United adds service to second Tokyo airport from Newark

Call it the Olympic effect: United Airlines announced Friday that it is adding service to Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport in Japan from four U.S. hubs, including Newark Liberty International Airport, in time for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

The new nonstop flights — also originating in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. —  represent an expansion of United’s service to Haneda out of San Francisco. The new flights will begin on March 28, 2020, with tickets going on sale starting Saturday.

United also flies to Tokyo’s Narita International airport from Newark and other U.S. cities.

“Our new service to Haneda gives our customers more choice and connections to more than 65 destinations throughout Asia,” Patrick Quayle, United’s vice president of international network, said in a prepared statement. “With service beginning next spring, we look forward to providing convenient service for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and beyond.

“United has offered nonstop service between the U.S. and Japan for more than 40 years, and we are excited to expand our network at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport and continue to be the largest U.S. carrier to Japan.”

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Murphy establishes council to design wind-power institute

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Friday to establish a Council for the Wind Innovation and New Development Institute.

“From job creation to workforce development to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, the WIND Institute and the council tasked with its development make good on our commitment to building a New Jersey economy fit for the 21st century,” Murphy said.

WIND is charged with the development and implementation of a plan that creates a regional hub for the state’s offshore wind industry. Murphy’s administration has said it is committed to making the state a national leader in offshore wind.

“Centralizing the state’s resources under one roof allows us to leverage the considerable expertise at our disposal to enhance our position as a national leader in offshore wind development,” Murphy said.

The council established through the order will recommend the institute’s governance structure and main functions, as well as identify funding sources and pre-existing flaws.

The council is cross-governmental, with representatives from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, Economic Development Authority, Board of Public Utilities and the departments of Education, Environmental Protection and Labor & Workforce Development, in addition to the governor’s chief policy adviser and chief counsel.

The administration says the WIND institute, which first surfaced in Murphy’s 2018 economic plan, will position the state as a leader in the industry through job creation, workforce development, research and development, and capital investment.

The council will issue a final report to the governor with recommendations on creating the WIND institute within four months of the council’s creation.

To read Executive Order No. 79, click here.

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JLL arranges financing for transit-oriented community in Englewood

JLL announced Friday it has arranged financing for the development of an multifamily property in Englewood.

Englewood Circle, JLL said, is a 220-unit, transit-oriented community being constructed on 2.54 acres at 40 Bennett Road. It is within close access to Interstate 95, Route 4 and the Palisades Parkway.

JLL’s Capital Markets team of Jon Mikula, senior managing director; Michael Klein, managing director; and Andrew Zilenziger, analyst; worked on behalf of the developers, a joint venture between The Claremont Companies and Cypress Equity Investments, to secure a five-year construction loan through Principal Real Estate Investors.

“We are excited to be a part of Claremont’s foray into Englewood, a town that has seen tremendous growth, specifically in the luxury multi-housing space,” Mikula said. “Englewood Circle will provide the newest and most amenity intensive project in Englewood.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Delaware River

Growing up in Phillipsburg, Frank Harris Moyer learned the advantages of living near the Delaware River. “My father was a sportsman—hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing,” says Moyer, 76 and a retired educator. “He started taking me along when I was young.”

Moyer turned his interest in the waterway into his newly published first book, The Delaware River: History, Traditions and Legends (The History Press).

Here are 10 facts about the river from his book.

1. The river is named for Thomas West, the third Baron De La Warr and Virginia’s first royal governor.

2. It flows more than 330 miles, from the Catskill Mountains in New York to Cape May.

3. The Delaware is one of the nation’s last major rivers without a dam.

4. The Delaware River Watershed provides water to nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population.

5. The Riverton Yacht Club in Burlington County, founded in 1865, is the oldest yacht club on the river.

6. More than 20 islands in the river are on the New Jersey side.

7. Constructed in 1806, the Lower Trenton Bridge is the first recorded span across the river.

8. Later that year, the Northampton Street Bridge, the first span between Phillipsburg and Easton, Pennsylvania, opened to traffic.

9. The Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power plants use more than 3 billion gallons of cooling water per day from the Delaware River estuary.

10. The first summertime visitors to the Delaware Water Gap arrived in 1820. It is now part of a national recreation area.

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Checking Out Jersey City’s Darke Pines Butcher Shop

Inside Darke Pines, a sustainable butcher shop in Jersey City. Photo courtesy of Amber Breitenberg

When Will and Erica Messmer ended up in downtown Jersey City, burnt out from nine-to-five office jobs in Manhattan and eager to open a food business of some sort, a butcher shop was not the obvious choice.

But as the couple threw out possibilities—from a Southern-style eatery in Copenhagen to a bed and breakfast in Portland, Maine to heading back to Erica’s hometown in Huntsville, Alabama—over home-cooked meals, they realized they hadn’t been able to find a place for quality meats in the neighborhood. There was an independent cheese shop, a seafood stand and a plethora of farmers markets, but nowhere for choosy and environmentally conscious shoppers to buy locally sourced, responsibly raised meat.

Owners of Darke Pines butcher shop in Jersey City

Erica and Will Messmer. Photo courtesy of Amber Breitenberg

Will, the grandson of a butcher, started working on a business plan, visiting butcher shops and researching farms. Soon after, he left the corporate world and the couple started a Kickstarter campaign for Darke Pines, which opened in April 2018. Named for the town in Ohio where Will’s grandparents retired, Darke Pines is now where the Messmers, and their team of butchers and cooks, sell grass-fed, hormone- and- antibiotic-free beef and lamb, pastured pork and free-range poultry from small, local farms.

Versus butcher shops that exclusively buy and sell popular cuts like a rib-eye steak or lamb chop, Darke Pines’ aim is to use the entire animal, or as much of it as possible, Will says. At the sleek shop, with its whitewashed brick walls and rustic wooden accents (a far cry from a fluorescent-lit supermarket meat counter), using the entire animal speaks to the couple’s, and consumers’, “growing concern around climate change and environment and how meat fits into that,” says Will. “We provide customers the opportunity to buy meat they can feel good about, so they don’t have to buy four chicken breasts wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam. They can buy one and we can tell them where it was sourced, how it was raised and be totally transparent about it,” he explains.

“There’s not a lot of whole animal butchers anymore,” Erica adds. “But it’s really a craft,” and, she says, a better way to shop and consume, connecting people to farmers.

“Doing justice to the animal by using as much of it as we can,” including trying to sell lesser-known or less popular cuts—in addition to steaks, chops and roasts—requires some creativity, Will admits. Luckily for them, when the Messmers got into their more than 2,000-square-foot space, a former music venue they mostly renovated themselves, it came with a sizeable kitchen.

Read more about whole-animal butchery in NJ:

And luckily for locals, this has spawned cases of ready-to-eat prepared foods, frozen soups and stews and, recently, a growing menu of hearty sandwiches. Extra cuts of beef have become the popular meatballs with marinara sauce ($11.99), for example, while trying to make use of organs, a tough sell for home cooks, created the bestselling chicken liver mousse and a duck pâté ($12.99), great on a cheese plate; Bones and scraps, often throwaways, became bases for bone broths and stocks ($6.99 to $12.99), gumbos and chicken soup ($15.99), available in the shop’s freezer case. They even sell goods for canine diners, with raw dog food ($9.99/quart) and bones.

There are burger blends (short rib brisket has been a summer phenom, Will says; $14.99 a pound) and sausages (from Italian to lamb merguez to breakfast varieties, $12.99 to $13.99 a pound), plus housemade deli meats—roast beef, guanciale, smoked pastrami, smoked ham and smoked bacon ($13.99 to $15.99 a pound).

Smoked ham sandwich at Darke Pines. Photo courtesy of Amber Breitenberg

Pastrami sandwich at Darke Pines. Photo courtesy of Amber Breitenberg

Darke Pines also offers what’s probably the neighborhood’s best-kept lunch secret: the sandwich menu, which launched this past spring. The simple but solid selection, Erica’s domain, includes options like smoked ham with pimento cheese and dill pickles; roast beef with horseradish cream, braised shallots and fresh basil; chicken salad with red grapes and romaine; pastrami with coleslaw and Swiss cheese; and mortadella with pickled mustard seeds and cornichons—all are stacked high, tucked into Balthazar bread and cost $10.

Sandwich fixings, from the chicken salad (Erica’s grandmother’s recipe) to the tangy pickled mustard seeds to the rich, juicy braised shallots, have become so popular they’ve also migrated to the prepared foods case ($8.99 for a jar of mustard seeds, $6.99 for a container of shallots), Will says, joining grilling accoutrements such as rolls, the preservative-free house barbecue sauce ($10.99) and a selection of local goods, from seasonal produce to hot sauce to gourmet spreads and spice blends.

Yet even with all these options for quicker bites, customers seek advice on how to master their meals at home. The Messmers and their team—head butcher Giancarlo Sbarbaro, production lead Caroline Phillipuk, butcher Ted Rosen and apprentice butcher T. Jay Macek—say they’re happy to dole out cooking and preparation advice. For those in search of a more formal education, once a month Darke Pines hosts monthly butchering “classes,” more of a demonstration where a butcher will break down beef or pork and explain the different cuts while another team member cooks for attendees. Besides a tasting, Will says the classes give people a “holistic look—a sense of the work and effort that goes into this stuff, from information about the farms to taking care of your knives.” (A beef class costs $115, pork is $95.)

The Messmers are planning on renovating, adding seating, and maybe coffee, pastries and breakfast foods, plus teaching more classes and expanding their catering offerings. And if word keeps getting out, definitely making more sandwiches.

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Developers, officials tout ‘transformative’ Montclair hotel at ribbon-cutting (SLIDESHOW)

James E. Hanson opened with an old, yet popular, African proverb whose origin has never been pinpointed.

“It takes a village to raise a child,” said Hanson, CEO and president of Morristown-based real estate company The Hampshire Cos., to the gathered crowd of employees, investors and city officials in Montclair. “To do any successful project, it takes an entire community.”

Hanson was speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of Montclair’s new MC Hotel on Thursday. It’s the first full-service hotel to open in the city since 1939 and the first East Coast property for the management company, Aparium Hotel Group.

“The MC Hotel will be a one-off brand that will dominate the state’s hotel market,” said Aparium Chief Operating Officer Todd Cilano. “We hope this is the first of many East Coast properties for us.”

Cilano said the spirit of the surrounding community speaks to the spirit of Aparium’s hotels.

“Montclair is filled with homegrown pride that champions local artists and creative minds,” Cilano said. “These are all attributes that establish the spirits of our hotels.”

Morristown-based investment service Circle Squared Alternative Investments was also part of the project. The company’s CEO and president, Jeffrey Sica, spoke about the excitement he and his company felt when first approached about the opportunity.

“When Hampshire and Hanson came to me and asked me if I wanted to participate in this, I don’t think they were able to even finish the sentence before I said, ‘We’re in,’” Sica said.

A similar excitement came through when the hotel’s general manager, Oscar Fontana Roos, came out to speak to the crowd.

“Come on in, this is your home,” Roos said. “We’re all a part of this community. And we’re moving in, not to just be a part of this community, but to be in the center of it.”

Montclair Mayor Robert D. Jackson touched on the history of the area where the MC Hotel now stands and how much it’s changed.

“Across the street, there used to be a (Public Service Enterprise Group) customer service center and a bowling alley,” Jackson said. “And where we are now (where the hotel is) used to be a gas station.”

But with this transformation comes a new chapter in Montclair’s history.

“The MC Hotel is a transformative project that really helps to define who Montclair is as a community,” Hanson said. “Not only for this generation, but for generations to come.”

Brian Stolar, CEO and president of the Pinnacle Cos., another partner on the project, said his company broke ground on the 159-key hotel back in spring 2016.

The hotel also is home to Allegory, a contemporary New American restaurant, and a rooftop lounge and bar set to open in the fall.

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Unemployment in N.J. falls to 3.3% in July, below national average

The unemployment rate in New Jersey set a record low in July at 3.3%, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

July’s rate is 0.2 percentage points lower than June’s figure of 3.5%, is the lowest monthly rate statewide since records began in 1976 and is 0.4 percentage points below the national average of 3.7%, BLS said.

The BLS data showed employment levels in the state remained essentially unchanged over the month, as total nonfarm wage and salary employment decreased by 500 in July to a seasonally adjusted level of 4.2 million.

Year over year, BLS found employment was higher by 48,300 jobs in New Jersey, with gains seen in both the private (+47,600) and public (+700) sectors. Since February 2010, the low point of the last recession, the private sector has added 408,700 jobs.

In July, employment decreases were seen in five out of the nine major private industry sectors, including:

  • Leisure and hospitality (-2,200);
  • Education and health service (-1,300);
  • Other services (-700);
  • Information (-400);
  • Financial activities (-200).

Industries that added jobs include:

  • Trade, transportation and utilities (1,600);
  • Professional and business services (1,300);
  • Manufacturing (1,200);
  • Construction (500).

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How Sculptor Vincenzo Amato Carved Out Two Successful Careers

Actor/sculptor Vincenzo Amato has lately taken to working in wood in his Maplewood barn, creating pieces like a carving of his own hands (lower right). Photos by Chad Hunt

Vincenzo Amato has appeared in more than 20 films, earning a best-actor nomination in his native Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars. Angelina Jolie directed him in the hit film Unbroken. His TV credits include Instinct, Madame Secretary, The Blacklist, Elementary, The Good Wife and Boardwalk Empire. He also has a career as a sculptor, working in metal and wood. Yet for all those accomplishments, the 53-year-old Maplewood resident says “the most beautiful day” in his life was marked by his first visit to New Jersey.

It was 1993, and Amato had yet to start his acting career, when he first rode through the Holland Tunnel on a trip to Irvington. A self-taught ironworker back home in Italy, he couldn’t help but admire the steel trusses of the Pulaski Skyway.

Amato, then 26, had come to the States from Rome to attend the wedding of a friend. He had made a metal sculpture as a gift, but the piece had been damaged in transit. Amato needed to find a shop where he could make some repairs. 

As luck would have it, an American friend, the painter John Benton (son of Kramer vs. Kramer director Robert Benton), happened to be helping a metalwork artist move some of his pieces out of his shop in Irvington. Benton and the artist, Norman Campbell, picked up Amato in New York and off they went to Campbell’s forge—giving Amato his first look at the Garden State. 

The day opened up a new opportunity for Amato. Campbell invited Amato to work with him on a commission he was hoping to get. Just like that, Amato said, “Arrivederci Roma,” and opted to try life in America. Campbell didn’t get the commission, but Amato stuck around anyway, working 10-hour days as a shop boy, honing his welding skills and polishing his English. “During those long days, he taught me everything about America,” Amato says of Campbell.

At the time, Amato was staying in a Lower East Side apartment building, where he’d taken to hanging out in the hallway whenever he felt like a cigarette. He began a friendship with an NYU film student and part-time waiter from Rome who lived across the hall. One day, the film student asked Amato his opinion of a script he’d written, Once We Were Strangers. Amato, the son of an Italian actress, read the script and told his friend he liked it.

“Good,” answered the friend, “because I want you to play the lead.” 

Although unschooled in acting, Amato smoothly stepped into the part of an upbeat, undocumented Sicilian cook who charms a pretty American stranger into spending a day (and night) with him in Atlantic City after he loses his job. Nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1998, the film launched the writing and directing career of Amato’s friend, Emanuele Crialese. It also launched Amato’s acting career.

In 2002, Crialese cast Amato as a Sicilian fisherman in his film Respiro opposite the actress Valeria Golino (who played Susanna in Rain Man). Four years later, Amato earned a David di Donatello best-actor nomination for his performance as an impoverished Sicilian who immigrates to America in Crialese’s Nuovomondo (released in English-speaking markets as Golden Door). The awards are Italy’s equivalent of the Oscars.

Between film projects, Amato continued to pursue his own American dream, working on figurative sculptures in iron and steel. He set up a studio in a former lavatory in an abandoned elementary school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “For 10 years I slept there,” he says, “until I met my wife and moved to a normal apartment.”

Married since 2008, Amato and his wife, Alexandra Vazquez, a Miami-born professor of performance studies at NYU, have two daughters, Lucia, 8, and Manuela, 6.

“Coming to America,” says Amato, “is probably the most important thing that happened to me, along with having children.” The family moved to a three-bedroom Colonial in Maplewood three years ago.

Amato has proven adept at juggling careers. “Every single day, I work as a sculptor and use my hands,” he says. “Every now and then, there is a beautiful film project or a little job. Then I close the shop and go act.”

His best-known film—the one that American audiences are most likely to have seen—is the Angelina Jolie-directed Unbroken (2014). Amato played the Italian-born father of the main character, Louis Zamperini. The role is minor, but Amato infused his scenes with grace and authenticity. He reprised the role in a 2018 sequel, Unbroken: Path to Redemption. 

Amato’s other credits include star turns as an Italian who drives a Parisian tour bus in the romantic comedy Girl on a Bicycle (2013) and as a shy clerk whose life is transformed after he takes his first sip of wine in the Italian-made thriller Vinodentro (ReWined). 

It’s no surprise that Italian films have offered Amato his biggest roles. “In America, the problem for me is I’m considered an ethnic actor,” says Amato. “It makes me laugh. In Italy, I’m just Vincenzo; here, I am the Italian stereotype.”

Amato uses his shaving horse to create walking sticks and other wooden objects from ash trees felled in his yard by storms.
Photo by Chad Hunt

Though Amato still has the Manhattan studio where he sculpts in metal, he’s totally smitten with the 1820 barn behind his family’s Maplewood home. Here, he has turned to yet another art form: woodworking. In the barn, he turns ash trees felled by last year’s storms into elegant walking sticks, interpretations of sailing ships and other figures. The barn has no electricity, so Amato works only with hand tools at his shaving horse, a combination vise and workbench.

Amato also puts his hands to work restoring his acre of land to its native state. When he bought the property, invasive English ivy and Asian vines had engulfed its tulip trees. “It took me two years to clear it up by myself with a machete,” he says. He has planted willow, maple, beech, bee balm, pawpaw, milkweed, New Jersey tea and 10 American chestnuts. 

“I’m a total native-plant nerd,” he says. Pointing to snakeroot—Ageratina, he’ll have you know—he explains how Abraham Lincoln’s mother died after drinking milk from cows that had grazed on it. 

Amato was drawn to Maplewood after a visit with his wife to one of her colleagues. He was intrigued to learn there was a Lenape trail nearby and Manhattan was visible in the distance. “I fell in love with the place,” he says. “Now that I moved to Maplewood, I don’t like being in the city anymore. I’m very happy here because I love nature. Even if it’s an ugly day, here it’s beautiful.”

In the solitude of his barn, Amato muses on the moments that have sculpted his career: “The Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes said, ‘Life is the art of encounter.’ We have to embrace it.” He pronounces the poet’s name expertly in Portuguese, the syllables wafting from his lips as naturally as the smoke from the cigarettes he hand rolls. 

The unusual trajectory of Amato’s life is particularly interesting to Teresa Fiore, endowed chair in Italian and Italian-American Studies at Montclair State University. 

“The fact that he started in such a serendipitous way with Crialese and has continued to work with major directors speaks to his ability to adapt, to enjoy acting at its fullest while remaining devoted to his art as sculptor and a family life,” says Fiore. “Hollywood can certainly leverage his experience and personality in more creative ways.” 

Amato is more blasé about his Hollywood possibilities. “In the end, making a film is just a job, and some rare times, an artistic adventure,” he says. “What are you going to do? I have an accent.” 

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Building product supplier consolidates operations in Jackson

H2 LLC, a building product supplier, has leased space in Jackson, according to Sheldon Gross Realty.

Prior to the transaction, H2 LLC operated from two separate facilities in Wall and Lakewood. The new 20,000-square-foot location, located at 55 Progress Place, will enable the company to consolidate its operations.

“It’s terrific how this whole process worked out for H2 LLC,” said Glenn Jaffe, senior vice president, Sheldon Gross realty, who managed the deal. “They were dealing with the inconvenience of having multiple locations in this state, and we were able to find them a single space that addresses all their needs – and it’s right in the same area. I’m confident 55 Progress Place is the ideal location for them.”

The new space is within close access to Route 195, the Garden State Parkway and the New Jersey Turnpike.

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Luisa Bakery + Cafe Opens in Montclair

Photo courtesy of Luisa Bakery + Cafe

Luisa Bakery + Cafe in Montclair had its grand opening on July 30, and, per Instagram, they’re already running strong with a bevy of baked goods. The bakery-café also does a savory menu, with Middle Eastern flavors deftly sprinkled throughout, as in pita-stuffed egg sammies, Jerusalem bagels (the “Proud Immigrant” is an intriguing mix of scrambled eggs, beef bresaola, tomato and harissa mayo), za’atar and honey-glazed fried chicken.

The space is run by chef Meny Vaknin, also owner of Marcel Bakery & Kitchen and the reopened (after a facelift) MishMish, both in Montclair. As Vaknin told us when we interviewed him in February, Luisa inherits high expectations, replacing as it does the beloved Gina’s bakery. Judging from the confident-yet-playful menu, sleek (open-air) space, and modern dining savvy (think: made-to-order vegan bowls), Vaknin is up to the challenge. Luisa Bakery + Cafe, 110 Walnut Street, Montclair; 973-707-5153

Sandi’s soul food restaurant on Speedwell Avenue in Morristown celebrated its Grand Opening on Tuesday. The family-owned operation is helmed by chef Sandi Rogers, who opens the restaurant as much to honor her private-chef grandmother Eula as to carry on the traditions of the soul food canon. The menu hits plenty of classic marks: collard greens, fried chicken, grits, smothered pork chops, chicken and dumplings, peach cobbler—punctuated with seasonal product, special recipes, and family favorites. Sandi’s, 82 Speedwell Avenue, Morristown; 862-242-8088

Core3Brewery opened in Clayton a couple weeks ago, and from the looks of their current tap list, things are going well. The brewery, founded by two friends, is located in a stand-alone building on Delsea Drive, with natural dark wood tones, plenty of natural light, a taproom and even some merch already available. As for that tap list, beers are available in four pour-sizes (from 5 to 16 ounces), and come in a range of styles including a nitro-tap black IPA, a berry-infused saison and an ode to Clayton cream ale called The Road to Fisler’s Mill. They’re still experimenting with flavors (expect something bourbon barrel-aged eventually), so the curious and thirsty should stay tuned. Core3Brewery, 609 N. Delsea Drive, Clayton; 856-498-8945

Gelato Dolceria experienced a couple hiccups after its soft opening in Collingswood early this month. They closed for a few days, fixed things up, and are set for the official ribbon-cutting on Wednesday. This is the second location for the imported gelato spot (the first opened in 2016 in Haddonfield). And while “imported” might not be a buzz word in the local-everything era, the difference is all the gelato served here is made with milk from Italian dairy cows in Italy. Flavors should be similar to those in Haddonfield—Tiramisu, Spumoni, Pistachio, Banana Dulce, Stracciatella, etc. Also as in Haddonfield, expect gelato flights and baked goods (macarons) as well as a short drinks menu. Gelato Dolceria, 792 Haddon Avenue, Collingswood.

In the Works:

—As of Sunday, Four City Brewing Company in Orange had #comingsoon beneath a picture of some delicious-looking beer on their Instagram. The finally-soon-to-open brewery was founded by Anthony Minervino, Jeff Gattens and Roger Apollon Jr. It brings to life the long-empty warehouse and cold storage space at 55 South Essex Avenue. It also marks the first brewery to open in Orange in over four decades. Not much is known yet in terms of number of taps or beer styles, but in an interview with a local news station, Apollon Jr. mentioned a Pina Colada IPA, Pinot Grigio IPA and a cream ale, among others. Sounds like reason to be excited for the grand opening. Four City Brewing Company, 55 South Essex Avenue, Orange; no phone yet.

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