Despite any pandemic related challenges, several new Garden State businesses celebrate booming grand openings

by Jessica Jones-Gorman

It’s not easy opening during a pandemic, but Willow and Whisk in Wycko made the best of the situation, making room for 70 guests in a tented area of the eatery’s parking lot. Offering upscale breakfast and brunch favorites (think mini brioche French toast and smoked salmon benedict), the restaurant is also making a name for itself with its nitro cold brew coffee and assorted cappuccinos and lattes. There’s also a panoply of burgers, salads, and club sandwiches. A hunger-inducing grilled cheese includes slices of fontina and Wisconsin cheddar topped with bacon-onion jam and slow roasted tomatoes. The eatery is owned by AJ and Rich DiBenedetto, the brains behind CARS Sandwiches & Shakes in Ramsey and Montclair. It’s BYOB, but Willow and Whisk’s menu features a range of mocktails (bloody marys and mojitos are fan favorites) so pack your alcohol accordingly. 319 Franklin Avenue,

In an attempt to create super fresh coffee, James and Amelia Caverly started roasting beans in the oven of their New York City apartment. The java was so delish, in fact that the couple decided to launch a coffee roasting business, and in 2011, Booskerdoo Coffee & Baking Co. was born. Located in the Jersey Shore town of Monmouth Beach, the shop and its concept (signature blends of beans served within one to three days of being roasted) was a fast hit. In the years that followed, the shop expanded, adding retail locations in Asbury Park, Fair Haven, Holmdel, and Bronxville, New York.

The shop’s latest outpost in Red Bank, which was slated to launch in early 2020, suffered a few pandemic-related delays but finally celebrated its grand opening on August 6. Offering espresso, lattes, and a range of baked goods, the latest Booskerdoo is located within Sickles Market at 200 Monmouth Street. For bites, the shop is most famous for its doughnut puffs and PB&J bars, but you should also check out the scones, bostocks, and chocolate chip cookies.

After celebrating its grand opening in late February, Pinkie’s Cupcake Café in Kenilworth was forced to shut its doors, adhering to the stay-at-home order put in place by the state of New Jersey. But Pinkie and “G,” owners of the posh “cupcakery,” adapted, keeping their business a float by selling gift cards and consistently promoting the spring and summer menu on social media. The bakery partially reopened in May for contactless delivery and has been selling out of its locally famous cupcakes, donuts, rose bud bundt cakes, and ice cream varieties ever since. All recipes are created by Pinkie herself and everything is baked fresh daily. Try the hummingbird cupcake or ice cream styled cake pops. 504 Washington Avenue,

Cellini Spread