I write this tonight at great risk. I am in serious danger of becoming typecast as a one trick pony; being pigeonholed as that guy that writes excessively about Jersey City. But that is only half of the danger. I have also come to realize, mostly by close association with those that holds to this idea, that many people don’t want the secret of Jersey City to be out, for fear all kinds of riff raff will come join us in our haven on the other side of the Hudson.
This very writing has the potential to anger not only good friends, but thousands of my fellow citizens who, should they someday recognize me getting off the PATH or at a concert in one of our burgeoning rock venues or at one of our many excellent restaurants, would certainly not hesitate to, at the very least, shoot me a stern glance.
In the face of all of this I write to share a secret that I believe must be shared.This particular bit of knowledge is not merely that Jersey City exists as a wonderfully cozy place to live, though it is. No, this secret is much more specific, much more…intriguing.
(ENOUGH ALREADY, I can hear you say).
So, without further ado, the secret is this: Queens and Brooklyn are no long the sole bearers of the much sought after Beer Garden in the New York City area. Friends, allow me to introduce Zeppelin Hall Restaurant & Biergarten.
One moment it wasn’t there. Only the sound of construction on an ever-expanding stretch of Grand Street, a few minutes walk from the Grove Street PATH Station. Residential buildings were springing out of the cement with Statue of Liberty 2iews and commercial space was filling up on the ground level with things like “Green” Laundromats and Edible Arrangements. Updated brownstones, fabricated Tudors and buildings that look like kitchen appliances obscured the real, hidden treasure that was germinating like a seed inside this shell of steady development.
And then, after a few weeks of rumors and suggestions, on June 26, 2009, Zeppelin Hall attempted what is called a “soft opening” in the restaurant business. But it was anything but soft.It hit hard. By the time I got there, just a few days after they opened their doors, half of the food on the menu was sold out and a few of the over 144 draft lines were “tapped.”
No fear, I returned three more times since then and documented my experience for the Jersey City Independent. In addition, at that same periodical I announced my intention to blog about a different beer each week until either I have had them all, or I lose the ability to drink, write or both.
There is a downside to the arrival of this wonder…last Saturday night when I showed up at Zeppelin Hall with a few close friends to share with them my secret I found, perhaps naively, though still to my surprise, there was not a free table in sight, and their website claims to seat 800. Each of the three bars was inundated with drinkers. The food service window was handing out dishes of sausage samplers faster than they could take the hungry patrons money.
The secret was out. And for the first time since my wife and I moved to Jersey City I understood what my friends and neighbors had come to fear.If everybody moves here, this is what it will be like all the time. The quiet we enjoy when we get back to our side of the river will be gone, replaced with the sounds of hipsters howling in the night.
It is with this fear that I write. Sharing this most sacred of secrets. Risking it all. Do come for a visit. Check out Zeppelin Hall. Have a drink or two and bring your friends. But at the end of the night, get back on the PATH and go back to your side of the river. The train runs all night, you have nothing to worry about. And, when you’re there, back in your Brooklyn or your Queens, your Manhattan, Bronx or even Staten Island, tell people what you saw on the left side of the Hudson. Tell them the stereotypes aren’t true. Tell them about our burgeoning music scene. Tell them about the galleries. But please, just don’t tell them how cheap the rents are.
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