Lokal to Open in Former Taphouse Biergarten Space in Jersey City

Plus: Other restaurant and food news from Closter, Newark and Asbury Park.

—As previously reported, taking the place of the suddenly shuttered Taphaus Biergarten in Jersey City is a nightlife-ready restaurant and bar concept called Lokal, now set for its Grand Opening on September 12. The vibe is decidedly sleeker than Taphaus’s was—think floor-to-ceiling windows, Manhattan skyline views, large bar area with multiple dining areas—but the set-up is similarly conducive to fine-dining-meets-nightlife. Lokal founder Mona Panjwani and “concept creator” Hemant Phul brought in some serious talent: executive chef Walter Donadio, who’s worked in a small constellation of New York kitchens, including Toscano’s, Tea Spot, Obica and The Red Star in Greenpoint; and mixologist Tess Sawyer, a highly creative, ambitious drinks maker with experience in places like The Up & Up, Plan B Tapas, Holiday Cocktail Lounge, and Mother’s Ruin in New York City. Not much is published (on Instagram or elsewhere) about the restaurant’s forthcoming food and drinks—or even interior design—but we’re guessing Donadio and Sawyer will bring sophisticated, playful food and drink. Lokal, 2 2nd Street, Jersey City; no phone yet.

In the Works:

—The former owner of Harvest restaurant in Closter is about to open a new venture just down the road. Haworth businessman-turned-restauranteur Russell Stern closed Harvest in 2016, with Ben Pollinger’s much-lauded fine dining outpost The Hill quietly taking over the space in the meantime. But Fall 2019 marks Stern’s return to restaurants, and Closter, for that matter, with Stern & Bow, slated to open soon(ish) in the completely revamped former home of Azucar Cuban Cuisine on Schraalengburgh Road. The concept is more laid back than Harvest—or The Hill, for that matter—with a casual (but polished) vibe for an eclectic, creative menu (featuring a wood-burning oven and ambitious raw bar program complete with its own bivalve expert, Kevin Joseph). Pasquale Frola, formerly of Sofia Steakhouse in Englewood, is executive chef, with Paul Girard of Antique Bar & Bakery consulting. The redone space seats 160 and was originally slated to open in September; based on a lack of updates (or teaser construction shots) on their Facebook and Instagram, we’re guessing it might be slightly delayed. But when it does open it’ll be interesting to see how Stern handled the rebuild: when he bought the space that would become Harvest in 2004, not only did he rescue it from constantly changing ownership and concepts, but—per the New York Times—he “executed a feat of suburban renewal that deserves a spot on some sort of national register.” Stern & Bow, 171 Schraalenburgh Road, Closter; no phone yet.

—Part of what appears to be an ambitious, nationwide expansion on the part of CEO Michael Haith, the fast-casual Teriyaki Madness restaurant chain plans on opening 15 total new locations in the Garden State. Lucky for teriyaki-loving Newark locals, the first spot to open is on Halsey Street. The menu should run fairly standardized according to the chain model, meaning customizable Teriyaki Bowls (with a smattering of pan-Asian appetizers and other plates, e.g. Crab Rangoon, Edamame, Fried Rice). The location is supposed to open late August, meaning any time now. Teriyaki Madness, 137 Halsey Street, Newark; 973-991-1247

Expanding:

—When we spoke to Local 130 founder Eric Morris last June, business wasn’t slow for the young entrepreneur. He was fast becoming one of the state’s most in-demand sustainable and local fish purveyors. No surprise, just over a year later, Local 130’s added a 6,000 square foot warehouse facility in Long Branch to support its wholesale business, operated in addition to its revamped Asbury Park retail space. The company also recently struck up a deal to sell local seafood out of Dean’s Supermarkets (in addition to the many farmers markets) and has ballooned to six trucks which it uses for delivery up and down the state (and Philadelphia). FYI, the expansion of wholesale space doesn’t mean Morris is treading away from the local concept—if anything, the company is aiming to get Jersey seafood onto even more Jersey dinner plates, sustainably. Local 130 Seafood, 1305 Memorial Drive, Asbury Park; 908-783-2325

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