Jul 222014

Looking for a creative outlet for you or your kids? Then your next stop needs to be Fire Me Up! Studio in Downtown Cranford. Owner Tammie Crispino first came across the concept on vacatoin in Florida and when she realized there wasn’t anything similar back home she decided to open Fire Me Up. Tammie came from a business background and was currently staying at home with her children. She already had a love for working with clay and was excited to shape her business around one of her passions.

Owner Tammie Crispino

Owner Tammie Crispino

Fire Me Up believes that anyone can be an artist and they offer 4 mediums for people to express their creativity: Glass Fusing, Pottery Painting, Clay Handbuilding, and Canvas Painting. Both children and adults can create projects at Fire Me Up. During the day the studio is filled with families creating pieces together, and with children holding birthday parties. Once the sun sets adults are the main customers, whether it’s a group of Moms looking for a night out or a couple out on a date. Fire Me Up offers a unique experience and a fun atmosphere that’s hard to replicate and keeps people coming back.


Tammie schedules a number of events at Fire Me Up throughout the year. This summer the studio had six weeks of camp for children including My Doll and Me, Movie Week, Welcome to the 70′s, and Create Like the Masters. The response to the classes was extremely positive, with the majority of them selling out. For adults Tammie has Canvas Fun Nights where customers can bring their beverage of choice and paint a picture while enjoying food brought in from a local Cranford business. Once September rolls around Fire Me up will have enrichment classes for kids twice a week, as well as storytime and Sunday morning adult classes. Tammie is also excited about the Battle of the Artists she has scheduled in August. Each of her employees has created a piece of artwork and customers will then vote on their favorite.

Dancing canisters
Tammie sought out Cranford as she was looking for a downtown that offered a good mix of restaurants and businesses, with a location near the center of town that also offered plenty of parking. She’s found that Cranford has been a perfect fit as it’s extremely family friendly. Tammie holds fundraisers at the studio regularly and many of the local businesses have donated baskets filled with goodies. Tammie also makes an effort to have local restaurants cater her events and has made Fire Me Up a true part of the Cranford community.

Fire Me Up! Studio
117 N. Union Ave.
(908) 272-2600

Jul 152014

If you’re looking for an escape this summer then why not dine at Cafe Paris in Downtown Cranford and be whisked away to France? Owner Marie Fuller grew up in Paris before coming over to the United States after meeting her American husband. She opened Cafe Paris back in 2001 and it’s been serving delicious French fare ever since.


The restaurant is most well-known for its crepes and galettes. For people unfamiliar with French cuisine Marie explains that crepes are used for sweeter dishes while galettes are made with buckwheat and are used with savory ingredients. In addition to those French staples the restaurant also serves a number of authentic French dishes including QuicheBoeuf Bourguinon, Salade Nicoise, and French Onion Soup. Marie is especially proud of her salads as they fall in the category of lighter food that she loves. The Salade Nicoise is filled with tuna, corn, green beans, and tomatoes and is a perfect summer dish. Another favorite salad is Salade Aux Asperges et Au Jambon De Parme which contains asparagus, goat cheese, prosciutto, and apples.

Owner Marie Fuller

Owner Marie Fuller

In the time that she’s been in Cranford Marie has seen the demographics change as younger families move to the area. She also has regular customers who have been coming to the restaurant since it first opened its doors. A number of customers come to Cafe Paris after traveling in France and are looking for some French food authenticity at home.


Marie likes to stress that her food is lighter than traditional American fare. Her dishes have a big focus on fresh vegetables and she even tries to buy organic produce when she can. Her dishes are especially popular with women as their preferences run towards lighter dishes. However, no meal is complete without dessert and Marie makes pies, fruit tarts, and cookies in house. If you’re looking for a taste of France right at home then you need to go to Cafe Paris, yet another business that we’re so lucky to have in Downtown Cranford.

Cafe Paris
106 Walnut Ave.

Jul 112014

Have you heard of The Giving Keys? The company has been covered extensively in the press and Augusta Mae is one of few places in the area chosen to carry them. The Giving Keys were started by a musician in California who had started wearing a key around her neck, and then had the idea to put an  inspirational word on it. She also wanted to incorporate the idea of “Paying it Forward” so she asks that customers pass on their keys when they’re done with them to someone they feel could use inspiration. The company also has a charitable focus as it hires homeless people to hand engrave the keys.

The popularity of The Giving Keys is so great that Augusta Mae has had to reorder them 3 times already. Many of their customers come in after seeing someone wearing the keys, or after seeing the keys featured in the press. Kim and Clara believe deeply in the message of “paying it forward” and feel their store is the perfect fit for the product. Kim contacted the company when she was looking to purchase a key for her daughter who will soon be going abroad. The company suggested “wanderlust” as the perfect phrase for this stage of her daughter’s life.

Every key from The Giving Key is unique and most of them are donated. The company posted a story on their Facebook page about a father whose son had collected 5,000 keys and then passed away. The father had held onto the keys since 2009, just waiting for the right opportunity to donate them, and he found that when he heard about The Giving Keys.


Augusta Mae has found that about half of their Giving Key purchases are gifts, while the other half are people purchasing them for themselves. The keys were especially popular for graduation and Mother’s Day gifts. Some of the phrases available on the keys are “Believe,” “Grateful,” “Faith,” and “Courage.” Customers can also pay a little bit more and have a key customized with a phrase that speaks to them. When it comes time to give the key away people can give it to someone they know, or even to someone they don’t really know but who they feel could benefit from the key’s message.

If you want to learn more please check out The Giving Keys website and Facebook page, and to see them in person stop in to Augusta Mae.

Jul 082014

If you need an adjustment (of the spinal kind) then make an appointment at A&W Chiropractic Center. Doctors Alex Lyubarsky and Wendy Menneg-Lyubarsky have had their business in Downtown Cranford since 2005 and they now raise their children in town. Alex and Wendy came across the space when they were walking downtown one day and saw the chance to have their business in a thriving downtown.


Alex and Wendy treat a variety of patients, everyone from runners and athletes to grandparents, parents, and children. The doctors stress that while some people have been patients since the practice opened, their goal isn’t to have people come continuously. Instead they want to treat people so that they know how their bodies should feel when they’re well. Many patients will have a gap in care and then return if something doesn’t feel right down the line. Alex and Wendy want their patients to enjoy their lives, whether that involves coming back after a sports injury or just being pain-free as they play with their grandchildren. Many of A&W Chiropractic Center’s patients come to them via word of mouth. The doctors treat a lot of moms, teachers, cops, and fire fighters, all of whom tend to spread the word among their friends and co-workers. The three biggest ailments people look to treat are lower back pain, neck pain, and headaches. The center also offers Cold Laser Treatment which helps with inflammation and is used to treat plantar fasciitis, nerve pain in the face, and neck and back pain. The treatment is completely painless and can often times help patients cut back on medication.

Doctors Alex and Wendy

Doctors Alex and Wendy

The doctors treat children and will even adjust babies shortly after they’re born. For older children they find that adjustments help with colic, allergies, and constipation. The doctors will also treat the children as they grow and injure themselves playing sports. In fact, Dr. Wendy was named in 2012 as one of NJ’s Favorite Kids Doctors.

Doctors Alex and Wendy have truly embraced living and working in Cranford. The business sponsors the Jaycees Firecracker 4 Miler as well as local golf outings. Their family will often eat out and shop in town. Alex and Wendy love being in Cranford and getting to be a part of the community both personally and professionally.

A&W Chiropractic Center
www.Facebook.com/A&W Chiropractic Center
126 South Ave East

Jul 032014

As if you needed another reason to love Downtown Cranford, our downtown provides everything you’ll need for a sparkling 4th of July celebration. Need proof? Here’s everything you can pick up at our downtown businesses.

Grilling It Up

Perrotti’s Quality Meats sells everything you could possibly need for your BBQ. Steaks, burgers, kebabs, sausages, hot dogs – they have it all!


Breadsmith hamburger buns are the perfect accompaniment to Perrotti’s burgers.


Not a meat eater or want to offer your guests some meat-free options? Back to Nature has a number of meat and gluten-free burgers that you can toss on the grill.

Veggie burgers

Cooling Down

To keep the heat at bay why not pick up a few pints of homemade ice cream at Vanilla Bean Creamery or a pack of their ice cream sandwiches? You can also take the family to Sweetie Frozen Yogurt and let them fill up a cup with the frozen yogurt and toppings of their choice.

Ice cream sandwiches
You can also serve up a beautiful (and delicious) bouquet of fresh fruit from Edible Arrangements.


Other Food Options

Need something to put out for guests to nosh on when they get there? Pick up a cheese platter from Cheese…Please! and start your BBQ off on the right foot.

If you’re planning to offer sandwiches and salads then you have a bunch of choices in Downtown Cranford including The Gourmet Deli, Mr. J’s, Mr. Wrap’s Bistro, Smiley’s Bagels & Deli, and Sub-ology.

Sandwich collage

For a festive and delicious treat pick up some patriotic cookies or cupcakes from The Cake Artist Cafe. Make sure you get enough – they’ll go fast!


We have two liquor stores in town to ensure that you won’t go thirsty this 4th of July weekend. Stop by either NJ Wine Seller and Breens to pick up beer, wine, or any other beverage of your choice.

Beer and wine
Please check with businesses regarding their holiday hours. And above all, have a wonderful 4th of July!

Jul 012014

To say that owner John Taggert is a big part of Mr. J’s Deli is an understatement. John started working at Mr. J’s 30 years ago when he was in high school and the store had only been open for a year. He continued working at the deli throughout college and eventually came to work there full-time and take over the business. The deli has a large number of regular customers, people who have watched John grow up over the years. John said some customers are so loyal that they have keys to the store and will often beat him there in the morning.

Mr. J's exterior

Mr. J’s Deli is mainly known for its Sloppy Joes. Their Sloppy Joe platters are extremely popular and people will order them for any occasion, everything from Communions to tailgating. When the holidays roll around Mr. J’s can put together hundreds of platters in just one night. In addition to the Sloppy Joes the most popular menu items at the deli include subs, salads, and chicken dishes.

Owner John Taggert

Owner John Taggert

The deli serves up breakfast and lunch and has expanded its breakfast menu since it first opened. Mr. J’s now offers more breakfast options like omelets, French toast, and pancakes. Lunch is by far their busiest time of day as the deli juggles eat-in customers, delivery orders, and catering platters. The deli also runs 10 daily specials which it posts on its Facebook page.

Customers Eating

John stresses that the quality of the food at Mr. J’s Deli is something that he’s extremely proud of. Everything is homemade and fresh bread is delivered every morning. He will put in a 12-hour day, 7 days a week, yet doesn’t really consider it work. John can’t imagine a better job than one where he can catch up with friends while serving them a delicious meal.

Mr. J’s Deli
www.Facebook.com/Mr. J’s Deli
15 Walnut Ave.
(908) 272-0370

Jun 302014

Have you seen the new pay stations in Downtown Cranford? These pay stations will make your downtown experience even more enjoyable with easy to read screens and receipts, as well as convenient payment options. Here is some information on the new pay stations, which will be located on the streets and lots, as well as parking downtown in general.

    • If you’re just running in then you can press “10 Minutes Free,” take your receipt and go.
    • You can pay using coins, dollar bills, credit cards, or your smartphone.
    • You can easily add time to your space from any parking pay station or your smartphone.
    • Street spaces have a 90 minute time limit to ensure fast turnover. If you need to stay longer you can park in the lots for up to 3 hours or in the garage for up to 4 hours.
    • There’s always free parking in Downtown Cranford after 6PM and all day Sunday.
    • Downtown is very walkable so why not stretch your legs and walk through downtown? It’s good for you and you might discover new stores and restaurants.
    • For more information on the new pay stations click here. You can even view a video that shows you exactly how to use them.

Questions? Please contact the Traffic Division of the Police Department at 908-709-7335 or 908-709-7336.


Jun 272014

Downtown Cranford welcomed yet another business to town when Sub-Ology opened its doors earlier this week. The restaurant industry is in owner Paul Robicheau’s blood as his grandfather owned a Stewart’s stand and his cousins are also in charge of their own food establishments. Paul’s girlfriend, Meaghan, has also been involved in the restaurant business and she collaborated with Paul on the menu for Sub-Ology.

Paul and Tim

Owner Paul and his brother-in-law Tim

Paul had always wanted to open a food establishment and gravitated towards a sandwich shop as he felt he could offer exceptional quality and service. The store serves Boar’s Head cold cuts and uses local purveyor Breadsmith for their bread. Paul wants to offer people food that he would want to eat, as well as a clean and welcoming place to enjoy it. The store offers 8 and 16 inch subs, paninis, salads, veggie wraps, and homemade soups and salads. Meaghan enjoys eating and cooking healthy food and helped come up with many of the healthier-inspired items on the menu. For sandwich lovers the store has a variety of traditional options including Ham & Cheese, Roast Beef, Tuna Salad, and Turkey & Swiss (Paul’s favorite). Customers looking for something a little different from the standard sub shop fare also have a number of choices including Pulled Pork Panini, Apple Walnut Salad, Spinach Wrap, and Hummus Platter.

Sub-Ology offers catering for any occasion or business function in the area with sandwich platters, salads and 3 foot and 6 foot subs. The store is open 7 days a week, and stays open until 10 on Fridays and Saturdays for late-night moviegoers. Paul is hoping that great food and ample seating will entice families to eat there, and to that end the store offers kid-friendly sandwiches like Grilled Cheese and Nutella and Banana. Milkshakes, smoothies, and Daily Specials will be added to the menu. The menu will also be changed due to the seasons and customer feedback.


Paul discovered Downtown Cranford thanks to Meaghan’s daughter who attends school in the area. He loved the location and felt that the family-friendly nature of Cranford is a perfect fit for Sub-Ology. A number of local business owners have come by and welcomed him to town. Customers were waiting with open arms too, peeking their heads in the door before the business even opened. On only their second day Sub-Ology was already greeting repeat customers, a great sign for a business that is eager to become part of the Cranford community.

Menu 1

Menu 2

17 North Ave W
(908) 276-5250


Jun 242014

If you’re a small business owner or thinking about becoming one, then UCEDC is a Downtown Cranford business you should become well-acquainted with. UCEDC is a non-profit economic development organization whose sole focus is helping small businesses. UCEDC supports small businesses in three ways: 1) Helping businesses put proposals together for government contracting 2) Offering business training workshops 3) Lending to small businesses when they don’t qualify for a bank loan.
UCEDC started out in 1977 focusing only on Union County. The organization is now big enough that it helps businesses statewide, though it still maintains a focus on Union County. One of UCEDC’s biggest challenges is just making sure that people know about them and what they offer. The company raises awareness through their website, emails, networking, and working with community organizations. The training programs UCEDC offers include Pricing Products and Services, How to Read Financial Statements, as well as training programs in business specific computer programs, such as QuickBooks.

The loans that UCEDC give out are split 50/50 between new businesses and established businesses who are looking for working capital. UCEDC understands that businesses have to spend money to make money and many times the loans are used to buy new equipment, renovate, or expand the existing business. Loans range from $5,000 to $5 million so there is assistance for any kind of business.

If you’re interested in learning more in order to get your small business off the ground or to improve your already established business then check out their website or email Robin Preisler at rpreisler@ucedc.com.

75 Chestnut Street

Jun 182014

Have you always wanted to learn another language but never took the initiative? Then you’re in luck as Downtown Cranford is home to Ciao Amici which teaches students of all ages how to speak Italian. The owner, Filomena Coccaro, was born in Italy and lived in Rome where she received a Psychology degree and also met her husband. Filomena and her husband moved to Brooklyn from Italy before settling in Cranford on the suggestion of her husband’s colleague. Filomena found there was a need for native Italian speakers in the area so she started teaching Italian classes before moving to private lessons. As her student enrollment grew Filomena decided that it was time to move into an actual storefront and Ciao Amici opened its doors 3 years ago.
Ciao Amici takes on students of any age – their current students range from ages 3-84. Students just have to commit to an hour a week and Filomena asks them to attend for at least a month. The center employs two teachers, including Filomena, and has about 100 students currently enrolled. Many of the adult students this time of year are looking to prepare for a trip abroad. Filomena teaches them about more than just language including how to travel in Italy, what trains to take, and the key phrases they need to learn.
Filomena Teaching
In addition to language lessons Ciao Amici also offers events that teach about Italian culture. The events rotate between highlighting the culture and food of a region and an opera event. The last event focused on the Amalfi Coast, and after a presentation on the region and its culture students were able to taste regional dishes. The cultural events are open to students and non-students and fill up quickly.

Ciao Amici serves a number of students who have come to them for different reasons. Many of their students are Italian-Americans who want to learn the language and culture as a way to connect with their parents and grandparents. Parents send their children to the school so they can learn Italian in a school setting. The children attend classes twice a week with all lessons using Italian as the first language. Though some students may only come for a short time to prepare for a trip others have been coming for as long as the school has been open.
Filomena is constantly exposing her students to as much of the Italian culture as she can. She has started selling products from Italy including Leone candies and chocolates. Filomena is also planning a student trip at the end of August to Ischia, an island off Naples. Filomena always stresses that people can take an introductory class before signing up for lessons so don’t be intimidated. Stop by and let Ciao Amici transport you to Italy.

Ciao Amici
25 North Avenue West
(908) 931-9100


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