In the Works:
—The historic Ventnor Square Theater is finally seeing new life again—and new food. After some years in disuse, Jersey Cape Partners purchased what were essentially the bones of the old Art Deco theater from the veteran Frank Entertainment Group, the plan was total revitalization, including a brand-new theater and a restaurant. The space itself had last been in operation in the early 2000s and both the new restaurant and theater space are scheduled to open in Spring 2020. There will be two smaller movie theaters and one larger live theater. The restaurant, Ventnor Burger Bar, will seat 120 diners and offer funky but familiar gastropub fare (think gourmet burgers, cheesesteak egg rolls, calamari, etc.). You can take your food into the movie theater, FYI. There will also be a lounge attached—Nucky’s Lounge, named for this real character from Boardwalk Empire—and the public is welcome to both restaurant and bar even if they don’t plan on seeing a show. Paoli-based Architetra architecture firm has been chosen for the restaurant design concept—early sketches show it updating the 1920s Art Deco vibe by about a century (2020, ahem), with modern lines and eclectic textures. Ventnor Burger Bar, 5211 Ventnor Avenue, Ventnor City; no phone yet.
*DIY fast-casual spots are everywhere these days, and every cuisine type, so why not mac n’ cheese? And why not in New Jersey? Florida-based I Heart Mac and Cheese is a popular franchise built on the eponymous ooey-gooey staple and this year New Jersey is getting its first outlet, in Hoboken, sometime later this year. And for those averse to meat, cheese, gluten, or any combination thereof, the menu includes vegan options as well as some non-carb bases (on which to drench so very much cheese). I Heart Mac and Cheese, Hoboken; no phone yet.
—Hudson Street in Hoboken just got a whole lot smoother. Cocktail and jazz joint Belo Bar is in the works for the former home of Cooper Union at 104 Hudson. The bar is the brainchild of three locals who took over ownership of Cooper Union later last year and wisely didn’t completely upend the format. Cocktails are reasonable—there’s a $10 house Mule and an $11 drink consisting of bourbon, bitters, and brown sugar—and the narrow space has been gently transformed, brightened with exposed brick walls now painted a glossy white. They’re still getting up and running but they’ve already hosted a New Year’s Eve party, so chances are you can stop in and get a decent drink and snack and—don’t forget—hear some good music. Belo Bar, 104 Hudson Street, Hoboken; 201-222-0099
—After some anxious, thirsty anticipation (about seven years’ worth) Bolero Snort Brewery finally opened its own brewery facilities and tap room in Carlstadt (the Meadowlands). The facility is open for your tasting pleasure—some of their current beers on tap include “Bullyum,” a “hoppy ale with thai chili, lime, and ginger” and a double IPA with vanilla and milk sugar called “Snowbull Fights” (notice the “bull” theme, not to mention freewheeling creativity). If you want to make an occasion of it, save the date for their Grand Opening weekend, January 17–20, as suds like likely flow. Bolero Snort Brewery, 316 20th Street, Carlstadt; 201-464-0639
—After only 15 months in business, the Blue Horse Restaurant in Highland Park closed its doors on December 22. Owner Joe Amore announced the closure on December 19 via Facebook, calling the business no longer “financially viable.” The Skylark Diner in Edison will honor any gift cards for the Blue Horse and will import some Blue Horse favorites (including, very possibly, their Jumbo Pretzel) onto their menu. Responses to the closure announcement were plentiful and sad. The Blue Horse Restaurant, 247 Raritan Avenue, Highland Park.Click here to leave a comment