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Biz Advocate: Fine Dining Not Fit for Industrial Area

Cheaper, more casual restaurant best suited to replace The Maestro 206.

High-end restaurants like The Maestro 206, which recently closed, have been a difficult sell in an industrial and traffic-congested area of Route 206, Hillsborough's business advocate said.

According to Gene Strupinsky, the space at 150 Route 206, which previously housed another fine-dining restaurant in CoccoLa, would be best suited for a less-expensive eatery to accommodate the high amount of blue-collar workers in the area.

"I consider it a problem area for a high-priced restaurant," Strupinsky said. "It is in an industrial zone whose workers have neither the time nor the salary for lunch at Maestro's prices. Neither will there be a large demand for business lunches in this part of Hillsborough.

"The proximity to Somerville with all its restaurants doesn't help, either. A restaurant like Maestro would be better suited for Town Center. Where they were, they would need other restaurants or businesses that draw people to have a shot at survival."

Strupinsky said he's reached out to three of his restaurant contacts and none have expressed interest in the space. According to Strupinsky, one of The Maestro's owners may consider re-opening the restaurant if he can find investors.

Many they would like to see a Trader Joe's move into the location.

That's something on everyone's wish list, Strupinsky said.

"Hillsborough would love to have a Trader Joe's," he said.

However, the "industrial location, small size of the building all work against it," according to Strupinsky, who said Trader Joe's has been targeting Bridgewater as a possible new location in the area.

The size of the location and the traffic configuration would also likely prevent a type of sports complex, as some readers suggested, from moving into the location.

"A possibility," Strupinsky said. "The negatives are that the existing building isn't suitable and the potentially large amount of traffic that this type of business could attract would be a problem at this spot on Route 206 without a traffic signal and being close to the trucks exiting the VA Depot. 

"Perhaps a right in/right out only traffic pattern might help or after Route 206 is widened in this area and a Jersey barrier is put in, but that is years away and hopefully something will be in the Maestro's building well before then."

Patti Buckle March 20, 2012 at 01:35 PM
I agree with Diane as far as the food at Cocola and service started out good but went down hill fast. We tried Maestro when it first opened, had some minor complaints that we voiced to the owner who just smiled and gave us a poor excuse. Gave them the benefit of the doubt and tried it a few more times. Lunch was fairly decent with good service, dinner was just not worth the trip! I was surprised it stayed open as long as it did. I believe something that is possibly a chain or an already established name that offers fair prices and convenient hours would be a good fit. Even the teenagers get tired of going to Applebees but because there is not much else to offer, it continues to get the business.
Pen Man March 20, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Another Strupinsky Stupidly. Jaspers did exceptionally well in that location, and before that the Jolly Ox, did too! Go back to sleep at your taxpayer paid for desk, on your taxpayer paid for salary and benefits program, while working for that taxpayer paid for retirement plan Eugene. Otherwise you embarrass the town when you open your mouth. How dare you say “ "It is in an industrial zone whose workers have neither the time nor the salary for lunch at Maestro's prices.” Do you have any idea how insulting what you said is? Are you saying all the people working in that area are just low class, common labor, simpletons who can‘t afford anything more than a bag lunch? You know what Eugene. You are the simpleton! You deserve to be fired for your uncalled for and totally disrespectful remarks.
Annette March 20, 2012 at 01:56 PM
I think someone should actively be seeking someone to come to the area. There are places like Outback Restaurant, even a Cracker Barrel that could make the grade there. There should be thought given to bring some other little businesses in the area, maybe across the way, and on down toward where Columbia Lumber was at one time.
Dan March 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Diane is right. My wife and I went to Maestro twice and each time it was either closed or they closed the kitchen early because business was slow. Of course your business will fail at that rate. As far as Gene Strupinsky, he has failed to attract businesses to Hillsborough as is evident by Charlie Browns becoming yet another bank, Cost Cutters is vacant, Pathmark (while it may become a Weis) has been vacant for months, the current Joey G's took way too loing to fill and now he has Maestro and K-Mart to contend with filling. Maybe what Hillsborough needs is a new Business Advocate
Joe March 20, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Maestro 206 was terrible. They charge a cover even if you're not there to see the live music. In the bar area, you could hear the terrible music being played by a DJ and the band in the other room and the two together sounded like mushed noise. I never went back.
Harold Levin March 20, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Jolly Ox eventually failed as did Jaspers (terrible food), Jersey Jims, and Coccola. Maestro never built a positive reputation in town which hurt them a lot. It seems To me that the majority of people who dine in Hillsborough look for Chinese food, pizza, fast food, family type dining, etc. which is why so many of those businesses stick around town. Outback is a good suggestion or something else along that price demographic like Chili's, Golden Corral, Macaroni Grill, etc. I believe Mr Strupinsky was trying to say that there are not enough people in Hillsborough at noontime looking for high priced meals that take an hour or more to get through which is probably true simply because of past history indicating that long lunches do not happen often in that area..
Deadone53 March 20, 2012 at 06:00 PM
too bad I-HOP couldn't move there to acommidate more people. I realize there's a bar there, but they could take that out,, and put in more seating. Tell me I'm wrong that I-HOP doesn't need a bigger space.
Pen Man March 20, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Well you can forget about anyone going there now. The stupid of the stupidest, our very own Business advocate just seal the door on that property forever. Hey Olive Garden, Hillsborough has a nice site for one of your restaurants even if our Business Advocate Eugene Strupinsky says the area is wrong and if filled with those dreaded restaurant business killing, blue-collar workers, who can’t afford your restaurant, but hey come put one of your restaurants in Hillsborough anyway I wonder how Trader Joe’s and some of the other business he says he’s been trying to court to Hillsborough feel about his statement? Strupinsky said he's reached out to three of his restaurant contacts, I can only wonder what he told them? Most people in that area neither have the time nor the salary for a restaurant t there, but I thought I'd call you anyway! This guy is a lose cannon, putting statements out there that turn business away, and insulting thousands of people all in the same breath. If the TC doesn’t get control over him, there will be some very good reasons not to reelect the current republicans come November. Your free ride is over Eugene. Time to earn the money you take. I’d say you are on some very thin ice ever since teh original Patch article woke you and your handlers up.
Laura Madsen March 20, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Maesto charged a cover?? Where did they think they were located? The NYC or Jersey Shore club scene? Wow.
Pen Man March 20, 2012 at 09:45 PM
In the same breath Eugene says teh high priced, high quality restaurants should go towards town center. Town center? You mean a place by the municipal building were a ton of Hillsborough’s finest bureaucrats who bring nothing to the table, but have the time and taxpayers money to ring up a $30.00, three hour lunch bill, a few times a week can easily reach? What a expensive joke this Eugene is. In one foul swoop our taxpayer paid for Business Advocate just killed forever that site for a restaurant, a Trader Joe’s, a sport place, or for that matter anything else, except a truck stop, right along with insulting a bunch of hard working, salt of the earth blue collar workers! Just watch, he get a raise! Must be nice to work for the government. Must be even nicer to have friends in the right place in the government.
jerseyjoed March 21, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Hmmmm,,,, a low priced place for the blue collar folks. The nearest White Castle is in Green Brook.
Curt Carnes March 21, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Since when is White Castle cheap? However, that might work there!
Annette March 21, 2012 at 03:21 AM
Outback or Olive Garden, something like that, is what should be aimed for. Forget the White Castle mentality, even though I know you're only joking.
Interested Party March 21, 2012 at 11:57 AM
If we want a place that will generate huge business, Sonic is it. However, any high volume casual dining establishment will generate traffic and as has been stated previously, the site is not great for traffic flow. A right turn in/out only set up could work as was described in the original article. And there are no neighbors to complain about the hours!
Hepcat March 21, 2012 at 12:12 PM
If those places did so well, why are they gone? Places that are doing well don't close up shop for no apparent reason. That being said, I continue to feel like Mr. Strupinsky is completely out of touch with the real world in Hillsborough, so we don't especially disagree there. I just don't see the need for name-calling.
Hepcat March 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM
I bet you Cracker Barrel would do VERY well here. But I can't help thinking a place like that would be better off, closer to the middle of town.
Hepcat March 21, 2012 at 12:20 PM
Sonic would be great there - and it would definitely be a draw! Might create too much traffic though. Those places are always packed, especially when they first open! Too bad the group that wanted to open it only wanted to force the town to approve one particular location, despite all the resistance, instead of considering other locations in town. Maybe Mr. Strupinsky should follow up with them now. There ARE neighbors there though. 2-3 homes are very close by.
jeff kampf March 21, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Somebody better do something. Business advocate? A joke...Hillsbourough is quickly becoming a ghost town!
Pen Man March 21, 2012 at 02:40 PM
Mr. Strupinsky, already stated he reached out to all three of his restaurant contacts and none of them were interested. I would assume that included Sonic, I mean don’t you think Eugeue would have kept their information? Eugene is a good example of just what is wrong with government today. He was given a part time job back in 2005 so as to sneak him in under the radar. But that job started his taxpayers paid for retirement clock running, and now he has 7 years of doing nothing under his belt and his salary has gone from part time to full time, now over $50,000 a year. Give him another 3 years in his job, if the TC raises his salary so he averages $65,000 over those three years, Eugene retires on the taxpayers dime receiving almost $ 12,000 a year, group life insurance, reduced rates health benefits for the rest of his life., and if he sets his retirement program up right, it will carry onto his spouse or even children! So Eugene over his 10 years will have hit the taxpayers for $400,000, then he lives for another 35 years, he will cost the taxpayers another $400,000. Does anyone here actually think this guy is worth three quarters of a million dollars not including his discounted health benefits, to insult blue-collar workers, and put out to the world this is no place to put a restaurant or anything else for tht matter? Eugene is not just a joke, he is a costly joke!
spokey March 21, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Sorry Gene but DIane is right. The service was bad to mediocre. The food was mediocre / mundane as well. That has been true of most of the restaurants there. Of course I would drive the one extra mile (compared to say Rafferty's) if the service and food was good. I don't know about Gene's taste, but as far as I am concerned Hillsborough has 0 fine dining. I'd pay for a meal that was surprising and good. Penman; i think Gene was there before 2005. Seems like it has been years since he went full time. But you are correct to compare how much damage he could do in a part-time position vs the full-time position by the vacancies as a part timer vs full timer.
Pen Man March 21, 2012 at 06:05 PM
Another Stupid Strupinsky move: http://hillsborough.patch.com/blog_posts/kmart-is-not-closing-in-hillsborough Read the comments, seems some here have a much better handle on things than Eugene! Time to quit planning those parties, and golf outing Eugene and get to work, really earning the taxpayers money you are taking.
Boro business owner March 22, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I want to make a comment about gene as a small business owner in the boro. He is a huge supporter of ours within the township and is an advocate for us businesses, he is our voice within the municipal building and i would not have my business open if it were not for him. I just recently had a townsip issue and i get emails from him at 9 at night updating me on what he has found out for me. I know many business owners as well in the boro that will also sa the same for gene. His job is to help us businesses in the boro and he does that incredibly well and i am glad i was introduced to him because it was NOT easy to start up in the boro. He does not control the crappy traffic situationon 206 nor the fact it is hard to sell a building that it takes 30 minutes to make a left turn out of! Thanks gene for the hard work, us business owners appreciate the help!
BDVideo March 22, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Jaspers and Jolly Ox. Thank you Pen Man for reminding me of the former names of that place. It was bugging me that I couldn't remember what it was before Jersey Jim's Brewery.
BDVideo March 22, 2012 at 04:06 AM
I've said for a long time that the Maestro 206 location is terrible for a restaurant. My opinion was based on seeing restaurants come and go for the 40 years I've been here, and the traffic situation there. But now I wonder if the real problem was just a long history of bad or mediocre restaurants. Take a look at Tusk in Skillman. It was County Line, then Dakota (which I liked), Pipers (which I liked), something Italian and now Tusk, which seems to be doing well. Of course, only time will tell. Regarding traffic, look at Tiger's Tale in Montgomery. That's on one of the worst traffic spots around. But it has built up a reputation over 25 years. And you can smell steaks cooking as you drive by. So now I have a new opinion. If someone opens up a restaurant there - I'm thinking casual and affordable like Tiger's Tale - it might work. You can see here that opinions and reviews spread like wildfire on social media and comment sections, so a new business would have to be great from day one. It would have to advertise like crazy, especially if it has something unique on the menu. Some good seafood or Tex-Mex would fill a gap in Hillsborough's choices.
AcTwisted March 22, 2012 at 08:07 PM
let's not forget the chinese buffet by Salad Works has been empty well over a year & now BlockBuster is empty. Hillsborough dining choices are sad!! (unless you want pizza..... there's over a dozen of those!!!)
marge bruno March 23, 2012 at 05:43 PM
margemargve get a chain to come in, like jose tejas. i went to all those other places and they were crap. this is 2012 not 1980.
Pen Man March 24, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Mayor: Biz Advocate not fit for Hillsborough Is what that headline should have read.
chris April 05, 2012 at 05:31 PM
i didnt read all the comments, but (i mean this as respectfully as possible) was "the maestro" *fine* dining?
sammy April 05, 2012 at 07:06 PM
boro business owner - you are wasting your time on people here . they have made up there mind based on faulty logic, lack of facts, idiotic presumptions ; especially the ones where they think because Gene opened his mouth that any prospect wiil now ignore us.. too funny. anyway, we who have used his services know his worth and frankly he never seemed affected by what losers like these go on about since without the facts they can opine but it is nothing but hot air. If you own a business in this town you are far better off today with Gene than when we did not have him here. And for the bs complaints about Gene, let me point out that all of the companies mentioned either have their own marketing/site location consultants or use a private company to check metrics to determine the worthiness of this area for any of those businesses. Also, many of the family style , mid priced restaraunts mentioned would be franchisees with PRIVATE MONEY making a choice to come here ... not a corporate conglomerate. Pure stupidity here.
Bharat June 17, 2012 at 04:24 PM
are there many Indian restaurants in Hillsborough? do people here think it would work? obviously the food has to be super & service even better than food.

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