One of Jersey City’s most beloved bars is making its return. The Golden Cicada, at 195 Grand Street, closed in late 2019, and the property was sold. Now, we have some information about what’s next for this downtown spot, formerly a karaoke-dive-bar-fusion beloved to Jersey City residents near and far.
The Golden Cicada opened in the 1980s by owner Cheng “Terry” Tan and was known for its quirky dive bar vibes, baiju shots, and karaoke. The building was sold in 2019, and the purchaser was SILVERMAN, in partnership with Field Development Group.
An eagle-eyed Hoboken Girl reader who lives near the building sent us some photos of construction activity going on in the back garden area of the Golden Cicada. It looked like outdoor benches were being built and taller fences were being erected. We also read that the electronic bulletin boards at this weekend’s Riverview Jazz Fest had an announcement of the Golden Cicada’s plans to reopen as a Mexican-style beer garden, so the research needed to begin.
We did a little digging and found that the current alcohol license for the property is for sale and that the prospective purchasers are Jersey City business owners Eva Johannesdottir and Gary Keating. Eva and Gary are the owners of The Cliff, a neighborhood favorite in the Heights. HG spoke to the Eva and Gary to get the scoop on what’s next for the Cicada.
“The Golden Cicada is going to be a re-imagined Mexican beer garden, with premium food and drinks,” Gary said. “We wanted to build a place that was crazy fun but with high-quality food and drinks. We plan to have sports, live music, and live karaoke events.” A centerpiece of the new Cicada is the outdoor space, which will have stadium seating, a bar, and a setup for live music. “We are taking over the empty lot next to the bar, which had never been used for anything other than a parking lot before,” Gary said. “It feels like a summer vacation.”
Gary and Eva said that they will keep the name the same, even though the vibe will be different. “The original Golden Cicada was such a legendary landmark and a huge part of Jersey City. We want to be aware and respectful of the family that Terry created at the original Cicada. We want to pay homage to what Terry built here; it feels like such an honor to carry the baton of this place.” Eva said that many aspects of the original bar will be included, such as the barstools, and the bar itself.
As far as the menu goes, visitors are in for high-quality, fresh, and colorful Mexican foods. Eva said the wine list will have an emphasis on natural, biodynamic wines with low sulfites, and the cocktails will be prepared in simple, traditional ways. The food menu will be Mexican classics prepared with top-notch ingredients, such as tacos, a variety of nachos, and lots of seafood. One dish, in particular, Eva is excited to serve is a Cajun shrimp and avocado dish. “It’s been a favorite for catering from The Cliff, so a lot of patrons will be happy to see it here. It’s not your average chips and salsa appetizer,” she said.
Gary and Eva hope to open the Golden Cicada in October 2021. “We had been looking for a space like this for a long time. We wanted to create a space that was a fun place to hang out, but also had good food and drink options, especially things you can’t find anywhere else,” Gary said. Work began on the space in April 2021, while Gary and Eva still ran The Cliff. “We were so excited to get into this space,” they said. “There is so much potential and so much history. We’re so excited to be able to bring this concept to life here.”
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