to provide a product that was sustainably sourced. They found local people in the industry who were able to inform them where the fish came from and where it was caught. Since everyone was in a small business together, their entrepreneurial spirit was a huge asset! The friends began their fish business at the local farmer’s market in Jersey City. Their fresh product became in high demand and the business expanded in 2015. They opened up their first store, Jersey City Fish Stand, approximately one and a half years ago. Because of the popularity of fish markets and consumers craving to know more about where their meals come from – Jersey City Fish Stand was recognized locally in a Summer 2017 issue of USA Today!

Cranford Fish Stand

 

The owners are now ready to take their exploding business to other areas of New Jersey and Cranford is lucky enough to be the site of their second store! Jill attributes the popularity of the fish market business to the fact that “people are obsessed with sustainably-sourced fish –where it came from and how it was caught.” “The industry is so interesting right now with customers wanting to be informed with purchases!” she remarked. The goal for their Cranford Fish Stand is to truly provide the customer with a unique shopping experience.

 

They want you to embrace the concept that “fish is fun!” There are so many types of fish to encounter, that over the course of the year -over 200 could make their debut at Cranford Fish Stand! The menu will rotate based on the season and “what’s catching”. John explained that there are a lot of fisheries that they work with and they hand select from those distribution sites. “Everything is provided fresh, never frozen. We only bring in enough to sell within 24 hours. This is what makes us very unique – the fact that our menu is changing daily!”

Their staples will be salmon, bass, and scallops. Clams and oysters will often come from Barnegat Bay, NJ as well as other fisheries in Point Pleasant and South Jersey. The owners will supplement local fish with selections from Southern Atlantic, Gulf, West Coast, and Alaskan fisheries. Each day there will be approximately a dozen varieties in their front case.

 

So, what can you, the customer, expect when you walk through the doors of Cranford Fish Stand? Jill remarked that they want you to have a “personal walk-through experience”. The employees will guide you through your selection, the origination of the catch, and provide cooking techniques for each choice! She commented, “It’s a true personal shopping experience when you walk in the door – with fish!”

 

Fish StandCranford Fish Stand will also have specialty grocery items and oven-ready, prepared sides. Customers will be able to select side dishes, produce, marinades, soups, dips, and spreads. The owners want you to enjoy one-stop shopping for your meal. Once your fish has been chosen, you will be able to leave the store with everything that will complement the highlight of the meal! Jill commented that “people may not know that seafood is extremely easy to cook. We make it so you can choose a simple recipe or a more intricate version!”

 

Why did they choose their second location to be in Downtown Cranford? “We chose Cranford because it was a destination spot”, mentioned Kevin. It just so happens that Kevin grew up in Cranford and his family and friends still reside here! However, it wasn’t just the hometown draw that landed them their fish market in quintessential Cranford. Kevin commented that the “cultural and food scene is thriving!” “Everyone, young and old, is invested in the town. Small businesses are welcome and everything is local and unique. Hopefully the trend will continue on an upward swing! We feel the town will support us in this movement and this is our total motivation!”

 

Please join Jill, John, and Kevin as they open their doors to Cranford this Thursday, October 19. All information can be found at their Facebook Page, Cranford Fish Stand FB. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony that begins at 4:00 pm followed by a reception from 5:00 until 7:00 pm. New customers can enjoy light hors d’oeuvres, prizes, and of course…FISH!! The fun of fish is picking it out – let them make it an experience for you! In Cranford – everything is fresh, sustainable, and local!

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Embellish

Cranford’s Embellish is Your Pinterest Project Dream Shop

EmbellishAt the height of the handmade craft frenzy where people can see something on Pinterest and bring it to life – Donna Del Guercio of the former “Belladonna’s Yarn Room and Interiors” brings you her new store, “Embellish”. You’ll be spending quite a bit of time in this store, located at 106 North Union Avenue in Downtown Cranford. Donna is set to open on Thursday, September 28! This is a one-stop crafting experience and unique to Cranford. From crocheting, to paper crafts, to large appliqued letters to decoupage – you will take delight in spending some quality crafting time at Embellish!

 

Donna had her highly popular and Cranford renowned fabric and furnishings store “Belladonna’s” but decided to take her creative side and her business in a new direction. Donna wanted to “reimagine the store as something else”. It was time for a change and to bring something to Cranford that was unique and in high demand! I sat down with Donna in the shop, which had already transformed itself into a crafters paradise, to find out what you have the opportunity to create in a few weeks!

You may see something on Pinterest and realize that you don’t have the correct materials or tools. This store exists to provide you a space to create anything and everything you want – from unique gifts, wall decals, birthday banners, signs, and embellished totes. Anything that you can think of – Embellish probably has all the equipment you need to make it a reality!

The highlight of the store is “AccuCut” – a machine that is known for its brilliant die-cutting ability. Donna began showing me the massive collection of templates that cuts plastic, cardboard, and other materials. The possibilities are endless with this equipment – perfect for die-cut personalized picture books, photo albums, journals, scrapbooks, party favor boxes, wall decals, and huge letters fit for decoupage.

Get ready for the holiday season now! The same old gifts at department stores are boring! Find the perfect gift for teachers, co-workers, employees, family members – all unique and individually designed by you! Wreaths, cards, and ornaments can be personalized and carefully handcrafted.

Speaking of events…Embellish will offer group classes focusing on a particular holiday. Donna hopes to have a preset group of classes that will be offered 3-4 times a week! Halloween/Fall crafts will include favor boxes, wreath making, floral arrangement demos, and crocheting scarfs. Winter/Holiday crafts will include ornaments, cowl scarf kits, favor boxes, table setting crafts, and homemade holiday cards! She has everything to make your holiday come to life with paper crafts and adornments! Embellish will also offer custom gift wrapping and custom favor boxes for those who are in a time crunch and need some crafty help!

Everything that is made during the seasonal classes will be available for purchase in the shop! Donna will have pre-made kits that you can take home and create on your own time! Since Donna used to be a storefront decorator – her store will be a gifters delight with all of the creations for you to “see and shop”!

 

EmbellishDonna will continue to provide her fans with knitting and crocheting classes! Sign up for “Beginning Knitting” on Tuesday nights: 10/3, 10/10, 10/17 and 10/24 from 6:30-8:00 pm. “Beginning Crochet” will be taught on Wednesday nights: 10/4, 10/11, 10/18 and 10/25 from 6:30-8:00 pm. The cost is $100 for four sessions. Call the store at 908-272-8100 or send Donna an email at [email protected]. Space is limited!

 

She will bring in guest “teachers” from time to time to instruct participants on a special craft item or method. Also, a brilliant corner of the shop is adorned with buttons, beads, and necklace/bracelet fastener for those individuals who want to learn to create their own jewelry! It’s truly a maker’s delight! For the future, Donna would like to be host to Ladies Night Out and BYOB gathering at Embellish where you can reunite with friends over crafting for a particular holiday or event!

 

EmbellishWhat makes Embellish so unique? Donna is opening this new shop to be a boutique crafting experience for you – the customer. It’s not just pre-made designs – but catering to a seasonal design that you would like to sit down and create! Better yet – the inspiration for her store is her little sister, Nicole, who recently passed away and who was “one of the most creative people”. In honor of Nicole, Donna is starting a foundation called the “pixiemagic”. Her sister was “the most generous person” and therefore 10% of each sale at Embellish will go toward this foundation which will reach out and benefit local charities to make a “real difference in individual’s lives”. This crafty store is going to be around for a long time – imagine all the possibilities that you can dream up and “embellish”! Craft away my friends! Be sure and stop by Thursday, September 28 from 9:00 am– 5:00 pm and tell Donna “hello”!

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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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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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Blende

Custom Beauty Right Around the Corner

BlendeTwo Westfield mothers and professional makeup artists, Kiera Karlin and her business partner Nikki Tardibuono, celebrated their grand opening of Blende on May 2. Keira has made quite a name for herself in the celebrity makeup world. For over 25 years she has been using custom blending with some of the hottest celebs on set for popular TV shows and movies. Nikki is equally known in the industry and is a licensed esthetician certified in cutting edge techniques that bring a unique draw to the business.

What’s funny is that Keira and Nikki met as mothers in the Westfield school system when their children were little. For the longest time, they didn’t even know the other was a makeup artist! Once they established that connection they set out to open a custom blende makeup studio because they craved a home base. 

Kiera said, “It was just sort of a natural progression…I wanted to bring it home. I wanted to make it available for everybody – not just celebrities. We started talking and both wanted to have it in Westfield- we just love this town. This location just fell in our laps! We have the exact same tastes, the exact same aesthetics, we put out the same image – it just works!”

 

Why will you crave their products? The highest quality of ingredients goes into all of their products. Everything is paraban-free and vegetable and mineral based. Whatever you desire is custom-made to your liking from foundation, concealers, primers, highlighters, eyeliners, lipsticks, and glosses. 

“Everything can be tweaked and tuned to take care of any issue that anyone has – specific to them – no more hit-or-miss makeup purchases!” Kiera said. Whether you have under-eye circles, acne, fine lines–your makeup can be made with ingredients that help to correct these common issues. They take into consideration your entire profile when designing your custom makeup – eye color, skin type, hair color, coverage needs, everything! Did I mention the studio is equipped with the SAME makeup lighting found in the Hollywood trailers?  If you look amazing in the store, you look amazing everywhere!

 

Blende beauty care starts with the teenage years. While the rage right now may be heavy makeup, these women stress that “less is more” for teen beauty. The key is to “enhance” their natural beauty and learn how to conceal issues they may have with “as little makeup as possible.” Under eye circles and acne can be treated with tea tree oil or other natural compounds mixed into the makeup. Keira stated, “Teach them early that they are beautiful the way they are!” 

As for us “women in our prime” who may be seeing a few wrinkles and lines creeping in and may wonder where to start, Nikki says, “Everyone should start with skin care. Start with a canvas that is right and that will help your makeup look better!” Blende carries an amazing Swiss skin care line called Luzern Skin Care and they will guide you to the best product for your current skin care situation. These ladies can teach new moms how to “get out of the house in 10 minutes with a face that looks fresh” and provide “over 60+ women with skin care products and makeup that can take years off!” 

 

In addition to the custom blende makeup services, Nikki has a multitude of unique services. She offers “microblading,” which is a new form of tattoo artistry where eyebrows are created with a handheld tool that produces fine hair strokes that appear as actual hairs. This is “great for fill-ins and women who need whole brow reconstruction”, stated Nikki. There’s also a new method to “eyelash line enhancement” that produces thicker lashes. The pigment is deposited directly in between the lashes and not drawn on as an eyeliner. Nikki commented that this gives the “look of fuller and darker eyelashes” and is perfect for women with lighter skin and hair color. 

What excited me is a new procedure called “Dermaplaning.” With a blade held at a 45-degree angle, Nikki removes the outermost layer of dead skin cells and fine hairs, and the end result is a “beautiful canvas for makeup.” She recommends this procedure for anyone experiencing acne, blackheads, fine lines, and wrinkles. This procedure may be desired more than those at the dermatologist because it’s all done by hand–no machines, more precision, and no downtime!

 

Finally, their parties sound so fun – I want to book one for this weekend!

 

SIP AND BLENDE PARTY:  take over their store, BYO cocktails, play your fav songs and choose a custom blende product to be designed for each of your BFFs!

 

MAKEUP LESSONS PARTY: using a mirror and a set of their vegan brushes their makeup artist does half of your face and then you try to match the other half using the techniques you were taught during this amazing group lesson. Perfect for Sweet 16, birthday parties, and Ladies Night!

 

GLAM AND GO PARTY: the store is closed for you and your closest friends while you sip cocktails, listen to music, and snack on apps. Everyone gets a personal makeup artist creating their custom look before you all hit the town! Perfect for girls’ night out and bridal parties!

 

I know what you may be thinking right now…gleaming storefront, custom makeup, cutting-edge services…all of this has to cost a fortune, right? You’d be surprised that the answer is shockingly the opposite. How many times have you shopped at a major beauty supply store and just DUMPED products into your basket knowing that half of it probably wouldn’t work? Usually half wasn’t the correct color and it couldn’t be returned. Tons of dollars just wasted! Ladies, think of Blende as an investment that won’t break the bank. Their foundation is $50, lipstick $32, and mineral eye shadow $24. Very comparable to the other major makeup lines and it’s all made for YOU! Visit their studio at 106 Elm Street or go online to BlendeBeauty.com to schedule online.

 

These women have created the answer to a makeup issue we have all been facing since our teenage years! I’m very excited to walk back through those doors, where it’s like a grown-up candy store – I’m not sure where to start!

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Kick Glass Art Studio in Cranford NJ

Our theme of women-owned businesses continues with the latest artsy addition to Cranford: KICK GLASS ART STUDIO. (Seriously, how great is that name?!)

Kick Glass Art StudioDonna Slevin and Sheila Hughes are co-owners of Kick Glass and have been lifelong friends, having grown up together in Westfield. Donna has an impressive 30 years of experience as a stained glass artist and 10 years working with fused glass. Sheila has trained with Donna in creating both stained glass and fused glass, and with Sheila’s 20 years’ experience in business, these two combine the best of both artistic and business minds.

Located at 536 South Ave East, Kick Glass offers classes in stained glass from beginner to expert, for ages 18 and up. “We have classes in fused (warm) glass from beginner to the tapestry technique. We have had private parties for Girls’ Night Out and Westfield Single Moms. And we offer business bonding opportunities! The studio is very large so people can bring their own food and drinks.”

You’d be amazed at the different types of works you can create with glass at Kick Glass. Donna said, “We offer a variety of ways for you to explore your artist talent using the glass medium. You can create bowls or paint using ground up glass. Our classes are educational. We want you to learn how to master the techniques used in both fused (warm) glass and stained glass.” Besides group classes, Kick Glass offers open studio time for more seasoned glass artists, as well as private one-on-one lessons. 

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I’m passionate about the restoration of historic homes, and Donna shares that passion when it comes to stained glass, which was featured prominently in many older homes. She said, “Stained glass is a centuries-old art form, and I want to make sure it lives on. When walking around the streets, we see many houses with older stained glass windows that could use a little TLC to help restore them to their former glory. We also want to encourage people to add a unique stained glass piece to their own homes.”

Follow Kick Glass on Facebook or visit their website to keep up to date on their upcoming classes and events: http://kickglassart.com. And don’t miss their official ribbon cutting with the mayor of Cranford on March 21st! 

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What Are “Ono Bowls”? They Are DELICIOUS!! And They Are In Westfield!

I don’t know about you, but I’m LOVING all the healthy choices you can find in Cranford and Westfield eateries nowadays. With my busy work schedule, I often grab meals on the run, and it’s a bonus if I can eat healthfully while still enjoying the convenience of quick meals. Ono Bowls recently opened in Downtown Westfield, and it has become a favorite spot for a fast but healthy and yummy meal! 

Tricia Caminos launched Ono Bowls this past November, but she’d been enjoying smoothie bowls for many years beforehand! A Cranford resident who’s been juicing since she was 19, Tricia is married to a native Hawaiian, who introduced her to the juicing trends of Hawaii. Tricia said, “I was eating smoothie bowls for 10 years. They became popular in Hawaii and California, and are only just becoming a thing on the East Coast. ‘Ono’ means ‘delicious’ in Hawaiian!” 

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Ono Bowls is located at 107 Quimby Street, next to the forthcoming Salad House. The menu has raw juices and smoothies typical of a juice bar, but the ono bowls are truly what set it apart. Each ono bowl consists of a thick smoothie base (often made with acai or pitaya for added heath benefits), topped with granola, fresh fruit, honey, and other delightful toppings. I sampled the PB&J ono bowl while I was there, and it was super tasty and filling. Tricia uses organic and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.

Something I loved about Ono Bowls besides the great menu is the atmosphere! There’s a large room in the back with plenty of comfy seats for lounging, a table where you can enjoy your ono bowl while getting some work done, and even cute coloring books and such strewn about for kids (and kids-at-heart)! It has a definite “chill” California vibe that is such a welcome addition to Westfield. 

I was thrilled to hear that Ono Bowls has been super busy since day one of opening! Tricia said, “All the kids come in after school throughout the week. We’ve even hosted parties here for Girl Scouts and other groups. We’re looking into offering catering services in the future.” 

You might spot some of Tricia’s family members working in Ono Bowls–two of her three kids work there part time! I love supporting local businesses that are a family affair. 

Ono Bowls is open Monday through Saturday from 9-6, Sunday from 10-5. Look for expanded hours in the spring. You can follow Ono Bowls on Instagram @ono_bowls and visit their website http://www.onobowls.net/index.html to view their full menu.  

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Le Petit Temptation? More Like GINORMOUS Temptation!! Cranford’s French Pastry Shop is Pure Heaven!

Le Petit Temptation

Over the past several years Downtown Cranford has become one of New Jersey’s premier gastronomical destinations, with its wide array of top-rated eateries. Adding to the mix is the recently opened Le Petit Temptation, a fabulous French pastry shop that is like no other in our area!

Before opening a brick-and-mortar location in Cranford, Le Petit Temptation was primarily a wholesale business with weekend participation in local farmers markets. According to owner and pastry chef extraordinaire Jessie Dardar: “The response from the local farmers markets was overwhelmingly positive, and through engaging with my customers, I realized that there was a demand for my products on a regular basis as the feedback indicated a great desire for something different.”

Le Petit TemptationJessie was originally scoping out Westfield as the location for his shop, but he said, “A friend who knew of my plans and is also a Cranford resident gave me the grand tour of the town and introduced me to several local business owners. I then had the great opportunity to meet the fantastic and supportive team at the Downtown Business & Economic Development Office and I was quickly convinced that Cranford was the place for me.” I truly love hearing how welcoming Cranford is to small-business owners!

You don’t need to go to Paris to taste authentic French pastries–having lived in and worked as a chef in France for 12 years, Jessie has brought the signature French style of pastry-making right to our little hamlet of Cranford.

Now, we all know there are several bakeries in the Cranford-Westfield area, but I promise you, Le Petit Temptation is delightfully different. According to Jessie: “Our concept is to change the perception in the way dessert should be prepared. There is no valid argument why a dessert has to be large, sugary or even heavy, more often is the case that those are considered three no- no’s in one single serving. Moreover, this combination is not really enjoyable because it leaves us feeling weighed down and then the sugar kicks in.”

Jessie went on, “A dessert is meant to be a special ending of some sort, whether it is the finish to a meal or shared with family or friends. Desserts should awaken our senses and fill us with emotions; they should always be light, fresh and most importantly not overly sugary. That’s what we trying to accomplish with our pastries. We don’t have a set menu. We do things in small batches and when we run out . . . it is out.” 

Jessie is known for his stellar macarons. If you haven’t tried these cookies yet, I demand you give them a try. Made from almond meal and egg whites, macarons are a classic French meringue sandwich cookie with a unique texture and taste, and limitless flavor combinations. I can’t get enough of ’em! Besides the macarons, Jessie said that his desserts featuring coconut have been bestsellers, along with his mango/passion fruit tart.

The cafe will soon be offering much more than desserts. Gourmet coffee will be on the menu, and Jessie said, “We are going to start doing light lunches, vegetarian salads, and quiches. Sometime in August, we are going to start featuring pop-up dinners two or three times a month, which will be a set menu consisting of five to seven dishes, and it will be whatever inspires me. Since our place is rather small with only 10 to 12 chairs, reservations will be a must.”

Le Petit Temptation offers catering services as well, so if you want to knock the socks off your guests at your next fête, give them a call: (201) 377-5919.

You can find Le Petit Temptation in the space formerly occupied by Artemisia, at 19 Eastman Street in Cranford. Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 9 am to 9 pm, but follow them on Facebook for updates on their hours once the coffee equipment is up and running!

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Local Business Owner’s Father is Laid To Rest at Arlington National Cemetery

Flags

Having grown up with a father who bravely fought in the Korean Conflict, I have a deep appreciation for U.S. soldiers and their families. A local Cranford business owner was equally proud of his late father, who received a Purple Heart for his service in the military, and was able to secure a funeral for him in the famed Arlington National Cemetery. It seems fitting to share his experience with you as we approach Independence Day. 

Shaun Vanclief is the owner of one of Downtown Cranford’s best-loved boutiques: Atlantic Beach Soap Company. Shaun’s father passed away in 1997, and his mother followed in 2001, and both were cremated. Sean’s father had fought in the Battle of Normandy and received several accolades for his invaluable service. About two years ago, Shaun contacted Arlington National, where it’s a notoriously long process to arrange for funerals. Shaun said, “As luck would have it, they were just breaking ground for new mausoleums. I told them about my father, and asked if my mother could be interred with him, and they were very receptive to it.”

For those who don’t know, Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia has been the burial grounds for former U.S. soldiers and widows of servicemen since the Civil War. There are currently more than 400,000 graves there. 

On June 6th of this year, Shaun had one of the most moving experiences of his life when his parents were laid to rest together at Arlington. I asked Shaun to describe the ceremony for me: “It was like a dance; I can’t explain it any other way. The whole experience was so fined-tuned and incredible, like a choreography. Right from the beginning with the chaplain down to the Arlington Ladies, whom I had never heard of before. I’m 58 years old, and I read a lot about American History, but I never knew the extent of service at Arlington National.” 

Shaun painted me picture of the scene at the interment. “Honor guards were stationed around us. My parents’ ashes were placed on a podium. I had supplied a flag, and they conducted a ceremony where they unfolded the flag over the remains while the chaplain gave a eulogy. A traditional 21-gun salute followed, and then ‘Taps’ played. They folded the flag back up, and one of the honor guards came to me with the flag, and consoled me. As soon as he backed away, one of the Arlington Ladies handed me a handwritten note of condolence.” 

Founded in 1948, the Arlington Ladies are a group of volunteers who all were either past servicewomen or who have lost a loved one at war. Their mission is to make sure that no one is buried alone. An Arlington Lady attends EVERY SINGLE FUNERAL at Arlington National Cemetery. And at the end of each funeral, one of the Ladies gives the next of kin a handwritten note. It is just such a lovely tradition. 

Shaun was so touched by the Arlington Ladies that he’s decided to launch a special soap for his shop, the sales of which will benefit the Arlington Ladies organization. Currently he’s waiting on approval to use their logo on the soap, and as soon as that permission is granted, he’ll launch it to the public. 

If you’ve never been to Atlantic Beach Soap Company, or it’s been a while since your last visit, definitely make a point to head over there this summer! Besides Shaun’s amazing-smelling handmade soaps and body products (I die for his coconut scent), he’s expanded the inventory into eclectic home goods and repurposed antiques. He also currently has three local artists, including Cynthia Dawley, who display their work in the store. And according to Shaun, “If I sell anything that is imported, it absolutely has to be fair trade.”

Be on the lookout for Sean’s new soap in the coming months! You can find Atlantic Beach Soap Company at 102 North Union Ave. in Cranford. Summer hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 11am to 6pm; Thursday-Friday 11am to 8pm; Saturday 11am to 6pm.

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