I read this article from Bloomberg the other day, about Maxwells closing & other obvious "news" that Hoboken demographics are changing.
I think most everyone who has lived here for over 5 years knows that the days of frat boys moving to Hoboken post-college has been replaced by those same frat-boys who got married, had a kid or two and decided they didn't want to do the 90 minute commute daily from Princeton Junction into NYC, which was the typical life of a suburban dad who worked in NYC.
Now people are staying in Hoboken. Also, lets be clear about who these "people" are. They are not your blue collar types. They are people who can go out, and afford, to buy 800,000 to 1+ million dollar homes - and have extra money to buy that BMW, Land Rover or Mercedes SUV - and send their kids to chartered schools or the $3,000 a month day care.
What does this mean? With Baby Gap & Anthropologie opening up along Washington Street, I think this is the first step of how the demographic shifts will affect many businesses. Think about bars in this town. I remember way back when that bars on tap would simply have the following:
1. Bud Light / Coors Light
5. "Something Different"
Now "Something Different" often depended on the bar, and the year in Hoboken. Remember when Sam Adams was "Something Different" in the mid 90's? Then Yuengling, Blue Moon & Stella Artois came along which caused beers like Bass and Harp to disappear completely from most bar taps in the 2000's.
New bars like Pier 13 or Pilsener Haus Beer Garden opened up to cater to a new generation of Hobokenites. These are not people who are searching for the perfect Guinness pour at a local Irish pub - but looking for something different and unique that other bars in Hoboken don't have.
For example, if you listed these downtown bars:
Four L's, Black Bear, Republic, The Shannon, The Dubliner, Cooper's Union, Cork City Pub, Green Rock Tap & Grill, Hotel Victor & Biggie's...to name a few.
Is there anything unique and different about them? Do they have a great food menu or specific beers or an extensive wine list?
No. These bars, to a greater or lesser extent, and basic copies of each other. When Hotel Victor underwent an extensive renovation I was hoping that something NEW would open up - something like Bin 14. What downtown Hoboken needs is a good wine bar, not another boring bar with 8 beers on tap and an uninspiring menu of wings, burgers and quesadillas.
The next generation of bars to open will understand this. Mark my words. They are going to cater to Hoboken Moms (and the Dads). They will be kid-friendly. It wouldn't be surprising to me if these same moms & dads rise up and start asking a simple question:
Why do we have bars open until 3am on weekends?
We get a lot of kids from out of town who come to Hoboken to drink. Sometimes that causes trouble. Read the nj.com police blotter every Monday and you can see it for yourself - police reports of fights & crimes that occur from 1am to 3am because people are out too late, drinking and causing mischief.
What if we make bars in Hoboken close at 1am on weeknights & at 2am on weekends? I remember the abject horror of this when I was in my 20's. Now that i'm older and i'm surrounded by residents who think staying up late means "11pm", you kind of wonder if this is something that will change. I can only imagine the City Council meeting with a bunch of moms in there shrillishly crying, "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" when they want to change the laws.
If I could wave a magic wand, here are five things I want to see in Hoboken:
1. Shake Shack to open in Hoboken. They are opening one in Paramus, for crying out loud. Hoboken is a mile square with 50,000 residents. It makes no sense to me how Shake Shack isn't opening in Hoboken before...Paramus. As much as I love Five Guys Burger and Fries, I would open up a Shake Shack along Sinatra next to Club H where the old tanning place used to be. It would be a perfect location.
2. Wegman's or Whole Foods - the two super markets we have in town are ShopRite and A&P. There is a teeny-tiny Kings supermarket on River, but is there anything super about that market? There is a Whole Foods in Edgewater - which is nice if you own a car. I don't own a car. Most of my shopping I use Fresh Direct, which is like Whole Foods delivered to your door. But still. A&P is a dump. ShopRite is OK, but its a fucking zoo unless you time it right. City Hall should be calling Wegman's corporate to woo them to open a new store in Hoboken. Tax breaks or other incentives should be used.
3. Wawa. People who aren't from South Jersey or Philly have no idea why people love Wawa. There are three key reasons. One, great coffee. Two, great deli. Three, "the unexplained". Wawa has a great selection of coffee and don't let an old pot of coffee sit for more than an hour. Sort of like how Au Bon Pain is smart about timers on their coffee. The deli section at Wawas have good, fresh rolls and some of them have a cool touchscreen system that you "build" your perfect sandwich, in which you can specify various cheeses or meats & what you want on it - which gets transmitted to the guy behind the counter so they don't fuck it up. The third point I won't bother explaining but Wawa's are just sprinkled with Awesome Dust in which you don't get the same feeling when walking into a 7-11. A 7-11 to me is the cold corporate clone that people decry when they hear about chain stores moving to a town.
Perfect location for a Wawa: Knock down the old Rey Foods building & other eye sores at Madison and Newark. Put in a sparkling new Wawa gas station and super store:
4. We need a real steakhouse. Palm, Strip House, Del Frisco's, Wolfgang's, BLT Prime, Peter Luger or even Old Homestead- if one of these restaurants opened up in Hoboken I would be in heaven. I'm sorry to anyone who thinks that Arthur's is a real steakhouse. Dino & Harry's I heard have fine steak, but to call them a "steak house" is a bit of a stretch. I'm talking about a restaurant that dry ages their own steak. They use things like "goose fat" when frying their potatoes and people leaving their restaurant gush over the creamed spinach they had with their meal. I did include Old Homestead which technically isn't a steakhouse, but I would welcome that too with open arms. For the love of God if someone is reading this and works for a steakhouse, beg them to open up here. Thank you.
5. Dave & Busters: Hoboken. Tell me this wouldn't work. You have Hoboken moms who could go here for lunch with their kids. At night, it would be more of an 'adult' crowd. I would love to see the Dave & Busters open that has a bowling alley in it which they call D&B Lanes. This would be an instant hit.