WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield commuters will soon be able to enjoy margaritas after work at a new Mexican restaurant coming to North Avenue Station later this year.
At Tuesday’s Westfield City Council meeting, Mayor Shelley Brindle and council voted unanimously to authorize the award of a contract to Maize Cocktails and Cocina – a globally inspired Mexican restaurant and cocktail bar – to be opened in the station building.
According to the announcement, Maize will feature a square cocktail bar that seats 25, as well as indoor and outdoor dining and patio seating. Maize will be able to apply for a liquor license, since the property is owned by the city, which will allow them to offer a full bar offering an array of signature cocktails, tequila mezcals, and Mexican spirits.
Maize also plans to offer live music and entertainment, turning the North Avenue station parking lot into a permanent pedestrian plaza.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to repurpose an iconic, underutilized city asset to drive downtown economic development and create a new source of revenue for our municipality that will be dedicated to beautifying our center. -town,” Brindle said.
“With its globally-inspired cocktails and cuisine, relaxed and lively atmosphere, and thoughtful restoration of a historic building, Maize will play an important role in the revitalization of our downtown, driving additional foot traffic that will benefit everyone.” our local establishments,” she said. added.
The city will lease the building to chef Jesa Hennebery – a culinary expert who recently appeared as a cast member of the new Food Network series “Big Restaurant Bet” starring Geoffrey Zakarian. She also appeared in ‘Chopped’ – winning her episode in 2016.
In 2017, Hennebery was the creative culinary consultant chef behind New York City’s acclaimed plant-based Mexican restaurant “Jajaja”, recognized as one of America’s Best Vegetarian Restaurants by Thrillist and Eater. Jajaja has four locations across New York.
Experienced restaurateur Kamal Arora of Arora Hospitality Group will also lease the building alongside Hennebery. Arora invested in Moghul Express and Moghul Catering in 2007, which is now the largest Indian catering company in the United States.
Arora has also launched Mithaas – an Indian confectionery with five locations in New York and New Jersey, as well as fine dining establishment Urban Spice and Indian-inspired pizzeria Papa Pancho.
“The essence and concept of corn is rooted in the backbone of local history and
neighborhood vibe and provides a unique addition to downtown Westfield,” said Arora.
Hennebery added that corn will basically be Mexican food and cocktails with a twist, as it mixes various ethnic and cultural influences from around the world.
Additionally, Maize aims to make sustainability a priority by serving quality, organic and locally sourced ingredients.
Hennebery and Arora are also committed to employing local people in the community and preserving history in the creation of Maize. The duo have worked with the Westfield Historic Preservation Commission and are making a significant investment to ensure the building, which dates back to 1892, is restored in a way “consistent with its origins”, according to the announcement.
NJ Transit was also instrumental in allowing Westfield to use their property as an outdoor dining area at the rear of the building.
The initial 10-year lease, starting May 1, also includes two five-year renewal options. The City will receive $6,000 per month for the first three years of the lease, followed by an annual increase of 3%.
The City plans to use rent collected from Maize to support downtown beautification efforts.
The tenants will also invest approximately $900,000 to renovate the building.
Construction of the building is expected to begin in June, with an expected opening in late 2022.
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