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Food, Liquor, Coffee and Clean Shirts: Change is Coming to Short Hills Station

Marc Cooperman, formerly of Restaurant MC, will open a restaurant and concierge service that's accessible from your iPad.

Remember , the chic restaurant on Main Street that served such delicious dishes as Angry Lobster, handed you a bag of scones after you paid your bill and offered your dog a bowl of water if you chose to eat on the sidewalk outside?

Well, MC closed in the spring of 2010, but Marc Cooperman, the former managing director and a longtime town resident, plans to open up a new restaurant in the Short Hills train station this fall.

In roughly 1,200-square-feet of space that was once used as the train station’s baggage room, Cooperman plans to build a brick oven and a full bar.

“This room has been locked up for years,” said Cooperman, standing on a large floor scale in the 100-year-old room, where bags were once weighed and where the bar will be.  “The Historical Society stored their treasures in here for a long time. Nobody even knows it’s here.”

The baggage room is hidden behind a door near the bathrooms and behind the ticket takers window – the door says, “Employees Only” on it, and the room’s high ceilings and arches are visible only from inside.

Light streams in from windows above large sliding doors that Cooperman plans to keep.

The train station space can accommodate 40 people, and Cooperman will offer indoor and outdoor seating and serve three meals a day, starting with a high volume morning coffee business and ending with late night dinner and drinks.

The station's waiting room is currently closed all afternoon and evening. “We want to bring life to it," he said while giving a tour of the space for which he has signed a 20-year lease.

 “It’s a very small space, and there’s limited freezer space so everything will be fresh. We expect to do a lot of take out, and are developing a mobile app so that people can order dinner from their iPads, smart phones or laptops, and when they get off the train, dinner will be ready for them.” 

Cooperman plans to open the restaurant in November and is not yet divulging the name. “We want the name to be a surprise,” said Cooperman.

He he plans to offer coffee, egg sandwiches and pastries in the morning, and pizza, salads, and what he calls “small plates” for lunch and dinner.

 “It will function like a Starbucks in the morning, morph into an unbelievable lunch place, then turn into a place for families in the early evening and singles in the late night,” Cooperman said.  

There will also be brunch on the weekends. “I want this restaurant to be a social club and for everyone to feel welcome.” 

The restaurant will sell newspapers, and Cooperman said he'd also like to open a one-stop concierge service, where customers can drop off their dry cleaning and get shoes repaired. Cooperman estimates that he will hire 10 people to work in the kitchen and the “front of the house.”

The Short Hills station restaurant will open at 5 or 5:30 a.m. on weekdays and stay open until 12:30 a.m. on weeknights and 1 a.m. on weekends. Cooperman estimates that 350,000 people ride the train every year and about 1,000 people pass through the Short Hills train station each day.

Right now, Chatham Road has a handful of stores across from the Short Hills train station: The Post Office, the Short Hills Pharmacy, a pizza place, a pet groomers, a gas station and architectural and real estate firms. A new hair and nail salon is also coming in but the street is very quiet.

“I’d like to see the Short Hills side of Millburn Avenue become a little bit more lively,” says Cooperman.

The township is Cooperman’s landlord, and, he said, so far everything is on target for the November opening. “They’ve been wonderful to work with. This is something they want.”

Editor's note: This is the second installment of a series called that began yesterday. 

Millburn-Short Hills Editor Laura Griffin contributed to this report.

Laura Bond August 11, 2011 at 04:25 PM
Great idea, pick up dinner and dry cleaning on your way home from work!
judith kramer,esq. August 12, 2011 at 01:20 PM
Great idea! Marc is experienced, professional and innovative. I'm looking foward to the morning coffee. Hope you have better pastries than Starbucks!! See you soon. Judy Kramer
Joel August 15, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Mimi...................Your comment is unnecessary and mean spirited. Businesses do not always succeed. (in fact a high percentage do not) The concept is innovative and based upon the majority of posts, the idea seems to be well received!
John Fonseca February 27, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Now that the project is well underway, here are the contributions to Short Hills Station rail customers: -Removal of access to mens rest room, replaced by portapotty. Granted this is probably temporary, unless it's a "rest rooms for customers only" planned. -Placement three air conditioning condensers on the platform against the station building. Will be nice to stand near when waiting for the train on a warm summer morning -Building of steel fence around the sheltered area on the western side of the station currently containing the bike racks. There's a gate on the Chatham Road side but the side on the platform side is solid. People frequently get dropped off in this area and go through this area to reach the platform. It's also where people stand in the summer to be out of the morning sun and year round to be sheltered from rain for customers who board the rear cars. It would follow that if this his outdoor seating area that the bike racks will need to be relocated somewhere else on the platform area, removing even more standable space. I think it would be nice if .mc realized that his target customers are the same people who he's taking away platform real estate from and try to be a good neighbor in advance of his opening.
shcommuter March 23, 2012 at 01:54 PM
They already took away the bike racks, put up a simple stand on east side which is very hard to lock bike. Now the west side of the train station, used to be a cushion between parked cars and the building is permanently lost. This is so called "commuter friendly".

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