Business & Finance

Ribbon Cutting Marks Official Opening of Embassy Suites

Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights officially opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday, May 1. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Executive Vice President of The Connell Company Shane Connell, left, and Berkeley Heights Mayor Bob Woodruff at the Ribbon Cutting of the Embassy Suites by Hilton on May 1, 2018. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Shane Connell with Mayor Bob Woodruff. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
It's official, the ribbon is cut, and the hotel is open! Credits: Bobbie Peer
Shane Connell, Hotel Manager Ian Brodsky and Mayor Bob Woodruff Credits: Bobbie Peer
Councilman Peter Bavoso, Council President Jeanne Kingsley, Mayor Bob Woodruff, Shane Connell and Councilman Mike D'Aquila Credits: Bobbie Peer
Suburban Chamber of Commerce Board Members with Mayor Bob Woodruff and Shane Connell. Credits: Barbara Rybolt
Davidson executives and hotel employees. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer
Groups received a tour of the various different style suite rooms. Credits: Bobbie Peer
View from the seventh floor overlooking the Weldon Quarry. Credits: Bobbie Peer
Credits: Bobbie Peer

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The wait is finally over, Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights opened its doors with an official ribbon cutting on Tuesday.

The hotel actually had a soft opening last week, but on Tuesday, May 1, Mayor Bob Woodruff wielded a huge pair of scissors and cut through the big red ribbon in front of the hotel’s main entrance, alongside Shane Connell, Executive Vice President of The Connell Company, which owns the hotel.

Watching and supporting the festivities were Connell Corporation officials, Berkeley Heights Township Council Members Jeanne Kingsley, Peter Bavoso, Michael D’Aquila, Township Administrator John Bussiculo, Suburban Chamber of Commerce board members and officials from Davidson Hotels and Resorts, the hotel’s management company.

Sign Up for E-News

Shane Connell thanked the “Mayor, Township Committee, and Township of Berkeley Heights for supporting us. Without their support this never would have happened. Without their support Connell would not have been able to evolve.”

He said the opening of the hotel is the “first part of re-branding the park.”  Lifetime Fitness was the first non-corporate office space added to the office park. Then came the public park, and the public space, complete with wi-fi, where people can sit outdoors and work. The hotel, with Starbucks on one side of the building and the Connell’s signature Grain and Cane restaurant on the other, are the next part.  

“As long-term owners,” the Connell family looks forward to seeing the evolution of the property in the coming years, he said.

Woodruff thanked Connell and his family for choosing Berkeley Heights as the home for the Connell Corporation.  “The Connell family has been a tremendous asset for Berkeley Heights,” he said. He pointed out the Connell Corporation has been a strong supporter of town events since locating in Berkeley Heights and made it clear, from the very start, that the family wanted to establish a relationship with the township and "This cements it,” he said.

Woodruff said he has come to believe the Connell family is a “picture of America and what can be done with a little sugar and rice,” referring to the family’s origins as “Connell Rice and Sugar.”

The hotel will help to turn Connell Park, and by extensions Berkeley Heights, into a destination – and is a project that is “good for Berkeley Heights,” because it will “provide employment, allow us to bring people to Berkeley Heights and showcase the downtown,” the mayor concluded.

Connell later said the best part of having the ribbon cutting under his belt is “We are now running a hotel, not building one … When I grew up we never owned a hotel and never owned a restaurant.”

Starbucks opened in April and he said “the public’s reaction to Starbucks is rewarding.” At the time he spoke to TAPinto, Grain and Cane was getting ready for its first dinner service that evening. The name Grain and Cane incorporates his grandfather Grover’s initials, G.C. – the man who started the family business and who just celebrated his 100th birthday.  The menu “features a number of items he likes,” said Connell, who said he would “definitely have lunch here.”

The décor in the restaurant and many details in the hotel harken back to the original days of Connell Rice and Sugar. Check the wall above the bar – there’s a replica of the commodity exchange price board – similar to an airline arrival and departure board, complete with flipping letters. On Tuesday there was a sign on the board that said “Cheer up things could be worse – So the man cheered up and it got worse” or words to that effect. The sign changes from time to time, just as prices changed in the commodity market.

After the opening remarks, various groups gathered for photographs, then entered the Grain and Cane for a reception with passed hors d’oeuvres and beverages. Davidson representatives led tours of the hotel. The eight-story all-suite hotel contains 176 rooms. Some are studios, with a separate bedroom, others have one bedroom, and a third type have both a bedroom and conference area.  There are conference rooms, meeting rooms, a ballroom, two different well-appointed lobbies, terraces, a fitness center and an indoor salt water swimming pool, just to name some of the amenities. 

The grand opening of Embassy Suites, at 250 Connell Drive, in the heart of the Connell Park, was expected during a hard hat tour almost a year ago. Some setbacks delayed the opening, but now that the hotel is open, it is ready to serve travelers, community organizations and residents, along with corporate employees.  

Embassy Suites by Hilton Berkeley Heights is currently taking reservations for rooms, meetings, events and conferences. Visit its website or call 1-908-897-1970 for more information.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News


Bee Day at Hanson Park!!

May 20, 2018

Please join the Hanson Park Conservancy on Saturday, June 23rd for Bee Day at Hanson Park!  At 2:00 PM Grant Stiles from Stiles Honey will be sharing his knowledge of bees with his presentation, “Fundamentals of Beekeeping and the Importance of Honey Bees in Our Society.”  Bring your blankets and chairs and enjoy the beautiful surroundings as Mr. Stiles answers all of your ...

Golf Outing On May 26 Benefits Retired Racehorses

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, N.J. —May 29, will mark Standardbred Retirement Foundation's (SRF) 26th Annual Charity Golf Outing being held at the beautiful Battleground Country Club in Manalapan, N.J.

This much anticipated event is held in conjunction with SRF's online auction which will open for bidding beginning Friday, May 25 and end at 7 p.m. on  Thursday, June 7. The outing ...


Jul 28, 1955 - Feb 8, 2018
Owner/Chef of Jaret’s Stuffed Cupcakes  Beloved Husband, Father, Brother and ...
Read more

Memorial Day Weekend Travels Kick off Summer 2018 in the Long Beach Island Region

May 25, 2018

LONG BEACH ISLAND, NJ - With much anticipation for warmer weather, longer days and salty seas, visitors flock back each year to the Long Beach Island Region to enjoy the many pleasures this resort area brings.

The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce operates a fully staffed visitor center, who always sees demand for customer inquiries rise either through their digital platforms, ...

Belmar Mayor Grants ‘Larry the Lobster’ His Freedom to Kick Off New Jersey Seafood Festival

BELMAR, NJ — Belmar Mayor Brian Magovern wasn’t going to let the rough ocean surf and high winds get in his way yesterday of pardoning “Larry the Lobster” to begin the New Jersey Seafood Festival.

Instead, Magovern moved the May 18 event from the Fifth Avenue beach to the quieter waters of the Shark River Inlet. Accompanied by a small group of borough officials and ...

WHRHS Baseball: Roxbury Baseball Powers Past Watchung Hills

May 19, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ – The Roxbury High School baseball team won its 14th game on Friday, rolling over Watchung Hills 9-1 at home.

Offensively, Roxbury did its damage early, scoring twice in the second inning and then five more times in the third to take an early 7-0 lead.

Roxbury’s Will Findlay had two hits and Donovan Brady, Andy Axelson and Brian Dachowski all had base hits. In ...

WHRHS Boys Lacrosse: Bridgewater Upsets Watchung Hills in OT for SCT Title

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - So close. The Watchung Hills boys lacrosse team fell to Bridgewater-Raritan, in overtime, as the Panthers won a fourth-straight Somerset County Tournament title on Saturday, 5-4, at the Torpey Athletic Complex.

Watchung Hills took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter with goals from Gavin DeFuria, Connor James, and Joe Rica. 

The last game the ...

Somerville Suspect Charged with Armed Robbery of Gaston Avenue Store

May 25, 2018

SOMERVILLE, NJ – A 22-year-old borough resident has been charged with armed robbery at a convenience store on Gaston Avenue, accoeding to Somerset County Prosecutor Michael H. Robertson..

Jake Sommers, 22, of Eastern Avenue is lodged in the Somerset County Jail and faces charges of first degree robbery and third degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Robertson provided ...

DiGanci Named Interim Principal in Watchung, Meet and Greet Scheduled


WATCHUNG, NJ - Dr. Thomas DiGanci has taken over the helm of Bayberry School in Watchung and a meet and greet has been scheduled for Wednesday, May 23 at 9:30 a.m. 

DiGanci is a former principal of both Valley View School and Watchung Hills Regional High School. He will serve as interim principal at Bayberry School through the end of the school year.

The next ...

Hillsborough Man Sentenced for Bribing Doctors in $100M Test Referral Scheme

NEWARK, NJ – Five individuals including a Hillsborough resident  were sentenced Friday for bribing doctors in exchange for test referrals as part of a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services LLC (BLS), of Parsippany, its president and numerous associates, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Doug Hurley, 38, of Hillsborough and Kevin ...

North Plainfield Middle School Hosts Holocaust and Genocide Open House

NORTH  PLAINFIELD, NJ - All are invited to the 2018 North Plainfield Middle School Holocaust/Genocide Open House on Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m. Students and staff will be on hand to serve as docents for a unique exhibit.

It is a museum in a school, created by the school, constructed by the school and for everyone in the community. featuring  over 400 posters, memorabilia and artifacts ...

Memorial Day Weekend Travels Kick off Summer 2018 in the Long Beach Island Region

May 25, 2018

LONG BEACH ISLAND, NJ - With much anticipation for warmer weather, longer days and salty seas, visitors flock back each year to the Long Beach Island Region to enjoy the many pleasures this resort area brings.

The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce operates a fully staffed visitor center, who always sees demand for customer inquiries rise either through their digital platforms, ...

Podcast: The Royal Wedding Through the Eyes of a Brit

In our May 18 podcast, Giles Bootheway, a British citizen who teaches at St. Bonaventure University, shares his thoughts on the Royal Wedding with TAPinto Greater Olean Co-editor Richard Lee.


Sign Up for E-News to get top stories delivered daily to your inbox. 

Download the FREE TAPinto App!  Click here for Android - Click here for iOS to get ...

Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit Parkland Cares and the Jason Taylor Reading Room, May 17 -Travels Charity Spotlight -

PARKLAND, FL - Parkland Cares will hold a Charity Golf Tournament on Thursday, May 17 at Parkland Golf & Country Club, with 100% of the proceeds going to the Jason Taylor Reading Room and Parkland Cares.  The event is presented by Steven Douglas and former NFL player and Hall of Famer Jason Taylor will be in attendance.

Howard Dvorkin, CPA, is chairman of and a 30-year ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...