Monday, July 13, 2020

Mark Schwartz, deputy mayor of Teaneck, and The Jewish Link’s co-publisher, expressed pride in his community in helping local restaurants survive over the past three months, when many businesses experienced devastating, even catastrophic, losses. “The community did a great job of supporting the restaurants’ new take-out models, ‘keeping the lights on,’” so to speak, during the past few months of COVID closures, he said.

Schwartz joined in the celebratory sentiment when Teaneck’s restaurants reopened to diners with the advent of many open-air sidewalk cafes, as New Jersey entered stage two of emergent business operations. Stage three, set to begin July 2, will include indoor dining, but at 25% capacity, and with appropriately socially distanced table placement.

With the maintenance of outdoor seating, and the addition of indoor seating, Schwartz said, “It will enable the restaurants to safely serve more diners and increase their staff.”

The outdoor vision, however, has long been a dream of Schwartz’s, as well as other business-friendly town leaders. The idea is to further develop and create a destination for visitors as a “pedestrian plaza,” by shutting down West Englewood Avenue to vehicular traffic and creating a food plaza and strolling concourse for fair-weather enjoyment.

Trial hours are running until 9 p.m. daily, and Schwartz hopes the experiment will lead to a long-lasting, walkable destination for those visiting Chickie’s, Dougies BBQ, Yalla, Poppy’s Bagels/TCBY, Sushi Metsuyan of Teaneck, World of Goodies, Chopstix and FillerUp Kosher Wines. Any store can apply for outdoor seating, and relaxed rules are in effect until December 31. To view the executive order, visit https://www.teanecknj.gov/media/Covid19/OutdoorCafe.pdf.

Schwartz also notes that the Chestnut Plaza, on Cedar Lane, can be used for eateries such as Estihana, Ma’adan, Shelly’s Restaurant, Sababa Grill, Pizzalicious and the just-opened Narruto Bowl.

“Any store with private outdoor space can be open,” effective as of last week, said Schwartz. Some locations are using rear space, such as Noah’s Ark Restaurant and Deli, Sender’s Smoke Joint and Teaneck Doghouse. So when you don’t see tables in front, you can dine in the outdoor cafe area behind the restaurant. Mocha Bleu is using both side and front spaces.

Other stores on Queen Anne Road may use adjoining spaces, especially accommodating Sammy’s New York Bagels, EJ’s Pizza, Mocha Bleu, Rock N’ Roll Sushi & Noodle Bar, Schnitzel+, Wok 18 and The Humble Toast.

Schwartz commented that, per capita, the Teaneck kosher dining community possibly makes up one of the most active and vibrant outside of Israel. He expressed a vision for the Teaneck kosher scene to become even more of a destination for diners from outside the local community, benefiting all of the vendors—not just restaurants—in an upgraded area that is pedestrian friendly. Also in discussions is a parking garage for the expected increase in interest.

Schwartz also discussed the pedestrian and vehicular safety concerns regarding the intersection of Ayers Court/Parking Plaza and Queen Anne Road. In August of 2018, there was a request for better traffic control, one suggestion being the installation of stop signs on Queen Anne Road. Chief Glenn O’Reilly, Teaneck chief of police, did not recommend any changes at that time, but perhaps as pedestrian traffic increases, the topic will need to be re-addressed.

Visit the new Teaneck pedestrian plaza at the corner of Queen Anne Road and West Englewood Avenue.

By Ellie Wolf