CUPS a victim of Morristown froyo wars; Iron Bar hopes to expand Mexican restaurant into its space

Downtown Morristown entered this winter with three frozen yogurt shops.  One of them won’t see the spring.

CUPS, which opened in March 2012 as a “nightclub for kids,” has closed its South Street location, citing a weak retail base and limited parking.

Landlord Jimmy Cavanaugh said Thursday he hopes to extend his proposed Gran Cantina Mexican restaurant into the 2,100-square-foot space vacated by CUPS, to create a larger restaurant.

But that will hinge on whether the town council eases conditions it imposed on the Gran Cantina back in October 2012, he said.

The council allowed Jimmy to expand his Iron Bar liquor license next door into the proposed Gran Cantina (the former Zebu Forno café), provided the Gran Cantina halts alcohol sales at 11 pm and reduces its bar size.

At the time, council members and residents asserted that the downtown already was saturated with young bar patrons wreaking late-night havoc.

CUPS in 2012...and now. Photos by Kevin Coughlin

CUPS in 2012…and now. Photos by Kevin Coughlin

Jimmy disputes that, and contends he cannot get bank financing for the Gran Cantina because the early bar closing stipulation would harm the restaurant’s chances for success.

Jimmy Cavanaugh ang Darrell Remlinger, partners in new Morristown nightclub, the Iron Bar. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Jimmy Cavanaugh and Darrell Remlinger, partners in the Iron Bar. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“It’s very difficult to tell someone who sits down at 10:30 that you only have a half hour–and then you can’t have a drink,” he said.

Around April he intends to ask the council to extend his Iron Bar liquor license into the former CUPS space–and to drop the 11 pm restriction, he said.

Otherwise, Jimmy said, the downtown may be stuck with empty storefronts. He contends the economy, parking issues, and town taxes of $7 per square foot make it hard to attract retail tenants.

“A methadone clinic approached me, but I didn’t want to put that downtown,” he said.

Jimmy added that he tried, unsuccessfully, to entice the owner of Mendham Books–closing in March after 17 years in business–to relocate to his storefronts in Morristown.

‘LIKE A MINI-HOBOKEN’

When CUPS came to Morristown, an official with the chain described the town as a perfect fit: Lots of kids, lots of opportunities.

“It’s kind of like a mini-Hoboken,” CUPS Vice President Lou Beyer told MorristownGreen.com at the time.

The shop put bikinis in the window and old beach party movies on its flat screen. The 24 self-serve flavors and 50 toppings were secondary.

“We don’t look at this as a yogurt shop,” Lou said. “It’s a nightclub for kids.”

In a statement issued Thursday, CUPS co-founder Rick Barbrick said:

“We made a business decision to close the corporate location in Morristown, NJ. As part of company’s franchise expansion strategy, this location was one of several test markets for the brand to access the benefits of different types of location areas/types. After two years, we felt it was in the company’s best business interest to close.

“We have offered employees transfers to other locations and all except one, who had transportation challenges, accepted.

“Traditionally, CUPS locations are built around destination venues such as shopping malls or areas with a strong retail base. The Morristown location did not share those attributes and was more of a work and nightlife area with very limited parking.”

Morristown was the fourth location for CUPS, which started in Clifton in 2010 under the corporate umbrella of the Briad Group, which operates T.G.I. Friday’s and Wendy’s. The closure will enable the owners to focus on expansion to places “better suited for CUPS,” said Rick.

Marketed as “frozen yogurt–that’s hot,” CUPS opened 11 shops in New Jersey, New York, Florida and California last year. Rick said up to 80 more franchises are anticipated over the next few years.

Taro and Strawberry Fields remain to satisfy Morristown’s froyo cravings. The Creamery has been serving ice cream on South Street for years, Enjou Chocolat sells it during warm weather, and Blimpie offers frozen confections.

Others have had a tough time weathering the public’s changing tastes. Baskin-Robbins, Ricky’s, Tart & Tufo (gelato), Rita’s (frozen custard), Morristown Dairy and, last fall, Café on the Green (gelato), have come and gone.

The Morristown CUPS team in 2012: The Cups team. Back (L-R): Cassie, Tiffany, Samantha, Reilly, Natalie and Jackie. Front (L-R): Ally, Sarah and Laura. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Morristown CUPS team in 2012: The Cups team. Back (L-R): Cassie, Tiffany, Samantha, Reilly, Natalie and Jackie. Front (L-R): Ally, Sarah and Laura. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

 

 

 

 

 



Comments

  1. Are we really thinking about letting Iron Bar expand again? Iron Bar….. Iron Bar basement…. Iron Bar’s Gran Cantina….. Iron Bar’s Gran Cantina into Cups……. What is next? Good thing Iron Bar doesn’t share a wall with Century 21!!! At least Hoboken keeps their bars spread out. What is going to happen when The Office opens back up and nobody can get in because Iron Bar’s line blocks the entrance? Good luck 40 Park residents, and good luck to the Morristown Police controlling 4,000 drunk people on one block at 2am every weekend

  2. There are many successful resturants on South Street and the surrounding areas without a liquor license, ie Origins, Guerriero’s, J Himari Sushi, Caffe India, Olive Lucy just to name a few. I would imagine their success and sustainability has to do with the quality of the food and less to do about the alcohol. They face the same parking issues as any other merchant on South Street. I hope the town council holds their ground and leave the restrictions in place. Time to stop whinning!

  3. Margret Brady says:

    Old timers remember when The Wedgewood Inn further down South Street, focused on food service was successful for many years. When it was replaced by Society Hill, the new owner kept expanding the bar and increasing capacity. It seemed that the more the bar expanded, the more problems they had, Society Hill failed and was replaced by Argyles and then Phoebes and then Jimmies, all with an emphasis on the bar rather than the food. They all failed. Do you see a pattern here. Was it because those ventures had too much parking or were to far away from downtown. When the historic Inn was replaced by a bank, the liquor license was moved further up town and expanded again. Now it is located in a prime retail area and there’s a parking garage right behind it. Its surrounded by thriving businesses, both old and new and yet the owner of the Iron Bar still claims its not enough. Perhaps a new look at his business plan is needed. Its not the responsibility of our municipal government to sacrifice the good of the town in order to benefit someone who doesn’t seem to know how to make their business work. Legally, if the Town permits one bar owner to create two liquor licenses from one and then also double the use of those licenses, why can’t every liquor license holder in Morristown demand the same privilege?

  4. I come to Morristown all the time, I like the nightlife, food and fun, I even use to shop a little here but over time I have noticed the dramatic decrease in retail. I think that it seems some people have personal issues with the owner of Iron Bar instead of really just looking at that fact that Morristown is growing and embrace it. Yes businesses, town residences and the community have to work together that is a given. If he is entitled to his business venture they let him do so. Roots and Urban Table 2 of Morristown’s recognizable restaurants made 2 places out of 1 liquor license……no one contested that nor said “why cant they just do it without the liquor and to maybe look at they business plan a little better”. So is everyone here really looking at legitimate gripes or personal as it seems. I’m all for Morristown to continue to grow but do agree that the growth must do so with proper business operation and cooperation with the town. The people who come to town at night are going to come and wait on any of the lines. Morristown has garnered this recognition at night for its food, drinks and fun so whether he is doing so with or without liquor an additional restaurant is going to bring people to town, they are going to come. Is town going to limit the number of people aloud to come at night?

  5. Jim Cavanaugh says:

    I wish to correct statements made by Marge Brady relative to the old Wedgwood Inn location. When I purchased the building and business 35 yrs ago from Mr. McCausland who had operated the Wedgwood for many years, it was in fact failing. Many of these types of restaurants such as The Afton, The Harbor and Llewellyn Farms had run their course. Society Hill was a huge success in the early 1980s and helped to re-identify Morristown despite the tough economic times. Contrary to Ms.Brady’s statement about the expansion of the building, the Wedgwood was the entity which doubled the size of the structure. After five yrs of successful operation, 3 of my partners decided to sell. My new partner had a concept called Argyles, another very successful bar restaurant. He owned 5 locations and when his shore venues failed he closed Argyles. At that time, I stepped in and reopened as Phoebe’s and later, Jimmy’s. They were the same operating company and ran successfully for yrs. So much so that a patio was added for outside dining. When Commerce Bank approached me for the location, I agreed because Jimmy’s was a non-conforming use. The zoning had been changed from business to office and the business district was a much more practical location. When I purchased the old Woolworth’s building, it was a wreck. Almost the entire building is licensed with a full scale food operation. Yes in the evening on weekends our facility attracts clientele from all over. This is good for Morristown. It sends a message that Morristown is a popular metropolis and a business friendly place to locate. Contrary again to Ms. Brady’s comments, we are not creating two licenses, but simply creating two separate themes in one building, our own. No different from Roots and Urban Table. The personal attack from Ms. Brady is uncalled for and more importantly not true. I pay an enormous amount of property taxes to Morristown, along with state and federal taxes. I employ 60 people at Iron Bar, many from Morristown. I moved my business from the residential area to the business district because that is what the zoning permits. Maybe I’m missing something. Regardless, vacancies and business failures persist throughout town and with the increase of online shopping, this trend will continue. It is difficult for the mom and pops stores to survive. The money expended to fit out spaces for my tenants only to have them go out of business is bad for me as a landlord as well as Morristown.

  6. KJohns Mtown Res says:

    I live in Morristown. Roots and Urban Table close at 11pm and are not connected to a 1000 person capacity nightclub and advertise “2 levels, 3 Rooms, 2 DJ’s & 1 HUGE PARTY.” That area is already too congested as is. I don’t think this has anything to do with personal issues. I think this has to do with reality. If we want Mtown to expand like Hoboken, these places need to spread out. I walk my dog at night and there is barely any room on the sidewalk near the Iron Bar, but do not have that problem at Urban Table or Roots and that is probably due to the fact it is not a “2 level HUGE PARTY” establishment sharing its liquor license. I can only imagine the spill over between the two restaurants. I’m all for Mtown expanding and growing and new restaurants/bars thriving but this specific area has had enough.

  7. Sergio Burani says:

    Enough is enough. Iron Bar, or any other drinking establishment, should expect bitter opposition from local residents to any plan that would increase the number of intoxicated, boisterous people walking around the streets of Morristown. I am a local resident and let me tell you: what goes on in our streets at 2 AM every week-end night is not pretty. Fighting, littering, screaming, puking, urinating, etc. I encourage everyone who does not believe this to come and take a look.

  8. Jeff Redmon says:

    Sergio- I would suggest not walking around at 2am.

  9. My husband and I live in Morristown, and we love when the town opens new restaurants. We are supporting Jimmy’s new proposal specially Mexican food!

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