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NEWS

News from the Business Community

BUSINESS OF THE MONTH

June Business of the Month

Welding in 90-degree heat didn’t seem to bother Frank Constandi much on a recent Tuesday in July. People may hide out during the heat, but their broken cars do not.

“We do all kinds of repairs on all kinds of cars,” said Tracy Constandi, the business brain behind Frank’s Auto Repair, 56 South Martine Avenue, at the corner of LaGrande Avenue. “Business has been really good, even during the recession.”

In fact, they’ve been so busy, the body shop was spun-off into its own business in 2007, Northeast Collision, which operates in a separate shop at 1128 North Avenue in Plainfield. They employ a total of nine people at both shops.

“Our customer reviews are consistently good,” said Tracy, who did most of the talking while Frank worked on a car on the outside lift. “We have customers who come from as far as Camden. They’re happy with the service they get here.”

Excellent customer service reviews.

It’s not only good service, but a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that accounts for their return business. One customer, a woman from Massachusetts, comes to Fanwood to visit family and has her car repairs done at Frank’s.

“We have a very loyal following,” said Tracy, who also works as a dental hygienist in Westfield, a job she’s held for 20 years.

“I did that before I even met Frank,” she said. “Then, I just kind of got sucked in.”

The business has been at the same spot for almost 40 years, first as Fanwood Gulf, owned by Frank’s father, Dominick, then as Frank’s Auto Repair beginning in 1994. Today, Frank’s enjoys excellent reviews on various websites including Angie’s List and their Facebook page, most of which talk about the great, friendly service.

June Business of the Month: Club West

Owners Cindy West-Schaefer and daughter Morgan Matalucci

After more than a year in business in downtown Fanwood, Club West has built a loyal base of customers of all ages, starting from young children to senior citizens and everyone in between.

“There’s something here for every body type,” says owner Cindy West-Schaefer. “It’s all about cellular nutrition.”

For a while, Cindy says, the locals weren’t sure exactly what Club West was about.

“In the beginning we stood at the train station, handing out pamphlets, cups of tea,” she recalls. “The business has surpassed my expectations.”

Cindy describes Club West as a nutrition club. Customers can buy a variety of herbal products specializing in weight loss, sports nutrition , heart health and much more. The Club’s own signature meal replacement health shakes and herbal teas can be served café style in the club or made to go . After 15 months in business, she is proud to say she has helped dozens of people lose weight, and feel great.

Customers check out Herbalife products.

“Over 2,000 pounds have been lost in our weight loss challenges,” she says, referring to her 12-week programs in which people come in for a weekly nutrition class, get support and counseling from Cindy, her partner and daughter, Morgan Matalucci including a personal trainer, Robert Orlowski, then continue on their personal diet and exercise regimens. At the end of the 12 weeks, the “biggest loser” receives the total of the $35 registration fees paid by the participants.

“We get a lot of referrals and people know us through our community service,” says Cindy, who is a proud supporter of the Fanwood Youth Organization baseball league and the Fanwood/Scotchplains YMCA Men’s Basketball League. Club West also has begun its own bowling league, Hiking Club and on Wednesday evenings a Couch To 5-K work out program. We combine good nutrition with lots of fun activities.

Cindy is a single mom of four including one daughter in high school, one in college, a grown son who lives in Philadelphia and her business partner, daughter Morgan. She also has a full time job as a state employee in Trenton. How does she do all that and still run a successful business?

“Good nutrition,” she says.

Club West is open Monday through Saturday, 9am-6pm, Tuesday and Thursday until 8pm.

FPBA BOARD

Every business owner knows that the time comes every year and he will need to lodge online tax return for himself and his small business. Lodging a tax return online is an easy task when you are guided by the professional accountants.

FBPA sponsors new Welcome sign

Fanwood's first Green Fair, celebrating our environment and promoting green activities, was well attended on the evening of June 26th at LaGrande Park. Mayor Colleen Mahr thanks everyone who turned out to learn about Fanwood's green initiatives and the efforts of the Sustainable Jersey committee. Pictured is councilwoman Kathy Mitchell at the table of the Fanwood Environmental Commission, the volunteers who bring us the Fanwood Nature Center and other activities.Temple Sholom announced that congregant Ann Saltzman of Fanwood, Professor Emerita of Psychology and Director of the Center for Holocaust/Genocide Study at Drew University, was honored with the Sister Rose Thering Award on June 20 in Trenton, NJ. The award has been presented annually since 2007 by the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education to a person who has initiated and supported educational and community programs to combat bias, bigotry and intolerance and that bring together people of different faiths for better understanding of each other and of Israel.“I am honored to have received such a prestigious award,” said Saltzman. “It is a testament to the important work that we do at Drew. In addition, I try to infuse the lesson of tolerance into my everyday life and carry on the work started by Sister Rose Thering.”Sister Rose Thering (1920-2006) was a Roman Catholic nun, teacher and former professor at Seton Hall University who battled anti-Semitism within the Catholic community and around the world. While at Seton Hall, she developed workshops to promote understanding between Christians and Jews. Her doctoral dissertation which studied anti-Semitism in Catholic texts, entitled “Faith and Prejudice,” was used by the Vatican to reverse church policy that had previously blamed the Jewish community at large for the death of Christ. As a result of Sister Rose Thering’s activism, universities, politicians and the worldwide religious community have opened up to dialogue about interfaith tolerance and understanding.

Restaurant business update

Every day we get dozens of calls from local residents asking when the local restaurant, a beloved local landmark, will reopen its doors. Now, two years after he first began rebuilding, all that stands in his way of revamping the local eatery are two 16,000 gallon gas tanks. We had originally planned on reopening the doors of our favorite childhood restaurant last March. After our team had gutted the inside of the still standing shop, they discovered that beneath the earth, were huge gasoline tanks dating back to the 1920s. The tanks had been installed back decades before the shop opened up in the 1960s, when the property was used as a truck stop. We couldn’t find evidence of the tanks on any of the borough’s maps, back then, you didn’t need a permit or documentation to install tanks and pump gas. We are looking into donating the tanks to a historical society. Once the tanks were discovered, we hired a private company based out of Westlakes to test the ground to make sure the earth was not contaminated by the gas tanks. That company has now determined that the earth is not contaminated. Still, the Department of Environmental Protection must confirm the results before we can demolish the standing shop structure. We are confident that the building will be demolished by the end of the summer, with the new and improved restaurant opening in September. We believe in this project a hundred percent, our fathers brought food home for us from this restaurant all the time, and so did their fathers. When they closed their doors back in 2006 and we heard it was going to be turned into a hot dog stand, we knew that we wanted to save the restaurant. We are hoping to continue that tradition by the running the business with the help of our parents and siblings. Our mothers, fathers, and sisters are all going to be involved in the business, they have a lot of skin in the game – we have all invested a lot of time and money into making this happen. The new, nautical themed building is being designed and built as a modular building. The building will be the same size, but will include a basement for storage. The inside will be slightly redesigned with the kitchen in the front to accommodate additional seating. We quelled resident concerns stating that the smell many complained of in the past will no longer be an issue due to a brand new filtration system and increased trash pickup. We knew we had to be smart about how the building looks, we are very aware that this is the first and last thing people see as they enter and leave. A trained professional chef has also revolutionized the restaurant’s menu. In addition to the classic fish and chips, patrons can also enjoy light and healthy options such as fish tacos and salads. We have also added a kids menu and family friendly, fairly priced meal options. We want to encourage local youth and residents to apply for a job at the restaurant, it’s important to us to continue to build community in our town. Hopefully re-opening the restaurant can help us do that. And one more thing – you won’t find Fish and Chips on the menu. When we purchased the business, we also became keepers of the restaurant’s secret fish and chips recipe. It’s our secret to keep now, we are really looking forward to working with our families,  everyone is very hands on. The restaurant has been around our whole lives. We couldn’t be more excited to bring it back to life.