Individually colored depictions of a fiery mascot line the walls inside Flaming Burrito on Park Avenue as part of a fun effort to give customers their own stake in the Mexican café.
Although their food is fresh and delicious, owners Briscia Cruz and Moises Rodriguez say that special touches like the drawings are a big reason why customers come back for more.
“The restaurant becomes a part of them,” said Cruz last week. “We just want to be part of the community.”
A community-based attitude is well appreciated among Weehawken’s tight-knit restaurateurs, who are coming together yet again this Tuesday to present the 10th annual “Taste of Weehawken” fundraiser to raise money for the Weehawken Free Public Library.
The gala offers food enthusiasts the opportunity to sample the fare from restaurants and culinary purveyors in Weehawken, Hoboken, and other local towns, all for one price.
All proceeds will help support the library.
“It’s important because it brings the community together,” said Phillip Greco, the library director. “It connects people with the library.”
Residents who attend the event will get to enjoy music and drinks as well as all types of food.
Greco said that several restaurants come back to the event each year, and this year will also include several new ones.
Cruz, originally from Queens, went into business with her friend and former co-worker Rodriguez after they visited a friend in Weehawken and saw the “perfect corner” for their burrito shop.
Over the past nine months, they’ve become enamored with the area and are excited to be participating in “Taste” for the first time this year.
“I enjoy everything,” said Cruz. “I like how united [the businesses] are.”
Business unity is something that “Taste” veteran Paula Frasier, from the Italian eatery Paula at Rigoletto in Weeahwken, knows firsthand. Her restaurant has become an axis of business not only for her own delectable dinner service, but also for some area startups as well.
“It’s great to have new businesses in the area,” said Frasier. “We’ve all come together in a great way.”
Paula’s ovens are home to the delightful cupcakes that adorn The Goodie Box BakeShop down the street, and her dining area will soon open for a morning coffee shop service which will feature specialty roasts from Red House Roasters in Union City.
Both of the new businesses will also be participating in this years “Taste.”
“ ‘Taste of Weehawken’ is going to be more fun than ever this year,” said Frasier.
As for the goods that she’ll be serving up for the gala, her lips are sealed. But she could promise one thing – “it’ll be Italian and it’ll be delicious.”
New biz on the block
In addition to Red House Roasters and the Goodie Box, another new business will join the mix this year.
Touch of Spice, the first and only Indian restaurant in Weehawken, bills itself as “a new restaurant to spice up the neighborhood.”
Owners Praveen and Papita Nair will be giving “Taste” their touch of spice as well with kebabs, smooth mango lassis, and their famous samosas. Additionally, they will be premiering their wraps, which are made with various types of Indian breads.
The Nairs said they hope to get their name out into the community through the event and enjoy the festivities.
“We’re just having fun,” said Papita. “We’re looking forward to participating.”
The annual culinary feast attracts businesses from outside of Weehawken as well. GP’s, a popular Italian restaurant in Guttenberg, is a long time “Taste” participant.
George Politis is a third-generation owner of the restaurant, which once had an additional location in Weehawken.
Politis said he spent the first seven years of his life living with his family on top of the building that now houses Charrito’s on Boulevard East.
“We still feel very much connected to the town,” he said. “It’s fun for us, cause we’re community based.”
Even for the owners of the well-reviewed eatery Amanda’s on Washington Street in Hoboken, there’s a homegrown connection to Weehawken.
“We live in Weehawken,” said owner Julie Flinn. “Our kids have been using the library since they were little.”
Much-needed financial support
“It’s an example of what a great community we are,” said Mayor Richard Turner at the event’s preview last week.
With the unprecedented budget cuts to libraries this year, the fundraising component of “Taste” will take a leading role.
Turner said that the $15,000 to $20,000 the event typically raises for the library can help fill the deficits, and those dollars are more important than ever.
This year’s “Taste” takes place on April 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Food Court at Lincoln Harbor. Tickets are $55 per person for 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., which includes the extra preview hour and door prizes – and for those skipping the first hour, tickets are $30 per person for general admission from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Weehawken Free Public Library and Multi-Media Center, 49 Hauxhurst Ave. Tickets purchased at the door are subject to a $5 additional charge each. For more information, contact the library at (201) 863-7823.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.