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What is a restaurateur looking for?


BeerGut
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Hey picnic.

Yes still owned by aldos and it's been the brick house for years so if you haven't been there since it was called wyckoff inn....then not sure how you are saying it's an overlooked resturant. Hoping your opinions are based upon recent and frequent experiences... (smiles).....

I think they were ok, but the direction they are headed (wedding factory) indicates to me it's down hill from there..

limabean

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Hey picnic.

Yes still owned by aldos and it's been the brick house for years so if you haven't been there since it was called wyckoff inn....then not sure how you are saying it's an overlooked resturant.  Hoping your opinions are based upon recent and frequent experiences... (smiles).....

I think they were ok, but the direction they are headed (wedding factory) indicates to me it's down hill from there..

limabean

Oh, no, I've been since. Just sad to hear that it is on the downside. I haven't been in a year or so. Speaking of long ago places is Wyckoff, is the Barn still in business? Haven't been in years, but a darned good burger.

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The BARN....yeah...shhhh it's the local hangout. New management/chef, pretty decent and yes still a good buger and what's more fun than having a beer on the "fence" at the bar..ahahahahah

Oh, no, I've been since. Just sad to hear that it is on the downside. I haven't been in a year or so. Speaking of long ago places is Wyckoff, is the Barn still in business? Haven't been in years, but a darned good burger.

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  • 7 months later...

Problems I had opening my restaurant in River Edge that would cause me to avoid this community for a restaurant again:

RED TAPE

An application for a restaurant to the town sends you to the planning board, not the zoning board. As a result you need a FULL site plan (min $5000) a Lawyer ($2500 retainer+) an Engineer ($2500+) retainer, plus $4000 for the town's lawyer and engineer. These just start the process. If you get approvel in 2 meetings (unheard of) that is it, otherwise all of the retainers run out and you need to pay everyone again and the planning board is in NO mood to move this along, this process cost me $50000 in the end in fees and rent to hold the location through the process so the landlord wouldn't just rent the spot to someone else in this long drawn out process. Ah yes, the board only meets once a month too so be ready to move slow if you encounter this brand of red tape. We even had to sit through half a meeting while the board congratulated itself on it reappointment in january ($2500 my cost, i figure each meeting cost me an average of $5000 by the time i payed everyone and rent on my spot)

Most towns will send you to zoning when you refurb a spot, but a close look at your town's ordinances will tell you what you need to now, basicly if the town requires a site plan for a location that you are just refurbishing RUN

PARKING: I had 3 spots and my staff and I spent a lot of time defending those spots from neighbors with no parking. I had more parking 'round back and across the street, but inconvienient, not really used.

ACCESS: One pro of River Edge, right on RT 4, quick access to NM, Oradell, Paramus, Hackensack, a large chunk of people.

VITAL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: River Edge had two competing chambers when i had my business, one River Edge, One Greater River Dell Chamber, a result of local politics spilling into the local business scene. The both had excellent ideas and programs to help businesses and were both run by motivated smart people.

ENTHUSED COMMUNITY: I had a history in river edge so I knew I would have some business at start up just based on my local network. I had my first few months rent paid by catering events booked by an excited community. Any time we did an outdoor event the communtity showed up to support us. If it seems like a closed communtity or even an ethnicity you are not comfterble with it may not be the best place to go(I.E. A really nice american restaurant in downtown leonia would hamstring itself from the start when a large part of its community can't even read the sign and would just be intimidated by the storefront.)(not racist just real, leonia has a large Korean communtity with many fine restaurants of their own.

ACCESS FOR STAFF/MASS TRANSIT

Like it or not, most of our food is prepared and cleaned up by spanish men who have no cars or papers even. They need to be able to get to and from work and Mass transit make this very easy for them (165 NJT bus stopped in front of my store dozens of times a day, the cooks came on the 11:25. Mass transit is good if you have liquor also as it gives your customers another option for the ride home, a possible promo? Free bus pass with your third drink lol!

CONSOLIDATED DOWN TOWN

River Edges problem is its downtown is Kinderkamack Road and that is it. No depth and split up by residential sections so walk up traffic was minimal, you were coming to fink's if you were coming fink's not because you walked by. Makes development of a client base a lot easier if people are just naturally walking by

SIGN LAWS

River Edge Code

4 colors only, black and white are colors and the background counts. 3x8 ft sign max

no freestanding signs

no neon

no promo signs

recently passed: you may hang a promo banner twice a year for a few weeks

Grand opening for one month

Any changes to your signage require a zoning board meeting

An inspector goes up and down the road a few times a month to enforce sign laws

So, If you want restaurants first look around, is the customer base and infrastructure there, access? A need for the type of restaurants you want? Is the downtown laid out for easy access, parking and pedestrian flow? If all these things are in place, and your still full of pizza and chinese, take a look at your zoning/planning laws, does it make it tough and expensive for a restaurateur? What is the attitude in the construction office itself(I encountered a surly unhelpful clerk that would give you one form at a time and yell at you for not having the next one when you came back triggering repeat visits, a hostile environment and a couple of months of delays as I had to get pro's ($200/hour) do this work piecemeal) It also helped hide the true cost/time cost until I was so far in I had to just truck through.

Well This is an insight into my saga, and insight from my problems and these are the things that I would check if I was gonna try again (god forbid)

Fink

The best part of the Guiniea Pig? The Cheeks! Definately the cheeks!!

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First of all, very engaging thread. Thank you to everyone for your input / comments.

After growing up in the Dumont/Bergenfield area, I can appreciate the fact that unless you travel to one of the major restaurants off of the highways (easily a 15-20 minute trip), it is rare that you will find a 'gem' of a restaurant that you will want to return to.

Although there are exceptions....Harvest...Picnic...Andiamos.

(To the owner of Picnic....do you think that the plans in Emerson to 'upgrade' the strip and increase foot traffic help your business? BTW...after eating some of your meals, I'm intreagued as to what product/establishment you would produce if you did have a location such as the Emerson Hotel!)

My personal opinion is that the proper atmosphere/amenities in a location will bring people in from a good distance...more than just from the local community.

I frequently travel 40 minutes to a restaurant for the simple fact that they have a game room for the kids!

The restaurant I manage has different environments which has people frequently traveling from other areas (upwards of an hour each way) to eat in an area that makes them comfortable. Whether it be in our formal dining area, our pub area, or our outdoor patio, I truly believe that if an atmosphere is agreeable to a core group of customers, that group of customers will grow off of word of mouth alone, not the fact that you are located off of the exit ramp of a major highway.

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I would like to invite a talented, creative chef to open a restaurant (not just a caterer) that has more than a deep-fryer and butter sauces to this neighborhood (Leonia/Teaneck/New Milford). These are highway towns of single-family homes and disposable incomes. The malls and bad-food chains around here are PACKED.

With so many people waiting in line at places like the Cheesecake Factory, Morton's, M&S, etc, I don't understand why there aren't more good independent restaurants around  here.  We don't need another Appleby's!  So help me if another TGIMcFunster's (thanks Mr Bourdain) opens around here I'm moving.

Having recently gotten into the habit of driving up from Rutherford to dine in Teaneck (equidistant with Montclair for me), I'm a bit befuddled by this opening statement, though I'll admit I don't yet know the whole area well.

Our goal to date has been the Teaneck Kebab House for the excellent Afghan food (there's none to be found in Montclair or anywhere else that I know of within a 10-mile radius here in Jersey). But we've noticed a few other places in the immediate neighborhood - En Bistro across the street, Victoria's on the corner of DeGraw & Queen Anne - that look appealing. We'll probably try those at some point now that I know how easy the route to Teaneck is.

All this has me wondering what else Teaneck might have to offer. I plan to do some exploring when the weather improves. I realize that so far we've been just to the southwestern corner of the area that the OP delineated. I probably won't be inclined to penetrate New Milford or Leonia without a compelling reason to do so.

Maybe I'll find that there is nothing else up that way, in which case I'll agree with the OP; considering the population density in the area, you'd expect that it would support a few clusters of quality dining opportunities.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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First of all, very engaging thread. Thank you to everyone for your input / comments.

After growing up in the Dumont/Bergenfield area, I can appreciate the fact that unless you travel to one of the major restaurants off of the highways (easily a 15-20 minute trip), it is rare that you will find a 'gem' of a restaurant that you will want to return to.

Although there are exceptions....Harvest...Picnic...Andiamos.

(To the owner of Picnic....do you think that the plans in Emerson to 'upgrade' the strip and increase foot traffic help your business? BTW...after eating some of your meals, I'm intreagued as to what product/establishment you would produce if you did have a location such as the Emerson Hotel!)

Well, the redevelopment is scary. So much so, that I am nervous enough about having to relocate that I took a gamble and just acquired a 4000 square foot commercial kitchen in Midland Park. That way, if redevopment leaves me without a kitchen, I can at least cater!

I'd love a cool spot on this side of the county, like the Emerson Hotel. If I had my druthers, I would do what I do now. Limited menu, changes daily, requests welcome! That way, I'd never be bored, the customers would never be bored, and through a relationship of trust and friendship with the clients, they'd be happy, because if they were hot on say, a foie dish on Saturday night, I'd just stick it on my ever-changing menu that night for them! Ah, dreams!

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