Can’t get a reservation? Here’s a Video Toast to Morristown’s Roots, the ‘Copacabana of Morris County’

by Kevin Coughlin
February 17, 2011

Last month our roving video camera took you to the long-awaited re-opening of the blast-damaged Morristown & Township Library.

Now, we take you inside another much-anticipated opening, at Roots SteakHouse in Morristown. As we’ve noted previously, it’s a classy place that is the commercial centerpiece of the downtown redevelopment.

“It’s the Copacabana of Morris County,” Steve Santola, who emceed the event for the developers, remarks in the opening minute of the video, above. You can be the judge of that.

Some good numbers are here. For a flavor of Tuesday’s official opening, check out the 14-minute video, which culminates in a toast to the health of the new enterprise.

What makes this interesting is the cast. It’s a Who’s Who of Morristown redevelopment, featuring rare cameos by public officials, restaurateurs and the people from the Woodmont and Roseland development groups who made the 40 Park, Metropolitan, Highlands at Morristown Station and Vail Mansion luxury projects happen despite the worst recession in memory.

(Off-camera, we asked Lewis Zlotnick, president of Woodmont Properties, how they pulled this off. He credited the strength and vision of Woodmont and Roseland, a migration of people to downtowns with public transit and “great infrastructures,” and recognition that the economy is cyclical. “Things recover faster than they did years ago,” he said.)

It’s also worth noting which Morristown mayors are present…and which ones are not.

Here are some video highlights, if you want to fast-forward:

Steve Santola, general counsel, Woodmont Properties

0:45: “It’s the Copacabana of Morris County.”

1:00: “We watched the town deliver on promises to reinvent itself and make it even greater than it was before

1:25 to 2:00: “Things like this don’t just happen.” Cites officials willing to look beyond election cycles to accomplish projects.

Mayor Tim Dougherty

2:15: “This doesn’t happen alone.” The Democratic mayor invites a Republican former mayor to join him.

3:20: Acknowledges “fabulous” restaurant and liaison work of Debra Tantleff of the Roseland Property Co.

4:00: “Anyone coming to our town should make sure to come here…it not only benefits us, but it benefits all the other restaurants here in town. . . (because) You’re not going to eat steak every night–though it is that good.”

Former Mayor Jay DeLaney

5:20: Acknowledges town planning officials

Steve Santola

7:35: “Julia Childs said you only eat diet food while the steak is cooking.”

8:00: More acknowledgements. Says the development team courted Harvest Restaurants (owners of Roots) for 18 months.

Chip Grabowski, partner in Harvest Restaurants (Roots)

9:44 Acknowledges business partner Bob Moore.

10:00: After first two weeks of business in Morristown, “we’re humbled…our first two weeks have been awesome.” Thanks town officials for cooperation and for welcoming Roots with “open arms.”

11:30: “Now it’s our turn to answer the bell and hopefully put out the right product with the right service and gain a reputation here in Morristown that I think Harvest has throughout all its properties.” (Roots is the eighth restaurant in the Summit-based chain.)

Steve Santola introduces Carl Goldberg, managing partner of the Roseland Property Co., “the greatest partners on the planet,” at 12:00.

Carl Goldberg, Roseland Property Co., delivers a toast to Roots

13:30: “What is it that really defines a great redevelopment? It’s about creating a place of destination. Under the leadership of Mayor Dougherty, Morristown is creating the preeminent place of destination in the state of New Jersey. And this restaurant is a wonderful example of what it means in the quality of life that you enjoy when you come to visit Morristown.”

14:00 Acknowledges PNC Bank and Prudential Real Estate Investors for backing the 40 Park project.

14:35: The toast.

Read the full article from Morristown Green.

Special thanks to our friends at Morristown Green for covering this event!

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