Sourcing New Jersey – Day 3

Little Town NJ wraps up 3-day tour of Garden State

Today is the final installment of the Little Town New Jersey adventure Hoboken411 covered earlier this month.

Day one took us to south Jersey and some wineries, day two we sought breweries and farms in central Jersey – on the final day, it was all about inspiration (and one awesome brewer) as we headed back north to Hoboken.

RU Hungry “The Original Grease Truck” – Rutgers University

Our first stop as we left Princeton – was a legendary greasy food operation I’m surprised I never heard of: RU Hungry, which is on the Rutgers University campus.

The concept is simple. Four permanent lunch trucks in a parking lot, that serve “fat” sandwiches loaded with pretty much anything you want (and that means anything…)

The story behind it from what I was told when we visited – was that the original sandwich (“Fat Cat”) was invented in 1979 (basically a burger with fries on it). But years later in 1997 – a Rutgers student named Darrell Butler apparently wanted all sorts of different items, but didn’t want to fumble with them on his bicycle. So he asked to have everything lopped onto one “sandwich.” Chicken fingers, mozzarella cheese sticks and french fries, with lettuce, tomato and marinara sauce on one sandwich. Hence, the Fat Darrell,” which was named the #1 Sandwich in the Country by Maxim Magazine.

Some folks in our group were afraid to taste! I made a rare exception to my low-carb life to have a few bites, and boy did it hit the spot! But one person in our group had coronary issues which were miraculously overcome (see photo gallery).

Expect to see some kind of “fat” sandwich on the Little Town NJ menu this fall!

Jefferson House – Lake Hopatcong, NJ

Our next destination was an hour north, but we took a couple nice pit stops along the way. First was the Jefferson House Bar & Restaurant in Lake Hopatcong, NJ.

I hadn’t been to Lake Hopatcong since I was a kid – and I forgot how beautiful it was. We enjoyed a few lakeside cocktails, and went on our merry way.

If you’re ever inclined to update your list of “NJ day trips to take,” consider adding this Garden State gem to the list.

Lake Shawnee – Jefferson, New Jersey

Along the way – we were lucky enough to have an “exclusive” pit stop. Unless you know someone who lives in this community, you’ll likely be chased away from Lake Shawnee if you try to visit (it’s a private community).

We had a little picnic, and the group even went fishing! This lake is INSANE when it comes to how EASY it is to catch fish. Little Town co-owner Mike Sinesky cast his reel – and within seconds caught a fish. Everyone that tried caught one (they were all thrown back).

Sorry to make you jealous – but this was a lot of fun!

Jimmy Buff’s Hot Dogs

Back to the objective of the trip…

So for the past two days, the group spent a good chunk of the time interacting with potential suppliers for Little Town NJ. But today, we were looking for inspirational New Jersey items to perhaps add to the menu… and one thing that comes up frequently is deep fried hot dogs.

So we stopped by Jimmy Buff’s in East Hanover (one of four locations in the state.)

It’s becoming clear that Jersey is pretty famous for some greasy food items!

Have you ever eaten at Jimmy Buff’s?

Cricket Hill Brewery in Fairfield, NJ

We had some regular business to do on the final day – and that was visiting Cricket Hill Brewery in Fairfield, NJ. This was by far my favorite brewery on the trip (also in business the longest).

The Owner Rick Reed was one of the nicest, most passionate business owners I’ve met. Filled with energy, enthusiasm, and a kind positive spirit (this happens to a lot of small business owners who do what they love – instead of “working for the man.”)

The beer was delicious and the group was thrilled to tour Cricket Hill and meet Rick. I suspect you’ll see these beers on tap at Little Town NJ in the fall as well!

Last Stop for Little Town, NJ – Rutt’s Hutt in Clifton

Lastly – and even though we already conceptualized deep fried hot dogs over at Jimmy Buff’s – we still insisted on hitting Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ – especially since it was on our way home, and barely out of the way.

History tidbit: When a hot dog is deep fried, they split down the middle – which is how they got their nickname “rippers.” The original Rutt’s Hut stand opened way back in 1928, and the current owner has operated it since 1974. Amazing!

Have you ever been to Rutt’s Hut? If so, when?

A good reason the Funbars group does so well

funbars new york NJ - Sourcing New Jersey - Day 3The three-day trip went by so fast – and we ultimately didn’t get to hit all the spots on our original itinerary – but was fulfilling nonetheless.

It was fascinating to see how the owners and other team members interacted – and you realized that they had a very special chemistry between them, which is the reason they’re so successful (they collectively employ over 400 people – hooray local stimulus!)

The Funbars group owns many restaurants in New York and New Jersey, including three Village Pourhouses, The Side Bar, Hudson Terrace, and now three Little Towns.

Success and a happy work environment aren’t attained by formulas, spreadsheets and business plans alone. You have to have good people behind you as well. And that’s what you’ll see when Little Town NJ opens later this year.

Thanks again for reading about this journey – and we have lots more to share with you in the future!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012 1:25 pm

Love Cricket Hill!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:08 am

Fat Cats please !

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 11:08 am

Fat Cats please !

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