Recent retail roundup

There have been quite a few retail tenant changes of late — and more to come next week.

Chess Mates, a chess cafe and club, plans a grand opening and ribbon cutting on Monday, becoming the second retail tenant at Park Square. It’s expected to occupy less than 1,000 square feet in retail space next to Eyes On You, which opened earlier this year.

Some other recent retail hello’s and goodbye’s:

* Charlie’s Flowers and Gourmet Baskets closed in the first week of February. A Linden location remains and a woman answering the phone there said they had been in Rahway since about 2001 at its Main Street location, next to Cubanu.

* Thomas’ Surf-n-Turf replaced Just a Little Healthier at 95 E. Cherry St., opening this past weekend.

* Across East Cherry and up the street, work appears to be continuing inside the former Taste of Portugal space (and Eat To the Beat Cafe before that, circa 2005). A handwritten sign on the door for at least the past month indicates its the future home of Casa Borinquen: A Touch of Latin Flavor. For what it’s worth, this is among the East Cherry Street properties owned by Dornoch.

* As mentioned previously, Mr. G’s Coffee has closed for good (since the passing of the owner last fall), and its neighbor at Carriage City Plaza, Sky View Cleaners, closed up shop last week (despite the Grand Opening banner still flying this weekend). No word from Carriage City Properties/Silcon about the future of those retail spaces.


A reminder that the Rahway Rising happy hour will be this Friday at Flynn’s Irish Pub at 6:05. We’ll have a drawing for two tickets to The Rahway Taste of Spring on April 9 — which kicks off Restaurant Week — between 7 and 7:30. All you have to do is show up — just see me for a drawing ticket.

The weather forecast for Friday might be iffy (at the moment), but we’re plowing ahead — bring a friend and we’ll see you there!

15 thoughts on “Recent retail roundup”

  1. That's an eclectic addition to downtown Rahway – I think it sounds pretty cool. I hope it works out. Can't say I'm up to the level of the chess club set, but a game of chess to go along with your coffee is pretty cool …

  2. Hey Mark – I can tell the future. It's true! Here's a post that you will be writing in the near future.Thomas Surf-n-Turf has recently closed. There was a hnadwritten sign on the door that said "Apparently nobody wanted to eat our food". Let's face it. As much as we talk about wanting to have original shops, there's a reason why the multi chain franchises are so successful….that's what people REALLY want because they know what they are getting. So put the Starbucks, GAP, ect…in downtown and watch people fill the streets. Sorry Tommys but you'll be out of business before you know it, regardless of how good your turf tastes.

  3. Point taken, however, if you're waiting for Starbucks or a GAP,you'll be waiting awhile. Westfield is the only downtown around with those national chains, along with many others (Banana Republic, Williams-Sonoma, Coldwater Creek). That's unique. Most towns (Summit, Cranford, Metuchen) actually do have mostly "original stores."I'm not saying I wouldn't mind having a Starbucks downtown, but would that really "fill the streets?" And does that also mean "sell the condos?" Maybe it goes back to the question, do the stores bring new people and foot traffic or do new people bring the stores?BTW, didn't Starbucks announce they were closing hundreds of stores last year?

  4. Yes, but Starbucks had reached a saturation point unlike most other businesses. There's only so much competition you can have against yourself, granted many of them weren't all on top of each other like we see in Manhattan.People, particularly families like familiarity when shopping or through their dining choices. Same reason why the Times Square Olive Garden and Applebee's will be filled every night with out of state (and country) tourists. You know what you're going to get and there's little risk involved.

  5. Yes Starbucks closed hundreds….and yet still have over 16,000 locations.Also, don't know where the sell the condos comments comes into play. I believe we have enough store fronts for possible businesses. In fact, the recent apartment additions to Rahway have only provided even more storefront opportunities for businesses.I'm not waiting for any chain stores. I go to other towns for them and spend my money there. Instead of wasteful spending on a piano, why not use the money to provide subsidies for these chains if they locate here. Put stores downtown that people know and would go to. Give it a shot. It's better than empty storefronts which is costing the city anyway in lost tax and parking revenue or low capitalized businesses that closed down after 3 months.

  6. I would hazard a guess that most of the "original stores" gracing the downtowns of Westfield, Metuchen, or Cranford have been established for quite a while. Established businesses can weather a storm more readily than a new kid on the block. Independents going against a chain will get killed unless they offer something the chains can't. You can't start pouring coffee and expect to beat Starbucks without a gimmick (proximity to the train station not included) even if the nearest Starbucks is in Westfield. Also it kinda sorta helps to have a critical mass of potential patrons with the means and inclination to spend their money at a local establishment.

  7. NCR, the traditional stores that graced downtown Rahway started closing en masse between 1970 and 1990. Chain stores have more financial resources at their disposal to move into a vacant retail space than a start-up mom & pop. IIRC, the NY Times wrote a story about the proliferation of national banks opening branches in many downtowns.Oh, and the closest Starbuck's to Rahway is at Aviation Plaza on Rtes. 1 & 9 in Linden. I'm just sayin' 😉

  8. How about "Apparently nobody knew about the place"this is the first time I am hearing about it..It is a shame it went under cause I would of tried it..Maybe they should open a seafood place that sells fish or an actual deli/butcher. Just throwing out ideas… Is there a bank in that section? (walking distance)

  9. It's a vicious circle with the chain stores. ZIP 07065 doesn't fit their market profile so they're not opening new stores. The independents who open can't sustain losses for very long so they close up shop. When the economy improves independents with a good plan and something unique to offer will have a better shot at lasting.I haven't been on that stretch of 1&9 for a while so I didn't know Starbucks was there. My fact checker is so fired.

  10. Was that Just a Little Healthier's second location? I remember they were over on Scott a year or so ago. I have to admit the Chess Mates sounds cool. And their website says that they are open until midnight on some days!

  11. I just picked up dinner from Thomas's fish place. Not particularly good at all. There was an odd flavor to the fish, I think it could be that they aren't changing the oil in the fryer enough perhaps. We threw out the entire dinner, except for the stuffed potatoes (which were fine). I hate having to report this, because I so want to have someplace close by which is worthwhile but sadly, not impressed by what we had at all.

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