Two years ago, five Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School graduates came together with the dream of creating a place where friends and family could come together to eat, drink and be merry. This summer, 450 Park Avenue will once again come alive as that dream is realized. The new local business will combine family friendly dining with the rousing atmosphere of a classic Irish Pub.
As the new downtown hot spot prepares to open its doors, co-owners Michael Brennan and Joe Mortarulo want you to vote in the poll to decide what to name Scotch Plains’ newest pub. Patch met with the two local residents to get an exclusive preview of the new pub that will seat 60 in the dining area and 30 in the bar. As of now, the pub is about 75 percent completed and is slated to open July Fourth weekend.
Brennan and Mortarulo expressed that although Scotch Plains already has a tavern and a bar-lounge, there was still a void that needed to be filled.
“A lot of people go to Westfield or Cranford to find a restaurant where you can have a drink at the bar and eat with your family,” Mortarulo, who owns Sweet Waters Steakhouse in Westfield, said. “Here is an opportunity to keep those customers in the community.”
Brennan, SPFHS class of 1988, noted that he bought the Scotch Plains liquor license five years ago, but was waiting for the right spot to open up. Together with classmates John “Skip” Brandli and Joe Mortarulo, the team came up with the vision for the pub after Mezzogiorno closed its doors in 2010.
Fellow classmate Anthony Leone of LCD&K Construction signed on as the developer and owner of the property, constructing the restaurant space and 8 apartments above. In turn, Mike Kobliska, class of 2002 has agreed to be the executive chef of the restaurant.
“It seems like just yesterday we were all cutting math class,” Brennan said. “It’s great to have a history with your business partners – to know that they’re a good person with a good work ethic. It brings a totally different sense of accomplishment when you finally find success.”
Mortarulo went on to explain that pub wants to actively work with local business owners, such as John’s Meat Market and vendors from the local farmer’s market to locally source the food served at the restaurant. The restaurant will serve a little bit of everything including, traditional pub food, Mexican food, and fresh fish.
“We wanted to create a place where you won’t have to spend a crazy amount of money to feed a family of four,” Mortarulo said.
As lifelong residents of Scotch Plains, the two owners acknowledged that Scotch Plains and Fanwood have experienced a notable transition, as locals travel in larger and larger numbers to nightlife destinations Flannery’s Pub, Vienna 60 and the Stage House Tavern.
“As a business owner, I embrace competition.” Mortarulo said. “Having such a well-established nightlife presence in downtown will bring more customers into our pub. People like a change of flavor.”
Brennan also took Patch on an exclusive tour of the eight apartments above the restaurant, developed by Leone. Each of the 2 bedroom – 1 bathroom apartments are between 800 and 1100 square feet and are finished with hardwood floors, wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances. There is also a washer and dryer in each apartment. The apartments will be prices between $1,800 and $2,200 a month. Click on the photo gallery to see more.
The new Park Avenue pub will open seven days a week at 11:30 a.m. The restaurant will close from 3 to 5 p.m. and close for the night at 11 p.m. and the bar will stay open until 2 a.m. Parking will increase behind the building to a total of 24 spaces with free municipal parking in the municipal lot next door.
“This is a great opportunity for Scotch Plains to become a destination for nightlife,” Brennan added. “With the help of some forward thinking business owners, we can create an atmosphere like Hoboken where people walk between three or four bars. You just can’t do that in Westfield.”