September 2008 Archives

A friend of mine texted me on Sunday saying that Five Guys Burgers and Fries were opening up on Monday. I was excited, because aside from In and Out Burger, I think FGB&F make a damn good burger. I talked to another friend of mine later in the day, and they were unhappy that another chain restaurant was opening in Hoboken, and the Mom & Pop businesses were getting shoved aside for corporate America.

I have a simple philosophy about Hoboken retail businesses:

If they were better than the chain stores, then the chains wouldn't have to open.

Result? There's not a restaurant in town to get a good, consistent meal.

Now hold on.

"Good" and "consistent" are my key words.

There's lots of places I have been to in town that I had a great dinner. Then i'd go back again and be disappointed. Rarely have I found any restaurant in town where I really have enjoyed myself over and over again. There's a few places that are my favorites:

Before I get a bunch of comments - Court Street, Triple A's, The Madison, Amanda's, Cafe Elysian & Augustino's I think are good. Not great. But good.

But there's also a ton of mediocre restaurants in Hoboken, and to me - i'd rather have a good "chain" restaurant than some of the local average restaurants that we are saddled with.

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You can knock the chains all you want, but they provide a consistently good meal. Here's my Top 5 casual dining chain restaurants (not fast food) that would destroy the competition in Hoboken, keeping in mind our demographics (young single people and middle aged married yuppie couples):

1. Chili's. I know. So Middle America, but hear me out. Chili's isn't fine dining, but it's consistently good, like I wrote. Baby Back Ribs? Fajitas? Burgers? Seafood? Steaks? Sandwiches? It's got something for everyone and make awesome frozen margaritas that would give Baja on 14th a serious challenge (I hate Baja's food, but do like their tequila selection and frozen drinks). Plunk a Chili's next to Baja and who would get more business? You know that Chili would put them out of business in a heartbeat.

2. Outback Steakhouse. Yes, there is one in Edgewater, which isn't really walkable and lots of Hobokenites don't have cars (and consider that Hobokenites think walking 10 blocks from uptown to downtown is "too far"). This isn't premium steak like Peter Luger or The Palm or The Strip House - but they make a consistently good steak and have other good grilled food on the menu. Everytime I walk into an Outback it is packed. Everytime I pass an Outback, I think about going back there.

3. Cheesecake Factory. Hate it all you want, but the place is jammed packed everytime I walk in for dinner and can you imagine a restaurant like this in Hoboken for the casual meal that people want? It would be gangbusters. Close down The Melting Pot Restaurant and open the Cheesecake Factory right there. Would be busy every night.

4. Buffalo Wild Wings or Hooters. Again, stick with what works in Hoboken - beer & bar food. Buffalo Wild Wings would take on the the reigning champions like Rogo's or Black Bear and humiliate them. Hooters, albeit a more risky choice in a town like Hoboken (I wonder what the Hoboken411 backlash would be like...), make some of the best wings in the business.

5. IHOP: Everyone was estatic with Turning Point (which, remember isn't some Mom & Pop restaurant). An 24 hour IHOP, in the right location, would be always busy. Someone go to Malibu Diner, buy them out and put an IHOP there & then open another IHOP downtown (somewhere near Zebu Forno). Tell me that the place wouldn't be packed on Saturday and Sunday for brunches. Tell me that the place wouldn't be packed from 2am - 4am after drinking hours. Tell me that for lunch it wouldn't do good business with the waterfront business crowd. Tell me that for dinner it wouldn't get a crowd. No chance. It would kill in this town.

Lots of people would also ask "Hey, where would you build these places? Hoboken has such bad commerical real estate, that chain restaurants cant even open here if they wanted to..."

First place i'd say is the new building they are putting up next to the W Hotel at 2nd and River. There's going to be enough space there to open any of the above mentioned restaurants.

The municipal parking garage was sold, and the new building there should have 8,000 square feet of retail space. Perfect location on Observer Highway that would draw people with the right kind of restaurant (depending if they can get a liquor license or not).

Don't forget about Metrostop. It's not the most desireable location, but there's lots of Hobokenites that are moving to the area of the Metrostop and they need places to eat, too. I'm sure the retail cost per square foot may be cheaper than the other locations.

If tomorrow I won $5 million, that's what I'd do with my money. I'd buy a franchise and open it in Hoboken. I know how the market would react to any of the five I listed and would rake in the profits.

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Hoboken, if you haven't heard, is a windy town. Situated along the Hudson River, the howling winds crash into our town often when storm fronts move through the area, since we don't have any big buildings to shield our town.

Today, on an especially rainy fall day, I decided to write a list of things a Hobokenite should have on a wet, windy day in Hoboken, calculated from years of living here and my tried and true research:

1. Gust Buster Umbrella. Haven't heard of a "Gust Buster"? You aren't alone, because on my walk into work today I had the pleasure of watching everyone fight the wind and rain with their inside-out umbrellas. They are extremely well made, and can withstand winds of up to 55 miles per hour. They come in a variety of sizes. I bought the Metro model, for its compact size, it easily fits inside my messenger bag. It does have a small drawback with a small handle, which is hard to hold for those who have larger hands. Also, The Metro may be expensive to some, costing around $40, but it easily pays dividends compared to the sidewalk $5 umbrellas that break in windy weather. I roll my eyes when I walk down the street and see someone holding a forlorn umbrella, clearly on it's last legs and they too cheap to buy a real one.

2. Jack Spade Nylon Canvas Day Bag. I love this bag and I was happy to find out that I didn't have to question my heterosexuality while carrying it. Orginally I wanted to get a leather Indiana Jones kind of bag, but I couldn't find one I liked. I did see that Jack Spade made a great bag to carry my day-to-day items to the office: my gym clothes, my camera, my iPod Touch, magazines for the PATH and my Mangum Research Desert Eagle .50 AE handgun. Oh I keed, I keed - but if guns were legal to carry, that is what i'd have. But the bag is well made, with a rain proof lining, which keeps all my items nice and dry. It's large enough to carry what I need, but not too big and bulky. Also I think it's sharp looking and I can wear it with jeans or if i'm dressed up in my "business casual" work wear.

3. The North Face M Venture Jacket. Big fan of the jacket, because it's just a waterproof nylon shell with some extra features. The hood is great, especially on windy days. It has a few zippers that allow the jacket to "breathe" a bit better, allowing it to stay cool on damp days. Its easy to roll up, and stuff in my Jack Spade messenger bag when the sky clears up. It's great to wear into work, or to The Hunt, or to an Eagles game. I just and check the weather channel, layer appropiately, and leave my condo.

4. Wellington Boots. Known as "Wellies" I love these boots, and and really like the Men's Short Boots in black. Many girls in Hoboken opt for more fashionable, colorful boots, like those from J. Crew. I spied a girl walking to the PATH with yellow boots and her matching yellow umbrella - but was inside out while she was pulled by the wind down the street. There's a fine line between fashion and utility and she, sadly, was on the wrong side of that street. With all the flooded streets in downtown Hoboken, having boots like these are great on rainy or snowy days.

5. Single Malt Scotch. Nothing ends my rainy days better than a nice glass of scotch to warm my bones. I won't call myself a traditional scotch drinker, I mostly like the scotches from sherry casks (probably due to my love of Port wine), and I alternate buying either a 12 year old Glendronach, the 12 year old Sherry Cask Glemorangie or the Balvenie Double Wood. Yes, I drink all on the rocks (ok you purists, pipe down). All are available locally at Sparrow Wine and Liquor for around +/- $50 a bottle, or you can always buy scotch online and save some money, too.

Ninja Cat

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Easily my favorite animal video of the fall.

McSwiggan's Reopening

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As you know, McSwiggan's was devistated by a fire, gutting the entire building and also destroying the homes of those who lived above the local tavern.

Good news is that McSwiggan's rose from the ashes, and turned into an even more beautiful bar than before. I stopped by and had the pleasure of taking the first pictures of the new bar, for your pleasure.


I'm Wrong When I'm Right

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On Sunday, we had a good crowd of Eagles fans at Mulligan's.

It wasn't the enormous crowd that we had week one, or the 100+ people we had last Monday night. It was a decent crowd of about 60-70 people at the bar, watching the Steelers play the Eagles in Philadelphia.

I got there around 3pm, and by then all the seats at the back bar were taken, and I had to walk to the front bar, grab a seat, and carry it into the back bar so I could sit down. The bar started to fill up, and in walks a crew of people not wearing any jerseys, with one Eagles fan who is.

Now, dear reader, you have to understand the context of this situation. You have a bar filled with Eagles fans. Everyone is wearing an Eagles jersey, and some even have Phillies hats on. This bar is the home away from home for all Eagles fans (and most any other Philadelphia sports teams), which is the equivalent of a virtual embassy of Philadelphia, if you will. You walk on Mulligan's hallowed grounds and you, sir, are IN PHILADELPHIA, for all intents and purposes.

There are about 5 girls and 3 guys in this crew of people. The guys are all wearing Ed Hardy / Christian Audigier, with jeans (on a 79 degree day), extremely tanned, beefy gym muscles (juiceheads? it wouldn't shock me.) and lots of hair product. The girls were surprisingly 'more normal', and most were cute. It was like the regulars of njguido.com just walked in from a taping of "Growing Up Gotti".

Now, if you know me, you know that i'm half Irish and half Italian. Growing up I felt "more Italian", if you will (sorry Mom) only because our house was so Italian-centric with my father's influence over the household. So as much as i'm half-Irish, my life and my knowledge of Italy (after studying in Italy for 4 months) gives me a better understanding and appreciation of the Italian culture than your average Italian-American. Just because someone is born-and-raised Bayonne Italian and hasn't travelled more than 75 miles away from their parents house in the last 25 years doesn't make them I-T-A-L-I-A-N. It makes them an American-Italian. I'm not a fan of the mafia. I'm not a fan of guidos. I am sure in their tiny hearts that most guidos are good people, but for the most part they just enjoy acting like knuckleheads and irritate the hell out of me. To me, my philosophy is that all guidos are Italian, but not all Italians are guidos. So if you are Italian, don't be a guido!

But, I digress.

The "crew" come into the bar and immediately stand in front of me. Now, I have no problem seeing over their tiny heads, because most of the girls aren't taller than 5'4 and the guys aren't taller than 5'9. It would be difficult, into words, to express how they were being annoying. For one thing, they were loud. For another, they were being annoying - one finding amusement by taking handfuls of napkins, and throwing them into the air, to create a cascade of napkins showering all over the bar. Paul, the owner, saw the end result and asked me who were the idiots throwing napkins all over the place, and I pointed out the group in front of me and saying, "We are a victim of our own success. Now we are getting so popular, that we are attracting all sorts of fools to the bar, rather than only Eagles fans."

If it was just them being loud and throwing napkins, I don't think I really would have cared. They were a distraction. The girls, in their defense, were fine. The guys were just being peacocks, showing off, trying to be the "NOTICE ME" kind of guido, and 99% of the people at the bar could care less, they were just there to watch the game. The guys weren't even watching the game. Not at all. When the Eagles had a big score, they would spin around, look at the TV and frown. When the Steelers had a big play, two guys chanted, "Lets - Go - Steel - Ers!"

I had enough, and pulled two of the girls aside.

"Hey, how are you? I'm Sean, I run the Eagles club. I just wanted to know what was the thought process - what exactly were you guys thinking - when you said you wanted to come to Mulligan's and watch this game? I mean, out of the 8 of you I see one girl with an Eagles jersey on..."

"Oh, that's Jackie. She's an Eagles fan.", replied the tall girl with brunette hair.

"Ok, so Jackie is an Eagles fan. She brought the rest of you, here, because you are also Eagles fans....?"

"Oh no. She's a Giants fan. So are those two guys. I'm a Dolphins fan. Only Jackie likes the Eagles.", said the tall girl with brunette hair.

"Out of all the bars to watch the games you wanted to come here, into the back bar of Mulligan's and watch it with the Eagles? That makes no sense."

"Why? Are we a problem?", she asked, her eyes narrowing.

"Well look at your friends," I said, "they aren't even watching the game. Just being loud and obnoxious, while people are here just watching football."

"Hey we are just having fun, what - are you against people having a good time, or somethin'?", she asked with a glare.

"Well, no, but if I had my choice, you guys wouldn't be in this side of the bar...this side is basically for all the Eagles fans", I said.

"Oh, so you would throw us out? Just because we are having a good time...?", she growled.

"Not about having a good time, but you guys are being distracting to the other Eagles fans. You and your friends, except for Jackie, aren't EVEN EAGLES FANS. Why come here? You could have gone to thirty other bars in town to watch this game??", I said, with a criticizing tone.

She spun around on her heel and then our discussion turned into your typical "wash-woman mentality". You know what I mean. The one girl gets offended because I had the audacity to criticize her & her friends. Now she has that burning desire to talk to other girl friends and tell them I can't believe what how he just talked to me.

I turn to an Eagles fan next to me, a girl, and I say to her, "Are you witnessing this? Am I completely out of line, here?"

"No way, not at all. They shouldn't even be here", she said.

It could have gone downhill from there. But Jackie, to her credit, walked over, we talked a bit smoothing things out, and Paul had a conversation with one of the clowns to calm him down.

After the girls were a bit more mollified, I went on to explain that running the Eagles club at the bar is much like if I were the host of a party. I want everyone to have a good time, but also asked them to be put in my shoes and they were hosting a party with a bunch of clowns like their guy friends acting like idiots. Eventually the girls "got it" and started to agree with me. I turned on my charm (yes, I can be charming) and by the end of the game, the girls were laughing along with my impressions of them "Getting all 'The View'-like" on me (I was doing a head-bobing and finger shaking Bon Qui Qui impression).

In the end, its the old "It's not what you say, its how you say it" that doomed me here. Yea, I know I can be rough by not beating around the bush and patience is something that I don't have a lot of. At the end of the day I wasn't really thinking of myself, I was just thinking of the Eagles fans who come to the bar. Maybe someone who was there for the first time, and they are thinking "THIS is the Eagles club? It's a zoo here!"

Just trying to make a little oasis away from the heckling, annoying, loud anti-Eagles fans that I have been dealing with since 1994. I have no problem going into work, or another bar and getting grilled about my team choice - just want one place where I can go every week and relax with other fans.

Weekend Blotto

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Fall is here, and most everyone I know is very excited for the new season.

Me? Well I like fall, but I don't love it. I hate watching the sun set a bit sooner each day. I very much prefer walking to out of my house without having to think about wearing a coat. I'm going to miss my sunny weekends at Bradley Beach.

Last weekend was a bit quiet. Friday I stayed in, because of the rain and I wasn't "in the mood" to drink at a bar. Wasn't feeling it. Watched some TV and surfed the internet a bit.

Saturday had a party at my buddy Matt's house. It was his housewarming party with friends and family, a good crowd of about 30 people around the same age. We had catered food from Vito's deli, beer pong, college football and a very nice balcony to enjoy once the weather cleared up.

That's something I miss from my old apartment - having someplace outside for parties. At my current condo, I don't have a balcony. If I want to step outside and just enjoy myself, I don't even have an option except leave my condo. I think that will be important when I try to buy a new place.

Sunday rolled around and my mom came up to visit. Mom, being Mom, brought up homemade cookies and sausage & pepper, along with some other items she knew I would like (read: Tastykakes). She also brought up my college diploma, nicely framed, which I hung on the wall in my room.

Segue: I was at my mom's house for Easter and looking for some bottles of wine in her basement. While looking, I saw a leather bound folder on a shelf with the Villanova tag on it, and looked inside to see my diploma. I completely forgot about it, and when I mentioned about taking it home with me, my mother offered to get it framed as a present for my house. Awwww.

Now that summer is over, not sure if I am going back to Mikie Squared. I haven't even asked the owners about it, and I figure that i'm fairly happy having Saturday nights free. Maybe if something were to come along, I would consider it, but I think in the short term my days of making martinis and mojitos are numbered.

At Matt's party, we got to a point at midnight where the beer was running out, and a few people, including Matt, asked where in town we could get beer. I knew of a few places, but none were close nor would they deliver. Being the bartender that I am, figured that it was time to restock the bar. I made a phantom exit, without telling anyone.

I walked from Matt's penthouse at Observer Lofts, over to Hoboken Discount Liquors, which is right outside my condo.

I buy two cases of Miller Lite, and standing there with the two cases, i'm thinking that my walk for the next 6-7 blocks may be do-able, but i'll be sweating like a pig by the time I return to Matt's condo.

I see a kid in the store, who looks to be about 21 years old. I turn to him and say, "You want to make $10 and help me carry these to a party?"

"Hell yeah!", he says, "Just give me a second, my ride is outside."

He comes back in the store and is trying to find cheap liquor for him and his friends. Keeps asking the store keeper what they have for $10. He picks up a bottle for $16.99 and I stop him and say, "Dude, i'll buy that bottle, you just get me in your car and drive me to the party."

His eyes light up and he says, "Hey, we will drive you to Jersey City for that!"

I get outside and into the tricked out Nissan with chrome rims, with two girls in the backseat, a guy driver and my friend from inside the store, hopping into the backseat with the girls. Part of my brain is briefly thinking, "Maybe this isn't such a good idea, you could get mugged..."

But I did it anyhow.

They were cool, and we briefly chatted while they drove me from Willow to Jackson, along Observer. I got out of the car, thanked them for the ride and went back to the party.

Beer pong continued until 3am.

Eagles Vs Rams 2008

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Another season with The Philadelphia Eagles Club of Hoboken underway, and here's a few pictures to go along with our opening day:

A dominating win by the Birds on Sunday, and I think the true test will be next week against Dallas. 3 WRs on the Eagles with 100+ yards, a stingy defense that let up only 3 points and one of the best opening days I have seen with the Eagles in years. The bar was rowdy, fun and loud with cheering and chanting.

It was great to meet so many of the new people at the bar, and of course my old regulars. A special shout out to one of our founding members - Kathleen who is getting married and moving to California - thanks for all the memories and support Kathleen and best of luck in Santa Monica!

Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri 2008

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The Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri procession on Sunday September 7th, 2008 marches in Hoboken.

Another Eagles Season Begins!

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Here we go again.

It's our 5th year organized in Hoboken, and we are almost at 140 members in the Eagles Google group, and I couldn't be happier.

This is a make or break year for Donovan. Make no bones about it, Kolb is waiting in the wings if McNabb gets hurt and/or if the Eagles don't make the playoffs - fully expect McNabb to be traded (i'd expect they want that to an AFC team!), and the Kolb era begins.

Me? I like #5. I think if you watch, most of the mistakes are on our WRs with drops/routes, not with McNabb's accuracy. I'm not sure why the birds don't aggressively go after a better WR for him, but i'm not a GM so who knows.

My top 5 things to watch for this Sunday (besides McNabb):

1. We have one, count 'em, one fullback on the team - the converted RB Mike Hunt. This is the guy who has got to protect McNabb on passing plays and open up holes for Westbrook on running plays. Keep an eye on him.

2. Blitzing. With 3 corners that would start on any team (Samuel, Brown and Sheppard) I fully expect nickel packages galore with corners being very aggressive because the Eagles can afford single coverage. I'd be shocked if we sit back this game.

3. Stewart Bradley & Co: Lots of question marks. Can our new linebackers contain Steven Jackson? How is Stewart going to handle running the defense? They are all quick, fast, big linebackers, at the SAM and MIKE positions the Eagles haven't had since the days of Jeremiah Trotter and Carlos Emmons. Question is will they have the heart that Trotter had?

4. No Brown, No Curtis, No Problem? If you haven't heard, Brown didn't practice on Thursday, which usually means he isn't starting on Sunday. Curtis is out with his sports hernia. Our starters are rookie DeSean Jackson and the combo platter of Baskett/Lewis with a sprinkling of Avant. Our WR situation was average enough to begin with, now our backups are starting. Thank God it is the Rams and not Dallas.

5. Juqua Parker, your time has arrived. Juqua (pronounced juh-QUAY), our 2005 pickup, changed his name last March from Juqua Thomas to Parker (at the request of his father, who died in 2005) is our starting DE now that Victor Abiamiri is recovering from wrist surgery. I know some of you are like "WHO ARE THEY", but that's why I write this stuff, so you can REALLY know who some key players are. Last season, our pass rush was inconsistent, with only 12 sacks in 9 games. It would be key to see the birds come out with a crippling pass rush this game and have Bulger running for his life.

We are gathering this Sunday on a beautiful 82 degree day at Mulligan's. I spoke to our friends at Anheiuser Busch, and they will have the Bud Light people at the bar with giveaways and prizes. Our beer specials are $2 drafts / $8 pitchers of Yuengling and Bud, Bud Light. $10 buckets of Bud or Bud Light bottles. Plus, this year we have $1 off all other draft beers in the bar during the game. The kitchen will be open and ready to feed you (I love their cajun chicken sandwich).

Also, i'd like to get the club picture in during halftime outside the bar. I only ask it once a year, and if you can take 10 minutes to step outside (don't worry I will have a bullhorn this year to get everyone's attention lol) and we will take a quick group picture of us in our Eagles gear in front of the bar.

Go Birds!

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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