Roots Steakhouse held a grand opening ceremony on Tuesday afternoon, becoming the second business at 40 Park on the Green where two other businesses are scheduled to open over the next couple of months at the former Epstein’s department store site.
More than a hundred people filled the restaurant where developers and local officials participated in a champagne toast and ate hors d’oeuvres that included steak, lobster, and tuna tartare. Several officials said Roots, which actually has been open for the past two weeks, would draw more people to town.
“The opening of Roots not only benefits us as a community, but it benefits all of the other restaurants we have in town,” Mayor Timothy Dougherty said, adding that people can’t eat steak every night.
Dougherty acknowledged former mayor John “Jay” DeLaney Jr., who was in attendance, as a force behind the development. Other local officials in the crowd included freeholder John Murphy and council members Rebecca Feldman and Alison Deeb.
The former Epstein’s site includes 40 Park, with its 76 luxury condo units, and the Metropolitan, a luxury rental complex with 130 units, 10 of them affordable housing. Another 36-unit condominium with 7,000 square feet of retail space is part of the redevelopment plan but has not yet been built.
Roots, an upscale steakhouse with a sister restaurant in Summit, is the second business to open at 40 Park, which has 55,000 square feet of retail space. The first was an AT&T wireless phone store. Developers said a Mexican fast food restaurant is scheduled to open by early May. Roots’ owners plan to open another restaurant in the same building next month called Urban
Table, which will have an eclectic menu and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“We’ve been looking at Morristown for a long time,” said Chip Grabowski, an owner of Harvest Restaurants, a group that includes Roots. “We feel Morristown is growing and this development is part of that.”
When Urban Table opens, the Harvest group will own nine restaurants, four in Morris County, including Tabor Road Tavern and the Grato at the intersection of Routes 10 and 53 in Parsippany.
Debra Tantleff, vice president of development for Roseland, one of the site’s developers, said 70 percent of the condos at 40 Park, where the price range is $400,000 to $2.2 million, have been sold while 35 percent of the retail space is leased. She said all of the rental units at the Metropolitan, where the rent ranges from $2,000 to $3,600, are occupied. There are not yet any businesses located in that building’s 11,000-square-feet of retail space, she said.
Tantleff called the opening of Roots “the culmination of all of our efforts,” saying it would contribute to the area’s “streetscape” and nightlife.
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