Jersey City Project EAT to Turn City Hall Plaza into Foodie Wonderland

Small Businesses Spotlighted at Weekend Food Festival

By Sally Deering

Wait till you see the food vendors lined up for this year’s Jersey City Project Eats festival happening Saturday and Sunday, June 24 & 25 at City Hall Plaza. Yummy dishes for every palate – from vegan to carnivore – are guaranteed to tempt and deliver a vast array of noshables for festival-goers.

The weekend long JC Project Eats is sponsored by the City of Jersey City and the Office of Mayor Steven M. Fulop and it’s the fifth year that the annual event will turn Jersey City Hall’s sidewalk square out front into one a gastronomic extravaganza.

The JC Project is a Jersey-City not-for-profit run by volunteers like Kristen Scalia, owner of Kanibal & Co, a small apparel and home goods shop on Montgomery Street. Scalia is a member of the board which raises money for small businesses by putting on summer and winter outdoor events. The non-profit organization formed when Scalia and other downtown Jersey City business owners lost income when Hurricane Sandy flooded their stores and ruined thousands of dollars of inventory.

“We had four feet of water and lost all of our inventory,” Scalia says. “Our insurance company said it was a a flood surge, and we were denied our claim.”

Scalia says she was lucky because her friends raised money for her to re-open her store.

“Otherwise I would not be where I am now,” Scalia says. “At that point I started talking to other small business owners. Unfortunate circ*mstances like fire and flood, there’s no way to make money to help with improvements. We thought wouldn’t it be nice to have some kind of resource in town that was able to leverage businesses where they could generate income for improvements.”

Just BeClaws’ JB FriesThat’s how the JC Project started and the food festival came about. Since then, it has become so popular vendors apply for a limited amount of available slots, but not everyone gets chosen.

“It’s invite only,” Scalia says.

Vendors this year are the Big Straw, Waffle It & Co, Outer Limits Hot Sauce, Bang Cookies, Koro Koro, Milk Sugar Love, Bro-Ritos Food Truck, Ahh la cart, Bread & Spoon, Just Beclaws, Baonanas, House of Gains, Salt and Seed, The Cow and The Curd, Bucket & Bay Craft Gelato, Prato Bakery, Brooklyn Oyster Party, Grandma Downtown, Oh Honey, SunnyRae’s Kitchen, Angry Archie’s, Modcup Coffee Co, Dark Side of the Moo, Suwanna, Tidal Poke Co, Talde, Gusti Di Sicilia, Eema’s Cuisine, Lizzmonade, Incrediballs, Gia Gelato & Café, Frankie, Hoboken Farms, Pig & Prince Restaurant, Louie’s BBQ Pit, Ace’s Wings, The Guac Spot, Moffle Bar and Hamilton Pork

Eema’s Cuisine will serve Hawaiian

dishes like Musubis at JC Project Eats

“I think as Jersey City grows and continues to develop, its important to offer our visitors and residents options that highlight all the talent we have here in our community,” Scalia says. “When you love where you work and you love where you live you want to create additional opportunity for the people around to thrive.”

Project Market is the JC Project’s holiday marketplace held the first weekend in December and this year will be the organization’s 6th year. The marketplace offers shoppers an extragavanza of gifts and home goods made locally and regionally.

The Cow and the Curd’s

Wisconsin Cheese Curds

“For our food event, we want to keep it food vendors, and for our market in the winter, we like to have a select amount of vendors in jewelry, natural textiles, bath & body,” Scalia says. “We look holistically how these events will feel as a shopper.”

At the weekend food festival, the JC Project will get visitors in the dancing mood with a DJ and throughout the day some surprises.

“We partnered with Jersey Girls Food Tours, and we’re doing something brand new with them,” Scalia says. “It’s kind of a secret. A certain amount of visitors will be invited to participate in a special food event.”

Belgian Liege Waffle by

Waffle It & Co

The JC Project offers small business owners one-on-one mentoring and entrepreneurial training, Scalia says. If a small business owner is interested, they can reach out and Scalia’s team will direct them to the best person in town to meet. The volunteers don’t have an office, per se, but meet up sometimes at Andco on Montgomery Street that hosts seminars and workshops.

And since the food festival started five years’ ago, several businesses were launched at the festival like Eema’s, which serves authentic Hawaiian food.

A big supporter of the JC Project is Mayor Fulop, Scalia says.

“Mayor Fulop has been to all our events,” Scalia says. “We’ve always been very grateful to him for keeping small businesses alive here in Jersey City. He makes himself accessible. As a small business person, I think that’s amazing.”

If you go

Sat & Sun, June 24 & 25, 11 am-7 pm

JC Project Eats

City Hall Plaza

280 Grove St, JC



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