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.