SOMERVILLE, NJ - Two enterprising brothers from New Brunswick are confident the success they’ve enjoyed in the Hub City will carry over to their latest enterprise on South Bridge Street.
Alexander and Dimitri Patakos were joined by members of the Borough Council and the Downtown Somerville Alliance on Saturday for the official opening of Hub City Skates; the walls are lined with skateboard decks and the floor displays include shirts, sneakers and accessories.
Alexander, 25, is the older of the two; his younger brother Dimitri is 23. They had opened the store three weeks prior to the ribbon cutting and are busy forming relationships with the local business and skateboard communities.
“Somerville is a perfect home for me because it is right in the center of things,” Alexander said.
The brothers are self-financed, and their ambitious business plan includes reaching out beyond the store at 17 South Bridge St., to play a pivotal role in the resurgence of skateboarding in the borough and Somerset County, which at one time had been centered not far from the store at the skate park on Veterans Memorial Drive East.
Just minutes after snipping the ceremonial Grand Opening ribbon on Saturday, the two brothers, surrounded by friends and skateboarders took a brisk walk to the park to check out the former site of the skateboard complex, which had been built where there once had been tennis courts.
The wooden structure at Ken Cornell Wheel Park and Firehouse Field on Veterans Memorial Drive was deemed unsafe and dismantled in 2016. The popular gathering spot was also used by BMX’ers.
The brothers have already held discussions with borough officials about restoring the skate park; Alexander met with Kathy Gernd, borough Parks and Recreation director on Monday.
Alexander envisions a more sophisticated concrete and steel structure.
Gerndt will work with the brothers to firm up a site for a new structure and will also help with formal plans, cost estimates and other components for presentation to the Borough Council, according to Hub City Skates' co-owner, who hopes a plan for a new skate park will be approved by the end of the year.
“When we first came to Somerville, we got to know the area, we knew the skate park was closed and after we opened we talked to the kids in the store, on the street and asked them ‘What would you think if we worked on a park?’ It would be a dream come true for them,” he added.
“It’s become my driving force here to reunite the skate community,” Alexander said.
The brothers opened their first skateboard, clothing and accessories shop, Hub City Soles at 84 Paterson St. in New Brunswick in December, 2015, followed soon thereafter by Hub City Smokes which sells tobacco products and hand-blown custom glass products made by Dimitri.
The brothers’ expansion will continue, with a planned store opening in Los Angeles in September.
“I just hit the ground running when I was 18,” Alexander explained. “I lived in Brooklyn and sold sneakers, got involved in the culture and saved enough money to get a nice spot in New Brunswick and took a chance. We’ve reinvested everything, except for having to pay rent and buy food.
“We’ve had success, and went for broke on the smoke shop which has worked out like a charm , we’re doing phenomenal down there,” he added.
Contact Hub City Skates online at Hubcityskates@gmail.com or Instagram @Hubcityskates.