18 Montclair + Bloomfield News Stories You Missed This Week

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Every week we bring you the highlights in the news, so readers can stay up-to-date on what is happening in Montclair + surrounding areas. Among the local headlines: ‘Operation Helping Hand’ is treating drug addiction in Essex County, the New Jersey Youth Symphony is taking the stage in December, local faith leaders speak out on gun violence, and so much more. Keep reading for all the news you missed this week in Montclair, Bloomfield, + beyond in Essex County.

Final Day to Nominate Your Favorite Local Businesses

best of montclair 2021

Our first annual ‘Best of 2021 Montclair Guide’ is still accepting nominations — until tomorrow! Our sister-site The Hoboken Girl hosts this awards event, and we had to bring it to the Montclair area to showcase everything that makes this community so special.

The Montclair Girl readers can nominate as many businesses, people, and places for each respective category in the area from now until Monday, November 29th.  Once we count your votes, we’ll be announcing the top three finalists in each category. At that point, readers vote again to pick the winners.

The finalists will win a decal to display on their storefronts and accolades on our website for all to see. There is a wide variety of categories, including Best Margarita, Best Fitness Studio, Best Brunch, + many more, so make sure to nominate all the businesses you believe deserve some recognition. Click here for everything you need to know.

Garden State COVID-19 Rates Rising as Holidays Approach

montclair bloomfield covid-19 cases resources updates

A report on Monday, November 22, indicated another 1,330 COVID-19 cases and seven COVID-19 deaths this week, per NJ.com. Every county is reporting higher numbers going into the Thanksgiving Weekend, as seen in the 20% increase in the seven-day average since last week. “Please, please, please enjoy this holiday,” Gov. Phil Murphy said, “but enjoy it safely and responsibly at every level.”

Well-Known Puerto Rican Eatery in Montclair Announces Closure

cocina candela montclair

Cocina Candela, located at 706 Bloomfield Avenue, is a Puerto Rican restaurant serving up native dishes, playing the island’s very own salsa music, and transforming the street into an upscale tropical experience. That is – until it closes in the coming weeks. But there may be an opportunity to return in the future. Click here for what we know about the closure.

The Montclair Girl Team Donating $1000 to Local Non-Profit in Giving Tuesday Giveaway

donate giving tuesday

The countdown to the world’s ‘Biggest Day of Generosity,’ Giving Tuesday 2021, is on — and one local Essex County non-profit is going to receive $1,000 from our Montclair Girl team.

In an effort to spread the cheer and magic of the holiday season, we are thrilled to announce this year’s The Montclair Girl Gives Back Ultimate Giveaway — where one lucky reader will receive exciting prizes from six local businesses, and get the opportunity to pick where to donate $1,000 to a local Essex County non-profit via The Montclair Girl team.

This ultimate giveaway will take place virtually on Monday, November 29th through Tuesday, November 30th on Instagram @TheMontclairGirl. The winner will be announced Wednesday, December 1st.

‘Operation Helping Hand’ Treating Drug Addiction in Essex County

operation helping hands

Integrity House and Essex County Prosecutor’s Office have partnered to bring a recovery-based approach to drug-related law enforcement incidents, according to Patch. ‘Operation Helping Hand’ is designed to provide treatment options to those arrested on minor, non-violent drug charges, rather than jail time. Robert J. Budsock, President and CEO of Integrity House, explained that taking a recovery-based approach with those struggling with substance abuse brings better results for individuals, families, and the community. 

Minia’s Montclair Celebrates Grand Opening 


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A post shared by Minias Montclair (@miniasmontclair)

Minia’s Breakfast and Lunch celebrated the grand opening of its newest location last week, which brought South American and Island-inspired eats to Montclair. Minia’s posted a photo of the restaurant crew at the ribbon-cutting event on Instagram. This is the second location to open in New Jersey and is located at 22 Lackawanna Plaza.

New Jersey Youth Symphony Taking the Stage in December  

nj youth symphony orchestra

The New Jersey Youth Symphony is showcasing its varied repertoire at three concerts in December, per Baristanet. The group will demonstrate works that span from the Romantic era to the present as full orchestras and string, woodwind, and jazz ensembles. The three concerts will take place at Dolan Performance Hall, Annunciation Center at Saint Elizabeth University on Saturday, December 4th, and Sunday, December 5th. Tickets can be purchased on the NJYS website. 

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Holding Holiday Light Spectacular

Over 50 sparkling winter and animal characters will be featured at the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo holiday lights display, reported Turtle Back Zoo. There will also be interactive activities, shopping, and food at the zoo, among the many activities occurring during the holiday season. The zoo is also accepting food, toy, and coat donations. The display will run Friday, December 3rd through Sunday, December 5th, and will run daily starting on December 10th through the end of the month.

Adopt-a-Family Program Taking Place in Bloomfield

adopt a family

Bloomfield is partnering with the Neighbor to Neighbor Network this holiday season to provide gift cards and clothing to families in need, according to Baristanet. Mayor Venezia emphasized the importance of helping others when possible. “Any support would mean a great deal to those in need and your generosity will be greatly appreciated,” she said. Neighbors can register to “adopt a family” online.  

The Bravitas Group/The Silver Family Foundation Matching Donations Made to Montclair’s Toni’s Kitchen


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A post shared by Toni’s Kitchen (@tonis.kitchen)

Donations made to Toni’s Kitchen between Thursday, November 18th and Tuesday, November 23rd were matched by the Bravitas Group/The Silver Family Foundation, reported Baristanet. The dollar-for-dollar match had no amount cap, and the total will go towards families with food insecurity. Rhonda and Bob Silver have supported Toni’s Kitchen for years, along with various other food-based initiatives. They explained, “Hunger negatively affects every facet of a person’s life. We are honored to have the opportunity to help bring relief to those who are hungry in our local community.” The matching event raised over $330K.

United Community Corporation Helping Newark for the Holidays

The United Community Corporation handed out food donated by The Community Food Bank of New Jersey on Monday, November 22nd, per NJ.com. The UCC members spent the morning distributing turkeys, chickens, groceries, and canned goods to Newark residents in need. The UCC also held its annual Friendsgiving Event at West Side Park, where clients could apply for their Comprehensive Eviction Prevention program. 

Faith Leaders Speak Out on Gun Violence in Newark 

gun violence montclair

After a slew of shootings in Newark, community leaders are urging residents to do their part in preventing gun violence, according to CBS New York. Faith leaders, including Rev. Louise Scott-Rountree of the Newark Interfaith Alliance expressed a call to action on the steps of Newark City Hall to residents of Newark last weekend. Mayor Ras Baraka expressed that when five separate shootings occurred within hours of each other, it was “one of the worst” nights during his tenure. Community leaders are making efforts to “flood the affected communities with resources,” claiming that violence is a result of social issues that need to be confronted. “We all have to get involved and some of us have to start with our own living room, our own bedroom, and start with the kids in our own household,” Baraka said.

Full NJ School Year COVID-19 Report Released 

Covid Booster Shot Essex County

New Jersey schools released their first full report on COVID-19 cases from the school year on Monday, November 22, according to NJ.com.  Since the start of the academic year, there have been at least 22,842 positive reported COVID-19 cases among students and staff at 2,081 New Jersey schools. There were additional reports that indicated 85% of staff are vaccinated. 

SouzaFit Meal Prep Kits Now Available In New Jersey 


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A post shared by SouzaFit Official (@souzafitofficial)

SouzaFit Restaurant is now offering meal kit delivery in Newark, Mount Vernon, and Hoboken. The health food restaurant posted on Instagram this week about the meal kit plans, which are described as affordable, high-quality, and flexible. Clients can call in or visit the website for more information. 

Montclair Emerging Screenwriter Competition Open for Applications


Students grades 8 to 12 are invited to submit original screenplays for the Emerging Screenwriter Competition, reported Montclair Film. The competition will “showcase the unique voices and talents of young people who are using story to express themselves,” and can include Comedy, Drama, Action, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and Horror genres. Screenplays submitted by Monday, February 21, 2022, will be reviewed by a jury of professional filmmakers and screenwriters. Rules can be found on the Montclair Film website. 

Sheriff’s Office Holds Community Food Drive in Newark 

police car

Sheriff Armando Fontoura and his department’s officers kicked off the 31st Annual Essex County Sheriff’s Thanksgiving Food Drive on Friday, November 19th, per Essex News Daily.  The drive took place at Veterans Courthouse in Newark, where hundreds of Thanksgiving meals were distributed to low-income families. Sheriff Fontoura noted that the drive was especially crucial to the community following the negative economic and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Montclair Center Featured on Small Business Saturday Video Series 


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A post shared by MONTCLAIR CENTER (@montclaircenter)

Beyond Main, an online e-commerce platform for local businesses, is gathering various New Jersey small businesses for the TV and video series “Downtowns of New Jersey.” Montclair Center announced its part in the series on Instagram this week, which will “highlight the uniqueness of Montclair Center” and “showcase its diverse small business owners.” Neighbors can watch the episode on WABC7. 

Seven South Studio and Market Now Open in Montclair 


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A post shared by MONTCLAIR CENTER (@montclaircenter)

Seven South Studio and Market held its soft opening in Montclair Center over Small Business Saturday weekend. Montclair Center posted a photo on Instagram of the various home decor and clothing goods offered at the local creative market. Shoppers can stop by their location at 7 South Fullerton Avenue.

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With two little ones at home, this North Carolina native has worked remotely for the past five years as a freelance writer. Ainsley moved to New Jersey in 2016 and fell in love with the Garden State. She is always on the lookout for what’s going on in the greater New York area, from new restaurants and businesses opening to can’t-miss events highlighting local culture. Outside of writing and being a mother, Ainsley loves to dive into a good book, practice speaking French, and dream up new ways to decorate her apartment.