SOMERVILLE, NJ - New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy stopped by to visit local business owners in the downtown shopping district yesterday, and spent as much time with shoppers on the crowded street as he did inside the stores.
The Downtown Somerville Alliance sponsored a Sidewalk Sale all day throughout the shopping district, which happened to coincide with the governor's 70-minute visit.
The streets were also crowded with visitors to the Oktoberfest celebration on nearby North Bridge Street.
Murphy arrived downtown around 4 p.m. and was greeted by Mayor Dennis Sullivan and members of the Borough Council. His first stop was at Verve Bar, Restaurant and Bistro, where he met owner Rick St. Pierre.
Next stop was Cheech's Own Coffee Company at the corner of West Main Street and Division Street, where he met owner Steve Chioccho and posed for pictures with some of his customers inside and outside the store.
The governor and his entourage continued walking, the governor waving to well-wishers and posing for pictures, as Sullivan took turns with Natalie Pineiro, executive director of the Downtown Somerville Alliance, and Granville Brady, Borough Council president, filling in the governor about the downtown shopping district, its restaurants, and specialty retail stores.
Murphy stopped by The Crystal Palace where he asked questions about Belleek china and Swarovski crystal before moving on to The Hungry Hound specialty store, where he chatted with owner Penny Milligan about dogs and her recent move to a larger store from one across the street.
Murphy then crossed the street for a visit with Pat Mannion, owner of Mannion's Irish Pub & Restaurant, which will be celebrating its 20th anniversary in November.
It didn't take much persuading to talk the governor into stepping behind the bar to draw his own glass of Guinness; Murphy toasted Mannion, and customers sitting at the bar.
The governor's final stop was at Evolve Clothing store, owned by Borough Council Democrat RandD Pitts, who had an earnest conversation with the governor about small businesses and the $15 minimum wage.