It’s not hard to stroll around town and wonder about vacant storefronts. Some locations change hands quickly, but others will seemingly remain unused forever.
Once-popular stores such as Grand Bakery at Eighth and Willow were home to a successful family-run operation, but now are devoid of products. Other oft-frequented places, such as the visible Blockbuster location in the heart of the bustling Washington Street, or La Scala Restaurant on 14th Street – which perished in a blaze six years ago – have either found new occupants after a long wait or were the subject of plans that never quite came to fruition.
Sowing the seeds of the Grand Bakery
Grand Bakery’s Eighth and Willow location has remained barren for seven years, and the sign still at the corner location harks back to simpler times. The business was once owned by John Castellitto, according to tax records. The bakery was sold to the adjacent Rogo’s Bar & Grill nearly two years ago.
Indeed, the Castellitto family and its relatives comprise a longstanding tradition of bakers. Just ask Dominick Castellitto, the proprietor of Dom’s Bakery Grand at 506 Grand St.
“We used to play cards in there.” – Dominick Castellitto
“We used to play cards in there,” said Castellitto with a laugh.
Now, the storefront awaits potential expansion by the Rogovich brothers, according to Ed Rogovich, one of the four brothers who runs Rogo’s Bar & Grill.
“I’m not sure what we’re going to do,” said Rogovich, who hasn’t ruled out a possible expansion of his bar. Rogovich said he is also weighing potentially leasing out the entire space for apartment usage.
“We’re trying to decide,” said Rogovich, adding that he expects something to happen within the next month or two.
For those still longing for the family-oriented approach to baking after all these years, look no further than Dom’s Bakery Grand or even the nearby Marie’s Bakery, which were founded within the same family.
In fact, the family’s tradition even expands all the way to Deerfield Beach, Fla., where the Teresi family, related to the Castellittos by marriage, has set up shop.
Castellitto said that the bakery on Eighth and Willow was an expansion location founded by the family, which perhaps used the name “Grand” in order to share a similar name with its first location.
Plans for Blockbuster site ‘very, very close’
Recently, a local website reported that Anthropologie, a franchise women’s clothing and accessory shop, was moving into the old Blockbuster site at 412 Washington St. Soon after the reports surfaced, it became unclear whether a lease was actually going to be signed.
According to a sales representative for the firm, there are no concrete plans for an Anthropologie to come to New Jersey, let alone Hoboken, for the time being.
An agent from RE/MAX Gold Coast said that the property is no longer in their system, which means that it is off the market. The agent also said that a 10-year lease agreement with Anthropologie is in fact “very, very close” to being a done deal.
“The property does have a huge client,” said the agent, later revealing it to be Anthropologie. “There was a little issue, some change of plan, and it’s not a 100 percent done deal. But it’s very, very close.”
The agent said that the lease agreement calls for $50 per square foot. The current space has nearly 8,000 square feet and comprises two floors.
The agent also said that if someone came in and made the right offer, the deal could be made with another client.
“If someone was willing to come in and to pay and agree to the owner’s terms,” said the agent, “who knows?”
La Scala’s rebirth
Another notable vacancy was the once popular La Scala Restaurant at 159 14th Street, which was lost in a fire in 2006.
The site is finally being used again after a long vacancy.
Owner Vivian Rivera of the V Spot Nail Spa said that she signed the lease May of last year, but wasn’t open for business until this past June.
“It took longer than it should have [to restore] the location,” said Rivera. “It shouldn’t have, but it did take them a year to fix [it].”
Rivera, who is born and raised in Hoboken, said her store offers a place for women and men to relax and feel “pampered.”
Rivera said she dined at the former Italian restaurant several times while growing up in Hoboken.
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at email@example.com.