Illustration by team illustrator Sakura Siegel.
New Jersey is home to over 900,000 small businesses, making it the 10th top state with the most self-employed residents. But even with those big numbers, lately, there’s been a handful of local Hudson County spots that announced they won’t be making it to the new year.
Among the dozen of closures, Corgi Spirits, Just Beclaws and Iron Monkey–all located in Jersey City–announced their last days of service roughly a week apart from one another this past month. Many locals took to the comment sections of each announcement, sharing memories and expressing how the closures are a “loss” to the community.
“This is terrible to hear. Corgi has been such an amazing place for my wife and I. We always pop in whenever we get the chance. I cannot believe they are not extending the lease. It’s a huge loss to the community,” Jonathan Kazar wrote on Instagram.
“Thank you for always providing excellent service, hosting great events and providing some of the best spirits around. Corgi will be missed.”
According to Corgi Spirits’ Instagram post, the landlord of the 1 Distillery Drive location will not be extending the business’ lease, forcing the city’s first and only local distillery to permanently close on Dec. 30, following its closing event, which is now sold out.
Situated in a crevice of the Bergen-Lafayette area, right beside the light-rail, Corgi Spirits was known for its events, atmosphere and famous Earl Grey Gin. On the outside, you’re met with an unexpected black warehouse–with a spacious parking lot accompanied with outside benches–where a single corgi is plastered as its mascot. Going inside, you’re met with a completely different vibe.
And it was a vibe that pulled so many locals in for six years, including Forbes.
“What a loss. Disappointing that the landlords didn’t appreciate your role in our community,” Heather Warfel wrote on Instagram.
The reason behind the landlord’s decision to not renew the lease is unclear. But, in the announcement, the team wrote that they hope “the Corgi Spirits story will continue, possibly in another form, at some point down the road.”
Just about a 10-minute drive into Downtown Jersey City sat Just Beclaws, a Vietnamese Cajun seafood restaurant that opened in 2015 by brothers Francis and Nambinh Tran, following the footsteps of their family who opened Miss Saigon in Jersey City more than two decades ago.
According to Just Beclaws’ Instagram announcement, they made the “difficult decision” after looking at “market conditions and other business considerations.” They closed their Jersey City location on Dec. 23 and, according to Google, their Newark Broad Street location was shut down as well.
From their raw bar to sandwiches like shrimp po’boy to wings, the 1st Street restaurant gave the community a unique taste of southern cuisine with Vietnamese influence.
Dubbed as the “best seafood” in the city–according to hundreds of locals on social media–Just Beclaws quickly became a go-to spot for seafoodies in and out of the U.S. One Instagram user commented “I’m from the UK and genuinely so sad to hear this! JBC is my go to restaurant every time I’m in the U.S.”
“Thank you for making [Jersey City] better. You all will be missed,” Thurman F. Carey IV wrote on Instagram.
From 1st Street, a five-minute drive towards the downtown waterfront will lead you to the Iron Monkey on the corner of Greene Street. Patrons are met with the old school brick exterior and, inside, dimmed lights brightened by the tons of booze on display. Heading up the steps brings you to the rooftop, which overlooks downtown.
But after Dec. 31, that’ll be gone.
Established in 1995, the Iron Monkey has become known for its beer offerings and rooftop. The bar and restaurant announced its closure on Instagram around the same week of Corgi Spirits, but didn’t state the reason behind their shut down. They expressed their “deepest gratitude for allowing us the privilege of serving you and being a part of this wonderful community.”
“I remember coming to eat with you during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Was waiting for a cab that took hours to get there but you stayed open and kept my drinks coming. Thanks for the memories!” Jason C. wrote on Instagram.
The Iron Monkey stated it’s “unsure” of what the future holds, but invites customers up until Sunday to enjoy 50% off vintage tap beers.
The string of local closures have caused some locals to question what can be done, including Philippia Athanasiou-Vaartstra.
“@jerseycitynj how can you help this to stop from happening? What can we all do? This is a tremendous loss to the community and needs to be taken seriously,”Athanasiou-Vaartstra wrote.
At the time of this article, neither Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop nor his administration have addressed the shutdowns.