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35 Essex County Stories You Missed

by The Montclair Girl Team
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It’s been another busy week in Essex County and there are plenty of headlines to catch up on. Among the highlights: the Local Girl Real Estate Listings are live; Bloomfield announces a town-wide spring cleaning event; and the NJ Devils add a special player to the roster. Read on for more. 

The Local Girl Real Estate Listings — Live Now!

real estate directory

Nobody loves living in New Jersey more than The Hoboken Girl + The Montclair Girl teams — but we also know that finding a home here is half the battle. To make home hunting that much simpler, our parent brand The Local Girl has launched a Real Estate Listings Directory. The directory is an ever-growing, curated list of real estate throughout New Jersey, from Hoboken and Jersey City all the way down to the Jersey Shore. Whether you’re looking for a new house, condo, rental, or you’re looking to list your property as a realtor or owner, we’re here to help you find your way home. Read on for more about our new Real Estate Directory + how to list your property.

The Ivy at Chatham

New Jersey Governor Announces Month-Long Music Festival


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Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was joined by local leaders to announce the inaugural North to Shore Festival. The event will take place in three locations throughout the month of June: Atlantic City (June 7–11), Asbury Park (June 14–18) and Newark (June 21–25). The multi-media festival is designed to highlight the best that Jersey has to offer. Local favorites will be joined by global headliners including Halsey, Santana, the B52s, Remember Jones, Bill Burr, Jay Wheeler, Stephen Colbert with Jim Gaffigan, and dozens more.  In addition to musical performances, the festival will include stand-up comedy shows, thought-provoking conversations with leaders in business, technology and clean energy, and film screenings.

Dutch’s Sandwich Shop Now Open in Montclair

Dutch’s Sandwich Shop is now open in Montclair at 19 Church Street, according to a press release from the Montclair Center BID. The sandwich shop serves breakfast and lunch and uses other local companies to supply the shop, including bread from Le French Dad Boulangerie. The shop’s hours are from 7AM to 5PM seven days a week.

AMC to Film The Walking Dead Spinoff in North Jersey

Fans of Walking Dead, rejoice — there’s a new spin-off series in the works starring Danai Gurira, Andrew Lincoln, and… New Jersey. That’s right, the latest venture for the long-running zombie franchise will be filming in East Rutherford, NJ, just 20 minutes outside of Montclair. Called The Walking Dead: Summit  (coincidentally another New Jersey town), the show is billed to be a love story between fictional characters Michonne + Rick. Read on for what we know about the new Walking Dead spin-off being filmed right here in the Garden State.

High-End Italian Sandwich Shop Coming to Montclair from Owner of Pasta Ramen

The mind behind Montclair’s Pasta Ramen, Chef Robbie Felice, has announced his latest project: a high-end Italian sandwich shop. Per NorthJersey.com, the shop will be called Fatto con Amore (which means “made with love” in Italian) and plans to offer specialty Italian meats + artisan cheeses on custom-made breads. The spot is slated to open in late June or early July, and will sit right next-door to Pasta Ramen at 4 South Fullerton Avenue.

$19 Million Approved by NJ Transit for Gateway Project Improvements

At a meeting on March 13th, the NJ Transit Board of Directors approved $19 million in payments to be sent to the Gateway Development Commission, according to NJ.com.  The Gateway project will cost $16 billion overall, and will build two new tunnels under the Hudson River. The $19 million will be collected in monthly installments per the agreement made between the Gateway Development Commission and the state of New Jersey.

Two Essex County Roadway Projects Awarded Over $40 Million in Grants

The Board of Trustees of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) approved 19 projects totaling $188 million, making travel safer for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists throughout the region at its March 13, 2023 meeting. According to a press release,  there are two projects in Essex County that will split the money. The first is an effort to improve Grove Street from Nye Avenue to Hoffman Boulevard and Irvington Avenue/Clinton Avenue from Riggs Place to New Street.  The second is Bloomfield Avenue from Highland Avenue to Broadway and Ridgewood Avenue from Bloomfield Avenue to Bay Avenue. Both projects will include signal upgrades, pedestrian signal upgrades, high-visibility crosswalks, accessible curb ramps and lead pedestrian intervals. 52 intersections will receive new traffic lights.

Agave Maria Opens in Belleville


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Mexican restaurant and cocktail lounge Agave Maria has opened at 170 Washington Avenue, according to a social media post. The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday though Sunday and is open late on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. The menu includes shared plates, ceviches, and a variety of tacos.

Vice President Kamala Harris Greeted by Rutgers Students

On Wednesday, March 15th, Vice President Kamala Harris was greeted by students from Rutgers-Newark, per Patch. The Vice President was in the area for a fundraiser in Bergen County and a television taping in Manhattan. The students greeted her at Newark Airport and represented a variety of student organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the Student Government Association, the Black Organization of Students, the Inter-Fraternity and Sorority Council, and RU Dreamers.

Lawsuit Filed Following Taco Bell + Wendy’s Denial in Bloomfield

taco bell wendys bloomfield nj lawsuit
On April 12th, 2022, the Bloomfield Planning Board first reviewed an application submitted by Finomus Bloomfield RE Holdings, LLC regarding the previous Friendly’s lot at 1243 Broad Street in Bloomfield. The proposed plan included a combined Taco Bell and Wendy’s that has received a lot of pushback from local residents. Many revisions and meetings later, on December 6th, 2022, the board officially denied the plan, citing safety and aesthetic concerns with the property. Now, the denied applicants have filed a lawsuit against the town, challenging the decision and seeking its reversal. Read on for all the most recent updates on the denied Taco Bell and Wendy’s at 1243 Broad Street in Bloomfield.

Essex County Announces Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Festival at Branch Brook Park in Newark is returning once again. Per Patch, Essex County has announced the dates for the peak bloom of the blossoms and several events that make up the Festival. The Festival will run from April 1st through 16th at Branch Brook Park, located at Park Avenue and Lake Streets in Newark.

Montclair Skate Park Hosts Grand Opening


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The skatepark known as Candy Courts, located at 155 North Fullerton Avenue in Montclair, will host a grand opening event on Saturday, March 25th. Per Patch, the event will start at 10AM with a skate lesson. The day will be filled with demonstrations, giveaways, contests and more. A recent addition to the park are skateable sculptures, designed by Olympian Alexis Sablone.

Bobbi Brown Opens Second Jones Road Storefront in NYC

Back in November 2021, beauty icon + Montclair resident Bobbi Brown ventured to open the first flagship store for her pandemic-born beauty brand, Jones Road Beauty, right here in Montclair. We’ve been lucky enough to watch Bobbi + Jones Rode thrive in our little corner of New Jersey (though, our bank accounts probably don’t feel so lucky), but the makeup mogul had her sights set on something bigger. As of March 15th, a second Jones Road storefront has opened in New York City at 37 Greenwich Avenue. Read on for a sneak peek of the new shop and Jones Road came to be.

Bloomfield Store Sells Winning Lottery Ticket

According to a press release from the New Jersey Lottery, a Bloomfield store has sold a winning ticket.  Krauszer’s Food and Liquor, located at 1263-1267 Broad Street was the site of the sale. The lucky customer purchased a ticket on Tuesday, March 14th for the $10 Max Cash Multiplier, winning $347,930.

Montclair Creates Social Worker Position

At a meeting on Tuesday, March 14th, the Montclair Township Council voted to establish a social worker position within the town, per Montclair Local. The vote to create the full-time position was unanimous. The position will be within the town’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Town Cleanup Scheduled in Bloomfield

Bloomfield has set up a community effort for a town cleanup, to take place on April 22nd, according to Patch. The event is set to coincide with Earth Day. The event will take place from 8AM to 11AM and is organized by the Bloomfield Beautification Committee and with support from the Bloomfield Department of Public Works (DPW) and Division of Public Safety.

NJ Devils Add Special Player to The Roster


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16-year-old Reilly Hoagland of Toms River was an honorary member of the Devils at the team’s game on Tuesday, March 14th. Per Patch, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Devils teamed up to grant Reilly’s wish of becoming a Devil. He was an honorary draft pick for the Devils during the 2020 NHL Draft. Reilly spent time before the game visiting with players, getting hugs and autographs, and cheering on the Devils.

Essex County Mourns State Senator

Longtime New Jersey State Senator Ronald Rice passed away earlier this week at age 77. Per Patch, Senator Rice represented the state’s 28th district for over 30 years and was a champion of many causes. He was a Vietnam Veteran and a former Newark police officer, and he retired from the state senate in 2022.

Newark LGBTQ Film Festival Announces Opening Film

The mission of the Newark LGBTQ Film Festival is to amplify the voices, vision and works of film that would otherwise struggle to find a mainstream audience, but which have a significant impact in raising awareness around lives and issues of queer people and queer communities of color. The festival will take place April 14th-16th, 2023.  The festival will open with The Inspection, Elegance Bratton’s deeply moving film inspired by his own story, a young, gay Black man, rejected by his mother and with few options for his future, decides to join the Marines. But even as he battles deep-seated prejudice and the grueling routines of basic training, he finds unexpected camaraderie, strength, and support in this new community, giving him a hard-earned sense of belonging that will shape his identity and forever change his life. The film stars Jeremy Pope, Raúl Castillo and Aaron Dominguez, along with Bokeem Woodbine and Gabrielle Union.

Hillary Clinton to Give Keynote at Montclair State
Women’s History Event

Senator Bob Menendez announced that Hillary Clinton would be the keynote speaker at the 12th Annual Evangelina Menendez Women’s History Month Celebration to be held on Sunday, March 26th, 2023 at Montclair State University. This year’s event, which is free and open to the public, will feature awards to New Jersey women including Debbie Walsh, Amanda Devecka-Rinear, Lourdes Cortez, and Christine Girtain, and will include vocal and dance performances from local women’s groups. Members of the public wishing to attend the event should RSVP at: https://www.menendez.senate.gov/whm2023

Montclair Township Council Delays Stafford Decision

The Montclair Township Council has yet to decide the fate of embattled Town Manager Timothy Stafford. Per Montclair Local, the Council discussed the situation during its executive session on March 14th, but did not reach a conclusion. Stafford was accused of workplace harassment in October 2022, and both Stafford and the City have been sued in relation to the situation.

Out Montclair Announces Transgender Day of Visibility Celebration

TDOV Save the Date

Out Montclair has announced a Transgender Day of Visibility Celebration to be held at Union Congregational Church, 176 Cooper Avenue, on April 1st from 1PM to 6PM.  The event is free to the public and will be a safe space to enjoy music spun by DJ Jersey, comedy by the first openly transgender comedian to perform at Madison Square Garden, Jaye McBride, panel discussions with local transgender leaders, workshops and more to celebrate transgender people and raise awareness for the current struggles they face, including violence and discrimination.

Orange, NJ Native Launches Cannabis Brand

Retired NBA player and native of Orange, NJ, Al Harrington will be in Essex County over the next few days to launch his cannabis brand, called Viola. According to Patch, the brand will be sold at Rise dispensaries in Bloomfield and Paterson. The brand’s overall mission is to educate, empower, and uplift communities of color to increase representation in the cannabis industry.

Montclair Planning Board Defers Decision

The Montclair Planning Board will take some more time before deciding on a proposal to increase the minimum lot depth of new subdivisions. According to Montclair Local, the Planning Board said it didn’t have enough information. One of the Board’s main concerns is how the proposal would play into the Town’s Master Plan.

Caldwell University Opens Art Therapy Center

On March 11th, Caldwell University hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration to open its new art therapy center, according to a press release. The center is named in honor of alumna  Mary Jo Codey ‘77, the wife of state Senator Richard Codey, and a mental health advocate. The facility is both open to the public and a site for training students to become therapists.

Bloomfield Historical Society Explores the Town’s Tie to James Bond

On March 28th, the Historical Society of Bloomfield will present “From Success to Seizure: The Schering Corp. of Bloomfield 1937–1942” with lifetime resident Dean Cole. According to an announcement on the organization’s website, the presentation will draw a connection between the seizure of The Schering Corp. and the inspiration for the character of James Bond. The event is free and open to the public.

Montclair Approves Cannabis Manufacturer

The application of cannabis manufacturer TLEHL Inc. was approved to do business in Montclair. Per Patch, this is the first cannabis manufacturer to be approved in Montclair. The company will open at 127 Pine Street, Annex #2.

Newark Firefighters Celebrate Read Across America Day

As part of Read Across America Day on March 2nd, several Newark firefighters went to local schools and read to children. Per Patch, over 1,000 students were able to hear firefighters read classic children’s books at 20 Newark schools.

Montclair Councilman Files Defamation Suit

Montclair Councilman Peter Yacobellis has filed a defamation suit in Essex County Superior Court against two residents who alleged that he had a conflict of interest on the Lackawanna Plaza Redevelopment project. Per Montclair Local, the suit alleges a concerted joint effort by residents David Herron and Martin Schwartz to pressure Yacobellis to change his vote. While no specific amount is sought for a remedy, the suit does ask for injunctive relief against the two residents, among other things.

CannaBoss Lady Announces Expansion in Maplewood

South Orange resident Jill Cohen, known as The CannaBoss Lady, will be opening a new, luxury retail store in Maplewood in Spring 2023. According to a press release, Elevated by The CannaBoss Lady Dispensary will be next to the existing storefront, located at 9 Highland Place in downtown Maplewood. The new venture will be the first solely woman-owned cannabis business in Maplewood, awarded a retail license by New Jersey on Feb 6, 2023 and endorsed by the township last April.

City of Newark’s ‘Sister City’ is a Scam

The City of Newark signed an agreement with a sister city called the United States of Kailasa, purportedly a Hindu state emerging out of India. Per TapInto, the agreement was signed on January 12th, and then later voided on January 18th when officials realized that Kailasa was nothing but a sham run by Swami Nithyananda, a self-styled “God-Man,” on the run since 2019 from India’s federal authorities.

Montclair Approves Residential Chicken Coops

The Township of Montclair has approved residential chicken coops. Per Patch, the township amended part of the town’s code that required chickens to be registered like dogs or cats. The revised code requires residents to submit an application through the town’s animal control officer.

Investigation Continues into Allegations Against Montclair Township Manager

According to Montclair Local, an initial investigation into hostile workplace allegations made against Montclair Township Manager Timothy Stafford was conducted by the town’s affirmative action officer Bruce Morgan. A second investigation was later completed by an outside investigator. However, Morgan has contacted the Township Council, saying that the second investigator did not contact him during the second investigation. That second investigation’s validity is now being questioned.

Creativity Connect in Montclair Announces Opening Date

Creativity Connect, a community art space located at 356 Bloomfield Avenue, has announced it will open on April 25th in an Instagram post. The space will offer classes, workshops, art therapy, and personal coaching. According to the organization’s website: “Our community proposes a diversity of services whose mission is to connect you with your creativity and develop a state of mind to combat life’s challenges. ”

The PWR of WMN in Business Summit Announced for North Jersey


The PWR of WMN in Business Summit on March 26th will feature local New Jersey & New York female founders to share their powerful stories on the grit and courage it takes to build a business from scratch. The Summit aims to be a platform for conversation that seeks to ignite, educate and celebrate all of those who attend. Attendees will network, receive key learnings, and support women-owned businesses as they sip and shop at the marketplace pop-up and enjoy a delicious brunch overlooking the NYC skyline. More information is available here.


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