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Amazing Hot Dog


ejebud
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Couple of additional Hoboken points --

First, there are certainly more kids there these days than just a few years ago. More families (mine included) are setting down roots in Hoboken rather than hightailing to Montclair as was the norm not long ago. Between stay-at-home moms and nannies, as well as the burgeoning professional population from Wiley and college kids from Stevens, there's a viable weekday target audience, IMHO.

Second, in terms of location within Hoboken, the west side development is growing by leaps and bounds. I'd think if you could find a spot near Shop-Rite and had signage to attract passers-by, you'd get a big buzz very quickly. That'd also put you in range of the Light Rail, potentially opening up your customer base to easily reach Jersey City, Bayonne, and Weehawken. Granted, this would put you at a bit of distance from the PATH and from Wiley, but if you were able to deliver within town, I don't see that as a major problem.

Don't make us beg. Come to Hoboken!

Christopher

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Hey, Eric! Have you guys given any thought to the space where Syd's used to be? The Millburn Mall On Vauxhall Avenue on the Millburn/Union border is in the midst of a major refurbishing (which, lamentably, has caused Tabatchnik's and Sonny Amster's bakery to close, and impelled Syd's to move to their not-so-great location on Morris Avenue in Springfield), and maybe you could capture some of Syd's old (hot-dog deprived) customer base there...

Just a thought.

-s.

BTW: South Orange would luv to see your new place open up here, as well!

Edited by Soda (log)
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Down in MY neck of the woods, the Princeton area, there is an attractive storefront that has just become available in a ShopRite anchored shopping center that supports a busy Chinese takeout and an upscale brick oven pizzeria/trattoria.  The shopping center is in Ewing, NJ, on Olden Ave, and it is packed, heavily trafficked, with good synergy from a dry cleaners, wine/beer shop, video rental store, gamers store, and car dealerships across the street and along stretches of Olden Ave.  Along these blocks of Olden Ave are also gas stations, a McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's, and numerous banks and other retail. A vibrant retail confluence.  And not a hot dog to be found.

Went to this Ewing location today. Nice Shop Rite. We questioned the tolerance the local demographics would have for a $3.00 hot dog. We did speak to and meet up with the managing realty co in Princeton and they showed us a few other strip malls that they have. There is a nice one on 206 in Montgomery. There's a Shop Rite there too and a Friendly's, an Asian noodle place, and a Middle Eastern place. Also an Eckerd and a Movi Theater. We like that location more than Ewing but they said there were enough food tenants already. I think if we REALLY showed an interest they would bend a bit. The search continues!!!

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Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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So, has the decision been made to go with a S. Jersey/Princeton local? Sounds great. Let me throw the North Jersey hat in the ring again, LOL. I am not an expert, but of course many know the many basics that exist in the retail food game; and yes, I am sure there are specifics that would exist in the niche of a specialty hot dog place.

I think the basics of location, foot traffic, parking, and so on all still apply, as well as demographics. While a place like Hoboken had its advantages -- it is heavility populated and has tremendous foot traffic, some have mentioned some of the potential disadvantages. Why not something in say Paramus? Expensive? Yes. What about Ridgewood? Mahwah? This one may be a bit out there -- but what about Fort Lee? Both Callahan's and Hiram's survived and thrived right next door to each other for decade after decade. Englewood? Yes, maybe a bit "glitzy" or too upscale. I think Bergen County would be a good place to look around.

Good luck!!! I am sure you will do well.

Eric

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So, has the decision been made to go with a S. Jersey/Princeton local?

Eric, We are definatley NOT set on S. Jersey or Princeton area. Today's jaunt was a part of our "leave no stone unturned" campaign.

There is, however, a bit of urgency involved in finding a second location though. Unfortunatley, in Verona, we tripped and fell after a mere 40 days of business by having an unexpected electrical fire in the middle of the night, closed for 9 weeks in order to rebuild from scratch, what we had just built a month prior, re-opened to a "ghost town" of a summer, and have been clawing our way back, trying to regain what once was. Truth be told, we are holding our heads above water in Verona, but are doing a fair amount of head scratching around the question "where did all those people who originally came out to enjoy AHD in droves, disappear to?" We have a great loyal fan base and a steady stream of new people every day, but still nothing like when we first opened. Now I understand the initial rush and excitment of a new restaurant with lots of people wanting to try it, and would expect a small percentage drop in customer attendance, but the drop has been substantial. Bigger than we imagined. Again, we are doing OK in Verona,except the last 2 days; slowest days we've ever had, but can handle ALOT more volume. We put out customer "comment cards" hoping that people would feel more comfortable anonymously writting negative experiences on paper and slipping them into a comment box, rather than confront us face to face, but besides a few "toast the bun" comments, ALL the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People RAVE about our food; they tell us that they were told about us by (fill in the name of a friend or loved one), and that they tell all their friends about us, etc.. We just haven't been able to figure out what has changed. (boy did this post turn into a doozie, LOL) I am open to ANY and ALL feedback you or other Egulleters may have on this topic, after all, you guys have been with me since day one and I value your input.

Lastly, I am doing a little cooking demo at the Bloomies in Hackensack on Dec 15th in the houswares dept. Stop in and say hello.

Eric

President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Down in MY neck of the woods, the Princeton area, there is an attractive storefront that has just become available in a ShopRite anchored shopping center that supports a busy Chinese takeout and an upscale brick oven pizzeria/trattoria.  The shopping center is in Ewing, NJ, on Olden Ave, and it is packed, heavily trafficked, with good synergy from a dry cleaners, wine/beer shop, video rental store, gamers store, and car dealerships across the street and along stretches of Olden Ave.  Along these blocks of Olden Ave are also gas stations, a McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's, and numerous banks and other retail. A vibrant retail confluence.  And not a hot dog to be found.

Went to this Ewing location today. Nice Shop Rite. We questioned the tolerance the local demographics would have for a $3.00 hot dog. We did speak to and meet up with the managing realty co in Princeton and they showed us a few other strip malls that they have. There is a nice one on 206 in Montgomery. There's a Shop Rite there too and a Friendly's, an Asian noodle place, and a Middle Eastern place. Also an Eckerd and a Movi Theater. We like that location more than Ewing but they said there were enough food tenants already. I think if we REALLY showed an interest they would bend a bit. The search continues!!!

The local "demographics" can be deceiving in Ewing; there are as many upscale shoppers as urban ones, and what impresses me the most about that location, as opposed to the Montgomery location, which is a tough terrain to physically navigate, is that the traffic in Ewing is constant from early morning till 10PM. Montgomery can be quiet during the day and almost dead at night. We are friends with the owners of the noodle house, and their lunch and dinner business is slow except on the weekend.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Down in MY neck of the woods, the Princeton area, there is an attractive storefront that has just become available in a ShopRite anchored shopping center that supports a busy Chinese takeout and an upscale brick oven pizzeria/trattoria.  The shopping center is in Ewing, NJ, on Olden Ave, and it is packed, heavily trafficked, with good synergy from a dry cleaners, wine/beer shop, video rental store, gamers store, and car dealerships across the street and along stretches of Olden Ave.  Along these blocks of Olden Ave are also gas stations, a McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's, and numerous banks and other retail. A vibrant retail confluence.  And not a hot dog to be found.

Went to this Ewing location today. Nice Shop Rite. We questioned the tolerance the local demographics would have for a $3.00 hot dog. We did speak to and meet up with the managing realty co in Princeton and they showed us a few other strip malls that they have. There is a nice one on 206 in Montgomery. There's a Shop Rite there too and a Friendly's, an Asian noodle place, and a Middle Eastern place. Also an Eckerd and a Movi Theater. We like that location more than Ewing but they said there were enough food tenants already. I think if we REALLY showed an interest they would bend a bit. The search continues!!!

The local "demographics" can be deceiving in Ewing; there are as many upscale shoppers as urban ones, and what impresses me the most about that location, as opposed to the Montgomery location, which is a tough terrain to physically navigate, is that the traffic in Ewing is constant from early morning till 10PM. Montgomery can be quiet during the day and almost dead at night. We are friends with the owners of the noodle house, and their lunch and dinner business is slow except on the weekend.

Great "insider" information Rich. Thanks alot. Any idea how the Italian place does in Ewing? We popped in and bought a soda to check the place out. Seems like a nice place.

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Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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A couple of empty storefronts in my town of Rutherford, on the commercial strip of Union Ave. centered around the ShopRite....

I would think it would do better on Park Ave. Much more walk in traffic, there.

I was thinking that the middle school would provide a guaranteed customer base, but then I read further down the page & saw "$3.00 hot dog." Now I think you're right about Park Ave.

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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Again, we are doing OK in Verona,except the last 2 days; slowest days we've ever had....

Eric, I work at a deli just over the hill from you in Montclair, so I get a good sense of the traffic (car as well as foot) on Bloomfield Ave. , & I can tell you that it's dropped off ASTONISHINGLY this week. I am emphasizing this because it's so markedly different from what it usually is. I have no idea where everyone has gone, but we're seeing the same thing. I assume it's some weird seasonal thing & it will pass.

Or is the W. Orange Whole Foods just sucking everyone in now?

Edited by ghostrider (log)

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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Again, we are doing OK in Verona,except the last 2 days; slowest days we've ever had....

Eric, I work at a deli just over the hill from you in Montclair, so I get a good sense of the traffic (car as well as foot) on Bloomfield Ave. , & I can tell you that it's dropped off ASTONISHINGLY this week. I am emphasizing this because it's so markedly different from what it usually is. I have no idea where everyone has gone, but we're seeing the same thing. I assume it's some weird seasonal thing & it will pass.

Or is the W. Orange Whole Foods just sucking everyone in now?

I would say 1. holiday shopping and 2. it's cold out.

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Again, we are doing OK in Verona,except the last 2 days; slowest days we've ever had....

Eric, I work at a deli just over the hill from you in Montclair, so I get a good sense of the traffic (car as well as foot) on Bloomfield Ave. , & I can tell you that it's dropped off ASTONISHINGLY this week. I am emphasizing this because it's so markedly different from what it usually is. I have no idea where everyone has gone, but we're seeing the same thing. I assume it's some weird seasonal thing & it will pass.

Or is the W. Orange Whole Foods just sucking everyone in now?

Ghostrider,

Thanks for sharing that with me(us) It is a bit comforting to know that it isn't something we did or didn't do.

Eric

President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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I have no idea where everyone has gone, but we're seeing the same thing.  I assume it's some weird seasonal thing & it will pass.

Or is the W. Orange Whole Foods just sucking everyone in now?

I would bet that it's because people are out shopping for gifts, and (sadly) they don't do as much of that locally as they do at big malls. Or the new WF.

Fwiw, I think parking is an important element for any future AHD location. If you want people to come with kids, they're going to think twice if they can't easily pull up, park and unload!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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So, has the decision been made to go with a S. Jersey/Princeton local?

Eric, We are definatley NOT set on S. Jersey or Princeton area. Today's jaunt was a part of our "leave no stone unturned" campaign.

There is, however, a bit of urgency involved in finding a second location though. Unfortunatley, in Verona, we tripped and fell after a mere 40 days of business by having an unexpected electrical fire in the middle of the night, closed for 9 weeks in order to rebuild from scratch, what we had just built a month prior, re-opened to a "ghost town" of a summer, and have been clawing our way back, trying to regain what once was. Truth be told, we are holding our heads above water in Verona, but are doing a fair amount of head scratching around the question "where did all those people who originally came out to enjoy AHD in droves, disappear to?" We have a great loyal fan base and a steady stream of new people every day, but still nothing like when we first opened. Now I understand the initial rush and excitment of a new restaurant with lots of people wanting to try it, and would expect a small percentage drop in customer attendance, but the drop has been substantial. Bigger than we imagined. Again, we are doing OK in Verona,except the last 2 days; slowest days we've ever had, but can handle ALOT more volume. We put out customer "comment cards" hoping that people would feel more comfortable anonymously writting negative experiences on paper and slipping them into a comment box, rather than confront us face to face, but besides a few "toast the bun" comments, ALL the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People RAVE about our food; they tell us that they were told about us by (fill in the name of a friend or loved one), and that they tell all their friends about us, etc.. We just haven't been able to figure out what has changed. (boy did this post turn into a doozie, LOL) I am open to ANY and ALL feedback you or other Egulleters may have on this topic, after all, you guys have been with me since day one and I value your input.

Lastly, I am doing a little cooking demo at the Bloomies in Hackensack on Dec 15th in the houswares dept. Stop in and say hello.

Eric

Eric, I don't know if you tried this already, but maybe you could drop some menus and keychains off at the Student Center at Montclair State University. As a Montclair State alumnus, I can tell you that we always went cruising down Bloomfield Ave. for eats. College students love free knick-knacks like keychains too. Maybe you could take out a small ad in the Monclarion, the student newspaper too, with a coupon. That should really whip up business. The college is about 5 miles away from your location, straight down Valley Road. William Paterson isn't too far away either.

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Eric,

All of your customers are here in South Florida clogging up our roads and eating establishments!

You can have them back some the spring!

I hope things pick up for you. I will be in town for Christmas and hope to stop by.

-Scott

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Down in MY neck of the woods, the Princeton area, there is an attractive storefront that has just become available in a ShopRite anchored shopping center that supports a busy Chinese takeout and an upscale brick oven pizzeria/trattoria.  The shopping center is in Ewing, NJ, on Olden Ave, and it is packed, heavily trafficked, with good synergy from a dry cleaners, wine/beer shop, video rental store, gamers store, and car dealerships across the street and along stretches of Olden Ave.  Along these blocks of Olden Ave are also gas stations, a McDonald's, Taco Bell and Wendy's, and numerous banks and other retail. A vibrant retail confluence.  And not a hot dog to be found.

Went to this Ewing location today. Nice Shop Rite. We questioned the tolerance the local demographics would have for a $3.00 hot dog. We did speak to and meet up with the managing realty co in Princeton and they showed us a few other strip malls that they have. There is a nice one on 206 in Montgomery. There's a Shop Rite there too and a Friendly's, an Asian noodle place, and a Middle Eastern place. Also an Eckerd and a Movi Theater. We like that location more than Ewing but they said there were enough food tenants already. I think if we REALLY showed an interest they would bend a bit. The search continues!!!

The local "demographics" can be deceiving in Ewing; there are as many upscale shoppers as urban ones, and what impresses me the most about that location, as opposed to the Montgomery location, which is a tough terrain to physically navigate, is that the traffic in Ewing is constant from early morning till 10PM. Montgomery can be quiet during the day and almost dead at night. We are friends with the owners of the noodle house, and their lunch and dinner business is slow except on the weekend.

Great "insider" information Rich. Thanks alot. Any idea how the Italian place does in Ewing? We popped in and bought a soda to check the place out. Seems like a nice place.

That would be Mama Flora's and it is a very very good Italian. Always packed at lunch with a heavy takeout biz and busy deliveries. Dinner there is steady, heavy on weekends. Their pizza is absolutely top notch brick oven stuff, and my go-to pie when I dont want to wait for a table at the famous tomato pie joints in Trenton.

Rich Pawlak

 

Reporter, The Trentonian

Feature Writer, INSIDE Magazine
Food Writer At Large

MY BLOG: THE OMNIVORE

"In Cerveza et Pizza Veritas"

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Eric, please remind me/us...you're only interested in places that have housed other food establishments, right?

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Eric, please remind me/us...you're only interested in places that have housed other food establishments, right?

Best case scenario is a former food place, however we are looking at ANY available space. The bank would be happy to lend us more money to start with a generic empty space :wink:

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Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Best case scenario is a former food place, however we are looking at ANY available space.  The bank would be happy to lend us more money to start with a generic empty space :wink:

Then I think you ought to check out the newly redone strip mall on Valley Brook Road between Stuyvesant Ave and Ridge Road! The only food in there is a Dunkin' Donuts, a long-standing pizza place (Mr. Bruno's) and a Chinese place that never seems to have any business. There is also a bank and a VERY busy Rite Aid.

It's right next to town hall, the police and fire stations, near the train station, a few schools, has a huge parking lot, and you would get foot and car traffic. The strip used to be about 8 stores, but last year they started to re-do the facade to make it a 'transit village'; now they've added another small strip (Wine Country, Mandee (WHYWHYWHY?), and there are a few other small EMPTY/AVAILABLE spaces.

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Best case scenario is a former food place, however we are looking at ANY available space.  The bank would be happy to lend us more money to start with a generic empty space :wink:

Then I think you ought to check out the newly redone strip mall on Valley Brook Road between Stuyvesant Ave and Ridge Road! The only food in there is a Dunkin' Donuts, a long-standing pizza place (Mr. Bruno's) and a Chinese place that never seems to have any business. There is also a bank and a VERY busy Rite Aid.

It's right next to town hall, the police and fire stations, near the train station, a few schools, has a huge parking lot, and you would get foot and car traffic. The strip used to be about 8 stores, but last year they started to re-do the facade to make it a 'transit village'; now they've added another small strip (Wine Country, Mandee (WHYWHYWHY?), and there are a few other small EMPTY/AVAILABLE spaces.

What town is that in, exactly?

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Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Uh, sorry! :blink: LYNDHURST!

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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I just signed up to post recently but have followed this thread almost since it's inception.... I graduated from PU in '92 and I live and work in Montgomery Township which is just north of Princeton.

I have my doubts with Princeton as a gourmet hot dog town. There is a lot of foot traffic indeed, but it seems these folks are a bit too highbrow to support such a venture.

I could be wrong as there is the venerable Conte's on Witherspoon Street that is always jammed with students, faculty and locals eating pretty decent tomato pies.

That and the Annex, wait, maybe Princeton will work after all :smile:

Just an FYI, the Annex is no longer. It is now "Sotto" which offers "Italian classics and creative specials."

Anyway, if you head north into Hoagie Haven territory, Princeton is certainly *not* too highbrow for a gourmet hot dog. Up there, you've got George's Roasters and Ribs, Old World Pizza....and probably no available site to slip into what might be a more suitable (and less expensive) location than the Palmer Square area. Of those, I've frequented Hoagie Haven the most. It does a tremendous lunch time business, even with crappy parking. In addition to university students, I've seen Princeton High School students, painters, construction workers, Mormons (taking a lunch break from their door-to-doors, I think), and men in suits. I suspect dinner is a little slower but their extended hours accommodate the late night hunger pangs of students -- most significantly the engineers working late at the nearby E-quad. Hoagie Haven used to be quite a bargain but prices have crept up a bit. I don't think AHD's prices are incompatible at this point. And while HH certainly has its own charm, shall we say, the quality of the product is nowhere near AHD's. Now that I think about it, AHD might be too good for that area. It would probably work with the HH demographic during lunch hours and late nights, but I don't see it working as well as family destination in that location like the main AHD does.

Regardless, I don't think the more downtown area is too highbrow for gourmet hot dogs. The rent and parking are probably the bigger obstacles here. We really only brave this area once or twice a year for dinner at the Ferry House or if I'm making a quick run to The Original Soup Man -- basically for special occasions or if the parking headaches are offset by not having to cook dinner. I think this location would be good for foot traffic, and very good for students if there was a student discount. Also, I noticed a sign at Soup Man the other day that said they accept University prox cards as a form of payment. If that means what I think it means, that would be a GREAT thing. i.e. Mom & Dad pay directly.

Went to this Ewing location today.  Nice Shop Rite. We questioned the tolerance the local demographics would have for a $3.00 hot dog.  We did speak to and meet up with the managing realty co in Princeton and they showed us a few other strip malls that they have.  There is a nice one on 206 in Montgomery. There's a Shop Rite there too and a Friendly's, an Asian noodle place, and a Middle Eastern place.  Also an Eckerd and a Movie Theater.  We like that location more than Ewing but they said there were enough food tenants already. I think if we REALLY showed an interest they would bend a bit.  The search continues!!!

OK, now you're talking even closer to my neck of the woods. There are a few things to consider: In addition to the ShopRite strip mall (Montgomery Shopping Center), there is another other one just south of 518 with the Princeton Wellness and Fitness Center (Princeton North Shopping Center, also in Montgomery). That has the Bagel Barn & Deli, Hunan (yuck), Alfonso's Pizzeria, a free-standing Burger King, and a separately-situated, not-too-good diner that's actually on 206, not in the mall. I believe it has an empty store. It has what may be a significant advantage over Montgomery Shopping Center: stairs on the hill that lead down to Research Park, which is the office complex where I work. This makes the places in this mall walkable either to eat in or to take out. Considering auto traffic, at worst it's no more difficult to get to for non-walkers (Bloomberg, etc.) and may be considerably better. Traffic on 206 north of 518 is usually worse than between Cherry Valley and 518. In addition to the main entrance on 206 (with a brand new light), it has a back entrance off of 518 to the east of 206, which is trés handy for those in the know.

If you really think Montgomery would make a good location, you may want to hold your horses just a wee bit. (As much as I'd like to have an AHD less than 5 mintues away....) There is a new development in the works that promises to be an upscale outdoor mall just north of the airport and opposite Princeton North. It will be anchored by a large Stop & Shop. Here's the latest story from the Princeton Packet.

Then there's the North Princeton Developmental Center (again, in Montgomery).....but I wouldn't hold my breath on that on.

Anyway, you might actually want to talk to somebody from the township rather than a realty company. You might find the mayor herself would be willing to give you her thoughts on the locations in town, especially the upcoming new developments.

Oh, and if you're looking for a Princeton version of the malls in Montgomery, there's the Princeton Shopping Center on North Harrison Street. I don't know about any vacancies there, though. Not good for students, but probably good for foot traffic and very good for a family destination restaurant. And just to revisit/compare to the two strip malls in Montgomery, Montgomery Shopping Center and Princeton North would both be very good as sites for a family destination restaurant but there'd be zero student traffic. MSC would be fair for foot traffic while I think Princeton North would be better, possibly even "good" but primarily on workdays.

I hope another local's perspective helps.....

Brett

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Brett, Thanks for your insight on the area. It helps alot. This week we are focused on a locaton a little closer to home. Nice "L" shaped strip mall anchored by a TJ Max, Blockbuster and a few other small nat'l brands like H&R Block. Parking lot is packed most of the time. It's at the other end of Bloomfield ave only 4 miles from Verona but a good 20 minute drive because of lights and traffic. It also would draw from a completley different area ie. Fairfield, PineBrook Montville, etc..

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Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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So, has the decision been made to go with a S. Jersey/Princeton local?

Eric, We are definatley NOT set on S. Jersey or Princeton area. Today's jaunt was a part of our "leave no stone unturned" campaign.

There is, however, a bit of urgency involved in finding a second location though. Unfortunatley, in Verona, we tripped and fell after a mere 40 days of business by having an unexpected electrical fire in the middle of the night, closed for 9 weeks in order to rebuild from scratch, what we had just built a month prior, re-opened to a "ghost town" of a summer, and have been clawing our way back, trying to regain what once was. Truth be told, we are holding our heads above water in Verona, but are doing a fair amount of head scratching around the question "where did all those people who originally came out to enjoy AHD in droves, disappear to?" We have a great loyal fan base and a steady stream of new people every day, but still nothing like when we first opened. Now I understand the initial rush and excitment of a new restaurant with lots of people wanting to try it, and would expect a small percentage drop in customer attendance, but the drop has been substantial. Bigger than we imagined. Again, we are doing OK in Verona,except the last 2 days; slowest days we've ever had, but can handle ALOT more volume. We put out customer "comment cards" hoping that people would feel more comfortable anonymously writting negative experiences on paper and slipping them into a comment box, rather than confront us face to face, but besides a few "toast the bun" comments, ALL the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. People RAVE about our food; they tell us that they were told about us by (fill in the name of a friend or loved one), and that they tell all their friends about us, etc.. We just haven't been able to figure out what has changed. (boy did this post turn into a doozie, LOL) I am open to ANY and ALL feedback you or other Egulleters may have on this topic, after all, you guys have been with me since day one and I value your input.

Lastly, I am doing a little cooking demo at the Bloomies in Hackensack on Dec 15th in the houswares dept. Stop in and say hello.

Eric

Thank you for the reply, and the info. Being that you are looking for a second location and some insight, I would like to attempt to add some value here. Please allow me to think, or type, out loud. While I am certainly not an expert in the restaurant business, I do have experience in the real estate field (it is not my primary business) and I've been ancillary involved in the restaurant/nightclub business. Let me preface this by saying I love hotdogs and very much love your place. I am not a fanatic but I grew up thinking Nathan’s (yes, the original) was the greatest thing in the world, and I was raised on Hiram's and Callahan's (and the arguments in my family home brought on family wars! LOL). I am one of those who have no problem driving for a hotdog.

Now, I don't know anything about your previous location, but in hearing about some of the economics of the new location, and having been there a few times, I think there are some aspects to look at. First, the age old question of "where did all those people go" should often be preceded by "where did all those people come from"? At your previous location, where did the majority (let's say your regular, reliable, etc. -- 80% per se) of these people come from? Did they come from within 2 miles? 5 miles? Maybe even more important than miles, is driving time. 5 miles through a town or two can be a 20 to 30 minute drive. Elaborate on this thought process. If most of these people are not coming/still coming to the new location, then this mindset will start to answer some of the questions as to why. We all know that location is key, but so are many related issues -- foot traffic, market potential/demographics, exposure, name/brand recognition, parking, etc. Anonymous suggestion cards are not going to get you the answers to the questions you need and want for this component of your target market (yes, these comments are important for other reasons of course). You need answers to the questions about and from the people who are NOT coming.

Second, about your present location -- internally, it's very nice. You aren't a Hiram's or Rutt's Hut; and it's extremely apparent that you aren't trying to be the age old "hotdog joint", LOL. Like I said -- you got me as a customer, but I am not going to be there 2 or 3 times a week. Be that as it may, and I am very much going on 100% memory here -- the "strip mall" itself is somewhat oddly positioned -- both in relation to, and on the road. The stores themselves are close to the road (which is never ideal), which is a main road and is not on a straight-away part (it's on a bit of a curve -- right?). Going there the first time, I missed the place and passed the strip mall the first time, and had to drive around the block (not a simple, square block) to go back into the lot. Parking is tough -- aren't most of the stores in/out stores?). It's very difficult when driving by to catch the storefront signage. I am sure there are zoning and town issues about signs. Obviously, there is no street parking and nearby parking is difficult as well. In your area, the lunch crowd could be a strong market -- how easy is it for these people to come to and get into your place?

I think that a mindset along these lines will get you the answers to the questions you need and want. However, this will also tremendously help you in looking for a new location. Especially if you are going to be somewhat close to your current location. Look for all the aspects in the new location that you think are obstacles in the current location.

We all know that while location, foot traffic, parking, etc. are important, there are always key ingredients that will contribute to success. On that note, I was recently talking with a client of mine -- a super successful restaurateur/restaurant group owner. Every single place is gangbusters successful -- different models, themes, locations, etc. So we are discussing his mindset, methodology, the secret to his success, etc. and he tells me about something Wayne Gretsky told him when asked what made him so successful, the greatest hockey player of all time, and always being in the "right place", etc.

We've all heard it before and the quote has been changed a bit over time and story -- Gretsky told him "I always looked to be where the puck was going or going to be -- not on being where the puck has already been" (forget about the actual words, it's the concept of course that is important here).

Anyway, enough thinking out loud for tonight. Once again, all the best!

Eric

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I finally made it to AHD a couple of weeks back and fully enjoyed it. Being a first timer, I ordered my staple: an amazing w/ spicy mustard and sauerkraut which was excellent. I also ordered a side of fries, beans, slaw, and eggroll dogs. The fries were good, but slightly soggy and undercooked. The chili was excellent with nice hints of cinnamon and cumin. The beans and slaw were nicely prepared as well. While the eggroll dogs are an interesting concept, they didn't quite wow me. I think next time I will order a 2nd dog instead. The jersey breakfast and reuben looked right up my alley. To top it off, they have birch beer which is my favorite soda. I look forward to a return trip in the near future. I will order the french fries well done next time! Oh yeah, they also had some killer Grateful Dead DVD playing.

-Al

Edited by schmooty (log)
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