BELMAR, NJ — There is a long-awaited and welcome sight in Belmar Plaza, just around the corner from Beach Haus Brewery on Eighth Avenue and Main Street.

After being vacant for more than two years, the new retail space in the rear of 801 Main Street, which had once been part of Freedman’s Bakery, is now occupied by three new businesses — Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, Nature and Joe’s Bagel & Grill. And they’re eager to spread the word that their doors are open.

Here’s a look at two of those businesses.

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Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More is the latest to make its debut, opening on July 26 with franchise owner Doug Hahner and partner Gary Zelasko giving tours of their neatly arranged store, where customers can design their own custom-logo’d apparel.

Color-splashed displays of all styles of shirts and other items — from aprons and towels to pet and baby items — adorn the space’s apple green walls. Two computer design stations sit at the front of the store, while the high-technology garment decorating system occupies the back of the space, showcased by a floor-to-ceiling rainforest mural.

A 19-year Belmar resident, Hahner spent 24 years in the corporate world before deciding it was time for a career change — and a commute shorter than the 75 minute he was spending on the road each day.

After exploring a host of franchise opportunities, he chose Big Frog, the Dunedin, Fla.,-based custom-decorated apparel retailer with more than 80 locations nationwide.

“I didn’t think I’d be custom-designing shirts, but it’s the perfect business opportunity, right here in Belmar,” said Hahner, who’s the second Big Frog franchise owner in New Jersey — the other store being in Howell.

“I’m truly excited to bring a spark of creativity to the Jersey Shore community,” he added. “My main objective is to build lasting relationships with my customers by offering exceptional service, value and ingenuity.”

Those amenities, he said, include no design or set-up fees, no minimum quantities, volume discounts starting at 10 items of any assortment and a 24-hour turnaround time on in-stock merchandise.

In addition, Big Frog’s bills its cutting-edge technology as the best in the business — direct-to-garment printing that bonds ink to the fabric’s molecules, allowing products to be washed in hot or cold water and with color-safe bleaching without risking damage, cracking or peeling of the image.

Big Frog/Belmar is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For more information, call 732-749-7700, email or visit its website at

Although Nature opened in Belmar Plaza in June, the organic cold pressed juice retailer is not a newcomer to the area.

For the past two years, owner Cassandra Quarantello has been creating her innovative beverages in shared retail space in Bradley Beach. But as the demand for her products grew, so did her desire to find a place of her own — where she could expand and advance her production facilities.

The result: retail space that now boasts an inviting counter and reception area, and a kitchen that is equipped with everything needed to produce her line of juices, juice cleanses, herbal teas, nut juices, hand-crafted lemonades, and even pressed ice pops and organic oat bars.

Today, Nature is one of the region’s most popular destinations for cold press juices, and other organic beverages and other items.

Although natural and organic juices have taken the beverage industry by storm in recent years, Quarantello’s entry in the market didn’t come on a whim. It’s been a 10-year journey to health for the 34-year-old, and as she describes it, “become aware of the importance of what we use to fuel, nourish and heal our body.”

As a child with a weak and compromised immune system, compounded by a host of digestive issues, it wasn’t until Quarantello was a student at Rutgers University that she began to experience the benefits of eating a plant-based diet.

“I began to incorporate juicing into my daily routine and the change was positively drastic. I felt amazing,” she said. “My immune system got stronger and in about a year my stomach issues were completely gone, and I rarely got sick.”

Then her journey became all about timing. After leaving a job in the corporate world, she decided, with the support of her parents, to translate her passion for juicing into a professional endeavor. “My parents are both entrepreneurs, so working for myself never scared me. All I needed was the encouragement and I hit the ground running,” she said.

In November 2014, Quarantello launched Nature as a retail delivery business before growing into her first storefront operation in Bradley Beach and then quickly growing out of that space — only to find the empty brand-new retail shell at 801 Main Street in Belmar where she could design a facility of her own.

Today, she has been busy putting the final touches on her new shop, and even found time to introduce a new item: The Cold Pressed Mocktail combines a Nature juice with kombucha, which is poured over ice and served with a handcrafted pressed pop and garnishment — and it’s already becoming quite a hit. Nature is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, call 908-907-5893, visit its website at or its Facebook page for the latest updates.

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