The Tipsheet: Museum Looks for New Members, Bred in Jersey Survives Car Crash, Chilltown Lunch and More

In this Tipsheet: Facing a Drop in Corporate Money, Jersey City Museum Looks for New Members | Bred in Jersey Survives a Car Crash, Plans to Re-Open by Month’s End | Chilltown Lunch Launches | The Future of the Hamilton Park Ale House

Facing a Drop in Corporate Money, Jersey City Museum Looks for New Members

Recently, colorful flyers have been posted all around town advertising an upcoming “New Members Bash” at the Jersey City Museum on Thursday, Nov. 12.

According to the posters, which are a play on James Montgomery Flagg‘s famous “I Want You For the U.S. Army” artwork, $65 (or $100 for the price of two) gets you a ticket to the soiree along with a full year of member benefits, which include unlimited free admission and invitations to openings, concerts, lectures and other events.

With the recession gripping local cultural institutions, and the fact that the New Members Bash is a first, JCI couldn’t help but wonder if the museum was having the event as a result of its recent funding struggles. (Last spring, two part-time positions were eliminated, and full-time staffers were forced to take a one-day-a-week furlough and 20-percent pay cut; a hiring freeze has been in place since the summer.)

“The main reason for the event is to generate individual member support for the museum since our major corporate funding that has generously supported the museum in the past has seen cuts, leaving the museum in a financially vulnerable situation,” said Rita Salpietro, the museum’s communications manager.

Nancy Shannon, director of development and marketing, declined to specify which particular funding — like government grants or corporate memberships and sponsorships — had fallen through.

“Our shortcoming (as an institution) has been relying on private funders, especially from the real estate and financial services industries, to underwrite our programs,” she said via email. “Now that the landscape has changed — perhaps for good — we need to make our individual supporters understand that we need to change, too, and ask them directly and often for their support.”

The New Members Bash will be the first major event under the tenure of the museum’s new executive director, Laurene Buckley, who was appointed as of Oct. 1 following the departure of Marion Grzesiak.

“Jersey City Museum’s financial situation is somewhat unique because our biggest supporters are from the two hardest hit private sectors,” said Buckley, in a statement forwarded to us by Salpietro. “We need the financial help of the people who live and work in Jersey City and Hudson County.”

As for the details, there will be cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and live music by 1930’s-influenced New York City jazz-pop quartet The Moonlighters. (Fun fact: vocalist/ukulele player Bliss Blood previously collaborated with Seattle grunge-punk progenitors The Melvins.)

The bash starts at 6 pm.

Bred in Jersey Survives a Car Crash, Plans to Re-Open by Month’s End

On Tuesday, Nov. 3, at around 2 pm, James Rembert, owner of the urban style and design boutique Bred in Jersey, was sitting inside his store on the corner of Jersey Avenue and 5th Street, listening to the radio and chatting with two co-workers.

Suddenly, “We heard this screeching, so we looked out the door and we see this car flying toward us. So we all jumped away and ran to the back. And the next thing we knew, the car was parked right in front of us. In the store,” said Rembert, recalling the incident to JCI by phone two days later.

Rembert said he immediately grabbed his son, who was at work with him that day, and ran outside.

“There was a lot of commotion,” he said. “Smoke and fumes were coming out of the car. Lots of debris.”

That car, a Ford Escort being driven by a 46-year-old Jersey City woman, had been struck by a SUV as it entered Jersey Avenue and was redirected towards the store, according to the police report.

Within five minutes or so, after a crowd of a few dozen onlookers had gathered at the crash scene, the cops and fire department arrived, Rembert said. He said that despite the scare, everyone involved seemed to be OK: “No blood. No one wheeled out on a stretcher. Everybody was fine.”

What was not fine, however, was Rembert’s boutique, which opened this past January.

Rembert said the entire exterior façade was ruined, as well as the floors and electrical system. Many of Bred in Jersey’s display items, including hand-made bags by local leather makers BillyKirk and various products imported exclusively from France, were destroyed, he said. He estimated the totals damages at around $10,000, and said insurance was covering the repairs.

On the bright side, “We may be able to re-open by the end of the month,” Rembert said. “We’re gonna build out with a new aesthetic, only carrying our own in-store brand. The whole format is going to change, which is something we’ve been planning for awhile. This just sort of ended up being a quick way to get it done!”

According to the police report, neither the drivers nor the passengers (a total of five people) suffered major injuries and no summonses were issued.

Photos of the mayhem can be found on Bred in Jersey’s blog.

Chilltown Lunch Launches

The last time he was in the news, back in April, Jersey City blogger Adam Robb Rucinsky (known professionally as Adam Robb), was embroiled in a rather hilarious media law controversy over his parody Twitter account of oft-maligned Daily News restaurant critic Danyelle Freeman, who was let go by the paper in August.

Now, Robb, a 31-year-old art dealer and Paulus Hook resident who’s been logging his culinary musings on The Life Vicarious since 2005, has a new venture to promote — Chilltown Lunch, a Jersey City-, Hoboken-, and Bayonne-centric food blog that he hopes will become the Sixth Borough’s answer to Eater and Grub Street, both of which pick up Robb’s posts on occasion. (The name is a play on the Manhattan food blog Midtown Lunch.)

“The purpose is to promote the dining scene on this side of the Hudson,” said Robb. “I don’t want to see Jersey City’s dining scene grow stagnant.”

The site launched in beta on Oct. 22 as a basic WordPress template and has been updated daily since then. It will have sponsored promotions in lieu of homepage ads, Robb said, and will feature as many as five writers once it really gets, well, cooking, including “prominent food bloggers from both sides of the Hudson.” Eventually, “Every day we’ll focus on one specific dish somewhere in Jersey City, and around that post news, features and recipes from area restaurants,” he said.

Simultaneously, as a way to promote Chilltown Lunch, Robb will be writing a Jersey City-based column each week on Time Out New York‘s food blog, The Feed — like the recent entry on New York power chef Suvir Saran‘s new Indian comfort-food joint, American Masala, on Greene Street, and his Nov. 3 item about local food trucks.

The site will also “help Jersey folk to navigate New York City better,” said Robb. “It encourages commuting both ways.”

Expect an official launch party later this month, he said.

The Future of the Hamilton Park Ale House

Speaking of local food, it’s been weeks now since the Hamilton Park Ale House has been closed for business, with brown craft paper covering its windows to suggest that some sort of renovation might be underway.

Locals have been curious about the fate of the Ale House — a quaint restaurant-pub popular with neighborhood sports fans thanks to its several large flat-screen TVs that would simultaneously broadcast various games — which sits on a quiet tree-lined street just a few blocks from the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.

Apparently, a re-branding is underway.

A source with knowledge of the situation told JCI that the Ale House’s current owner, Jim Leo, recently sold the decades-old establishment.

“It will be reopening in a few weeks under new ownership. The concept is gonna be an American bistro,” said our tipster.

Calls to Leo were not returned.

The Ale House was previously owned by Maggie Vecca, the restaurateur behind Skinner’s Loft.

A Nov. 20, 2005 New York Times piece by author Mark Rotella described the old-timey, It’s a Wonderful Life-esque vibe of the Ale House during the holiday season.

“My guess is that those who have never visited downtown Jersey City would conjure images that are far from a typical idyllic village, let alone anything remotely similar to George Bailey’s Bedford Falls,” he wrote. “But, perhaps especially because Jersey City doesn’t normally inspire such sentiments, a place like the Hamilton Park Ale House seems that much more magical … It may be a cold Christmas in Jersey City, but you’re warm and toasty in Maggie’s wonderful pub.”

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