Despite Damage, Red Mango, Locale Still Plan to Open
Irene's destruction will delay the opens of frozen yogurt shop and wood-fired pizza restaurant.
Frozen yogurt purveyor Red Mango and wood-fired pizza restaurant Locale, which are taking over the front and back of the old Sono Japanese restaurant space between Essex Street and Millburn Avenue, both still plan to open, but with delays.
Red Mango, which was scheduled to open in October, may now not open until December or possibly January.
“Believe me, I’m more bummed than you are,” says Dave Rothberg, the owner. His landlord, Bruce Jeffery of Jefferey Realty, is demolishing the existing space and replacing it with new floors and walls.
‘We’re working together to get the repairs done and he’s been very fair and helpful with the whole process,” says Rothberg. “We’re waiting for the insurance companies to get back to us.”
Despite the delays, the plans haven’t changed. “We were fortunate in that we hadn’t started building yet (when the storm hit),” Rothberg says. “It’s going to be a beautiful store.”
Rothberg and his wife Jen Wiederkehr also own Red Mango in Summit. The Millburn store will be bigger than the Summit store and there will be more frozen yogurt machines.
“We’re also going to have a bigger toppings bar so that the line will move along quicker,” says Rothberg. He and his wife plan to bring over a few employees from Summit, and hire a staff of 12 to 16 people in Millburn.
A few of the employees will be older managers and the rest will be high school students. “We’d like to give the older kids an opportunity to work there first,” says Rothberg. “The majority of them will seniors..” The store in Millburn will seat 20 to 25 people and because the store is likely to open in winter, there will be an emphasis on cold-weathers flavors such as pumpkin spice, caramel, and peppermint.
Locale: Though the Sono space that opened onto Essex Street was flooded during the storm, Joseph Romano and Michael Barry, local Short Hills residents, are on track to open a wood-fired pizza restaurant called Locale’s in that space in January.
“We may be delayed a few weeks but not significantly,” says Romano.
Locale owners are also working with landlord Jeffery on renovations. The entrance to the restaurant will be expanded, the windows will be replaced and enlarged to let in more natural sunlight, and the owners hope to create an atmosphere that is both cozy and hip.
Plans include exposed brick and white-washed walls, booths, wood tables and leather chairs. The pizza will be an artisan-style pizza, cooked in a wood-burning oven at 800 to 900 degrees.
“This is not a traditional pizza parlor where you go in and grab a slice,” says Romano. “These will be fresh pies, with fresh mozzarella.”