September 2007 Archives

Welcome Back, Kotter!

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It was only a matter of time before he came back.

The man. The myth. The legend. Chris Schiraldi is back behind the taps, and here to serve the public.

You may remember Chris at Dipper's bar, serving you for years. He took a break from bartending, and it was like a scene from the Godfather: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in..."

He's back, and if you may not have met Chris behind the sticks, you should.

Easily the quintessential Hoboken bartender, with service, personality and charm that exude from his persona, and now he is a bartender at O'Donohughes on 1st street between Garden and Park.

Available on Thursday nights, his specials are $1 Yuengling drafts and $2 Coors Light Bottles.

Let me repeat this.


Hello? One buck? Where else in town, on a Thursday night, can you get a beer, a good BEER like a Yuengling for ONE DOLLAR?!

Come down to O'Donohughes, have a beer, watch some baseball and see Chris in action.

Urban Sprawl Avoided!

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This was my first foray into the Hoboken quagmire of city dealings: The owners of The Jefferson Trust Bank building, near to where I live, were seeking to create an urban monstrousity.

If you aren't familiar with the Bank, it is a beautiful historic building, built in the early 19th century, made from granite and lined with copper accents. It takes up about 1/4 of a city block, on the corner of 1st Street and Clinton. The structure is about 40 feet high, perhaps two floors. Once a bank, it closed its doors in the 1980's and has been slowly ravaged by the effects of time, weather and urban blight. It was purchased by the private sector, changed hands multiple times, and the current owner sought to turn it into a mixed use condo/restaurant.

The current owner wanted to take the existing building and gut it, creating a large restaurant space in half of the building, and condos in the other half. They wanted to put the kitchens in the basement, add parking behind the structure, and add a tower to the existing building, in which they would build multiple condo units. It was a bold plan, which required multiple variances.

The owners first step, however, was to get the Hoboken Historic Preservation Council's approval. The job of the council is to review any work being done to historic buildings and make sure the integrity of the building is sustained by any construction work. For a developer, it must be a nightmare working with the council. After attending a few meetings, the council is very thorough about asking questions and making suggestions to the owner.

Again, this was my first time, and I can't say that I know how the past Councils have worked, but in the case of the Jefferson Trust, the Hoboken Historic Preservation Council should be lauded by working with the developer and listening to the public outcry from the first proposal.

The result was a compromise.

Everyone in the neighborhood would love to see the beautiful old building restored to its former glory. In a perfect world, it would have been great if the City of Hoboken could have bought the Jefferson Trust Bank Building and used it for a public purpose, like a museum. Unfortunately, it is in the hands of the private sector, who paid a lot of money to acquire it, and spent a tremendous amount of resources to lay the groundwork for its development.

The residents of the neighborhood were concerned about the restaurant generating traffic (go to Clinton and 1st during the day and see how many double parked cars are out there), parking (they planned to have valet parking, for the restaurant and the condo, for example), late night noise (with the additon of a bar, residents weren't interested in MORE people on 1st street who get out of a bar/restaurant at 3am), vermin infestation (rats which would be attracted to the trash & garbage of a commercial restaurant) and the liquor variance that the developer sought.

As a result of the public's concern, the developer compromised by changing the part of the area of the proposed restaurant into a retail store & area for the condo project. Also, the height of the tower was reduced significantly, keeping in-line with the height of the surrounding neighborhood. Gone was the valet parking, and there is a still a point of contention about the parking which we hope to resolve soon.*

The developer also detailed multiple structural enhancements, keeping in line with the historic preservation of the site. The Bank sits in a flood plain, and the developer also plans to increase the height of the entire structure (more details on this to follow, from what I understood it would be raised about 5 feet). The facade, windows, moulding and copper treatments would be restored. The sidewalk, lighting and trees would be enhanced or added.

I have to say that it was definitely a feeling like the good guys won. If it wasn't for the council and the public outcry, the developers would have steamrolled their plan towards an urban blight. The Historic Preservation Council voted 4-2 (one abstained) on the proposal.

*There is one minor issue that we are also working out with the developer & owner with regards to a common use driveway abutment between the two buildings. The developer planned to use their portion of the driveway for 14 parking spots, but we have major concerns about the infrigement of those parked cars on our driveway, since the driveway is so narrow, they would have to back into our driveway to get out of their parking spot. Details to follow, our lawyers are meeting with the developer's lawyers.

You Have a Baby. . . in the Bar?


This was written by a friend of mine, who we will call "Trish". She asked to write this for my site...please just remember someone else is writing

I know I am selfish. I know that I can barely keep my cats and myself alive, so I have no business getting a dog, or having a baby. In fact, I am fairly certain at 29 that I will probably be too selfish to have a child of my own ever. Maybe someday I will grow up, but I am not counting on it. At least I am self aware.

Since I am completely driven by my own desires, I can do whatever I want whenever I want, and one of my favorite things to do in Hoboken revolves around football. Every Sunday (or Monday night) for 16 weeks I show up at Mulligan's and sit in the back room cheering with 50-100 of my closest friends. A few weeks ago, an Eagles fan dubbed our Sunday meetings "The 700 Level." For those of you unfamiliar with the Eagles, The 700 Level refers to the upper deck in the Vet. The section was notorious for drunkenness, fighting and generally outlandish behavior. While we do not fight at Mulligan's, we are certainly loud and obnoxious (editor's note: Ummmmm, yea?), and the title is a good fit.

Most weeks I leave the bar with my voice reduced to a hoarse whisper and my ears nearly bleeding. In fact, it is not unlike the feeling I got when I walked out of Metallica concerts in the 90's, I am halfway deaf and have no voice. It is a GREAT time!

Knowing this type of debauchery is going on, imagine my surprise when halfway into the 3rd quarter a family walks into Mulligan's, a family with 2 small children, about ages 2 and 5. The kids seemed to be well behaved, I did not notice them crying (not that I would have heard them anyway) or being disruptive in any way. What I did notice, though, was that there were no seats for these kids, and that Mulligan's is a bar, not a bar/restaurant or a restaurant of any sort, just a straight up bar. I noticed that these kids came in following their parents and that they had no say in where their parents took them (the baby being in a carrier attached to the mother). I also noted the colorful vocabulary being used by the patrons as the Sillies lost and/or bad calls were made by the refs of the Eagles game.

Giving these people the benefit of the doubt, I figured they had no idea that their 5ish year old son was likely to get trampled if we started cheering wildly because no one would be looking down at the floor for a 3 apples tall person. I also figured that they must have walked in during a lull in the game and that they had not heard us chanting and singing. Most importantly, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and figured they would leave quickly once we got going.

I was wrong. What we actually had were two people who should never have had children at this point in their lives, bring their children into a situation that was unhealthy and potentially dangerous for them. These two were not young parents. Dad was clearly 10-15 years older than mom, and mom was in her early 30's. These people could not use youthful indiscretion as their excuse for their poor choice. In fact, it was clear that they had come to join a few of their friends, all of whom were in similar marital situations, but none of whom had brought any children with them.

My thought on this situation is this: When you have children, it is your responsibility to make sure that you care for them, and it is your responsibility to make sure that they are your #1 priority. It is incredibly obvious that if you want to go to a bar for the Eagles game, you need to get a sitter, even if you only stay for 30 or 40 minutes. The situation was dangerous, and it is clear that these two people were examples of incredibly selfish parents who put their own wants and needs in front of their children's well being. It makes me sick and my only regret is that I did not say something directly to their faces. I wish I had said something like "Are you here for your child's benefit, or your own?"

I can honestly say that when I asked my fellow Eagles fans if they had ever been to a bar at 5, every single one of them admitted that they had not. In fact, we all agreed that it was bad parenting that allowed these two buffoons to think it ok to have their children in that type of setting. And it was an absolute certainty that the kids did not want to be there. I watched as the 5 yr old first asked to go to the bathroom and then started pulling on his dad's arm to leave the bar. He was at the very least uncomfortable.

I have noticed that since smoking inside was banned in Hoboken, people have started treated bars like coffee shops and daycare centers. What needs to be considered and remembered by all is that bars are still a place of drunken debauchery and adult pleasures, and they really are no place for your children to receive an education in proper behavior. I am glad that the air inside is now clean enough for you to deem it breathable for your children, BUT, it must be noted that the people inside are still the types of people you do not want around your children. Drunks and children do not mix. And to be clear, I mean bars, I am certainly not talking about restaurants or even bar/restaurants with separate bar areas.

Children do not belong in bars, crowded or otherwise. Be responsible as a parent, or risk losing your children period. Next time I see something like this, I am going to say something, and then I will consider contacting the authorities. Grow up, or do not have children.

Rogo's Bar

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Originally uploaded by Furey
Click on the picture to see more shots from Rogo's Bar.

I was at Rogo's last week, and had the chance to use my camera a bit. My first impressions were "wow". Really liked the new design, and the clean, crisp interior. The menu was completely changed, and Rogo's went from a neighborhood sports-pub to a neighborhood sports-lounge. This is the kind of place that everyone will like going to - guys or girls.

It has a tremendous amount of flat screen TVs all over the walls. The drink & food choices are expansive and unique. I only had a chance to order their wings, and they tasted great, as always. I'd like to get back and do a more formal review, and try some more of their dishes.

So far, so good.

Two For Tuesday...

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We updated the website to Moveable Type 4.0, and i'm playing around with some things with the site design. So don't panic if you see strange things happen over the next week.

I figure it's Tuesday, and i'll write two short stories for you real fast.

Story one happened Saturday Night. I was bartending and had a full bar in front of me of customers who were having a fun time, drinking and being playful. Nothing is more fun to me, as a bartender, than having customers who interact with me and bring a postive vibe to the bar. The customers were drinking a lot, and I made sure I took care of them.

Around 9:30 a woman sits down at the bar, alone. She's asian, i'd say in her early 30's, and dressed really well, with a torquise (merino wool?) shawl, which looked sharp on her. She ordered a Yuengling, and quietly drank it. My spidey senses said to me, "Ok, she must be waiting for her boyfriend."

About ten minutes pass and my friend Jimmy* walks in. Known Jimmy for at least seven years, great guy, knows a ton of people in town, and has always been a great friend and good customer to me. He was about to sit down at the bar end of the bar, but I immediately tell him, "Hey, why don't you sit here..." and gesture to an empty seat next to the comely Asian woman.

That's my job, people!

Jimmy looks over, sees her, and has a nice grin on his face as he sits down as if to say, "Oh, thank you."

Jimmy's good with people, guys or girls. Can chat anyone up. I figured this girl has been sitting at the bar quietly having a drink and i'd see if I can put the two together to see what happens, even if I was wrong about her waiting on a boyfriend.

A bit later, Jimmy is pleasantly talking to the woman, and I can overhear a bit of the conversation, since she was not only talking to Jimmy but also to another girl sitting next to her. She eventually reveals that she is from Miami. She came up to visit her boyfriend for the weekend. Her boyfriend decided that Saturday night would be a "boys night out", and left her at the apartment.

Everyone listening is shocked and incredulous.

"You came up for the weekend and your boyfriend went out with his friends?", was the group's general reaction.

My reaction was, "Gotta love asshole boyfriends who treat their girlfriends like this. Honey, there are nicer guys out there, really. You deserve better."

She nods saying, "Oh I know. I wasn't going to sit in the apartment, I figured i'd go out in Hoboken and have fun. Screw him. My flight leaves tomorrow morning and I won't be coming back."

Part of me didn't believe what she was saying...about the "I won't be coming back". part. Far too often I have seen friends of mine rebound over and over again. Hey, i'm no angel, I did it once with one of my ex-girlfriends, too. It's hard to seperate logic and emotion.

No more than five minutes later two african american guys walk into the bar, and start talking to the Asian woman. The first impression that I get from them is that they are dressed more casually than her, and that one of them is probably the "boyfriend". My suspicion is confirmed when she says to Jimmy and the girl next to her, "This is my boyfriend..."

He's quietly talking to her, and his friend is looking over Jimmy a bit. I can immediately tell that there's a bit of the bullshit jealousy vibe going on with the friend looking at Jimmy like, "Why are you next to her" and they are sort of angling to move towards the bar and basically cock-block Jimmy from where he's sitting.

Again, follow me here, the whole bar vibe goes from fun to "uncomfortable" because we have the African American guy talking to the Asian woman, and they are tense. The "guy friend" is sort of trying to angle his way into the bar, and the Asian girl says, "Hey, Jimmy is sitting there..", trying to get the guy friend to back off.

The guy friend basically isn't listening. Even Jimmy turns around and says, "I just sat down..."

The guy turns to Jimmy and rudely goes, "BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH" into his face, with his hand up to Jimmy's face, basically mocking Jimmy. Jimmy goes a bit pale, and i'm half wondering if he is going to throw a punch at the asshole. Fortunately, Jimmy just turns back to the bar and says nothing, but the expression on his face riles me up.

I'm furious. Furious. Even as I write this my hands are shaking a bit thinking of that event. It was rude, and it was directed to a friend of mine while i'm bartending. My job isn't just to sling drinks. It's about creating an atmosphere at the bar, when needed. I don't need asshole customers.

Let me repeat that.

I don't need asshole customers.

I appreciate the business, and i'm sure if Mike and Cindy were standing there, watching one of their customers, and a personal friend of theirs, get mocked rudely by another customer they would take the same action as I did.

I calmly walked to the end of the bar, got the bouncers attention and waved at him. He looked at me, I pointed to the two guys and said, "These two guys are out of here."

He gets up, taps them on the shoulder and says "You two have to leave. Now."

The guy friend has a look of "What did I do?" on his face. The boyfriend is asking why is he getting thrown out. I'm standing in front of them and say, "You do not insult my friends while i'm bartending, pal. I don't need your business."

I turn to the Asian woman and say, "You boyfriend's buddy was rude to a friend and customer of mine. The drink is on the house. You can stay or you can leave, but I don't want either of them here."

The two guys leave. The Asian woman?

She stayed and finished her drink.

My moral of the story?: I always have my friend's back.

And now for story #2....

I know...I haven't updated in a while...

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I have been boring lately. (Lately?)

The creative well is running a bit dry. I don't have many cool stories to tell, so I will have to go to my obligatory "quick notes" way of writing just to fill you in with what's new...

...Condo is fine, thanks for the lights for the kitchen, and waiting on Sammy to install them....

...Been hitting up the gym on average 4 days a week, I mean to go 5 days a week, but just find lots of things that get in the way of a 5 day routine....

...One of those ways was a recent Shakespeare in the Park performance that I got through work. Show started at 8pm and I got out of work at 5pm...I had three hours to kill in what to do...what to do....what to do....DRINK? Why, sure! I really didn't mean to, but I got bombed. Then took a taxi and went to Central Park, alone, at 7:45pm, thinking i'd walk to the one really tells you how fucking spooky certain parts of the park can be at night...its like walking around in a fucking forest at times. I went the wrong way, got lost, backtracked, took another taxi 10 blocks uptown, got out and then somehow found the outdoor theater that A Midsummer's Night Dream was playing at...I missed a good portion of the first act, but the rest of the play was excellent...especially when I was tanked and bought a few Becks beers at the refreshment stand (who knew?). I have to say that I think watching Shakespeare drunk makes it much more understandable...

...Eagles club was last Sunday and it was a blast...Bud Light had a raffle for a tailgate grill...I couldn't believe the size of the crowd that showed up, it was like being at the game with all the cheering. Just hope the birds recover or it will be a long season...

...I'm definitely getting the new Ipod Touch as soon as it comes out next week....don't like the IPhone as much because I like a smaller, slimmer phone when I go out on the weekends and the IPhone is just too big for that and i'd be paranoid about losing it when I went out...

...A few weeks ago I was at Mulligan's for the Philadelphia Phillies Club of Hoboken on a Friday night. A girl friend saddles up and tells me about a softball game in Sea was a charity event, and about a hour's drive away on Saturday morning...asks if I will go...after a bit of discussion, I agree...I get down there, and we had to drive around a bit to pick people up, and I got to see the area. I must admit, there's something really peaceful about being down the had a real country feel to it and really reminded me of Bucks County, in a way...I get to the tournament, and there's about 80 people playing softball (8 teams of 10) - they had a DJ and it was fully was very impressive. Most of the people there were from Hoboken or once lived in Hoboken, which was very funny. In a way, I'd like to do a beach house someday, but on *my* terms, i'd much rather a smaller house, with maybe 8-10 people. Not a fraternity house zoo of 20 people and you have a 4 bedroom place with 5 people to a room. Rather have a 4-5 bedroom place with two people in a room, and pay a bit more for it...that's just me, even when I was 22 I never liked sleeping on the floor or a couch when I went to the shore...But then again, I do like Hoboken in the summertime...and I do like to bartend, which would make a shore house nearly impossible if I was working Saturday nights in Hoboken...

...The 4th ward race is coming up, again...and I had a chat with another friend...who is a lawyer and told me about how they hope Michael Russo wins the next mayoral election, because they would get a job out of it...I tell that person how Hudson County politics is so funny to me. It isn't a democracy around here, its like feudalism. You elect someone and you get a local "Lord" who hands out parcels of lands for their buddies to rule over. That person agreed with me, and said "That's just the way it is." - I'm tired of that kind of doggish attitude in town. Like "It's ok to be corrupt! Everyone is corrupt!" - I have another friend who always reads these kind of posts from me and emails with a "You better be careful about what you write when you talk about Hoboken politics..." and goes on like there's a Hit Squad that is going to take me out if I dare write about how I hate corruption in politics - she basically says the same thing, "You just have to accept that Hudson County is corrupt and no one will ever fix it". Well, here's to the hope that Zimmer can win the upcoming 4th Ward election, I at least trust her...

...I love some of the new restaurants that are opening up. Wild Ginger, The Avenue, The Melting Pot. Will someone, for the love of God, open a 1st tier Steakhouse in Hoboken? I'm talking about on par with places like Peter Luger, Smith and Wollensky, The Strip House, Bobby Van's, The Palm or The Capital Grille. I think the climate & the demographics are definitely ripe for a quality steakhouse...don't bother telling me about any restaurant in Hoboken that serves steak...i'm not asking for a restaurant that serves steak, but an actual STEAK HOUSE. All they serve is Steak, and the best quality steak, and age it on the premises. Of course I can go into New York and get it myself, but there are times when i'm in Hoboken, trying to decided on a bite to eat, and i'd love to be able to walk 5 minutes to a steak house on Washington Street...

...I'm already missing summer....only two good things about the end of summer are football season & the new season of TV shows...

...has anyone tried the Netflix on-Demand service? I tried it the other day on my PC and it is amazing. Caught up on a bunch of bad sci-fi TV shows (ok, ok, it was Dr. Who...sue me) - that were all included just for being a Netflix member. Only problem is that the selection, right now, is like bad 80's cable TV kind of movies. Police Academy, Charles Bronson & Porky's come to mind. If they could add some really good movies and TV shows....can be a hit...

...I made a cool martini the other day at the bar, which was a bit labor intensive (like I muddle oranges & a few cherries to start the drink...), and it was a huge hit. If you read the blog, want to try it, I suggest you just come to the bar on Saturday night and ask me to make it...I don't have a name for it yet...

...I have been getting more and more people sitting at the bar looking at me, and watching their expression change to what I call a "recognition look". Some people don't say anything, but I can hear them quietly say something to their friends when I walk away and others will come out and blurt, "Hey! You write THAT blog..." It still amuses me how many people read this site, which isn't as large as Hoboken411 or Hobokeni, but still get enough that people are stopping me. Had a very nice guy chat to me a bit last Saturday when he was out with his date...

Philadelphia Eagles Club 2007

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Originally uploaded by Furey
Another year, another good time at Mulligans despite the loss.

Un-be-lieveable is the word i'd use to describe the crowd today. We easily had 80 Eagle fans in the bar, some claim 100 fans were there. It was a madhouse.

Cheering, laughing, loud fans crammed into Mulligan's back bar (and some in the front) to watch the game. We raffled off a free tailgate grill to a lucky fan during halftime, thanks to our friends at Anheuser-Busch.

The week certainly could have been better with a win, but our special teams simply let the team and the fans down. But that's football for you, and hopefully we bounce back with a good win against Washington on Monday Night.

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