MADISON, NJ – Four local “celebs” uncorked, whipped up cocktails, and poured brews from the tap at the Madison Chamber of Commerce Bartender Showdown Thursday night, a networking event for the downtown community that raised proceeds for the chamber’s scholarship fund.

Dr. Allison Adams of Adams Dental, Danielle Dixon of d’torr, Michael Odell of Odell & Critchley and Melanie Tomaszewski of Tivoli Creative Design Studio served guests from behind the bar, while friends, family and fellow business owners munched on goodies prepared by event host Rocco’s Tuscany Bar & Grill.

Business owners boasted their loyal clientele and a thriving downtown. “There is such a great sense of community in Madison. You don’t find that everywhere,” Tomaszewski, a New York native, said. “That kind of support has made it possible for my little grassroots business to make it in this kind of economy. Three years and I’m still here.”

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What has allowed newer businesses to get started, Tomaszewski says, is the help of long-established businesses in town. “Rocco was instrumental in helping me succeed,” she said.

It’s about giving back to the community and the customers who have been patronizing the downtown for so many years, Rocco and Gino Iossa, owners of the 40-year establishment, say. “We appreciate them and it’s our way to say thank you,” Rocco said.

Lifelong residents have also found ways to give back by adding to the diversity of businesses in town. “I grew up shopping in Madison. It’s a small town with a great feel,” said Dixon, who has owned d’torr for two years. D’torr brings the latest fashion trends to downtown Madison. This holiday season shoppers can look forward to initial necklaces, jelly watches and faux fur scarves, Dixon says.

The thursday night event served as an opportunity for business owners to share ideas and to congregate with patrons. Mara Johnson and Amanda Cerbone, both employees at Provident Bank, relished a girls’ night out. “I love Madison,” Johnson, a resident said. Cerbone, a resident of Boonton, says she spends a significant amount of time in downtown Madison during the work week. “I fell in love with Madison. It has a small town feel yet there are great businesses and restaurants.”

A desire to connect and revitalize the downtown prompted the chamber to hold the bartending event. “We held a similar event two years ago and it was very well received,” Executive Director Karen Meyer said. “In addition to networking we raise money for a good cause. More than anything, though, it’s a great reason to get together!”