The Hoboken Mac + Cheese Festival is Back + More News You Missed

Written by:

How’s your 2020 going so far, Hudson County? So far this year, there’s a ton of news and headlines to cover. From local openings — Mamak House and more — to three exciting food festivals coming to town. Needless to say, it’s going to be a busy month.  Keep reading to discover all of the news you missed this week in Hoboken and Jersey City.

The 2nd Annual Hoboken Mac + Cheese Festival is BACK

hoboken happy hours mac n cheese festival

Back for its second year, Hoboken Happy Hours is hosting its annual Hoboken Mac + Cheese Festival again on Saturday, March 21st.

With your ticket, you get a mac + cheese sample from each vendor, experience live music, contests, and more! Plus, all the money raised from Hoboken Mac + Cheese Festival benefits Party With Purpose, a volunteer-based organization that raises money for children’s charities. Vendors include Barbès, The Ainsworth, The Madison, Madd Hatter, Texas Arizona, Sorellina, and more.

Tickets go on sale at 12:00PM on Tuesday, January 21st and cost $25. Drinks aren’t included with the standard ticket, so if you want to add an open bar package, it’s another $25. Now, remember, tickets sold out last year in just seven minutes, so if you’re interested in attending, get your tickets ASAP! Come January 21st, grab your tickets here.

Port Authority Toll Rates Have Been Increased As of January 5th

port authority bus terminal hoboken nyc

On Sunday, January 5th, Port Authority’s cash toll hike went into effect. Cash tolls between New York and New Jersey were raised from $15 to $16. E-Z Pass rates increased to $1.25 for both peak and off-peak travelers.

Toll increases have been more frequent in the past few years. According to NBC New York, Port Authority raised toll increases for their four bridges and two tunnels in 2008 and again in 2011. Between 2012 and 2015, tolls increased again during four scheduled hikes.

New Gymnasium Opens at 7th and Jackson in Hoboken

gym news

On Wednesday, January 8th, Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, members of the Hoboken City Council, representatives from Bijou Properties, and the public congregated at Jackson Street between 6th and 7th to celebrate the official grand opening of a new public gymnasium. Adjacent to Resiliency Park at 7th and Jackson, the 6,835 square foot public gymnasium is multi-use and meant to accommodate the growing recreational needs in Hoboken. The gym was a community benefit as part of the 7th and Jackson Redevelopment Agreement, which included the playground, open field, public plaza, and flood resiliency infrastructure. The gymnasium will feature basketball leagues for different age groups.

An Update: What’s Going on With Liberty State Park?

liberty state park

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with the latest headlines, then you may know the current controversy surrounding Liberty State Park. Liberty National Golf Course is attempting to bring back an already proposed plan to relocate three of its course’s golf holes to Caven Point. This has caused controversy, as Caven Point is an environmentally sensitive habitat that is home to much of Liberty State Park’s wildlife, including migratory birds.

Yesterday, Friends of Liberty State Park hosted a rally at LSP’s Southside Flag Plaza to support the Liberty State Park Protection Act. Members of Friends of Liberty State Park and members of the public came together just two days before the legislative session. The Liberty State Park Protection Act is currently pending in the State Legislature.

The Act seeks to protect Liberty State Park and put a stop to privatization plans like the one from Liberty National Golf Course’s owner, billionaire Paul Fireman.

After the rally, protestors attended a guided nature tour of Caven Point where they learned how migratory birds use the habitat and were taught how Caven Point acts as an environmental education resource and public sanctuary for all to enjoy — both animal and human.

Former Hoboken Resident Wins $10K to Help Fund His In-Progress Novel

novel news

Marco Kaye, who was a Hoboken resident for 10 years, has won a $10,000 prize from the James Jones Literary Society for his working novel, Levon. Now living in Maplewood, New Jersey, Kaye says the plot of his book is loosely inspired by his experiences living in the Mile Square with his then-roommate.

“I’ve been workshopping the book with a fantastic group of writers I met through CRIT,” he said on Sunday, “a workshop in Brooklyn run by Tony Tulathimutte.”

Kaye got a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from New York University in 2013. Previously, he worked full-time in advertising before becoming a freelance writer in 2011. Kaye’s work has been published in the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs, McSweeney’s, and more. An excerpt from his novel-in-progress is forthcoming in the literary journal Provincetown Arts.

The $10,000 comes from the Society’s annual First Novel Fellowship, an award given each year for a novel-in-progress that “honors the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture exemplified by the late James Jones.”

Kaye has been working on this novel for the past two years. He says it’s, “loosely based on Drew Haines, a graphic designer and web developer I met in the Visual Communications Department at the University of Delaware. Sadly, Drew passed away in 2005 from his arthritis, which was a very rare systemic form. I lived with Drew in Hoboken during an internship, and have never forgotten his witty and sardonic sense of humor. I put a similar spirit into Levon.”

Kaye’s hope is to finish the manuscript and start submitting it around to publishing companies come Spring 2020.

Mamak House Officially Opens Its Doors in Jersey City

mamaks house

{Photo courtesy of Edison Zhou}

A new Malaysian restaurant, called Mamak House, has officially opened in Jersey City. After a full renovation, Mamak House at 250 Route 440 in JC is finally ready to share its hybrid Malaysian and Chinese dishes with the public.

“We do catering and parties. We also have a full bar with cocktail bar, wine, and beers,” says Edison Zhou in an email to Hoboken Girl. “We have craft beers as well!”

The Mamak House chef has over 30 years of experience working with Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. In fact, the people Mamak House have been in the business for years. After working on Malaysian restaurants in the Northeast, Zhou saw an opportunity in Jersey City and wanted to bring their fusion cuisine to the area.

“[We] saw an opportunity [in] Jersey City since this is the only area that lacks these types of food,” Zhou explains.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Mamak House!

Hoboken Crime Declined in Every Category in 2019

police siren

Hoboken saw a double-digit drop in both violent and non-violent crimes in 2019, according to new data released by the city’s police department.

Once again there were no homicides in Hoboken, and every other crime category — ranging from rape to larceny — decreased by at least 20%, Hoboken Police Chief Ferrante said, citing stats from the State Police’s Uniform Crime Report.

“It’s a combination of vigilance by our residents and great collaboration of our uniform officers and our investigative officers,” the chief said.

Robbery, which Ferrante said is the No. 1 indicator of a community’s safety, was down 39.1 percent, from 23 incidents in 2018 to 14 in 2019.

Ferrante said the drop in the overall crime rate is partially due to community outreach. The department has had a strong focus on crime prevention techniques and urging residents to report suspicious behavior, he said.

Violent crime dipped 34.2% between 2018, when there were 120 incidents reported, and 2019, which saw 79 violent crimes. Non-violent crimes were down from 861 in 2018 to 664 in 2019 — a 22% drop.

Sunmerry Bakery Cafe Opens on Washington Street in Hoboken

{Photo courtesy of @sunmerryus}

Head over to 519 Washington Street, Hoboken to check out the new Sunmerry Bakery Cafe, opening this weekend. Sunmerry Bakery specializes in fresh Asian pastries and desserts. They serve over 80 different kinds of bread + cakes, including a Green Tea Croissant, Taro Milk Cake, BBQ Pork Chashu Bolo Buns, and fresh 6″ and 8″ birthday cakes, all of which are baked fresh daily.

Sunmerry has locations in New York, New Jersey, and California. The new Hoboken cafe will be offering giveaways to customers until January 24th — spend $10 and enjoy a free pastry, spend $15 and receive a cooler bag. They will be open from 9:00AM-8:00PM.

 

Construction Started at Maxwell’s Rock Club in Hoboken

Earlier this week, construction workers were seen coming and going from Maxwell’s, which means the work to transform the old rock club into a new restaurant is now underway. Gabi Lombardi, owner of Sorellina, {just across the street} sent out a press release in October saying she had purchased the property and plans to “provide first class hospitality while celebrating Italy’s vibrant culinary culture through food and wine.” Stayed tuned for more information as it becomes available!

Celebrate BaconFest from January 10th to January 26th

baconfest gif

Did somebody say “bacon?!” That’s because BaconFest kicked off on January 10th and runs until January 26th at Zepellin Hall. Back for another year, the New Jersey biergarten is hosting BaconFest, which brings comfort food to the people — crispy, meaty, delicious comfort food.

Executive Chef Franco Robazetti will cook up 22 different bacon-themed apps, entrées, sides, and more. Oh, and there’s also beer!

Interested in attending? For more information, head over to Zepellin Hall’s website. Happy eating!

Hoboken Plans to Ban All Plastic Bags and Styrofoam Come March

hoboken washington street

Looks like 2020 is officially the year that the City of Hoboken will enact its Styrofoam and plastic bag ban. Passed in August 2018, the bill is part of Hoboken’s Climate Action Plan, which seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050.

As part of the ban, all single-service Styrofoam products will be banned, as well as all carry-out plastic bags, from food service and retail stores. Now, you may be thinking: Didn’t Hoboken already ban plastic bagsWell, yes and no. Hoboken has already enacted a ban of single-use plastic bags, meaning bags that are only meant for one use. However, under this new law — which is set to take effect on March 8th, 2020 — even reusable plastic bags will be banned.

This is another step in Hoboken’s attempts to become carbon neutral by 2050. On Monday, January 5th, the Mile Square’s dual-stream recycling law also went into effect.

Annual Mutz Fest Celebrating Mozzarella Cheese Kicks Off January 26th

hoboken mutz fest

Yet another food festival is coming to town this month. The annual Mutz Fest, celebrating the famed mozzarella cheese of Hoboken, kicks off on January 26th. Held at the Hoboken Elks Club at 1005 Washington Street, guests can stop by from 2:00-PM-6:00PM to try mozzarella from Frankie + Ava’s Italian Eatery, Losurdo Brothers Bakery and Deli, M+P Biancamano, Tony Boloney’s Hoboken, and Vito’s + Son Deli.

General admission tickets are $25 and can be found on sale at any of the aforementioned Mutz Fest participants. {Though tix are free for kids 12 and under!} Each year, tickets to the annual Hoboken Mutz Fest sell out fast, so if you prefer to buy them online ASAP, you can get them here. VIP tickets are also available for $50.

Aside from delicious local cheese, guests will also experience a Frank Sinatra Sing-A-Long, a Cannoli Eating Contest, and entertainment from McGill + Co.

I Heart Mac + Cheese Franchise Coming to Hoboken and Jersey City

mac cheese

Get ready for more mac n’ cheese, Hoboken. A new mac n’ cheese franchise called I Heart Mac + Cheese is planning to open two new New Jersey locations. Though no official opening date has been announced, I Heart Mac + Cheese says it has plans to open the first in 2020 and another in 2021. {No word on which is coming first, Hoboken or Jersey City.}

“I’m excited to expand and diversify my franchise portfolio with the addition of my two I Heart Mac + Cheese locations in New Jersey,” Vikram Bir, future manager and operator of the New Jersey restaurants, said. “I’m proud to launch the brand as they continue to expand across the country.”

Patrons will be able to build-their-own macaroni and cheese bowls, order grilled cheeses, and even pick from a vegan menu that’s in partnership with Beyond Meat.

Shake Shack Announces Plans to Open on Washington Street This Year

shake shack news

This year will also be the year of Shake Shack opening up on Washington Street in Hoboken, though no official date has been released yet. However, Michael Rawlins, a representative for RIPCO Real Estate, revealed Shake Shack’s intentions to open the new site at 107-111 Washington Street during the second or third quarter of the year.

Shake Shack’s application to move into a ground-level commercial space inside a 5-story building on Washington Street was approved back in 2017. Read more about Shake Shack’s journey in Hoboken here.

Coco Havana Revamping Into Havana-Style Bar

coco havana news

Coco Havana is gearing up to relaunch itself into a Havana-style bar. Co-owner Gary Yip says that the new space will be “changing the concept — it will be a more casual, inviting, and lively environment for all.”

The current owners took over Coco in 2016 and have been successfully operating the locale for the past few years. Now, Yip says, it’s more important than ever to keep up with the times. After all, Coco has been open for 10 years and has become a staple downtown.

“[We] want to create something that we feel is more relevant to today’s Hoboken,” Yip tells Hoboken Girl in an email. Yip expects the new-and-improved Coco to have a light and casual feel — the ideal bar scene.

“We’re convinced Hoboken is heading in this direction,” explains Yip. “And we want to be part of it in the long term.”

Could Scooters Be Coming Back to Hoboken?

e scooters

Despite Hoboken’s contract with e-scooters expiring late in 2018, it seems that the possibility of e-scooters in the Mile Square has not died. The City of Hoboken has put together a “Request for Information,” also known as an RFI, from various micro-mobility companies. The RFI will help determine the Mile Square’s future of transportation services, including e-scooters.

“Shared services could include electric scooters, electric bikes, ‘normal’ bikes, and other options,” Hoboken Communications Manager Vijay Chaudhuri tells Hoboken Girl in an email. “While the City gathers this information, it will help provide insight into a potential ‘request for quotation”[‘(RFQ) that could provide the parameters for a potential contract with a micro-mobility company, or multiple companies.”

So, are scooters coming back? “If the City and governing body {Mayor and City Council} are comfortable with the parameters of a potential e-scooter contract, e-scooters could come back to Hoboken this year,” Chaudhuri explains. “If the City puts together an RFQ, the City would encourage any interested micro-mobility companies to respond. Any and all companies responding to a potential RFQ will be considered.”

Does that rule out Lime? “Lime, along with any interested micro mobility companies, could be considered for a potential contract,” Chaudhuri explains.

Now, if scooters were to come back, what about a timeline? “Mayor Bhalla has asked Councilmembers Mike Russo and Tiffanie Fisher to help put together short-term and long-term recommendations for the future of micro-mobility services in Hoboken. After interested micro-mobility companies respond to the RFI {due later this month}, the Councilmembers and Transportation Department will use the information to inform and collaborate for a potential RFQ that could be sent out in the coming months. After receiving and evaluating the RFQs, the Mayor and City Council could then consider a potential contract by the spring.”

Tails on Trails Doggy Day Camp Coming to Jersey City

tails on trails

If you’ve been on the lookout for a doggy day camp, then you’re in luck. Tails on Trails is opening a new Doggy Day Camp at a new space at 434 West Side Avenue in Jersey City. Although an official opening has not been announced, in an email to Hoboken Girl, Tails on Trails said that they will be hosting private viewings starting Monday, January 13th {if you’re interested in touring the space, email info@tailsontrails.com}. Stay tuned for more information on this new venture — congrats, Tails on Trails!

Jersey City Council Votes to Put Board of Education Proposal to be Under Mayoral Control on Upcoming November Ballot

voter registraton hoboken

On Wednesday, January 8th, the Jersey City Council voted to put the proposal to put the Board of Education under mayoral control on the upcoming November ballot, according to Pix11.com. Under this proposal, the seats would be under the mayor’s control, meaning that the mayor could appoint board members versus the current system of choosing members via election.

Coditum Launches Coditum Cafe in Local Hoboken Coffee Shops

coditum cafe

Hoboken-based coding school Coditum has joined forces with a variety of local coffee shops {such as Jefferson Coffee, Hudson Coffee, Black Rail, and Joey No Nuts} to offer one-on-one coding classes with a personal instructor. The classes are $39, but future coders can receive $5 off any classes from now until the end of January when they use the code “HOBOKENGIRL” when signing up. Book your class here

HPU Virtual Visitor Permit Beta Program Coming to Hoboken

parking

Parking in Hoboken may have just gotten a lot easier. The City will be rolling out a Virtual Visitor Permit {VVP} parking system beta program which would enable residents and visitors to get a parking permit online. The system would include real-time activation, sparing people a trip to the Parking Utility office. Stay tuned for more updates on this new venture.

Our Local Self-Care Guide to 2020 is Here — Now Through Jan 31st

Make the most out of the new year with our Local Self-Care Guide to 2020. From now through January 31st, a number of local businesses are offering exclusive deals for HG readers. Think beauty and wellness deals, fitness deals, and so many more. Find our full list here and make sure to take advantage of them ASAP {again, they’ll be expiring on January 31st}.

Got a news tip? Let us know — email us at hello@hobokengirl.com! We appreciate it.


Did you know: We started a podcast about all things news and lifestyle in Hoboken + Jersey City! Listen to the latest episode of Tea on the Hudson here and subscribe.

We release new episodes every Tuesday, starting again January 14, 2020 for Season 2.


Written by:

Stephanie Osmanski writes honest things about health, the planet, and being a woman. Her words have appeared on Business Insider, Parade, Eat This Not That, Dogster, Scary Mommy, Green Matters, Parents, Seventeen, Life & Style, InTouch Weekly, and more. Her articles have been syndicated on World Economic Forum, MSN, MSN UK, and MSN Canada. In her free time, Stephanie and her registered therapy dog, Koda, volunteer at local hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.