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Jersey City Restaurateur Adds Italian Spot to Growing Lineup

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Restaurant veteran Michael Gondevas is known for his popular spots in Jersey City.

In the Hamilton Park area, he has been operating two restaurants for years. In December, he opened Chickie’s, which serves Italian favorites such as pasta, pizza, meatballs and sandwiches, along with a lengthy cocktail, wine and beer list.

“I’ve always loved Jersey Italian,” Gondevas says. “We felt like this was the perfect spot for it.”

Chickie’s joins his Hamilton Inn (2010) and Hamilton Pork (2016), one of New Jersey Monthly’s best restaurants in Jersey City, on the same block, making it easy for him to keep an eye on all three. But that doesn’t mean he’s done.

“I always have dreams to do more,” he says.

How did you get started?
Michael Gondevas: I started working for Dave Carney, who owns the Madison Bar and Grill, for 12 or 13 years. He taught me everything I know. I had an opportunity to purchase the Hamilton Ale House about 13 years ago and jumped at it. About six years later we opened Hamilton Pork.

What drew you to Jersey City?
I grew up in Jersey City, born and raised. I worked in Hoboken for a lot of years and I knew Jersey City was vastly becoming a great destination for dining and restaurants. When I saw the development happening and the opportunity, I knew it was the right time to open a place.

Did the pandemic mess with your plans to open Chickie’s?
I bought the space right before the pandemic in 2021. We had some renovations and equipment changes to do. Our landlords were really great and worked with us to come up with a plan so we could survive, because it ended up not being the best time to buy. Everything was a real challenge.

How’s it going?
It’s been great, for a brand new restaurant. We have a pretty good following from the other restaurants and our neighbors are great. We’re very fortunate.

What made you want to dive into Italian dining?
I’ve always loved Jersey Italian. You can walk to all of our other locations from Chickie’s, so it just made a lot of sense logistically to open here. Being short-staffed and having a small staff was a blessing because we can share things between the three restaurants.

Do you have any favorites on the Chickie’s menu?
I love our pizzas. Our chicken parm, too, which has become popular already. We have great cocktails and a great wine list and beers. I really love everything we’re serving right now. Chickie’s is a great little neighborhood Italian restaurant.

What are you looking forward to this year?
We’re definitely looking for a bit more normalcy. I’m really looking forward to the warm weather and for our outdoor dining to expand. It’s always a good feeling to be outside again.

Do you plan to open more restaurants?
I hope to, for sure. We’d love to do more. I have some ideas for Jersey City and beyond. I would love to do what we do in the city in the suburbs, but who knows? I love that I have three businesses here in Jersey City. I work with some amazing people and we have a great team.

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Why this key Jets player is glad a rival cut him

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Jets receiver/returner Braxton Berrios didn’t have to wait long to learn how hard it is to keep a roster spot in the NFL.

Berrios, a 2018 Patriots sixth-round pick, spent his rookie season on injured reserve and New England cut him in 2019 before he ever played a snap.

But the Berrios isn’t bitter about his brief time with a team that is now his biggest rival.

“Really, I feel like I got a PhD in football (in New England),” Berrios said on the “Adam Schefter Podcast. “It didn’t work out for whatever reasons. And looking back it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

The Jets claimed Berrios soon after he was cut and he has found a way to contribute ever since: Berrios has been the backup slot receiver since 2020 and set a career high in catches (46) and receiving yards (431) last year. But his big breakout came on special teams, where he became one of the league’s best returners on the way to a first-team, All-Pro selection.

“I kept going, obviously, and found ways to be productive,” Berrios said. “Obviously, in the return game was the first way. And then I really, really wanted to make sure I was seen as a receiver as well, and really over the last two years I’ve gotten a lot more of those opportunities. Then you marry those opportunities with now being named the first-team All-Pro last year as a kick returner: it’s finally full circle, it’s maybe starting to work out a little bit.”

Berrios admitted that he felt he had his “back up against the wall” on the Patriots’ talented roster. He certainly doesn’t have to worry about the Jets cutting him as he enters his fourth season with the team: Berrios signed a two-year, $12 million earlier this year.

But even if Berrios isn’t mad at the Patriots, there is one thing that should have the Jets extremely motivated when they play their rival this fall: the Jets haven’t won a game against New England since 2015.

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Andy Vasquez may be reached at avasquez@njadvancemedia.com.



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Wildwoods Are Next in Line for Beach Replenishment

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Most New Jersey beach towns should be jealous of Wildwood. The city has the widest beach on the Jersey Shore, stretching 1,500 feet from boardwalk to surf in some places.

But Wildwood has its headaches, too. Some beachgoers complain the sandy expanse requires too long a schlep to the water’s edge. The beach also collects pools of water, which can breed insects and become health hazards, and the sand drifting down from the north tends to clog storm drainage pipes. Plus, there’s all that beach to clean.

Since 2014, Wildwood has gladly allowed the neighboring borough of North Wildwood to borrow truckloads of its sand every winter—including some that clogs those drainage pipes.

[RELATED10 Years After Hurricane Sandy: What’s Next for the Jersey Shore?]

Now the city of Wildwood is poised to sign the state-aid agreement required for a 50-year partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Protection for beach replenishment and maintenance. North Wildwood has already signed. Once the deal is in place, the Army Corps can proceed with its Wildwoods project, probably starting in fall 2023, pending easements from private property owners at various locations along the beach.

The centerpiece of the project will be a series of dunes totaling 25,000 linear feet (about 4.7 miles) from North Wildwood to Wildwood City and south to Wildwood Crest and Diamond Beach. (Wildwood Crest and Lower Township, which includes Diamond Beach, also have to sign their own state-aid agreements.) To build the dunes, sand will be taken from a substantial swath of Wildwood’s beach all the way south to Wildwood Crest.

North Wildwood has reason to seek the Army Corps’ help; its sand perpetually drifts south each winter, leaving beachfront properties vulnerable. For Wildwood, the Army Corps should be able to solve several problems, explains Carl Groon, a projects coordinator for the city.

For one thing, the width of the beach will be reduced by several hundred feet at some points, meaning shorter walks from boardwalk to water and less beach to clean. Second, grading the beach with a greater slope from the new dunes to the surf, should help eliminate the pooling problem. Finally, in the event of extreme storms, the dunes should mitigate flooding.

Groon says Wildwood’s new dunes will range in height from 14 to 16 feet. They will be built between the city’s five piers, each at a different distance from the boardwalk, depending on existing structures and other factors.

The dunes will create some obstacles for Wildwood spectator activities. “If they shrink our beach, we will have less beach to use for events,” acknowledges Groon. However, he adds, “I think it’s well within our ability to make it all work.”

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Sleepy Hallow Involved In Chair-Throwing Brawl In NJ Restaurant

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