The Duke and Elephant Reopens as the Martinsville Tavern

Plus: Other openings and closings in Sea Isle City, Atlantic City, Hoboken and Haddon Heights.

A Few Transitions:

—The historic former home of the Duke and Elephant (originally the 19th century Martinsville general store), the building at 1979 Washington Valley Road has a new concept: The Martinsville Tavern. Seasoned restaurateur Benny Mavraj is still running the operation, although chefs have changed and he’s brought on a new co-owner, industry veteran and erstwhile colleague Antonio Berisha. Chef Zod Arifai left the Duke (one of our 2018 Best New Restaurants) to pursue an as-yet unspecified project in New York (prior to joining the restaurant in October 2017, he had nearly opened a restaurant called The Mess in New York City with restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld; the project halted, the story goes, by liquor license issues, in March 2017). In his place, Mavraj and Berisha have brought on chef J.C. Montero to update—though not wholly discard—the Duke and Elephant menu. No word yet on where Arifai is headed; prior to joining the Duke and Elephant in 2017, Arifai had Next Door and Blu in Montclair; Blu was in our “Top 25” every year from 2007 until it closed later in 2015. Martinsville Tavern is now open at 1979 Washington Valley Road, Martinsville; 732-563-1717

—Another restaurant replacement happened in Sea Isle City, where Beachwood at the Dunes is officially opening Friday in the former home of Doc Magrogan’s Oyster House. The restaurant will be helmed by chef Lucas Manteca, the 41 year-old Argentinian-born chef with a mini-empire down the Shore; he owns Red Store in Cape May Point, the Taco Shop at Cape May Airport, and Quahog’s Seafood Shack in Stone Harbor. Manteca plans on using the abundant space in his new restaurant to create distinct atmospheres, with live music, lounging areas, and plenty of room for beachy dining. The restaurant describes itself as having “Argentinian roots, and influence from New England, Spain, and South America,” and Instagram dish teases include cornmeal-crusted calamari with charred shishito peppers and Tamarind BBQ sauce. Beachwood at the Dunes, 8600 Landis Avenue, Sea Isle City; 609-263-3627

Closed:

Biggie’s Clam Bar has been in business in some form since it first opened as a pushcart operation back in 1946. Now that the last remaining outpost on Newark Street in Hoboken has finally closed its doors, and a new owner is moving into the space once home of the historic Servanti’s Restaurant, aka the “Clam Broth House” (which you might remember for its iconic neon sign). The new owners are a restaurant group called Goodfellas Bar & Grill. In October 2016, Biggie’s shuttered its original, seven-decade family-owned-and-operated outpost on Madison Street, moving all resources to the Newark Street location which will now, presumably, be a Goodfellas Bar & Grill.

According to their Instagram announcement, it was a lease agreement issue that ultimately took out C.C.’s Kitchen in Haddon Heights. The restaurant was owned and operated by chefs Matt Salvitti and Tyler Serenelli, who despite relative youth emphasized old school standards of quality and house-made product. The sudden closure comes as a surprise: C.C.’s was one of our 28 Hottest New Restaurants of 2019. We would be interested to see where the chefs go from here. C.C.’s Kitchen, 517 Station Avenue, Haddon Heights.

—They almost made it to a century. Formica Brothers Bakery, the 99 year-old bakery that grew to supply close to 300 Atlantic City and Shore sandwich shops with bread, has filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The filing comes as a result of two lawsuits filed for workplace accidents, one involving the necessary amputation of a worker’s arm. Frank Formica, current owner and grandson of the original founder, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that filing for bankruptcy was the bakery’s only way to manage the high costs at hand (which were high even after worker’s compensation insurance covered $10 million). There’s a new leaseholder of the Formica Brothers name and recipe, and 67 of Formica’s 71 employees will move with production.

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