Pet Shop Bar

pet shop bar. nj Jersey City’s newest and coolest Newark Avenue hangout is the Pet Shop Bar (and really was a Pet Shop in its former life).

“We were toying with the idea of renting a couple other places in the area and just keeping their names,” says part-owner and head manager Dave Rappaport.  “We almost rented Beauty Land and were going to call it ‘Beauty Land.'” 99 Cent Dreams and Pharmacy were also in the running, if he and partners Shen Pan and Eric Speck secured those storefronts.

When the three men, who know each other from being longtime Jersey City residents, secured the Pet Shop space, “We would joke about it. Like; ‘Let’s hang lots of animal pictures on the walls,'” which are very much there now, IRL.

“I think the common thread between all of us is we like really good rock ‘n’ roll, cheap beer and dive bars,” says Eric. Although he admits, “We didn’t really make a dive bar—it’s not dive-y—but we still appreciate those things.”

Pet Shop bar is definitely not a hole-in-the-wall, but it is very comfortable and welcoming—a solid neighborhood spot. “Originally we were trying to open a live music venue, but we couldn’t find the right money and the right space at the right time. It’s a shame because this area needs it,” explains Eric. “And then we found this place that had been a completely disgusting pet shop for, like, 40 years and we were like ‘Well, let’s just call it Pet Shop. I can show you a picture of how disgusting it was.” Readers, just take my word for it: pre-renovation pics were not pretty.

Now, however…


  • A long front, full bar with regular and craft beers on tap that segues into a larger back room with high ceilings, pet portraits and Cool Victorian-esque furniture (many thanks to interior designer Amanda Danesi)
  • Cool lighting, kitsch, unique decor, a vintage cigarette machine, a working photo booth, a jukebox filled with music from local bands (including employees’ bands), and a pinball machine 
  • Outdoor “backyard” space with communal tables (and an outdoor bar to come)

The bar’s logo, an empty bird cage with a bent bar, was designed by Dave Rodriguez. “The birds escaped from their trap they flew out of the cage!” says Shen, explaining that it symbolically represents the three men trapped in their 9-5s and deciding to break free and go out on their own.

Opening Pet Shop was a rookie venture [shout-outs for everyone in the community that helped them…pet-shop-shoutout]. As for experience, Shen worked in his parents’ liquor store, Eric used to bartend and book acts for music venues, and Dave is a former math teacher (numbers!). But it came together with Bar Manager Lindsay Gomeringer  who hails from the Brass Rail in Hoboken, where she managed for 10 years.


The Charlie Foxtrot cocktail

“We didn’t understand the complexity of all the responsibilities it takes closing down a bar at night. And making cocktails,” says Dave. The cocktail list has a reasonably priced variety of bevvies (“We didn’t want a cocktail bar, but we wanted cocktails available,” says Shen), and the beer selection is “kept in the lower numbers,” says Eric, “because sometimes picking a beer can be overwhelming.” At Pet Shop bar, you’ll find a variety on tap: craft brews like Allagash White , middle men like Sierra Nevada, and basics like Coors Light.

Using the name Pet Shop name, though, had some setbacks when it came to the menu. “We were originally thinking of having a barbecue theme, but eating animals? That would be in poor taste,” laughs Dave. So they crafted a vegetarian bar menu. What does that mean? In my words, it’s bar food re-imagined. Instead of wings, you get buffalo cauliflower; a “pulled pork” sandwich is jackfruit marinated in BBQ sauce and topped with vegan coleslaw.

The guys auditioned quite a few chefs and were “pretty sold on somebody else” when Eric McGuire came along. “Chef Eric blew us away,” says Shen. “He really changed our minds.”

Eric Speck elaborates: “Every chef came in and did what they do, what they were best at. Eric came in and asked a lot of questions and really challenged himself, trying things that he hadn’t done before. He created his menu to our business plan. We were also sold on him personality-wise; he was cut from the same cloth. He understands the rock ‘n’ roll vibe. He fits our scene. It was a natural choice.”

In a few weeks, Pet Shop will open up its downstairs biodynamic wine bar, named P.S. (a play on “post-script” and an extension of Pet Shop). “At first I thought ‘natural wine’ was just a thing you say to charge an extra few dollars,” laughs Shen, “but once Chris Leo (wine importer and sommelier) educates you…”

Eric chimes in, “The rules of production for biodynamic wines are super strict, more so than just organic wines, which can still have tons of chemicals and all sorts of additives.” The grapes in Pet Shop’s wines come from co-ops in Italy and Spain. “The wine tastes fantastic, and you don’t get hangovers,” says Eric. Dave and Shen look at him in disbelief. “What?!” says Eric.  “I tested it. The wine is better for you.” Downstairs will be seating room only to encourage conversation.

Shen says Pet Shop Bar aims to be a Jersey City staple. “We want this place to be around for at least 20 years.”

Adds Eric, “We’re really excited. I feel like we’ve accomplished our mission and we have a really good bar. It’s kind of…cool. Yes, I said it. The Pet Shop Bar is kind of cool.”

Bottoms up,

JC Artists Studio Tour 2016!

Studio Tour 2013

The 26th annual Jersey City Art & Studio Tour kicks off tonight, Jersey City! Perhaps one of the most anticipated events in Jersey City, JCAST has even more artists this year, and especially more shows in the vaster areas of the city (a.k.a. not downtown).

JCAST features over 800 artists during its weekend-long event. It’s not only a great opportunity to meet your local artists and purchase unique pieces at reasonable prices, it’s a fine time to get to know your neighbors, government officials and connect with the burgeoning city’s ever-growing diverse community of eclectic citizens.


Tonight is the kick-off opening gala curated by the Office of Cultural Affairs and Art House Productions, where you will experience 40,000 square feet of visual artwork, installation, performance, handmade art and more at the JCAST Flagship Gallery (150 Pacific Ave.).

The event is free and open to the public, and offers an array of entertainment for all ages. The full list of all artists/performers on opening night is here. Free transportation will be provided to and from the JCAST Gallery at City Hall (280 Grove St.).

Not a real window

Find out about all Saturday and Sunday showings here. Free shuttles will be running from almost everywhere in Jersey City to transport you from neighborhood to neighborhood, as the we are a vast city of highly talented artists. I mean, we are talking about 15 sq. miles of glorious art!

I always try to soak up as much as I can, but it is nearly impossible to see everything over the two days; choose wisely and plan well. 150 Bay St. is always a good place to start if you’re unsure. Share your favorite finds with me on twitter (@jerseycitygia).

Here are some of my past memories from JCAST weekend.

Celebrate Our Local Artists!

Ground Connection

I recently visited Jersey City’s newest coffee addition addiction, Ground Connection, located at Harborside Plaza 10.

Owner Scott Gillman (of Jercey City’s Markers Restaurant) and director of the coffee program, Alex Mastrando, who is the head chef, went to different places in the city New York City “to see what was working and what wasn’t” in the coffee industry, while the head barista and store manager, German Chabur, visited Seattle and Atlanta coffee conventions to do the same.

The result is awesome “third wave” coffee in a fast-casual environment [Ed. note: “first wave” is mom-and-pop shops, “second wave” is Stabucks, et al]. “Third wave coffee means we are bringing it back to basics using real espresso with real machines and actually weighing everything properly,” says Alex as he shows me their Italian espresso machine, which is one of few in the U.S. and uses technology that just came out last year.


“You can go to a coffee chain, where the machine will weigh the coffee and the barista will push a button, but this machine can figure out the weight from the dry—it’s amazing technology,” says Alex. “The machine allows us to weigh exact grinds, program the weight, and create a ratio. So you give it the ratio, you give it the grind, and it automatically calibrates as it’s coming out. It gets that perfect ratio and its always going to be in balance. That allows us to keep our coffee consistent.”

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Jersey City Fashion Week 2016


Fashion Week 2016 is here, Jersey City! Yes, Our Fashion Week.

Jersey City celebrates fashion, entertainment and community for its 5th Annual Fashion Week (end). All access tickets are available, or you can purchase by individual events. Full schedule below.

Opening Night // Thursday 9/22:

Fashion in The Park VIP Exclusive Event
(5:30-9:30 pm; Maritime Park, 84 Audrey Zapp Drive)

*International and Couture Designers: Nadu Lawson, Sadia Hussain, Michele Walden McPhee, Hope Wade, Tyrone Chablis, Leontine Abdullah

*Fashion Show Host: Midori Amae!!

*JCFW People of Influence Awards: Senator Cory Booker, Senator Brian Stack, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Countries and The Fashion Art Exchange

*DJ: C-Lo The Heavey Hitter; performance by Musical Artist Eric G

*Gift Bags Sponsored by Clearport Events

Buy Tickets Here

Click below to read the full Jersey City Fashion Week schedule…


All About Downtown Street Fair 2016


Jersey City: Saturday, September 17th is the annual and all-out awesome All About Downtown Street Fair.

Stroll up or down Newark Avenue (between Grove St. and Jersey Ave.) to soak up live music, nosh on noms, sip adult bevvies, and shop from 11am-6pm.

There will be over 100 local vendors and plenty of fun activities for the kids, too.

FB info here.

Shop local. Support local.

9/11 from Jersey City

I came across this looking for what events were happening in Jersey City this year. At that time, I was on the other side of the river.

My view was looking directly down 5th Ave., where it meets Washington Square Park. Cell phones didn’t have a video option then. In fact, cell phones did not work in NYC.

My story is here. I am forever haunted and freak out every time I take the WTC PATH. Even 8 years after it happened, the PATH would rail you through the ruins…you could see it all like a mobile museum. So stomach-churning. Now, 15 years later, it’s like Westfield! Capitalism! Looking at the newness, I still get sick. PTSD is real.

Our everyday lives as Americans have been forever compromised because of 9/11.

Never Forget.

The cost of freedom was supposed to be priceless.


Jersey City: It’s a JC Friday Tonight! 9/9/16


The quarterly culmination of extraordinary Jersey City art and music is back! JC FRIDAYS, hosted by Art House Productions, is a full day, city-wide free arts festival here in Chilltown.

Local businesses collaborate with artists in a celebration of culture. Events include art openings and exhibits, live music, film/video screenings and performances.

Below is a short list of happenings for Friday, 9/9/16:

JC Fridays 2016




To the Arts!

Jersey City Craft Brew Fest 10/15/2016


craft brew fest jersey city

Jersey City is hosting its first Harborside Craft Brew Fest on Saturday, October 15, 2016.

Try over 150 craft beers from local breweries while overlooking the New York City skyline and listening to live music on the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway at the Harborside Plaza Atrium (34 Exchange Place).

It’s Jersey City’s own celebration of Oktoberfest. Find your new favorite brew from the eclectic offering of local beers and ciders, and have the chance to speak with brewery representatives.

And to soak up the beer, there will be plenty of food vendors on site.

Choose between two sessions: 12-4pm & 5:30-9:30pm.


*General Admission $60, which includes unlimited tastings and a souvenir tasting glass

*(Non-drinking) Designated Driver $15

*Tickets can be purchased online at


*Early Bird Pricing available (check site for details)

*A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Morris Rugby, which raises funds and awareness for youth rugby throughout the region


*Adults 21+ Only: No kids. No Dogs.

*Smoking allowed but only in designated area.

*Once you leave the premises, you cannot return.

For more information, click here.


Taste & Enjoy,

The Ultimate Summer Packing List: Ladies Now Let’s Get (on) VACATE-TION

Packing Jersey City Gal

It’s time for our last summer hurrahs Jersey City. If you’re like me and have chosen air-conditioning and money-making over humidity so you could be a baller during September/October and tail it everywhere when most people go back to work…oh wait, you’re not me.

Anyway, now that I’m planning for two months of adventure, I thought it high time to share my quick checklist of packing needs for most of you who are last-minute shove-in-the-suitcase peeps. These are my summer necessities, but the list is adaptable.

If you leave your house, it’s “phone, wallet, keys.” But traveling for a weekend or a week requires more preparation.

The Gal’s Guide to Traveling Light:

In your purse/carry-on tote (Besides phone, wallet WITH CASH, keys):


*WaterWipes. The “world’s purest baby wipes” will save your life at the airport, on a boat, at the pool, on the beach and taking your makeup off at night. I always carry these in my purse, but they are especially essential during travel. Most hand sanitizers and wipes have a lot of alcohol and other harsh chemicals that ruin my skin. WaterWipes are 99.9% purified water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract. So gentle.

*Lotion that works for face and hands because…dryness. I like Aveeno.

*Light makeup: Your basics. I like to keep blush & a brush to quickly freshen my pale look.

*Something to read. While we’re all connected to interesting soundbites of info via the Internet every day, vacation allows us the time to disconnect (please disconnect!) and get into a story, a journal, or a good magazine. So be prepared. Here are Jersey City’s Summer Reading Picks.

In Your Suitcase:

*Toiletrees: toothbrush, toothpaste, razor(s), shampoo, conditioner, detangling spray, hair pick (hello beach waves! and tangles!), soap, Advil, Neosporin, Visine, Aquaphor, Banana Boat Aloe Vera After Sun Gel & Repel 100 for insects. The generic versions of most of these products are just as good.

*Sun care: Sunscreen!!! After surviving melanoma, I use Neutrogena SPF 70, but I also use Walgreens watermelon SPF 50. For some color on my legs, I use the best: Bain de Soleil Orange Gelèe SPF 4 and for my stomach, Hawaiian Tropic SPF 8. Do not forget UV 400+ sunglasses and a good hat (some have SPF material built in…like these beauts here).

*Bathing suits: Bring 3 for a quick weekend and 5 for a week-long stay. You can always mix & match! (Or buy a new one, yaaas!)

*3-5 Cover-ups that can be scarves, shirts, skirts or dresses.

*2 going out outfits, max. Because you’ve got the above to work with.

*Shorts/tees/tanks: PJs that can double as beach coverups/lounge wear and can triple as workout gear.

*A hoodie, zip-up or jacket because there are cold beach/ lake nights and/or blasting indoor ACs.

*Shoes: Flip flops, sneakers, going out shoes. I’ve found that shoes take up the most space. So if you are strictly going to a beachy or tropical place, only pack flip flops and fancy flip flops. If you’re attending a wedding, event, or a  chi-chi nightclub, you’ll need your strappy heels. If you plan on exercising or know you’ll be doing a lot of walking (especially on cobblestone streets or any rough terrain), bring your sneaks. Otherwise, save your suitcase space and just bring your flips. Great for getting through the airport security line quickly, too.

*Undies, bras, socks (<—-if you’re bringing sneaks or you like to sleep in foot-covers, like me).

*Hardware: Chargers, laptop (only if you need it; as a constant writer with multiple projects, I often do), “real” camera (if you want better than phone-quality photos).

*Accessories: earrings, rings, necklaces, bracelets, anklets, head scarves that can double as belts, all of which should coordinate with your shizzaz. Since most accessories don’t take up space, you should maximize here to minimize your outfits. Accessories change your look. Period. (Emphasis on punctuation here needed.)

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The Barrow Mansion: Wedding Edition

barrow mansion jersey city wedding

Wedding season 2016 is still in full swing here in Jersey City, so I’m sharing a beautiful wedding inspiration shoot that took place in Jersey City’s very own Barrow Mansion.

Shot by Jen Chanyi of Cyrience Creative Studios for wedding inspiration, shared on Junebug Weddings.

It’s only making me plan for next year, when I have an entirely new slew of weddings to attend. That said, please check out the Barrow Mansion’s revamped website, where I did all of the writing!

X to the O,

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