KENILWORTH, NJ - Just about five years since opening their doors, 10th Street Live Bar & Grill is still known for their live bands and bringing in up and coming original talent to perform on their stage, but a lot has changed.
As the four owners have honed their skills running their first restaurant venture together, they have also gotten a great sense of who their customers are and what they want. With that, they have recreated the restaurant and bar into a place where a group of friends would feel just as comfortable coming to see a live band as a family dining out with young kids to sample the diverse menu and listen to acoustic background dinner music.
As owners Steve Blau, Kevin Bryan, Thomas Stratton and Bob Vetter, all local guys, from Cranford and Springfield, began 10th Street Live in 2011, they were very welcoming to bands that needed a place to perform.
But over time they realized that their new expanded market of families and couples were underserved vs. the twenty something crowd they originally attracted to see rock bands. Bryan noted, "Now we have something for everyone based on our great fresh homemade food customers have come to expect with themed nights for different people, like Wednesday Whiskey nights, Craft Beer and food pairing events, open mic comedy Mondays, and our regular Friday and Saturday live music."
Blau adds, "It's not about the loud rock bands anymore, it's acts like Billy Joel cover bands and regular Friday and Saturday night early evening dinner acoustic and jazz music that appeals to our customers."
As the owners grew into their new roles, starting together as music studio production owners at a facility in Union, to full service restaurant owners in Kenilworth, they have evolved with their customers.
Their menu offerings and entertainment are just as varied and interesting. Take for example just this month, on Friday April 8, the Deminski and Doyle show from 101.5 will be broadcasting live from 2:00-7:00 p.m. as 10th Street offers Happy Hour specials.
Then on Saturday April 23, the "Fresh Jar of Skippy" comedy tour will be making one of four New Jersey stops at the 10th Street location. Comedian, actor, producer, Marc Price, also known as Skippy, from the very popular Family Ties sitcom, will be performing on the 10th Street stage.
With the objective of keeping things fresh and new the menu is always exciting according to Blau. "Our chef is known as 'the mad scientist' because he is constantly coming up with new and different menu items, and always fresh, nothing frozen... he even makes our ketchup from scratch and hand rolls the mozzarella sticks, but the items go well beyond that."
The "mad scientist" has a large following of his own and the social media handle #MadScientistChef to prove it, with Instagram photos that will make your mouth water all over your keyboard.
Their menu descriptions support Blau's claim, with daily specials, seasonal menus and items that include entrees that go well beyond the regular burger, but also include, the Jersey Thai-waiian pizza with mozzarella cheese, pineapple, pork roll and scallions and their best selling Hadouken sandwich, that includes sweet chili braised short rib, teriyaki bacon and sriracha kimchi slaw. The bar also boasts 14 craft beers on tap.
The owners are equally as passionate about their business as they are about their local communities and supporting causes like the St. Baldrick's Foundation, The Valerie Fund and the CANswer Project.
Most recently they are sponsoring local baseball teams and are promoting a June 13 golf outing where some of the proceeds will support the Kenilworth Recreation Department.
The owners of 10th Street Live look forward to what the future holds and offering their customers variety in both sound and taste. They are open Monday-Saturday to the public and Sundays for private parties. They have also begun to offer delivery lunch service within a four mile radius and offer regular updates via their Facebook page.
10th Street Live is not your average watering hole.