Local and Green: Perfect Together?

Are you a “deep green? Do you wake up every morning thinking: ‘What can I do?’”

Most of us are “lazy greens,” says Shel Horowitz, whose mission is to “make green sexy” and to help environmental sustainability go mainstream.

At the Green Festival in New York, Horowitz extolled the financial advantages of green practices for business owners. Horowitz authored “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green” with Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the bestselling “Guerrilla Marketing” series.

“It isn’t just good for the planet–it’s great for your bottom line.” Citing data from the Big Green Opportunity report, a study of small business owners who were divided into “three shades of green,” Horowitz notes that the greenest segments of industries across the economy are growing rapidly, and systematically taking market share from the conventional economy.

Shel Horowitz

Shel Horowitz addressing business owners at the Green Festival in New York City.

Seventy-five percent of survey respondents who offer green products or services saw an increase in sales of those products and services during the down economy, from 2008-2011. The green building segment grew during the official recession, and now represents 38 percent of new housing starts.

Local Joan recently spoke with Horowitz about how businesses can be part of a “circular, closed loop,” in which trash and shipping bills are slashed by purchasing locally, then reusing and recycling.

Your waste is somebody else’s asset, he notes. “We can do this. We know so much more than 30 years ago. Business has contributed to the problems and can be a big part of the solution.”

How can a mainstream business be green?

The definition is not limited to niche markets such as solar energy and vegan foods. A green business is any business whose policies and products demonstrate care for the earth, says Horowitz, which translates into tangible human benefits.

The lazy greens “will only live sustainably if we make it easy for them. So make it convenient and market not on the basis of should, but on the basis of benefit to people,” he advises.

“It’s in the community’s self interest to take care of its environment. Talk about values everyone has: clean air and water, reducing asthma, cost and durability.”

“If you’re eating local food, you’re eating food that’s not being trucked thousands of miles and you’re supporting local farmers,” he notes. “[Economic activity] is not just buying and selling, it’s the manufacturing and disposal of a product after it’s used. It’s mostly a linear progression ending in a landfill which creates more waste.”

Wasting resources is costly, he explains. “Seven percent of electricity is wasted in transport and 144 million pounds of food are being thrown away daily. That’s a crime. Green is only more expensive if you look at the short term. We pay for those costs in other ways–health and longevity and taxes.”


Arts and Crafts and Outdoor Tunes: Fun Picks For Fall

Musicians on a Mission logo

Nonprofit Musicians on a Mission is committed to making a difference with its music.

Besides the gorgeous weather, fall brings a multitude of local events worth attending, with musical acts, artisans and food vendors. Local Joan features three outstanding events here, all in scenic outdoor locations and benefiting local causes and small businesses.

Colts Neck Rockfest 2014 is back for its 7th year on September 20. This free concert featuring area bands with talented local musicians is held at Bucks Mill Park on Bucks Mill Road in Colts Neck and is sponsored this year by the Colts Neck Business Association.

The all day event runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Event founder and musician Steve Warendorf started Rockfest in 2008. “I had the idea to have a little free concert with a few musical acts,” said Warendorf. “It was basically a backyard barbecue held at the park. There were probably 30 people.”

Today Rockfest has musical acts ranging from reggae to Latin to classic rock to original music. Hand crafted goods and services will be on sale, and food vendors will participate.

Guitarist for the Moroccan Sheepherders, as well as Carnival Dogs, The Working Men – a Rush Tribute Band, and the SMA Project, Warendorf enjoys giving young musicians a chance for local exposure. “With Rockfest, just being able to break even and be able to put smiles on people’s faces, musicians and eventgoers alike is great. The young bands have a great place to bring their friends and families to see them play.” Warendorf and his wife Michelle grew up in Colts Neck and he calls himself a “townie.” His daughter Madeleine, 15, will also be playing at Rockfest with her group, “Three Little Birds.”

bucks mill park

Rockfest is at Bucks Mill Park in Colts Neck.

“It’s a no-brainer having Rockfest in Colts Neck,” he adds. “It’s a beautiful park with grills and a perfect space for the bands to play.”

Next, the Asbury Park Fall Bazaar is an afternoon event to showcase greater Asbury Park’s local artisans and vendors on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from noon to 5 pm at the Grand Arcade inside Convention Hall. For sale will be vintage, handmade items, art, jewelry, home goods and seasonal and Oktoberfest style beers and food at The Anchors Bend.

Indian Summer

Musicians and local crafters join forces on Sept. 27 at the Asbury Park boardwalk.

 This year Indian Summer: Live Music on the Beach joins with the Bazaar to offer a celebration of local music on the beach outside of Anchors Bend. Arcade Radio will serve as the official headquarters for the event with interviews, guest DJ spots, and band merch.

Finally, check out Rock the Farm: Amplify Your Life, at Regan’s Hollow Farm in Farmingdale on Saturday, October 11, from 2 to 11pm.  Bands include The Thousand Pities and Harper’s Fellow.

An admission fee of $15 goes to raise funds for CFC Loud N Clear, a Farmingdale charity that helps people in recovery re-integrate into society, closing the gap between rehab and everyday life.

Hosted by Musicians on a Mission, a group of civic-minded musicians who organize and provide entertainment for monthly events, this outdoor musical festival features food, drinks, vendors, volleyball, horseshoes, song circles, an auction and a bonfire. BYOB.

Don’t be a sofa spud this September. Get out and support our local musicians, charities, vendors and craftspeople by attending at least one of these wonderful events, staffed by volunteers who donate their time and talents to help our local community.


Local Chefs Serve Up Lobster and Libations at AC Seafood Fest


dog in lobster costume“If you like seafood, and you like the Jersey Shore,” says festival producer Jon Henderson, “You’ve got to come to the Atlantic City Seafood Festival.”

Local Joan concurs. Where else can you find all these things in one place?:

  • A triathlon award ceremony and a “Smokers’ Haven” cigar tent
  • A dog dressed in a lobster costume
  • Sword fighting shows and a bar with pirate-inspired cocktails and “live pirate music”
  • Kids’ fun park with face painting and animals
  • Cooking demos with local chefs
  • Painting classes with local artists from Dwell: An Artist Space (#BottlesandBrushes)
  • A beer “tasting tent” featuring local Jersey brews and wine seminars with Wine Director Michael Green
  • Live music from Jo Bonnano and the Godsons, the Burnsiders, and the Crawdaddies, among others.

You don’t need to go anywhere near the casinos (au revoir, Revel, we hardly knew ye) to have a good time.

local beer tasting tent

Try out locally brewed beers at the beer tasting tent.

The festival takes place September 13-14th at Bader Field in Atlantic City, and pets (see top) are welcome. In its third year, the weekend holds a variety of activities along with 50 restaurants offering their seafood specialties. A chowder cook-off for local chefs (below) benefits the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Free admission is thanks to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). Parking is $10. Some of the classes have fees, such as the interactive wine seminars.

What else? “Sandman” Matt Deibert will help kids with their own creations, and observe a crab cake eating contest sponsored by Phillips Seafood. For skateboarders, an onsite skate park and naturally, visits from the Cape May Zoo, home of the popular snow leopards.


One suggestion: Before you arrive, don’t eat!bowl of chowder

Bikes (and People) Get Second Chances At Second Life Bikes

Lester rides into the bike store on a Saturday afternoon in May. Leaning over his handlebars, he asks employee Pete Leather how much he owes him for a recent flat tire repair.

Immersed in another repair, Pete doesn’t answer immediately. With the frames and innards of bicycles surrounding him and wrench in one hand, he pauses his work.

Owner Kerri Martin, a former investment banker, looks over. She knows Lester is looking for work. She tells him this one’s on the house.

Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park is not just a business.

Owner Kerri Martin has a passion for teaching kids about bikes. . .and life.

Owner Kerri Martin has a passion for teaching kids about bikes. . . and life.

It’s been featured in Family Circle, the Star-Ledger and on national TV. Kerri runs the shop as well as a nonprofit whose mission is to impart life and job skills to local youth.

Kids older than age 11 can sign up to earn their own secondhand bikes by completing 15 hours of bike repair. More than 1,000 bikes crowd the former warehouse where Second Life is housed, near the Asbury Park train station on 21 Main Street.

What do you call a herd of bikes?

More than 1,000 bikes live at Second Life Bikes.

“It’s never boring here,” says the “Bike Lady” about the last four years. “We see real life happening.”

Kerri’s goal by the end of 2014 is to be a partial owner of the 7,500-square-foot building Second Life leases. Her efforts, including crowdfunding, have raised $50,000. She’ll be buying it as part of a real estate development corporation with other investors.

“It’ll be a smart business move,” she notes. Nobody on Second Life’s board knows much about biking except herself, she says. But “they liked that this is a grassroots effort.”

She points out the cruiser Bruce Springsteen bought and then donated, which hangs on the wall. Another cruiser (pictured) is being raffled off at RiverFest in Red Bank on the last weekend in May by Musicians on a Mission (MOAM), a local group of musicians who donate their talents to raising money for local charities.

To go home with a lucky winner at Red Bank's Riverfest this weekend, with raffle proceeds for Second Life Bikes.

Soon to go home with a lucky winner at Red Bank’s RiverFest –raffle proceeds to Second Life.

Last month MOAM raised money for Second Life Bikes with a music festival in Farmingdale, known as MOAM-A-PALOOZA.

The cruiser being raffled off has a partially functioning guitar, a Silvertone electric, permanently affixed to it, an idea Kerri and her small staff thought would be fun to build.

“Originally we were going to do a fake guitar, but a local musican donated this one,” Kerri says. The winning ticket for the raffle will be drawn Sunday June 1 at Marine Park in Red Bank.

Pete started as a volunteer but after being laid off asked Kerri if his volunteer work could be transformed into a permanent role at Second Life. Now he’s a happy corporate refugee.

“It’s less stress and less bucks,” he says.

Kerri, raised in Freehold, appreciates the kids’ enthusiasm for learning. Mainly 12 to 14-year-olds participate but also a few eager 11-year-olds who Kerri makes exceptions for, and dedicated older teens. They come in after school to fix their flats, while their elders can be “a little hesitant.”

“It’s not brain surgery,” she says, “It’s pretty intuitive to learn. If you can turn a wrench, you can do it.”

Kerri hopes to start a girls’ bike club. “The goal is to try to draw them in, especially the girls. We often lose them as teenagers. There’s nothing girls can’t do. The girls who come in are wonderful.”

Kerri has always loved cycling, and she rides all year long, using studded tires for riding in snow and ice. For her, it’s about enjoying being outside and not “trapped in a steel automobile sitting in traffic.”

“It’s not about being an environmentalist,” she adds, “I’m glad if it helps, but for me it’s fun.”




Defying the Odds, Retired Teacher Runs Community Bookstore

Remember how the hardworking indie bookstore owner, played by Meg Ryan, was crushed by the chain bookstore opening in her neighborhood in the 90s blockbuster “You’ve Got Mail”?

This story is different.

In 2007 Rita F. Maggio retired from teaching and opened BookTowne on Manasquan’s Main Street.

kidssectionbookstoreThe independent bookstore is a species so endangered that mega-author James Patterson has pledged to donate a million dollars to them. Yet BookTowne has become a destination for both national and local authors, and for book lovers, families and school communities.

Mary Higgins Clark will visit May 2nd, and Jane Green (Tempting Fate) May 1st.

BookTowne competes with Barnes & Noble in Brick, she notes, but does its best to hold its own. The owner loves being part of “a community where people support reading and books. Families are a good deal of our business.”

Although based in Manasquan, it’s not just seasonal traffic, Rita says. “The schools are great to work with.”

For a recent book signing by N.J. children’s book author Dan Gutman, approximately 200 people owner with local author shelf bookstoreattended. A New York Times listed author, Gutman pens the My Weird School series for middle-schoolers, with comical titles such as “Mr. Tony is Full of Baloney” and “Ms. Beard is Weird.”

A former middle school teacher, guidance counselor and school principal, Rita loves to spread the “joy of reading.”

“When someone writes a book,” she says, “They have a story to tell. It’s really important for independent bookstores to give them a venue. A local author may have a good quality piece and with some exposure, he or she can really take off.” She keeps local authors on her shelf for three months.

Open every day except for four major holidays, the store’s tag line is Where Good Friends Meet Good Books. Rita’s own tastes run to authors such as Anna Quindlin and Jumpira Lahira.

“I knew I wanted to be at the shore and I like the town of Manasquan itself,” Rita says. The Brielle library and the Algonquin Theatre lend their facilities for large book signings such as Gutman’s.

BookTowne, with three employees, generously supports local authors. But, it vets the books carefully before extending an invitation to an author. “We want to present good quality books. We don’t accept every local author. It has to be professionally done.” When she read “The Numb,” self-published by Lauren Kehoe, a 19-year-old student at Ocean County College, she was enthusiastic. It’s a dystopian novel set in a dark future in which emotions have ostensibly been eradicated.

“The Numb has done well here,” says Rita, gesturing to the shelf where a copy of the book is displayed.

frontdeskbookstoreBookTowne’s goal is to have one author reading a week. Winter’s a little harder, but with the help of an event planner and some networking, it’s attracted some best selling authors.

Rita notes, “It’s important when you own a small business to host the kind of events that bring people in.”

She actively supports her local business community. When big guns such as Amazon.com fought to avoid paying taxes for online sales, Rita traveled to Trenton to testify on behalf of local businesses.

“It’s about equity,” she explains. “We pay local and state sales taxes, and so should they. In some cases we can meet their prices, but it’s hard when they’re not paying taxes.”

The law passed, to her relief. “This makes it more fair.”

D n’ R Carpet Mill Goes the Distance With All Things Flooring

You might miss it if you drive quickly on Route 35. Tucked into the south end of Staples Plaza in Hazlet is a carpet and flooring store that has been around through 23 years of economic ups and downs, the comeback of hardwood flooring, the introduction of Pergo, and the big box invasion of home improvement centers.

carpetstoreownerAlthough it sells hardwood floors, laminates, and now luxury vinyl, carpet remains the most popular choice for flooring, and D n’ R Carpet Mill offers “blow out” prices, money back guarantees and a focus on keeping and training outstanding staff.

D n’ R (dependable and reliable) Carpet Mill was founded in 1991 and is owned by Middletown couple Michele and Joe Colonna. It offers carpet, linoleum, laminate, wood floors, remnants, expert installation and cleaning.

“Most of our clientele buys because they’ve heard of us,” notes Joe, “We’ve been here a while.” The business does a bit of cable and magazine advertising, and has an active Facebook page, but most of its business is repeat business.

What’s its secret?

carpetstore“Installation,” says Joe. “You can have good carpet, but if it’s not installed right, you’ll be unhappy.” He carefully trains his own installers and would rather delay a job than use someone he’s unsure of and risk an unhappy customer.

Michele and Joe enjoy volunteering in their hometown of Keansburg. A sign on their door from the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce says they assisted “Beacon of Hope” with its storm recovery efforts for local residents.

“The local people support us,” says Joe. “So we want to help support them.”

Rook Coffee Roasters Does It Fresh


Everything about Rook says “We’re serious about coffee….”

When I first ventured into a Rook Coffee Roasters, I had to change my expectations about coffee bars.

There were no tables except for a counter at the window with coat hooks. No tea, no espresso drinks, no cooler with a million items to distract me, only a small baked goods selection. With a spartan interior, everything about Rook says, “We’re serious about coffee.” It’s a solo performance and the coffee’s the star.

“Most Americans are used to drinking stale coffee,” explains co-owner Holly Migliaccio. Across the street from Rook’s newest location on Route 35 in Oakhurst, there’s a bustling Starbucks. Yet the line at Rook spills out the door in the mornings. Maybe these people are onto something.

Migliaccio and her business partner, Shawn Kingsley, opened their first Rook Coffee Roasters on Monmouth Road in Oakhurst four years ago to bring some West Coast coffee appreciation to New Jersey. 


“At Rook, every single cup is brewed to order,” says co-owner Holly Migliaccio here demonstrating Rook’s “manual drip pour-over” method

The entrepreneur and mother of two likes Starbucks, she says, and has nothing against tea.

Rook knows its strategy well:

We want to be different,” she says. “We are experts at what we do. It’s our business model. Every single cup is brewed to order,” and “there are no urns of old  coffee sitting around.” The imported beans are roasted locally in a private “roastery,” and transported quickly to its four Monmouth County venues.

In less than a minute, the process is done. The beans are measured, ground, then transferred into a filter where steaming water is poured over them, and the coffee is poured into a cup and handed to the customer. This “manual drip pour-over” method is the “most simple way to make coffee, by hand.”  And, Migliaccio says, the difference in taste is unmistakeable.

Most of its clientele are return customers and Rook servers know their regulars. The shop has cultivated a loyal following that proudly displays its logo of a black crow, or rook, defined by Merriam Webster as “a common Old World gregarious crow.” “Rook piercing,” she notes, is piercing the upper ear cartilage.

The difference in taste is unmistakable

The difference in taste is unmistakable

The owners, both Shore Regional High School graduates, ended up in New York City after college, she in sales and marketing; he, a trader and analyst. They each tired of the city grind (sorry!) and wanted to return to the shore. She quit her job at age 30 and traveled in Asia for three months. When she returned to N.J., he suggested the idea of a specialty coffee shop and she loved it. Now they have 47 employees and a full-time corporate trainer to make sure the employees get the mechanics and the service right.

“We set the bar for our customer experience extremely high,” she says.

Rook does no traditional advertising, relying strictly on word of mouth and social media marketing. The owners contribute to their local community by donating to schools and gift auctions.

View video how Holly and Shawn sourced their coffee from hundreds of choices in Central America and also see a clip about their business story that was part of a larger documentary, Growing up America.

You can sample a handcrafted cup of coffee, organized from mild to dark, at Rook’s four locations, two in Oakhurst, and one in Long Branch and at the Little Silver train station, where baristas time their production to the train schedules.

Just don’t ask for a cappuccino.


For Yarn Lovers, Moore Yarn Opens At Airport Plaza in Hazlet, NJ


Mitzy Moore, proprietor of "Moore Yarn"

Mitzy Moore, proprietor of “Moore Yarn”

Mitzy Moore learned to knit in school, but didn’t care for it until she became inspired by the Vogue Knitting event in New York City.

“The fashion shows, the beautiful yarns from all over the world–you can do so much that’s exciting,” she said. Her new store, Moore Yarn in Keyport, showcases several of her stunning projects.

Designed as a retreat for “knitters and hookers (that is, those who crochet),” the store features a “man cave” with a television, WiFi hotspot and coffee, monthly “Knibble and Knit” get-togethers and “yarn tasting” events (January features Classic Elite yarn). A “Men’s Closet Knitters’ Club” will encourage men to pick up hooks and needles. A mobile knitting truck, “Yarn on Wheels,” is in the works, which will visit fairs, libraries and nursing homes.

The Color and Creative Atmosphere at Moore Yarn in Hazlet

The Color and Creative Atmosphere at Moore Yarn in Hazlet

We’re building “a hub for lovers of yarn,” said Cliff Moore, Mitzy’s co-owner. The couple also owns the Keyport IHOP and Hazlet Swim Club’s Bellyflop Cafe. Both are tireless local business promoters who give back by helping local causes. Moore Yarn has teamed up with the Linus Project to make hats and blankets for premature babies and seniors.

The store was opened in only 45 days, Mitzi recounted. Years before, she’d casually mentioned to Cliff that she’d love to run a yarn store.

When Cliff told her about a vacancy at Airport Plaza, most recently occupied by Corey Booker’s Congressional campaign, she didn’t hesitate, although the space required massive cleaning and renovation to become the bright, colorful interior that Mitzy lovingly presides over.

“Everything just fell into place.”

Lenora’s Café Offers “American Twist” on Classic Recipes


Lenora’s Cafe Provides a Cozy Atmosphere

Lenora Cortes immigrated from a small coastal town near Mexico City and then realized what she wanted out of life.

“When I came here, I discovered a love of cooking,” says Lenora, a soft-spoken entrepreneur who took time from her Thanksgiving preparations to tell me the café’s story.

After a decade of waitressing and toiling in restaurant kitchens, she and her husband Francisco, who had a son by then, came to a conclusion:

“We should put our ideas on the table,” she said.

The aspiring restaurateurs joined forces with her brother José Jimenez and a neighbor and trusted friend, Lisa Leon, the café’s business manager. They found a location they liked.

Fast forward five years, and you can order “Tinga,” shredded chicken with olives and onions simmered thick and Chipotle sauce, grilled “Steak Veracruz,” or “Pork Pernil Asado,” slow roasted pork with avocado salsa, at Lenora’s Café, a local favorite on Keyport’s lively Front Street.

The eatery is in many ways a community affair, where customers are treated as family and given input into new dishes before they’re added to the menu.

Lenora’s passion for cooking, experience in food service and appreciation for fresh ingredients make it special. She prides herself on offering “little American twists” to Mexican classics such as ranchero eggs, for which “people go crazy,” she says as well as dishes that are more unusual here, such as Tinga.

French Toast - a Lenora's Breakfast Specialty!

French Toast – a Lenora’s Breakfast Specialty!

Unless requested, she offers a “less picante” version of classic dishes—not all of Mexican origin–to her diverse clientele. People come for the all-day breakfast that includes specialties like “Crunchy French Toast,” and eggs and chilaquiles– fried corn tortilla strips, tomatoes, onions and cheese. In the kitchen, I watched Francisco expertly flip French toast and sprinkle fresh bananas and toppings over the steaming bread for the final presentation.

Lenora's Seasonal Desserts Provide a Nice Finish to a Good Meal

Lenora’s Seasonal Desserts Provide a Nice Finish to a Good Meal

A local group of seniors have made a large table near the window a part of their weekday routine and Lenora loves sitting with them when she can take a few minutes from her nonstop day. Other times she can be seen amiably chatting, coffeepot in hand, with the regulars who gather at the counter to trade local news; making apple pies in the kitchen; or meeting with Lisa to discuss new ideas over breakfast.

“My imagination is always working,” she says about her menu, which takes its cues from the seasons. “I like to change spices with the time of year. Summer is for more fresh and crispy foods, winter is good for warm and soft foods that stick to your bones. Comfort foods.”

Keyport has “very friendly people” and has always made them feel at home, she says, gesturing to a wall where the owners hosted a recent exhibit of local paintings.

“I like to learn customers’ names,” Lenora says, “They’re my family.”

She, Francisco and José support town events and local schools and frequently donate gift certificates. Lenora’s is open seven days a week, with dinner Wednesdays through Saturdays, and Lenora rarely takes a full day off, Lisa says, shaking her head fondly.

The owners make sure their well-trained servers try all the dishes too, so they can answer culinary questions. Every spring, Lenora and Lisa adjust the menu, adding and dropping offerings, after hosting a popular “Sampling Night” during which customers get tastes of new dishes, buffet style.

If you want to see what will be served in the next year at Lenora’s Café, come to Sampling Night in May and pay attention to the dishes that go quickly.

Say hi to Lenora while you’re there.


Second Life Bikes – School Is Out, Bikes Are In!

I need a bike. I used to think that I just wanted a bike, but I truly need one. Do you need one, too? Well – check out Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park, NJ!

Second Life Bikes is more than just a used bike shop. Way more. They describe themselves as a biking community center in Asbury Park where people connect to each other, build skills, join group bike rides, learn bike safety, and create bike art and custom designs that can support new social enterprises. They say that their “mission is to get more people (especially youth) on bikes.”

Before you go, check this video to see why you really need to support this local business!

21 Main Street
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

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