If you haven’t been yet, there are still a couple more days to check out Collingswood’s Farm to Fork restaurant week. As the name suggests, participating restaurants will showcase local produce and products. Considering Collingswood’s restaurant scene, if you can make a reservation at any of the participating restaurants, you’re in for a treat. Some restaurants are doing a special Prix Fixe; for $35 at Nunzio’s, you’ll get dishes like Viereck Farms Beefsteak Tomato Caprese, and Braised Lamb Shank with Local Peas; Tortilla Press will have Flaim Farms Chile Relleno and Fresh Jersey Peaches with Pecan Empanadas and Mascarpone; and the $45 prix fixe at Porch & Proper doesn’t list producers, but the menu looks stacked with local gems. Call any restaurant for reservations. Collingswood, various locations.
Wines of Summer at Steve and Cookie’s Tuesdays, Summer
Steve and Cookie’s By the Bay in Margate is already a little extra convivial, and their Wines of Summer special gives you another (great) excuse to stop in any Tuesday this season. Not only is there a solid roster of half-price wines by the bottle, but a portion of every Tuesday’s wine special proceeds will go to the Shirley Mae Breast Cancer Awareness fund. The wines, by the way, aren’t your standard summer quaffers—you’ll see everything from a Basque Txakolina (white) to a unique Sonoma County Bedrock “Rosé of Mourvedre,” to a chilled (red) Terre Siciliane Nero D’Avola. The list has over a dozen bottles of distinctive wines, all slashed in price; no better time to explore uncharted territories on the wine list and even have your first surprisingly refreshing, surprisingly delicate sip of chilled red. Steve and Cookie’s, 9700 Amherst Avenue, Margate; 609-823-1163
Sausage Fest at Zeppelin Hall July 18 – August 4
You might be saving your seasonal sausage consumption for Oktoberfest, but Zeppelin Hall in Jersey City clearly can’t wait until the fall to celebrate the glory of meat-by-the-link. And this isn’t just your basic sausage menu; Zeppelin Hall executive chef Franco Robazetti put together a menu of more than 20 new sausage dishes for the occasion, with varieties of grill-kissed meat and spices cooked up to complement the biergarten’s massive beer list. Expect to find anything from wild boar and rabbit sausages to truffle brat, chorizo on nachos, a half-pound currywurst, and even a veg option—the Beyond Meat vegan sausage, a hot Italian style, served with spicy mustard and sauerkraut. Prices vary depending on the special. Zeppelin Hall, 88 Liberty View Drive, Jersey City; 201-721-8888
Roman Pizza & Pizza Ice Cream Fundraiser in Lambertville Thursday, July 25, 5–9pm
If the term “pizza ice cream” scares you away, don’t worry, nobody’s forcing you to try it. Though if you do, it’s for a good cause. Just patronize either Liberty Hall Pizza or Owowcow Creamery on Thursday evening in Lambertville (it should be easy, given they’re practically neighbors) and all proceeds from that period of sales will go to the repair of Ely Park. In case you were wondering, “Roman pizza” is a style with a flatter, crisper crust, a style Chris Bryan of Liberty Hall Pizza has been playing with and plans to feature on Thursday with the Rossa, the Bianca, and the Pepperoni Roman pies. Over at Owowcow, where they’re calling the event “Chef Series: Pizza Palooza,” chef Amanda Cox will debut her “Margherita” flavor ice cream, which melds heirloom tomatoes and local strawberries with a swirl of basil—and event a hint of crushed red pepper. All ice cream and pizza proceeds go to the Friends of Ely Park. Owowcow Creamery, 237 North Union Street, Lambertville; 609-397-2234; Liberty Hall Pizza, 243 North Union Street, Lambertville; 609-397-8400
Each month, New Jersey Monthly features an online roundup of photos taken at various charitable events across the Garden State. We also feature a profile of a nonprofit or outstanding volunteer in the pages of the magazine each month. Check out our profile of the Linden-based Ammon Foundation from the July issue.
And be sure to send pictures and captions from your recent charitable event to firstname.lastname@example.org for possible inclusion next month!
1. Supporting New Jersey’s Most Motivated Students
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
Student Partner Alliance, a Summit-based organization, raised $44,000 at its 13th annual Bunk’s Golf raised $44,000. Funds raised will help support motivated high school students at private high schools in New Jersey’s urban areas of Essex, Hudson and Union counties with tuition assistance and mentoring.
2. Gala Grants More Wishes
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
Make-A-Wish New Jersey (MAWNJ) raised more than $1 million that will go toward making life-changing wishes for local children battling critical illnesses. Enjoying the event were, from left, MAWNJ president & CEO Tom Weatherall; corporate controller of Goya Foods, Inc. Tony Diaz; and executive vice president of Goya Foods, Inc. Peter Unanue and his wife Kimberly Unanue.
3. Ocean County College Scholarships
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
The recent Ocean County College Foundation Scholarship Celebration raised more than $200,000 to support Ocean County College (OCC) students. Marking the occasion were, from left, Jon Larson, president of OCC; Noelle Carino, chair of the OCC Foundation board; and Kenneth Malagiere, executive director of the OCC Foundation.
4. The Summit Playhouse Gives Back
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
From left, Chance Friedman, Daphne Meng, and Matt Green happily accept Student Theatre Awards and $500 each for their participation in productions at the Summit Playhouse.
5. Christmas in July Fundraiser
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
The Tigger House Foundation (THF) Student Alliance program hosted a Christmas in July fashion show event at Garmany in Red Bank to begin raising scholarship money for individuals who are struggling with addiction and in need of drug rehabilitation. The organization is dedicated to achieving a positive impact by reducing the death rate of heroin and opiate addiction. The students currently involved in the program are Joe Dibernardo and Daniel Mooney from Christian Brothers Academy; Jaiden Diehl and Robert Gray from Rumson Fair Haven; Emily Ahearn and Olivia Peter from Red Bank Catholic; Frankie Stavola from Middletown South; and Molly Clifford and Anna Ferrigine from Trinity Hall.
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
6. The GYM Gives Back to Veterans
The GYM has been a regular supporter of Homes for Veterans, a Harrington Park-based organization, raising more than $64,000 since 2014. The GYM recently held a push-up contest at both GYM locations in Englewood and Montvale. Juan Pla, Montvale’s fitness director, held a 25-hour marathon training session, raising over $7,000. Working with Juan to help raise money for the foundation were James Siletti, US Air Force and Pete Kandel, US Marines in the Montvale location; and Lurressa Thomas, U.S. Army, Daniel Pavas, U.S. Marine Corps, and Jessica Wolthoff, U.S. Air Force in the Englewood location. There was also a dance class held in Englewood to help bring people together for the fundraiser.
7. Sponsoring a Summer Police Youth Camp
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
Sturdy Savings Bank (SSB) recently presented a sponsorship check to the Middle Township Police Department for their summer Police Youth Camp. Marking the occasion were, from left, Middle Township mayor Tim Donahue; Middle Township Police Department sergeant Mark Higginbottom; Middle Township Police Department chief of police Chris Leusner; SSB Cape May Court House branch manager Lisa Rendzak; Middle Township economic development/grants writer Nancy Sittineri; and SSB business development officer Michael Clark.
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
8. Surgical Nurse Heading to Honduras to Provide Aid
The New Jersey Association of Ambulatory Surgery Centers (NJAASC) has sponsored a second medical mission thru its selected charity, One World Surgery, through fundraising and matching funds for a total of $1,886. NJAASC will sponsor a medical mission for Steven Sanacore (pictured), a nurse with Surgical Center of South Jersey in Mount Laurel. During the week-long mission to Honduras, the mission team will provide surgeries to patients who otherwise would not have access to high-quality surgical care.
9. Take a Walk in Our Genes
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
Hélio Pedro, chief of the Hackensack Meridian Health Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital Center for Genetic and Genomic Medicine, stood alongside Team Diego at the recent Take a Walk in Our Genes event in Ridgefield Park. The event raised $60,000 to benefit patients and families under the care of the Center for Genetic and Genomic Medicine.
10. Seton Hall Students Set New Record for Annual Clothing Drive
Photo courtesy of charitable organization
WSOU 89.5 FM, the student-run radio station at Seton Hall University, set a new record for donations to its annual clothing drive for the Our Lady of the Sioux Church on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. The station collected enough clothing to fill 14 large boxes with clothes for all ages and all seasons.
The spritz is a highly flexible, summer-ready cocktail style. If you’ve ever heard of (and love, or hate) the Aperol spritz, you know the basic template: an Italian apéritif, sparkling wine, club soda, and an orange slice garnish.
There are many variations on this classic Italian cocktail, but the template is generally simple and enjoyable. Yes, it’s easy drinking—often lower ABV and always landing lighter on the palate—but a lot of the spritzes we found around New Jersey are layered, intriguing drinks. Bartenders seem to like using the drink’s structure and bubbly texture to showcase different aromatics and flavors, such as rose, grapefruit, warm baking spices, juniper, sun-dried herbs, blueberry skin, toffee and raisin, or watermelon. The fact that it looks great in your hand on a restaurant patio or pool chair, well, that’s just a bonus.
Here are five ways to get your spritz on this summer in the Garden State.
If you want a hint of summer without departing too far from the standard Aperol spritz style, Harvest in Moorestown is making it really, really easy for you. Their Aperol watermelon spritzer is exactly that: Aperol, fresh watermelon, orange bitters, and soda to finish. The standard Aperol spritz, FYI, would have prosecco in addition to soda water, but at least here it’s only the latter—meaning this drink is a much lower in alcohol (Aperol itself is just 11% ABV), making it a very eligible apéritif. Harvest Seasonal Grill, 400 West Route 38, Moorestown; 856-581-0044
Bubbly Garden Party
The Nona’s Backyard Spritz at the Farm and the Fisherman in Cherry Hill might sound like a relatively rustic concoction (most of what we drink in a backyard involves powdered lemonade) but the drink is generously layered with flavor: the juniper, spice and botanicals of Rowhouse Gin, rich, sweet rose petal florals in sweet Italian Rosolio Italicus, and yet more florals from the Jersey-based Bellview Dandelion Wine. The spritz factor comes courtesy of prosecco, cutting into all that lush floral and herbal notes like a wise, but feisty, gardener. The Farm and the Fisherman, 1442 Marlton Pike East, Cherry Hill; 856-356-2282
You can always count on the folks at Reyla to create a ridiculously intricate spin on classic drink styles and make it look easy, and their seasonal spritz is no exception. The Resting Booch Face has its wine component in Lustau vermouth (a Sherry-based vermouth with flavors from toffee to raisins and sun-dried herbs), bitterness from the Bonal Gentiane Quina (a French apéritif wine), and that all-important spritziness from none other than health-foodie-favorite, kombucha. In this case it’s Jersey’s own Fine Health Blueberry Swirl Kombucha, with its notes of dark, fleshy blueberry skin floating on top of tangy, ‘boochy bubbles. Reyla, 603 Mattison Avenue, Asbury Park; 732-455-8333
It’s not labeled a spritz, but the Mother of Pearl at the Stingray Lounge in Jersey City basically fits the bill—not that “basic” applies here. Even the gin is unique—Botanist comes from Islay, the same region where some of Scotland’s peatiest whiskies are born. In the drink, that gin’s juniper-and-spice overlaid by St. Germain’s classic bouquet of florals and herbs; add a Campari-esque bittersweet grapefruit from Combier Pamplemousse Rose liqueur, some actual grapefruit, and—of course—Conquilla Cava for the bubbles and you’ve got bracing, focused refresher with enough backbone to make a late afternoon summer cocktail feel productive. Jersey Social, 837 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City; 201-222-7447
Another one with spritz strangely absent from the name, but don’t worry, the Buds, Berries, and Bubbles at Blu Grotto in Oceanport passes the test. It’s Lillet Rose (a French apéritif wine), Aperol, fresh strawberry, lemon, and some straight up soda water for bubbles. Blu Grotto is actually an Italian trattoria, so you can trust their hand at getting the proportions of the spritz style right: it’s all about composing a balanced profile—fruit, florals, bittersweetness—and strapping those onto bubbles, helping to aromatize the cocktail. Consume it under the big blue skies (and umbrellas) of their outdoor seating area and you’ll know why “summer” and “spritz” where made for each other. Blu Grotto Trattoria, 200 Port au Peck Avenue, Oceanport; 732-571-7900
The 33rd annual Peruvian Parade is taking place on Sunday, July 28. The tradition started in July 1986, when a small group of Peruvian immigrants threw Passaic County’s first-ever Peruvian celebration. In honor of the upcoming parade, we’re taking a closer look at Jersey’s wealth of Peruvian restaurants.
Here, Peruvian food can be found largely in Bergen, Hudson, and Passaic counties. Passaic itself is home to the largest Peruvian immigrant population in New Jersey (Peru brought a consulate to Paterson to accommodate the growing ranks of “Little Lima.”) All of which is lucky for Jersey locals with an appetite—Peruvian cuisine is among the most generous and deeply-rooted, with traditions reaching back to the Incas, a wealth of beautiful indigenous ingredients, and culinary influences from cooking cultures as disparate as Japan, Italy, Africa and China. In fact—and don’t’ call it “fusion”—Peruvian food absorbed and transformed Chinese and Japanese influence especially readily, resulting in “Chifa” and “Nikkei” styles, or Chinese and Japanese-Peruvian cooking traditions. That’s where you get staples like chaufa, or Peruvian fried rice, and tiraditos, a ceviche-style fish dish with sashimi cuts and Japanese simplicity in preparation.
Given the cultural influences, there are some unexpected elements in Peruvian cuisine. Don’t be surprised to see “Milanese” on the occasional menu, and do try the salchipapa (grilled hot dog-style sausage chunks on papas fritas). Savor the bounty of fresh ceviche, deep-fried seafood, lots of steak and chicken, chaufa, tallarin (Italian-influenced spaghetti-plus-protein dishes), as well as plenty of papas (potatoes served as an appetize “a la huancaina,” or in a yellow pepper cream cheese sauce).
You’ll also find repeat service elements from restaurant to restaurant: family ownership, no-frills décor (emphasis here is on comfort and familiarity), and generous portions. Come prepared to eat, and drink—if you see pitchers of dark purple juice with fruit floating in it, that’s not sangria, it’s Chicha Morada, a refreshing, cinnamon-spiced, deep purple Peruvian corn drink. Order a glass or two, and cheers to Peru.
*Due to fee issues with parade organizers, Paterson won’t be participating in this year’s parade—the second time in 33 years. Instead, the parade will begin in Clifton and end in Passaic, where the yearly post-parade festival will take place.
Tradiciones de Mi Pueblo in Plainfield is as comfortable as they come—bright, spacious dining room that’s got a few glossy touches but still manages to be low-key, with Peruvian classics that have been coming out of the family-run kitchen since 2001. The menu reflects that seasoned stature—Peruvian classics, carefully edited and typically plated with a bit more polish than your typical, deliciously matter-of-fact serving style. Hit any of the major Peruvian proteins here, but especially given the years of dish-perfecting you might reach for marquee dishes like aji de gallina, a classic Peruvian stewed chicken dish, or Parihuela, a gorgeous chili-spiked Peruvian fish stew (or soup, depending on your definition). 307 Park Avenue, Plainfield; 908-226-9066
Don Pepe in Jamesburg is small, yes (around seven tables) but they make up for it with abundance on the menu. It’s nothing dizzying, just a healthy selection of Peruvian staples like chaufa (Chinese-style fried rice), ceviche (the national dish, which you can get with octopus, fish, citrus-spiked leche de tigre marinade), tallarines (noodles), and plenty of pollo and carne. Like a lot of other Peruvian spots, they do Saturday and Sunday specials, dishes like cau-cau con arroz (tripe with potatoes, served over rice) and seco de cabrito con frijoles (Peruvian lamb with beans). No surprise considering how prolific (but organized) their menu is, they grew into a second location in Freehold. 200 Buckalew Avenue, Jamesburg; 732-605-0172
Sabor Peruano is a family restaurant, run by the Fonsecas. It’s also a leader among next generation Peruvian spots adapting the Peruvian dining style to American expectations of restaurant service. Sabor moved to larger digs in Rahway last year and added more ambiance overall, transforming itself into more of a night-out destination. Not a bad place to try a few Peruvian appetizers like papa a la huancaina or ocopa, which is boiled potatoes with a black mint cream sauce, anticuchos (marinated beef heart on skewers), and ceviche with leche de tigre (a Peruvian chili and citrus marinade). 1576 Irving Street, Rahway; 732-900-1396
Trying to pinpoint a “best Peruvian” restaurant in Paterson is basically moot—any earnest attempt would take a (delightful) lifetime’s eating, and the fact is there just too much nuanced overlap. Market Street alone is packed with options. That said, if you want to make a pilgrimage to the city where Peru opened a consulate to accommodate the influx of immigrants, you can’t go wrong with Kikiriki, the fourth generation-owned family mini restaurant chain built on some incredibly tasty pollo a la brasa. They have customers who’ve been going there for 20 years. The business itself has had an outpost in Peru since 1963, with four total in Jersey since 1990. The Paterson location is their flagship, and what it lacks in ambiance comes back tenfold in reliably delicious, juicy Peruvian rotisserie. 217 Market Street, Paterson; 973-225-0336
El Gordo also does a mean pollo a la brasa (it’s hard to find a bad one), but their menu also has a reliably broad selection of Peruvian favorites, this might be the kind of place to begin a deeper dive into homey Peruvian favorites. If you’ve already tried lomo saltado, try the bistek a lo pobre, with a fried egg, rice, and sweet plantains. Instead of pollo a la brasa—weather pending—you might get their sopa de gallina, a super old school Peruvian “hen soup” that’s made of long-simmered hen (or older roaster chicken) resulting in a richly savory broth brightened with herbs, chili and citrus garnish. To be honest, it kind of makes us want to catch a cold because it sounds like the perfect remedy. 295 Monroe Street, Passaic; 973-777-9478
Chef Juan Placencia comes from a budding Jersey-Peruvian culinary dynasty—his parents opened Oh! Calamares in Kearny, and in 2010 he followed suit with his own spot in Montclair. Costanera isn’t quite as low-key as his parents’ cozy, classic spot, but Placencia definitely stays close to traditional Peruvian flavors. We gave it three stars when it first opened and we’re still going back for more pollo a la brasa (Peruvian-style vinegar-brined rotisserie chicken) as of this year, but anything on the menu should satisfy—especially the fresh ceviches and tiraditos (like ceviche met sashimi and a lot of chilies). Bonus points: the dessert menu features Peru’s beloved lucuma ice cream (lucuma is mango-esque, a so-called “superfood,” and may erupt into a trend near you any day now). 511 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair; 973-337-8289
Con Sabor a Peru in Clifton is another longstanding, neighborhoody Peruvian family restaurant. The Sotelo family first opened it in 2007, so you can rest assured their menu of Peruvian staples has been practiced and is, by now, thoroughly imbued with family-style love. Seriously, this is the kind of place you’d be in good hands trying your first Criolla, a homey, staple beef soup with smoky chili and evaporated milk, or Carapulcra con Chancho, a rich, intensely flavorful stew with dried potatoes (papa seca), chili, pork, and peanuts. Of course you won’t go wrong with ceviches or chaufas. A smaller restaurant, cozy and comfortable, so bring a friend and an appetite. Con Sabor a Peru, 109 Lakeview Avenue, Clifton; 973-340-0008
[Note: Bill Kibler is director of policy at Raritan Headwaters Association, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Bedminster. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of New Jersey Monthly.]
By now, most everyone has heard about the harmful algae blooms on Lake Hopatcong, Spruce Run Reservoir, Rosedale Lake and Greenwood Lake that have shut down swimming and put a huge damper on boating and fishing.
The cyanobacteria growing in these waters—commonly known as blue-green algae— can cause skin rashes if touched, and flu-like symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and headaches if swallowed. Fish caught in these waters should not be eaten, and boats and equipment used on these lakes should be thoroughly rinsed with clean water.
Here at Raritan Headwaters Association, the region’s watershed watchdog, we wish we could give assurances that the problem will go away quickly and everything will return to normal. But, unfortunately, the situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. The conditions leading to harmful algae blooms—warm water temperatures and excessive nutrients from fertilizers, animal waste, and septic systems—are likely to be present through the end of summer.
It’s not just the well-publicized issues at Lake Hopatcong and Greenwood Lake that we should pay attention to. Many other lakes and reservoirs are at risk of similar algae blooms, as the sun heats the water and rainstorms cause runoff carrying nitrogen and phosphorus. Round Valley Reservoir, the Delaware & Raritan Canal, Budd Lake and the Manasquan Reservoir are all susceptible, as are other lakes, ponds and impounded sections of river in our region.
We urge local, county and state health officials to be extra vigilant this summer for signs of harmful algal blooms, and to regularly test the water in vulnerable lakes and waterways.
We also strongly urge officials to take a hard look at the root of problem: storm-water runoff, which washes chemical fertilizers, animal waste and other pollutants into rivers, streams, lakes and reservoirs.
For starters, communities should consider establishing storm-water utilities, as allowed by a new state law. Although opponents derided the law as a “rain tax,” it has the power to help prevent the type of harmful algae blooms we’re now seeing.
If commercial and residential developments that increase storm-water runoff are forced to pay, it would be an incentive for future developers to incorporate more “green infrastructure” into their design. And the fees collected by storm-water utilities can pay for projects like rain gardens, bioswales and permeable pavements that can help treat pollution from storm-water runoff.
Local residents can do their part by saying “no” to chemical lawn and garden fertilizers, making sure their septic systems are working properly and picking up pet waste. Save yourself time and money; don’t use any fertilizers on your lawn without getting a soil test done first.
Harmful algae blooms are a man-made problem, and it’s up to us to take action to help solve this problem.
Shuffleboard Club members, front row, from left: Tom Palmer, Pat Petrik, Carol Herrington and Harry Hoff. Back row: Ron Petrik, Howard Fisher, John Herrington and Bill and Pat Henry. Photo by Jessica Orlowicz
Sun, surf and sand are selling points for the Jersey Shore. For nearly 80 years, Ocean City has offered a fourth S: shuffleboard.
Formed in 1941, the Ocean City Shuffleboard Club keeps the sport alive with a series of summer tournaments. The club offers visitors a chance to play the game at six covered and 10 open courts on Fifth Street, just off the boardwalk.
“Thousands of people come to play each summer,” says Ron Petrik of Ocean City, one of about 50 club members. “People ask, ‘How much does it cost?’ We tell them it’s free. It’s a bargain.”
Tom Palmer, the club historian, was a latecomer to the shuffleboard scene. Now 77, he joined the club with his grandson Alec Helm in 2008. “I enjoy being outside, the exercise, but mostly the friendships which have been formed,” says Palmer, who offers lessons and clinics to new players from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
In shuffleboard, players use cue sticks to propel discs along a 39-foot-long court to a scoring area. Players score points by landing in a specific box and prevent their opponents from scoring by knocking away their discs. “It’s exactly the same strategy as curling,” says Palmer, referring to the Winter Olympics game played on ice.
At its peak in 1980, the club had 650 members. It’s tough finding new members, says club president and local resident John Herrington. “Shuffleboard is perceived as an old person’s game, but it’s mentally challenging,” says Herrington. “It’s a skills game.”
Age shouldn’t be a barrier in shuffleboard, adds Petrik. “You can play it your whole life.”
More than 20 stories above Newark Bay, a gantry-crane operator perched in a cab maneuvers a giant orange claw, locking onto a cargo container aboard a massive ship just arrived from Europe. The worker plucks the cargo-laden, 40-foot-long metal box from the ship and lowers it to a steel landing platform on the dock.
Nearby, eight-wheeled straddle carriers straight out of Star Wars shuttle the containers from the water’s edge to pyramid-like stacks. The steady, low-pitched rumble of machinery in motion mingles with the safety-warning chirps of the 45-foot-tall straddle carriers.
This is the Port of Newark and Elizabeth, the third busiest in the nation after Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California. It’s the place where so many of the things we purchase—sneakers, televisions, furniture, automobiles and even orange juice—come into the United States.
One-third of the cargo arriving on the East Coast—more than 4.1 million shipping containers, hundreds of thousands of vehicles, piles of rock salt, Belgian blocks and more—enters at the docks, which stretch for more than 2,000 contiguous acres spanning Newark and Elizabeth.
Officially, the port consists of two adjacent locations: Port Newark and Elizabeth Port Authority Marine Terminal. Most simply call it Port Newark. A section of the New Jersey Turnpike runs past Port Newark, separating it from Newark Liberty International Airport, the other busy hub run by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“The port is the centerpiece of trade in the region,” says Ron Leibman, a partner specializing in logistics and supply-chain law at McCarter & English, a large New Jersey law firm.
The tides of the global economy come ashore here, reminding us that the United States has evolved over half a century from a place that makes most of its goods to a nation that imports $2.5 trillion worth of products each year. To maintain Port Newark’s viability, the Port Authority and the private companies that operate its container terminals are spending close to $11 billion on infrastructure upgrades to handle new, super-sized vessels that can carry 9,000 or more 40-foot containers. As part of this upgrade, the 90-year-old Bayonne Bridge was elevated, at a cost of $1.7 billion, to let the larger vessels navigate the Kill Van Kull, which flows between Bayonne and Staten Island, connecting Newark Bay to Upper New York Bay.
The port’s multiyear capital-improvement program—including dredging, wharf replacements, rail and roadway improvements, and new, modern equipment—is intended to allow the port to more than double its container traffic by the year 2050, according to the Port Authority.
A giant gantry crane stands ready to unload cargo at Port Newark. A single crane has the strength to lift an empty Boeing 757. Photo by Alex Fradkin
DRIVING JERSEY’S ECONOMY
Most New Jerseyans speed past the port, never glimpsing more than the towering, distant cranes. But the port—with its massive marine terminals, rail heads and Interstate highway access—is at the heart of the regional economy and a key driver of New Jersey’s economic health, supporting as many as 400,000 jobs and sparking a building boom in warehouses all along the Turnpike.
An estimated $200 billion in goods move through the port annually (based on data for 2018). China, the number 1 trading partner, accounts for about 32 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports. The port benefits from its location in the heart of the most densely populated and affluent consumer base in the nation, says Anne Strauss-Wieder, who tracks port activity as director of freight planning for the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority. What’s more, the port is connected to millions more consumers through a web of highways and rail systems that bring cargo as far west as Kansas City.
Strauss-Wieder says that few people realize how the port and New Jersey’s extensive freight network affect their daily lives. “We point and click,” says Strauss-Wieder, “and the house elf delivers it magically to our door.”
Up close, the port is an otherworldly, windswept, industrial landscape, built at an incomprehensible scale. Giant cranes tower at the edge of Newark Bay and its two branching waterways, Elizabeth Channel and Port Newark Channel. Metal shipping containers are stacked like building blocks. Piles of scrap metal, road salt and stone dot the scene. Imported cars line up for acres. One building full of refrigerated tanks holds nothing but orange juice concentrate.
Ships registered in Liverpool, Panama and other far-off locales deliver most of their cargo to three privately owned container terminals along Newark Bay: Port Newark Container Terminal in Newark, and Maher Terminals and APM Terminals in Elizabeth. There’s also port activity in Bayonne (at Global Container Terminals), Brooklyn and Staten Island, but the Newark/Elizabeth complex accounts for 80 percent of the containers and 89 percent of the automobiles that come ashore each year at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The activity at Port Newark Container Terminal typifies life at the port. Ships are unloaded and loaded around the clock, seven days a week, except for weekday breaks from 6-8 am. Four of the terminal’s 13 cranes are new, imported from Ireland at a cost of $12 million–$15 million each; they are among the tallest in North America. PNCT, a joint venture of Ports America and Terminal Investments Ltd., has invested about $350 million and plans another $150 million in improvements to upgrade the terminal to accommodate the new, wider vessels that began arriving after the Panama Canal was expanded in 2016 and the Bayonne Bridge elevated in 2017. (The other terminals are also investing millions.)
The new cranes are 297 feet from top to bottom when the booms are stretched outward to work the ships. These machines aren’t just big; they’re powerful. “One of these cranes could pick up an empty Boeing 757,” says Chris Garbarino, chief operating officer of the terminal.
A 45-foot-tall straddle carrier maneuvers its load through a sea of cargo containers. Photo by Alex Fradkin
THE NEW WATERFRONT
The port is about people, too. Longshore workers operate and maintain modern machinery like the gantry cranes and straddle carriers and monitor the trucks coming through the terminal gates. (Gone are the days when longshoremen hefted bags and boxes.) Truckers fight traffic out of the port’s limited roadways and onto New Jersey’s highways. Customs inspectors, office workers and security personnel also have a hand in the flow of imports and exports.
Then there are the merchant seafarers who venture ashore for new eyeglasses, gifts for loved ones back home, or simply a restaurant meal. Large as they are, each vessel typically requires a crew of only about 20-25. The crew members come from around the globe. The Philippines is the largest supplier, with about 20 percent of seafarers worldwide.
Crew members generally serve on board for six to nine months at a time. The seagoing work is a mixed blessing, as it has been throughout the centuries. A Ukrainian officer, interviewed on board a ship newly arrived from Europe, treasures the view of the stars at sea, free of light pollution. But being away from his wife and young children for months is a hardship. What’s more, even for a veteran seaman, there’s something unnatural about life on the water.
“You have to walk on land, touch something, feel something,” says the officer. Still, the job spells economic security for his family. “In the Ukraine,” he says, “you can’t get a better [financial] option.”
Other mariners are drawn by the adventure of the sea. That’s the case for Kotja Kofeod, a 23-year-old Danish woman who recently disembarked in Newark from the ship Lexa Maersk, where she works in the engine room. She had been at sea for five months; her ship, which sails under the flag of Denmark, had last made port in Germany. As a woman, Kofeod is a rarity on a container ship, but she says she’s not lonely or intimidated and hopes to make a career of the seafaring life.
Like most crew members, Kofeod typically sees only the industrial landscape of the ports. “It’s mostly the same view all the time,” she says of her world travels. On this trip, though, Kofeod had swapped an onboard shift with a crewmate so she could head into Manhattan for sightseeing. Generally, seafarers who disembark only have enough time to visit the Mills at Jersey Gardens mall in Elizabeth.
Although the port is all about commerce, it’s difficult to actually buy anything there. Looking for lunch? There are only a few choices. One of those, Chris’s Lunch Truck, has been run for 14 years by Greek immigrants Chris and Dina Golas of North Arlington. Chris gets up at 3 each morning to start cooking the specials. The truck opens for business at 5:30. “It’s not easy,” says Dina. As warehouses have been torn down to make way for terminal expansions, there are fewer workers at the port, she says. That means fewer customers for the lunch truck.
Nicholas Addison—health, safety and environmental manager at Port Newark Container Terminal—views the top of a gantry crane. Gone are the days of dockworkers hefting bags and boxes of goods. At the modern port, they are more likely to operate and maintain mammoth machines and cargo vehicles. Photo by Alex Fradkin
DANGER ON THE DOCKS
The job of the longshore worker is “highly technical and highly dangerous,” says Jim McNamara, a spokesman for the International Longshoremen’s Association, which represents about 4,500 members at the Port of New York and New Jersey. There have been at least four deaths on the New Jersey docks in the last decade and, according to federal data, the fatality rate for dockworkers nationwide is more than five times the average for the U.S. workforce.
The work is fast-paced. “It’s very expensive to operate these ships, and they try to get them in and out as fast as they can,” says McNamara. “It’s an around-the-clock business.” Depending on their sailing schedule, a ship can be unloaded in as little as 36 hours.
Tyreke Wells, 51, has been a longshoreman in Newark and Elizabeth for 15 years. He works on ship decks eight stories above the water, managing the twist locks that hold containers in place. “We set the decks up, and then you build them like Legos,” says Wells, who has recently returned to work after breaking a finger on the job. Wells is speaking on a winter morning after a night spent unloading a ship from China in an ice storm. “It’s a good job, but it’s hard,” he says. “We work in every kind of weather.”
Wells has a keen sense of his role in the supply chain. “Everything has to be precise. We have to get things off the ship and into the stores,” he says. “You have to be safe, you have to be mindful, and you need your rest, because we move the world. The world wants these products.”
The average longshore worker makes about $32 per hour, according to the union. But last year, NJ Advance Media described a system in which about 10 percent of longshoremen make six-figure salaries, sometimes for low-show jobs. The report detailed 100 dockworkers making more than $300,000, with one making in excess of half a million dollars a year.
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor estimated three years ago that shippers were paying $117 million annually for labor they weren’t receiving, says executive director Walter Arsenault. The bistate group investigates corruption on the docks and monitors hiring—for example, blocking known members of organized crime from becoming longshoremen. The commission works with multiple law enforcement agencies that prosecute misdeeds at the port, like the 2017 case of the foreman convicted of fraud for collecting almost $500,000 in annual pay for a no-show job.
The commission was created in 1953 to fight the kind of corruption portrayed in the classic movie On the Waterfront. While much has changed since longshoremen worked the gritty Hoboken docks depicted in the movie, problems with labor racketeering remain, and the costs are increasing, says Arsenault. Those costs ultimately get passed to consumers and make Port Newark a more expensive place to do business.
McNamara, from the longshoremen’s union, rejects the characterization of labor racketeering at Port Newark. He points out that several agencies—including the Port Authority Police, the U.S. Coast Guard and Homeland Security—police the docks and notes that the union adheres to its own code of ethics. The issue of labor costs, he says, is one that management can address through negotiations.
LAGGING ON EMISSIONS
After the vessels are unloaded, truckers line up to pick up the containers. Trucks take about 85 percent of the cargo out of the port. (The rest moves by rail.) There are only a few main roads in and out of the port area; traffic can be brutal.
For generations, Newark’s tightly packed Ironbound district and other East and South Ward neighborhoods that border the port, as well as parts of Elizabeth, have borne the brunt of the traffic and diesel pollution. “We’ve never seen sincere and adequate engagement of the community by the port,” says Melissa Miles, environmental justice manager for the Ironbound Community Corporation and a neighborhood resident.
Amy Goldsmith, chair of the state’s Coalition for Healthy Ports, says the Port Authority has been slow to clamp down on emissions from ships, which are powered by diesel engines. The engines continue to run while in port because the ships need power for their equipment and for the seafarers who remain onboard.
Goldsmith says efforts to lower truck emissions have also lagged. Most truckers, she says, are independent contractors. On average, they earn less than $30,000 a year and can’t afford emissions-saving innovations.
For its part, the Port Authority says it’s serious about reducing pollution. Since 2009, the agency has offered truckers $25,000 grants to help them replace their trucks with cleaner vehicles. And in 2008, the agency set a goal to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions by 35 percent by 2025 (across all its operations, not just the docks). This is aided by the new, larger ships, which are designed to be more energy efficient. Moreover, the Port Authority offers incentives to vessel operators to reduce speed and burn cleaner fuel in or near the port.
“We understand that we need to do more, and we’re committed to doing more, and are encouraging statewide efforts,” says Beth Rooney, deputy director of the port department at the Port Authority.
Security is another pressing issue. Before the 9/11 terror attacks, “residents would come to the port at lunchtime and watch ships come and go,” Rooney says. Now, the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs and Border Protection keep a close eye on all the ships coming in, as well as the cargo and people on board. Truckers and workers going into terminals must pass FBI background checks. Containers and trucks are screened for radiation. “That’s looking—I hate to say it—for weapons of mass destruction,” Rooney says.
Contraband is another consideration. In February, law enforcement agencies at the port seized 1.6 tons of cocaine from Chile, with a street value estimated at $77 million. It was the largest bust at the port since 1994.
It is unclear what impact President Trump’s escalating trade war with China and tariffs on imports will have on U.S. ports. For now, Port Newark continues to adjust to the arrival of the megaships, which account for nearly 30 percent of traffic. That is expected to increase.
As it looks to the future, the Port Authority is searching for ways to get cargo out of the port as efficiently as possible without further burdening the roads, Rooney says. One idea is to develop a maritime highway, using barges to carry goods on rivers. Increased use of trains is another possibility; last year, the port boosted rail traffic by 13.8 percent.
Improved planning and advances in technology, such as electric and autonomous vehicles, can help make the future manageable, says Angel Estrada, a Union County freeholder who chairs the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority.
“The logistical challenges are tremendous, but the solutions are there,” Estrada says. “It’s now about developing the infrastructure. The port is a driving engine for economics in the region, and we need to keep it that way.”
Port Newark’s Nicholas Addison surveys a veritable fortress of cargo containers. The shipping boxes were first used at the port in 1956. Photo by Alex Fradkin
REVOLUTION IN A METAL BOX
It’s just a simple metal box, but the shipping container is part of a global economic upheaval that has moved U.S. factory jobs overseas and made cheap consumer goods available to America.
And it all started in Port Newark. “Newark was where the container revolution began,” says Marc Levinson, author of The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (Princeton University Press, 2006).
Malcom McLean, a trucking-and-shipping entrepreneur, was the first to make financial sense of the idea of packing goods in big tin cans that could be plucked off ships and dropped onto a truck chassis or a rail flatcar. In 1956, McLean sent the first container ship from Newark to Houston.
“The Newark docks were not heavily used, and the Port Authority was desperate to bring business there,” Levinson says. “This seemingly harebrained idea of running a container business came along, and the Port Authority jumped on it.”
Obviously, McLean was onto something. Containers now dominate world shipping.
Low-cost shipping meant companies didn’t have to build factories near their customers. Instead, they could move their manufacturing to cheaper labor markets overseas, contributing to the long decline in U.S. factory jobs. The container is also a big reason why Americans have ready access to products from around the world.
The container changed the waterfront, too. No longer do armies of burly longshoremen hoist goods at the docks. Old, traditional ports (such as the New York docks) shriveled as newer ports like the Port of Newark and Elizabeth, equipped with giant cranes, took over the job of moving goods around the world.—KL
The Seamen’s Church Institute of the Episcopal Church has been tending to the spiritual and temporal needs of seafarers at the Port of New York since 1834. SCI started with a floating wooden chapel in lower Manhattan and moved to its current location in Port Newark in the 1960s.
The chapel takes up just one section of the institute’s modern, two-story building near the docks. In addition to pastoral care, the group provides legal, educational and transportation services. Its vans shuttle seafarers to the nearby Mills at Jersey Gardens mall (most don’t have time for a trip to Manhattan).
SCI has three employees and numerous volunteers who meet with mariners aboard their vessels to offer counseling or companionship. One of the fulltime employees, 25-year-old Cora Koehler, discovered SCI as an intern while studying for her master of divinity degree. “It was a little more interesting than youth ministry,” she says. On a typical day, she ascends the gangway to one of the vessels and sits in the mess, or dining room. Often, the conversation is casual, but sometimes mariners want to talk through difficult experiences, like the death of a grandparent or a wife’s miscarriage back home.
“I’m meeting with, eating with, celebrating with people who are so different from me; so many different cultures, so many different religions,” says Koehler.
The SCI also addresses issues like piracy, isolation and nonpayment of wages, and otherwise advocates for those who spend months at sea. “We are the Americans that seafarers need when they get here,” says Douglas Stevenson, director of the SCI’s Center for Seafarers’ Rights. “You help people; you don’t ask who they are. There are a lot of ways to proclaim the Gospel.”
One of the most visible ways SCI connects those on land and sea is through its annual Christmas at Sea program, which distributes gift sets to visiting seafarers. The gift bags contain toiletries and hand-knit hats and scarves donated by more than 800 volunteers from around the country.
The program began in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. The gifts are stored and assembled throughout the year and given out from November to January. A total of 3,892 gifts were distributed in the 2018 holiday season.
“Our volunteers are as varied as our knits,” says Joanne Kaplan Bartosik, director of the program. The recipients, she says, “are really blown away by this.”
—Chef Ermelin Saqe, formerly of Restaurant Lorena’s in Maplewood, is a little over a month into the opening of Jessica’s Café & Wood Fired Pizza in Plainfield. The restaurant space itself is casually elegant, efficient and everyday with lots of sunshine, all of it anchored by the massive wood-burning oven in the corner. Chef Saqe’s menu is largely Italian—Neapolitan pizzas and hot-pressed sandwiches, a small menu of pastas—though there are some French touches (and the foie gras pizza seems like the best way to celebrate that, if you ask us). Jessica’s Café & Wood Fired Pizza, 150 Terrill Road, Plainfield; 908-754-2080
—The Cookie Connect is the kind of business you dreamt of when you were 10—a business dedicated to solely to delivering cookies to the cookie-hungry, even into the late hours of the night. The brainchild of Ali Jajihaidari, who grew up making Christmas cookies with his mom, the business started with a phone app, but demand grew so rapidly that they had to set up a brick-and-mortar location in Bloomfield. Two years later, they’ve added a second location on Chestnut Street in Ridgewood; like the first, it offers delivery but also provides cookie (and ice cream, and cereal bar) pick-up in store. FYI to newbies, you can easily score a classic (oozing) chocolate chip, but late night cookie runs are made for flavors like Capn’s Buried Treasure, with white chocolate chips and Cap’n Crunch or NYC Cheesecake with cream cheese filling and raspberry drizzle. Ice cream and cereal options are equally indulgent. Late night hours run to 2am Friday and Saturday; otherwise the cookie crumbles at midnight. The Cookie Connect, 46 Chestnut Street, Ridgewood; 201-822-5331
In the Works:
—Blossom Asian Bistro currently has locations in Mt. Arlington and Chatham, but any day now they should be opening a third location in downtown Summit. The menu will be modestly pan-Asian, with sushi options, Chinese, and Thai. Like the first two locations, expect a dark but prim interior with modestly pan-Asian accents. Blossom Asian Bistro, 379 Springfield Avenue, Summit; no phone yet.
—Mission BBQ is following up its first successful New Jersey location in Deptford with a second spot in Marlton, scheduled to open this August. Beyond a love of barbecue (the chain does serious pulled pork, brisket, baby back ribs, St. Louis ribs, smoked turkey, sausage, etc.)—there’s another reason to pay attention to the opening date: Since opening their first location in 2011, Mission’s maintained a strong alliance with first responders and the armed forces, and 100 percent of proceeds from the Marlton store’s opening week events will go to local area first responders. Whether you make it in that week or no—and no details on exact opening date yet—every day at noon you can get in on the restaurant’s dual commitment to carnivorism and country with the daily recitation of the Pledge (and then, of course, back to ‘cue). They also do call-ahead large orders. Stay tuned. Mission BBQ, 545 Route 73 North, Marlton; 856-810-811
—Bwè Kafe means “Drink coffee” in Haitian Creole. It’s also the name of a Washington Street café that’s as unique and adored as they come. Bwè opened in part in response to the devastating 2010 earthquake, a coffee shop storefront that’s economically allied with philanthropic recovery programs aimed at restoring the country—especially the children of Haiti—to a better standard of living. Considering Haitian love of coffee, it’s no shock Bwè does a rock solid coffee program (including single origin Haitian coffee, among others), teas and vegan lattes, seasonal drinks, etc., all with an emphasis on community and fair dealing. There’s already a second Bwè location in Jersey City, but for uptown Hoboken residents who’d like to get in on the fun without trekking the (long) mile down Washington, Bwè is opening in the city’s uptown area, just off 14th street and a few minutes from the Hoboken Bow Tie Cinemas. An Instagram post just a couple days ago makes it seem like there’s still a matter of weeks, but with Hoboken, it could be faster. Bwè Kafe, 1405 Washington Street, Hoboken; no phone yet.
Sitting at their kitchentable in 2013, shortly after building their 4,500-square-foot dream home in Lambertville, Keith and Kim Black realized they had arrived at a crossroads. He had just sold his wine shop in Weehawken. She had just been laid off her job as the vice president of design at Coach in New York City. The economy was in free fall, and the couple knew they needed to act fast.
“We had only two options: Either sell the house or do something creative to buy ourselves some time,” says Kim. “Becoming Airbnb hosts and renting out our guest rooms helped us buy that time.”
The Blacks, like thousands of other Garden State homeowners, plunged into the global home-sharing phenomenon and never looked back. Within one year, based on stellar reviews from guests, the Blacks were designated Airbnb “superhosts”—seasoned hospitality gurus who provide an exemplary experience for their renters.
Airbnb identifies more than 200 New Jersey superhosts with a special website badge. Superhosts must maintain an overall rating of 4.8 out of 5, based on accuracy of listing, ease of check-in, cleanliness, communication, location and value. They must also complete at least 10 hostings or three reservations totaling at least 100 nights over a 12-month period.
Superhosts are just one part of the Airbnb universe. In 2018, about 9,300 New Jersey residents offered their homes as short-term Airbnb rentals, raking in a cumulative $133 million in revenue. Globally, Airbnb, the largest of the rent-out-your-digs operations, has millions of hosts throughout the world. Among Airbnb’s competitors: booking.com, VRBO, FlipKey and hometogo.
Airbnbs can be privately owned beach houses, suburban or seaside condos, urban apartments or rustic cabins. Posting an Airbnb listing is free, but the company gets a small commission from each host’s booking and also a percentage from guests. In return, it verifies guests through its website and handles contracts, insurance and transactions, with lodging paid in full online.
Last October, a new state law enabled New Jersey to tax short-term rental operators, just as they tax hotels. Airbnb collects and remits those taxes on behalf of its hosts. The industry giant predicts that future Garden State bookings could generate more than $10 million annually in state and local taxes.
A successful Airbnb host is typically an outgoing, business-savvy person with sharp communications skills who is willing to chitchat over coffee and offer thoughtful recommendations for local eateries and attractions.
We visited three Garden State superhosts to learn about their success. (Summer rates are approximate and do not include fees and taxes.)
Superhost Ruth Anne Pedersen rents her Ocean Grove home, Chateau Bleu, throughout the year. She and her husband also rent a second Airbnb Shore home, as well as properties in Arizona and Norway. Photo by Frank Veronsky
BEACHY RENTALS IN OCEAN GROVE
When Ruth Anne Pedersen of West Orange and Wayne Kruge of Livingston were kids, their families shared annual vacations at the Jersey Shore. But the two lost touch after Pedersen’s family moved to Norway when she was 16. She eventually married, raised children and managed a small hospital. Fast-forward 35 years to a pilgrimage Pedersen made to the Shore in 2008.
During that trip, Pedersen and Kruge (both single at the time) miraculously met again on the beach at Ocean Grove. Sparks flew, and the couple married in 2009. Shortly after, they bought their first Ocean Grove home, which they named Heaven on Earth and turned into an Airbnb rental in 2015.
From their front porch, the couple admired the adorable blue cottage across the street. When it became available last year, they purchased their second Airbnb property, naming it Chateau Bleu. The two-bedroom Victorian sports white gingerbread trim, a cheery English garden and a white picket fence.
The couple reside in Heaven on Earth part-time and rent it out sporadically. Chateau Bleu is rented year-round. Both are a short walk from the beach.
“We love Ocean Grove, and we have the best neighbors in the world,” Pedersen says. “When I’m not around, one wonderful neighbor even helps welcome our guests. We’ve formed great friendships. One summer, our renters even invited us into our own kitchen for a huge Greek dinner.” Of course, occasionally a hard-to-please guest will offer a comment from left field, like the people who didn’t like the looks of Pedersen’s salt and pepper shakers and the guy who thought the wastebasket was too small.
Aside from their two Ocean Grove properties, Pedersen and Kruge also rent out their homes in Arizona and Norway. “Although we’re often on the road, our rental properties work hard for us, generating the funds to finance our travels,” says Pedersen.
The couple looks forward to someday retiring in Ocean Grove. Until then, they are happy traveling the world to visit their eight children and 12 grandkids who reside in Norway, Australia, Alaska, Arizona and Indiana.
Keith and Kim Black of Lambertville, along with English bulldog Ruby, welcome guests to their pet-friendly Airbnb home, Greythorne Farm. The Blacks rent cozy bedrooms or the entire home. Photo by Frank Veronsky
Greythorne Farm, a 1938 farmhouse on eight acres of pasture and wooded farmland in Lambertville, was knocked down and rebuilt in 2012 by Keith and Kim Black as their geothermal dream home. Shortly after, they made the decision to help make ends meet by renting out their spare bedrooms.
A two-minute drive from historic Lambertville, the well-decorated home has two rental bedrooms, each with a private bathroom. Communal areas include the backyard pool and a gourmet kitchen with more than 100 cookbooks. Recently, the couple decided to offer their entire home, including a dining room that seats up to 20, for special-event rentals between May and October.
Greythorne Farm is one of New Jersey’s pet-friendly Airbnb properties. “We know firsthand what it’s like to go away and worry about Ruby, our rescued bulldog, so we welcome most pets,” says Keith. “We like making life easy for people, and Ruby loves it, too.” Still, they were surprised when one guest arrived with a goldfish in a bowl.
Guests who stay at Greythorne Farm have easy access to nearby restaurants, shops, farms and wineries. The Blacks hope to turn their old stable into a freestanding guest house, develop the grounds as a flower farm that supports local florists, and transform their barn into a festive space with food and local performers.
“As with most things in life, positive outcomes can arise from difficult situations,” says Kim. “Having the ability to rent sections of our home whenever we need the extra income helped us to dream again.”
Summer rates: Bedroom with private bath, $150/weekend night; whole house for two-night weekend stay, $1,600
Nadia Keller hosts Airbnb guests from around the world. Her always-in-demand Guttenberg property is a stone’s throw from New York City. Photo by Frank Veronsky
TWICE AS NICE IN GUTTENBERG
Nadia Keller,a superhost since 2013, began to host travelers in her two adjoining Guttenberg apartments in 2012, shortly after her mother’s passing. “I just couldn’t bear to put Mom’s two-family home on the market,” says Keller, “so I decided to be a part-time Airbnb host to help pay the mortgage.”
Keller, then a full-time professional in the short-term office-leasing and shared-work-space business, never dreamed that, one year later, she would leave her job to become a full-time Airbnb host. “It was actually an easy transition from working with leasing clients to hosting guests,” she says.
One of the most redeeming aspects of this arrangement is knowing that she and her family can continue to keep her mother’s home intact. “Best of all, we still celebrate our holidays here,” she says. “I think Mom would have liked that.”
The home in Hudson County is ideally situated for visiting New York City. Because of the in-demand location, Keller and her family host diverse clientele, like the three servicemen who arrived late one evening. “At first, we were tempted to cancel their reservation because they were hours late and it seemed a little sketchy,” says Keller. “But once we met them, they were so sweet, and we discovered they were active military service. Later, they said it was good we didn’t cancel their booking because they wouldn’t have been able to afford a New York City-area hotel.”
Other memorable guests include a fun French couple who were touring the globe with their five young children. “They were on a mission to show their kids how other people live around the world,” says Keller. “We instantly hit it off, and later they sent me pictures of every country they visited.”
Not all guests are ideal. “Once a woman grilled chicken on my stove without a pan,” recalls Keller. “She laid the raw meat right on the gas burner.”
And then there was the time she hosted an artsy type who claimed to own a Meadowlands catering business that worked with the Rolling Stones. Funny thing, thought Keller; her cousin had exactly those same credentials. The mysterious guest turned out to be her cousin’s British business partner.
Small world? Apparently so. Especially when you’re an Airbnb superhost.