20 Years of Honoring NJ Family Businesses

A look back at past winners.

The Family Business Awards is celebrating 20 years of honoring New Jersey’s most outstanding family-owned enterprises. The awards are presented each year by the Rothman Institute of Entrepreneurship at Fairleigh Dickinson University, in association with New Jersey Monthly. Here’s an update from some of our illustrious past winners:

2011: Cooper Pest Control

Three cheers for Cooper Pest CEO Phil Cooper, who this year set out on a 62-day, 3,780-mile bike ride across the United States on behalf of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. During this life-changing journey, Cooper was joined by 18 teammates cycling coast to coast and 25 guest riders who covered a portion of the trek. Their efforts stimulated unprecedented media coverage and support within the pest industry. As a result, Phil has raised $42,000 to date for MS.

Meanwhile BedBug Central, a division of Cooper Pest Solutions, is getting ready to introduce Black Out, a bed bug monitoring device developed by Jeffrey White and Richard Cooper, Phil’s brother. The device is expected to hit the market early in 2013.

2007: Knowles Family Restaurants

Since being honored in 2007, the Knowles family has continued its tradition of fine dining and hospitality. In 2010, Knowles Restaurants, along with the County of Essex, celebrated the 100th anniversary of the historic “Casino” building in Eagle Rock Reservation, which the Knowles family restored to what it is now Highlawn Pavilion. This year, the family is celebrating the 56th anniversary of its flagship property, the Manor, a well-respected dining and special event destination in West Orange. The continued involvement of three generations of family members has ensured the continuity of service for which the Knowles properties have become known.

The family continues to innovate and keep pace with the ever-changing restaurant industry, helping lead the way with eco-conscious business practices. For example, produce is grown on the expansive grounds of its Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange, which allows the family to provide the freshest ingredients to its guests.

2005: The Crystal Plaza

Now celebrating its 95th year in business, the Crystal Plaza and owner Allan Janoff continue their involvement in the Livingston community and with local charitable organizations. Looking ahead, Janoff is anticipating the day when his sons, Hunter and Max, join the business.  Hunter recently graduated from culinary school and is training in New York City.  Max is finishing his undergraduate degree at Hobart College.  Both are expected to enter the Crystal Plaza fold within the next two years.  This will mark the fourth generation of Janoffs to carry on the tradition.  Up next: Perhaps daughter Nicole, who is still in high school, will join the family business, too.

2002: Biggie’s Clam Bar

Originally opened in 1946 as a mom-and-pop storefront eatery, Biggie’s now has two locations in Hoboken, one in Carlstadt (opened in 2010) and a third in Tennessee. The fourth generation of the Ranuro family is carrying on the Biggie’s tradition with quality food and friendly service. In 2011, Biggie’s earned top honors for best french fries and best wings in New Jersey Monthly’s Jersey Choice readers’ poll; it was a runner-up in both categories in 2012. Biggie’s is a household name among charitable groups, which partner with the restaurants for their fundraisers.

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