Arts & Entertainment

Turtleback Zoo's Fully Renovated Savannah Cafe Opened in Ceremony April 28

e273206562facb73d96a_0428161223a.jpg
Assembly Speaker Emeritus Sheila Oliver  Credits: Joe Ricci
d46e30b31550c6bda680_86211b37873b9347740e_0428161241a.jpg
5ed16a642b74638c268e_3bdf9d779f4004d8473a_0428161238.jpg
County Executive Joe DiVincenzo Cuts the Ribbon to Officially Open the Savannah Cafe Credits: Joe Ricci
80afdbaf74fbd80dc106_dd00fe6779677ba1474a_0428161242.jpg
First Floor Credits: Joe Ricci
9cf7411d16a059e9488c_0428161208b.jpg
Greg Camito, designer of the new Savannah Cafe Credits: Joe Ricci
42ef78430ddea6bb5568_0428161215a.jpg
Freeholder President Britnee Timberlake addresses crowd joined by Freeholders Leonard Luciano, Lebby Jones, Patricia Sebold and Cynthia Toro. Credits: Joe Ricci
57a15be670ed1f7df8c5_0428161226a.jpg
County Executive Joe DiVincenzo Credits: Joe Ricci
072555f1c46d78131a01_0428161209.jpg
John O'Hara, owner of O'Hara Construction Credits: Joe Ricci
607c49cf00561340baac_0428161217.jpg
Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura Addresses Gathering Credits: Joe Ricci
a846d387d0232a61ad30_0428161219a.jpg
Zoological Society Executive Director Adam Kerins  Credits: Joe Ricci
1a9e14bbfd8ca8bc7031_0428161211a.jpg
Nick Cintrone of Aramark addresses the crowd. Credits: Joe Ricci
066413cf722348852573_0428161220.jpg
Turtle Back Zoo's Brint Spencer  Credits: Joe Ricci
e32642328797b74bdb9a_bbbbe9a427b73b946ede_0428161239.jpg
Docent Zoo Volunteers Credits: Joe Ricci
4727edb94a2998b134b8_bc78d175b787e215afd1_0428161242_HDR.jpg
First Floor Seating Credits: Joe Ricci
a51e5ad3dab9b323fe04_2236d35a7cc265bdb280_0428161240a.jpg
Second Floor Seating Credits: Joe Ricci
ea24a8f37baa7f0657b8_36f35fb5c075900764e8_0428161242a.jpg
First Floor Carving Station and Food Area Credits: Joe Ricci
c6620a2e79ca8f7355e7_a2b9c8f7ea064261cd6d_0428161245a.jpg
Bison Exhibit Glass Wall and Expanded Viewing Area   Credits: Joe Ricci
338539ff9ae05140b530_0428161231.jpg
Thatched Roof Ceiling of Second Floor Outdoor Seating Area Credits: Joe Ricci
738ea29b4a0d5a7e3192_2e971b1fffd9a44874c3_0428161245b.jpg
Bison Exhibit Glass Wall and Expanded Viewing Area Credits: Joe Ricci
048ed0bc9f0db98e7188_0428161231a_HDR.jpg
Detail of Thatched Roof Credits: Joe Ricci
f116d1726a04cd7a00ab_0428161240.jpg
Second Floor Seating   Credits: Joe Ricci
419e2b8d85b60a34f4c9_0428161241.jpg
Second Floor Occasion Room Credits: Joe Ricci
e27b741fc38b31227ed5_0428161245.jpg
Credits: Joe Ricci
e273206562facb73d96a_0428161223a.jpg

WEST ORANGE, NJ -- Eight months after the start of construction, the fully renovated Savannah Cafe at the Turtleback Zoo was unveiled in ceremonies April 28 as the newly unveiled Bison Exhibit and other upcoming projects were also revealed.

On May 10, the long-awaited debut of Turtleback Zoo's two new giraffes will take place. Additional plans for this year also include moving the condor exhibit, a new lion exhibit and a renovation of the sea turtle building.

County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, members of the Board of Freeholders, construction executives, zoo staff and zoo volunteers crowded the new second-floor level of the cafe for the official re-opening. Construction started in September and cost about $7 million. Greg Comito Associates from Newark created the design and John O’Hara Co., Inc., from East Orange was awarded a publicly bid contract for for construction.

Sign Up for E-News

The cafe is built on the footprint of the old cafeteria and is more than three times as large to accommodate more visitors. In addition, the food offerings have been upgraded from what was described as cafeteria food to various offerings which include carving stations and other upscaled treats. Aramark has been given a 20-year contract to run the facility.

The most evident change is the second-story, which includes a separate glass-enclosed room which can be used for meetings and parties. DiVincenzo said the increase in traffic to the zoo warranted a bigger cafe to serve people better.

"When our administration first took office, the zoo had maybe 1,000 visitors a day. It steadily increased so now there can be 5-6,000 visitors a day on weekdays, and up to 7,500 on weekends," said DiVincenzo.

In 2015, the zoo had record attendance exceeding 750,000.

"Turtle Back Zoo has become a destination attraction for school groups, organizations and families, and a larger cafeteria was needed so that we could accommodate the large crowds and continue to provide our visitors with a first-class experience,” said DiVincenzo.

Others speaking at the event praised DiVincenzo's vision and the staffs of the construction and catering companies involved in the project. 

“All the concepts start in Joe DiVincenzo’s head," said Essex County Sheriff Armando Fontoura. "He builds it and then it is our job to keep things as safe as they can be… and this complex is the safest neighborhood. It’s a magnificent place.”  

DiVincenzo returned the compliment, saying that without the police force capable of handling large crowds, the success of the zoo would not be possible.

Turtle Back Zoo's Brint Spencer also touched on the increased attendance, saying, “Attendance here has soared year after year and having to build a larger cafeteria building speaks volumes about how popular an attraction our Zoo has become.” 

"There really isn’t any reason to leave this complex once you arrive,” said Zoological Society Executive Director Adam Kerins, who also noted the Treetop Adventure, miniGOLF Safari, paddle boating and access to South Mountain Reservation.

The cafe's first-floor dining area seats 106 people and the second-floor dining area has total seating for 266 people. The second floor also has a bar area that can be used for private parties and events.

Also unveiled were new additions to the bison exhibit, which included a raised-boardwalk viewing area so visitors can get closer to see the animals through the glass wall that was also part of the upgrade.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Livingston

Nutley High School Closes After Security Threat Friday

February 16, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Essex County Sheriff's Office confirmed to TAPinto Nutley that the bomb disposal unit was parked in front of Nutley High School Friday afternoon.

Members of the Essex County Sheriff's Office are working with the Nutley Police Department as the investigation following the Instagram incident continues. The bomb disposal unit conducted a sweep of the school ...

How Do I Decide Which College to Attend?

Now that college acceptances are rolling in, how do I decide which to attend?

Your hard work in high school has paid off. You took your SAT/ACT exams, got the best grades you could, and filled out as many applications as you needed to. Acceptance letters are starting to come in and you need to make a decision on where you will go in the fall. It's hard to decide!! Here are some tips and ...

Paterson Firefighter Opens Up About Struggles, Urges Others not to Suffer in Silence

February 8, 2018

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - Not a week goes by when a tale of heroism and bravery on the part of firefighters is not told. For them, running into a burning building is as natural as running out of one is for the rest of us.

That became apparent again on Monday when members of the Paterson Fire Department responded to a fire at 268 Main Street, which led to the eventual total collapse of ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8b56ef1b9860e2829bb1_teenagers_sitting_home-page-wlogo-750-500px

Wed, February 21, 10:00 AM

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning, Livingston

Estelle Finkel Center for Learning Presents ...

Education

Wed, February 21, 6:00 PM

Livingston Public Library, Livingston

Free CASA Essex Volunteer Information Session

Giving Back Law & Justice

Carousel_image_b9dfd7fd9ec06f34f8cd_coriphoto

Sat, February 24, 4:00 PM

Lobby - Office Building, Livingston

Gun Violence Prevention & Congressional Candidates

Other

Livingston Public Library Prepares for NJ Makers Day

February 12, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston Public Library will host its third annual Makers Day on Saturday, March 10. Last year, 350 people attended Livingston Library’s Makers Day and enjoyed a variety of interactive activities ranging from sewing and paper crafts to robotics and circuitry.

Makers Day is a statewide initiative designed to celebrate, promote and introduce ...

Let the Games Begin

I am truly awed by the Olympics.  Watching these superb young athletes on TV inspires me to renew my membership to the gym and pursue my lifelong dream of taking home the gold.  

 

The problem is that in my deluded head, I can see actually see myself standing atop the podium.  I am wrapped in a puffy designer ski coat with a huge piece of bling slung around my neck ...

In the Driver's Seat

Honey, I am going to take the Roadster out for a quick spin around the sun. I’ll be back in a few million years.

 

That’s nice dear. While you are out, could you pick up a gallon of milk?

 

In what has to be the greatest road trip of all time and space, Elon Musk, the visionary inventor, engineer, and billionaire investor loaded his very own red Tesla ...