Cupcake Carnivale Announces Brick & Mortar Opening in Moorestown Summer 2020

While there’s still a good bit of uncertainty over when restaurants and specialty food shops can open to allow customers inside, a popular South Jersey-based cupcake truck announced it will be opening a brick & mortar location in downtown Moorestown.

Cupcake Carnivale will take over the old location of The Cubby Hole, which, earlier in the year, moved into more spacious digs on Main Street.

The new bakery and cafe, located at 55 East Main Street is currently undergoing a fresh coat of paint and expects a Summer 2020 opening.

Once the pandemic restrictions are lifted, they will be serving brunch on the weekends offering such fare as scratch-made fluffy buttermilk biscuits and gravy, house-made granola and yogurt, and stuffed brioche French toast with seasonal fruit toppings.

The award-winning sweet food truck, known for its fancy cupcakes, started in 2012 by Jeffrey Jimenez and quickly became a food truck festival favorite in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area.

Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

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Groark Boys Drive-Thru BBQ at Washington Twp Senior Center

Just because we’re all being socially distant doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy good old-fashioned American BBQ. With BBQ season fast approaching, one South Jersey BBQ business is not letting canceled events stop them from firing up the grills.

On Thursday, May 28th, Groark Boys BBQ will set up their BBQ rig outside of the Washington Township Senior Center, located at 315 Greentree Road in Sewell, between 12:00 and 7:30 PM. Folks are encouraged to pre-order their meals for cashless and contactless pickup without leaving their vehicles.

Customers will have a choice of a pulled pork platter (with macaroni and cheese and slaw) or a rack of smoked baby back ribs.

Advanced orders can be placed online here.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Washington Township Mother’s Cupboard Food Pantry.

And — in case you missed it — Groark Boys BBQ recently won a $10,000 grant from Sam’s Club for small businesses struggling amid the coronavirus crisis. Nice job, guys! #SouthJerseyProud

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A & A Soft Pretzel Baking Co. in Camden Bakes On

The Great Depression. World War II. 9/11. 2008.

A 90-year-old soft pretzel baking company in Camden has seen a lot since it first opened in South Philly in 1929. Add the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 to the list.

A & A Soft Pretzel Baking Company located at 1100-1106 North 32nd Street in Camden is one of many small food businesses hurting by the coronavirus crisis. The South Jersey soft pretzel baking company has been impacted since a lot of their customers are closed and fundraising events paused.

“We deliver to a lot of places that are currently closed,” said Anthony Panara, fourth-generation owner of A & A. “With our customers closed, we don’t have that revenue stream. This is a test of agility for sure. We are adjusting our business like everyone else in these crazy times.”

Folks are always welcomed to pick up at their soft pretzel bakery in the Cramer Hill section of Camden. They’re using social media to promote a drive-up window for easy take out. They’ve also found a shipping solution so customers can order pretzels and have them delivered at home.

“We’re going to get through this like we’ve gotten through all the tough times in the past 90 years...focusing on the customer. They want quality ingredients, quality products, and quality customer service.” expressed Panara.

They are asking folks who want home delivery of soft pretzels, to get in touch with them to place an order and provide a shipping estimate. Call 856-338-0208.

You can follow them on their Facebook and Instagram pages (@a_and_a_soft_pretzel_baking_co) to see all of their specials and offerings.

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Valente’s Introduces Virtual Pasta Classes & Pasta Kits

Have you ever wanted to learn how to make fresh pasta? Valente’s Italian Specialties based in Haddonfield will be hosting virtual pasta making classes.

To get started, those interested would need to schedule their live class, then arrange to pick up the ingredients ahead of the class at Valente’s store at 7 Kings Court.

Each class including ingredients is $75.

Build your own pasta kits are also available which feature pasta cut, sauce, and meatball of your choice for $15.

Happy pasta eating!

Doing Good: Denim BYOB

I’m not sure if this will be a series of posts, but I wanted to call out some local restaurants who’ve stepped up to do more than just provide pickup and delivery during these turbulent times. They’re providing more than food, too.

When non-essential businesses were required to close to the public, many dine-in restaurants quickly saw their business plummet, some by more than 80%. Many decided to close altogether and simply ride it out temporarily. Denim BYOB in Haddonfield did just that.

But after a few weeks, Chef and owner David Murray started to become restless. Accustomed to working up to 90+ hour weeks at his Kings Highway restaurant, sitting around doing nothing isn’t his style. So, he decided to re-open with a revamped daily menu covering both brunch/lunch and dinner options at affordable price points.

“We’re not paying our bills doing this, but we’re trying to offer people inexpensive food,” said Murray.

The menu varies and is posted daily on their Facebook page and includes a la carte and family meal packages. Contact-free pickup is available between 12-8PM and delivery can be arranged within 5 miles of the restaurant.

Not only that, but Murray is also offering groceries and some essential quarantine items such as sanitizers, toilet paper, paper towels, and vinyl gloves in what he’s calling the Denim Marketplace all at very reasonable prices.

“I’m focusing more on the marketplace orders because this is what people need most. I started doing it because people were asking me for these things that I have easy access to. Plus it’s keeping people indoors and that’s important right now,” explained Murray.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going, as the say.

He’s more than ready to open when the time comes and the restaurant will take extra precautions to ensure people are confident about dining out again.

Are you aware of restaurants who are going above and beyond for customers? Let me know and I’d love to feature them!

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Mulhern’s Launches Free Lunch Giveaways in Merchantville

Who said there’s no free lunch?

Mulhern’s Auto Repairs in Merchantville is getting into the giving spirit during the COVID-19 crisis. Just this week, they started a free lunch giveaway promotion on their Facebook page.

They asked fans to like and comment “FEED ME” on the Facebook post on their wall as well as a couple of local Facebook groups. Within a day, they had many entries, and then they selected a winner who chose to enjoy lunch at Pronto Pizza compliments of the auto repair shop. It was well-received so they are doing it again.

The next winner will receive a $25 lunch at The Station Coffeehouse.

“It’s fun to shop in our small town and helping those food establishments along is really a good thing for all of us. Our contribution is just a small thing to do,” said Yvonne Mulhern.

Stay tuned for more giveaways from Mulhern’s in Merchantville.

Have you heard of any other feel-good stories of people helping food businesses?
Let me know!

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Fresh Produce Delivery Service Starts Up in South Jersey

They say necessity is the mother of invention.

Two brothers, originally from Cherry Hill, started Camden County-based Veggie Carriage so that families and vulnerable individuals can have affordable fresh produce delivered to their homes.

Since the coronavirus crisis began, the state of New Jersey encouraged folks to stay at home or shelter-in-place, prompting people to venture out only when necessary. While grocery stores and supermarkets remain open as essential businesses, lines are long and there are still many risks even when social distancing. The need to have groceries and food delivered has become increasingly vital.

Third-party services such as Instacart, Fresh Direct, and Amazon Fresh are being slammed right now, with delivery dates selling out quickly and sometimes being more than a week away. Seeing this essential need, Veggie Carriage was born to lend a helping hand to communities in South Jersey. Currently, they’re servicing most of Camden County and hope to expand to other areas in the coming weeks.

As a wholesale produce company, they are able to procure fresh produce at wholesale prices and pass along the savings to their customers, especially the elderly and families who are on a fixed income.

Additionally, as a way to help those economically-impacted, they are offering FREE next-day delivery on all orders above $25.

Word has spread around via local Facebook groups and they are using social media (Facebook and Instagram) to promote their service. As of now, they’re serving approximately 100 families a day and intend for that number to reach over 200 in the next two to three weeks. 

They will also be donating some produce baskets to those who are economically distressed during this time.

Folks wishing to place an order can visit the website to see if delivery is available to their zip code. They prefer orders to be placed online but will accept orders by phone especially from those who do not have access to a computer. Call 856-630-0112.

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Three South Jersey Food Trucks Feeding the Frontline

Mary Hilbert of Mary’s Mobile Diner is on a mission to make sure the essential healthcare workers and first responders at Cooper Hospital in Camden are supplied with fresh hot meals made to order during this difficult time.

Mary recruited fellow South Jersey food trucks Red’s Rolling Restaurant and Not Your Mama’s Tacos to line up outside of Cooper’s Emergency Room every night usually between 11PM-2AM (hours may vary) to feed the tireless medical professionals who are risking their own lives during the COVID-19 crisis.

Additionally, Mary is asking for the public’s help and is accepting donations via Venmo that will go towards hot meals for the hospital workers, EMTs, and police officers who are dealing with this healthcare crisis. So far, over 400 meals have been donated, but her goal is to grant at least 1,000 meals to these local heroes.

“These folks are working hard and we want to make sure they’re taken care of,” says Mary. “We’re happy to support these amazing people!”

If you’d like to donate a meal, Venmo @FTFL-Cooper.

Learn more about how you can help Cooper Hospital during this challenging time here.

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South Jersey Restaurants Offering Family-Style Meals

South Jersey restaurants can only provide takeout and delivery only during the COVID-19 crisis. Many are offering family-style meal options in addition to a la carte. In some cases, they’re also making alcohol available with orders. Here are a few restaurants offering family-style meals to go or delivered during this challenging time.

Seasons 52 – Cherry Hill

Seasons 52 in Cherry Hill is offering a streamlined menu for family-style meals enough to feed a family of four. You select 1 family-sized salad, 1 entree that feeds four, 2 sides, and 4 individual desserts. See the menu below. Because they want to remain as sanitary as possible, they would prefer you to pay over the phone prior to coming in to minimize contact at this time. Mention Neighbor to Neighbor and you’ll get 20% off your order! Call Seasons 52 at (856) 665-1052 to order between 12-8PM. Seasons 52 is also giving away TWO FREE MEALS to deserving families. Click here for details.

Tortilla Press (Collingswood) & Tortilla Press Cantina (Pennsauken)

Chef Mark Smith of Tortilla Press and Tortilla Press Cantina wants to help feed people during this difficult time without breaking the bank. He’s put together a Tasty Taco Table family-style meal enough to feed a small group or family. Fixings to make 26 tacos include crunchy corn and soft flour shells, taco beef and red salsa chicken breast, shredded cheese, lettuce, pickled jalapeno, pico de gallo, Mexican crèma for just $49. Available as pick up at the restaurants or delivery through Door Dash, EZ Cater or Caviar. Call 856-869-3345 in Collingswood or 856-356-2050 in Pennsauken.

Just Fork It – Haddon Township

Yard House – Moorestown

Yard House just started offering family-style meals that serve a family of four plus they’re offering 15% off all takeout orders (with promo code) from their Moorestown Mall location. Select from Mac & Cheese Meal ($50), Pizza, Wings & Salad Meal ($50), Chicken Meals ($60), or Steak & Salmon Meals (starting at $65). Click here for more details or call (856) 722-5620.

Bonefish Grill – Marlton

Bonefish Grill is offering Family Bundles that feed up to 5 family members starting at $30. Call 856-396-3122.

Know of any other restaurants that are offering family-style meals? Let me know and I will add them here.

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South Jersey Restaurants Struggling During COVID-19

Unless you’re living under a rock. Things royally suck right now.

This is an especially challenging and disheartening time for the restaurant business all over the country. South Jersey restaurants are definitely getting hit hard even though they’re still offering take out and delivery. Many restaurants have decided to close altogether and wait it out until it’s safe. It’s heartbreaking to think that some of these restaurants may not be re-opening when it’s all over.

I reached out on Twitter to ask restaurants how they’re holding up during this difficult time. Not only to see how business is, but to see how they’re coping and to give them a little love.

Criollo’s Latin Cuisine in Millville, NJ

Scott Guzman of Criollo’s Latin Cuisine in Millville, NJ responded…

“Already had to lay off staff. Sales are down easy 40% if not more you can see it in the streets traffic is just dead. I heard a rumor Uber and Lyft might be canceled if it hasn’t already. And if that happens, we might lose Grubhub UberEats Doordash etc. Delivery has spiked slightly perhaps maybe just 15% however one would have thought delivery would have spiked a whole lot more.”

“If you think about it, we just got over the slowest time for restaurants which is the winter months and we look forward to the tax return season to create a boost in business and this is typically our black Friday season or holiday season, if you will, where most restaurants get out of red and put away for winter. I feel we just didn’t do enough to contain this early on and now it’s just too late…”

Are you a restaurant experiencing a significant loss of business and severe economic distress during this unprecedented time? Contact me so that I can feature you here. I don’t know how much it will help, but I just want to give you some love because my heart is going out to you and all of the service industry workers.

WASH YOUR HANDS! STAY THE HELL HOME! ORDER TAKE OUT OR DELIVERY!

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