A local chef/restaurateur who lives in Maplewood will open a restaurant and bar at the Clarus in Maplewood, the mixed-use development rising at the site of the former Post Office in Maplewood Village. Tom and Jennifer Carlin, the husband-and-wife team behind the Gladstone Tavern in Gladstone, signed a lease for a roughly 4,000 square-foot ground floor space on Friday, said developer Joe Forgione of JMF Maplewood LLC.
“We are thrilled to be opening a restaurant in the Village,” wrote Jennifer Carlin in an email to the Village Green. “We are so appreciative to Joe Forgione for securing the liquor license for this venture. This is home for us, our family [was] raised here, Tom [is] a lifelong resident here. We are looking forward to being a part of the fabric of Maplewood and adding a welcome and warm destination for our guests to enjoy, laugh, love, relax, and celebrate everyday life.”
The restaurant and bar will open its doors in 2017.
Raised in South Orange, Tom Carlin has spent 25 years in the restaurant world, working alongside such renowned chefs as Jonathan Waxman, Tom Colicchio, Alfred Portale and Barry Wine. In 2005, Carlin and his team renovated a 160-year-old landmark building in the Gladstone-Peapack area, and opened the Gladstone Tavern, which has been praised by the Star-Ledger, The New York Times and Zagat. In 2016, Edible Jersey wrote, “Chef/Owner Tom Carlin is passionate about his restaurant. He plans menus seasonally and makes good use of the Tavern’s proximity to local farms, visiting weekly during the season to source his menu. His cooking style allows ingredients to shine in his preparations. The Gladstone Tavern’s popularity reflects the fact that Carlin knows his audience.”
The restaurant will occupy nearly half of the retail space in the new development and will join two other signed tenants, Starbucks and BCB Bank.
Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca said that he began talking to Tom Carlin last year about the possibility of opening a restaurant in town, and Carlin was interested if there was a liquor license attached to the project. Initial discussions with a building owner in town were unsuccessful.
Earlier this year, after DeLuca learned a liquor license was becoming available he connected Carlin with Forgione, who expressed interest in purchasing the license. “There were serious negotiations over the summer and into the fall and I constantly spoke to Joe, Tom and Jennifer to keep the deal alive,” said DeLuca.
“I am very happy that an agreement was reached between the parties,” said the Mayor. “I think the new restaurant will be a tremendous asset for Maplewood Village. It is exactly the type of business we envisioned when we embarked on the redevelopment project.”
The liquor license transfer will need to be approved by the Maplewood Township Committee (which acts as the local Alcoholic Beverage Control.)
Forgione is negotiating with other potential retail tenants for the remaining space. He said there has been a great deal of interest from a variety of businesses, but he wanted to ensure that any tenants would not compete directly with other local businesses and would “bring vitality to Maplewood Avenue.”
Last month, the Maplewood Township Committee agreed to grant an easement to the developers of The Clarus to place an enclosed garbage dumpster at the rear of the building to accommodate a restaurant. The Maplewood Planning Board will hear that request for approval on Thursday.
The restaurant will join a new eatery and bar in the former Highland Place space in the Village, expected to open in early 2017. (That business, which will be operated by the owner of the Publick House in Mountainside, was initially targeted for a fall opening, but renovations will take longer than anticipated, said DeLuca.)
In other news on the Maplewood restaurant scene, Cornbread on Springfield Avenue is slated to open in the spring.