Why Hoboken Needs A Wine Bar Other Than Bin 14

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I saw this update on Hobokenmenus.com:

WindMill Hot Dogs Hoboken has closed! "The WindMill of Hoboken was off to a running start and then BAMM..... Hurricane Sandy hit! Although the restaurant itself did not sustain damage, the Path Station was severely affected, as were many neighboring homes and businesses. Due to flooding and the closure of the Path Station, locals had to find alternative ways into NYC. The commuters stopped coming and pedestrian traffic in front of the once busy location thinned daily. As a result, The WindMill of Hoboken's steadily growing business began to shrink more and more each day. Simply put, after Hurricane Sandy, things were just never the same."

I don't understand how people with money to open businesses don't see what we need now. Hot Dogs? Really? The demographics of Hoboken have shifted. This may have worked in 2003, but 10 years later you have people buying $800,000+ condos and raising their kids here. #1 thing that 'downtown' Hoboken needs is a Wine Bar like Bin 14 or a craft beer bar like The Jeffrey:

For example the owners at Biggie's who are scratching their collective heads and wondering why they are dead on a weeknight should simply look around and see what this city needs, and not more of "Deep Fried food and Bud Light/Guinness/Blue Moon/Stella on tap" and think the crowd is going to come running. Open a great wine bar with small plates to nosh on, with comfortable seats and low lighting, soft music that caters to first dates or groups looking to try new wines picked by a in-house sommelier and hire a chef that graduated from an accredited institution. After working as a bartender for 10+ years in town, I know who cooks our food and often they are just hard working guys from Third World countries that make chicken wings, quesadillas, hamburgers and other basic "American" things.

Recently I have been on a wine bar binge in the West Village. I wrote about Anfora, Vin Sur Vingt Lelabar and Gottino. They are, in a word all fantastic. Each have different characteristics, like Anfora has some ridiculously good crostini. To a point where even writing about it now, I find myself thinking to find an excuse to take someone there to have some more of it.

I walk around town and see clone after clone of everything when it comes to restaurants. Why is that?

I can give you one easy reason. I forget which year it was, but I think it was 2006 Dave Roberts was mayor and decided that, for quality of life issues, that the City of Hoboken would no longer issue "new" liquor licenses. The only way to obtain a liquor license was to buy an existing license. Now, what do you think this did to supply and demand?

The original cost of a liquor license in Hoboken wasn't expensive. After they enacted the law, the cost jumped to over $500,000. Question - do you THINK that someone like Dave Roberts, who from what I understand owned Amanda's and Cafe Elysian would profit from this change in the law?

Second - how difficult would it be for someone to open a new restaurant in town. The law's rule is you can't open a new bar within 500 feet of an existing bar with a liquor license. So basically the same old crappy bars and keep selling the same old crappy food because they have no incentive to work harder. Where is the competition? You need people who have a million dollars or more to open new restaurants in Hoboken. Its certainly not impossible, if you look at how well Little Town NJ has been doing.

My solution would be simple. Create a new Class of liquor license that allows for sale of wine & beer, but not hard liquor - and can be opened near existing establishments. At least that would allow craft beer or craft wine restaurants to compete a bit with the existing bars and restaurants in town. I'm sure every bar owner will gnash their teeth and such a suggestion, but i'm not a fan of suppressing free enterprise. Don't we have enough nail salons, real estate offices and sushi restaurants?

Seriously, if I had a million dollars I could make a million more by opening up a craft beer or wine bar in downtown Hoboken. Man, do I need to win the lottery.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on October 16, 2013 12:42 AM.

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