HLS Bar and Grill: Great Food on Main Street

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Emeka and Arinze (Ari) Onugha, brothers, CHS graduates, and owners of Health Love & Soul Juice Bar & Grill have developed 1859 Springfield Avenue into a distinct restaurant space that serves great vegetarian and vegan food, along with other dishes.  HLS has a growing list of customers and is contributing to the economic development goals of Maplewood township.

I had dinner at HLS yesterday with friends who live in town.  I heard great reviews first hand from customers during my visit.  Left, a photograph of a happy customer and Union resident eating my favorite item that my group also ordered, sweet potato chips.

In the three months HLS has been in business it has gotten great reviews. Mary Mann, for Patch, wrote about the bar and grill’s opening in her article “HLS Juice Bar & Grill Open.”  “Juice Bar Will Fill The Bill“is her other article on the bar and grill – and in several ways HLS does, in fact, fit the bill for our main street.

Maplewood struggles with high property taxes and with the economic downturn storefronts on Springfield Avenue are closing.  Our township needs more property subject to tax (ratables).  It is working hard to reverse the trend of businesses closing by courting large retailers like Walgreens, and assisting small retailers like HLS in relocating to Springfield Avenue.

The owners relocated the bar and grill to Springfield Avenue this summer from Montclair. The grand opening was held on Tuesday May 4, 2009.  Emeka and Ari have incorporated an outdoor cafe eating area on Springfield Avenue, along with dine-in and take-out, bringing their own select group of pedestrians and shoppers to the main street.

Our local government is bringing new life to Springfield Avenue having redesigned our main street.  In doing so, it has created a quality public space and made it possible for business owners in adjoining spaces to bring additional life and foot traffic to the neighborhood.  In the last several years Maplewood township has utilized a range of design methods to encourage economic development and revitalization on our main street, including using a red brick paving pattern for the sidewalk, and creating wider sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic.  Pedestrian friendly crosswalks with digital countdowns, and fewer lanes in the street are meant to encourage commuters to stop and shop.  These design elements are complimented by others including metal benches and flower arrangements punctuating the avenue that add vibrancy to the location.

I love a good outside cafe.  The best outside cafe create a space in which I can savor and enjoy my food, observe, and appreciate my surroundings. My first thought when I entered HLS with friends was that we would sit outside on the sidewalk.  I  wanted to enjoy the design elements of Springfield Avenue.

I came with two others and, of the three of us, I was the only one eating at the bar and grill for the first time.  My order included a soy Photo_081909_002turkey burger with a bottle of water that was brought to our table.  The table we chose was on the sidewalk, and it was decorated by a single yellow flower.  As we ate dinner together, we enjoyed the cooler temperature and the scenery of our main street Springfield Avenue.

It’s great that Emeka and Ari Onugha incorporated outside seating to their bar and grill on Springfield Avenue.  Customers can enjoy good food while experiencing the street scape that makes our main street worth visiting.

No reservations needed.  For menu details call the Bar & Grill at (973) 763-1953‎ or  (973)763-1127.   Select this link for directions from where your traveling.

© 2010 W. S. Hughes

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