Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 5/27/17
With a reputation for unhealthy, processed foods and dingy surroundings, families and couples tend to steer clear of sports bars.
However, Arooga’s Grille House and Sports Bar, which will hold its grand opening at 1250 Route 22 East in North Plainfield on Sunday at 11 a.m., is paving the way to show that sports bars don’t need to sacrifice their food quality to make way for those looking for a cold beer.
Arooga’s conscientious food options make it so that the bar and grill isn’t just for those looking to watch the game — it’s for everyone, including families looking to bring the kids or couples out for date night.
That’s because visitors to Arooga’s can eat assured that their meal isn’t prepared by factory workers. All of their menu items are house-made and feature antibiotic-free and cage-free chicken and eggs paired with five award-winning sauces as well as 75 gluten-free items — with price tags ranging from $8.99 to $17.99.
“We are Whole Foods meets casual dining in a multimedia environment,” said Cordell Toson, Millstone resident and owner of the North Plainfield location.
Plus, to make the restaurant more family-friendly, a section separated from the bar called The Dugout takes up one side of Arooga’s and features booth and table seating. This section also has access to televisions for those who want to bring their kids but still catch the game.
“It’s a little bit of everything for somebody,” said Andrea Molina, hospitality and marketing manager for the North Plainfield location.
Some of their signature menu items include the peanut butter and jelly burger ($11.79), the wagyu doughnut burger ($11.99), the cookie pizza (8.99), build-your-own cheesesteak ($10.99) and, of course, the antibiotic-free and cage-free wings that have almost 30 sauce options.
“We truly care about the ingredients that we are putting into the items that we give our customers,” Toson said. “If you look at our menu, you can see that we can change the way people dine at bars and franchise restaurants.”
At the Sunday 11 a.m. grand opening, Arooga’s wing fans will get a real treat when the first 100 customers to arrive will receive five free wings a week for one year. The grand opening will also feature a DJ and other giveaways, including Arooga’s garb and gift cards.
Besides their fresh and quality items, Arooga’s is known for what they can offer to sports fans, including every sports package available every day of the year and 90 televisions, with at least one that can be seen at every seat in a space seating 290.
Arooga’s is also known for their drink options, including their 44 beers on tap, with at least six New Jersey local, and “liquor pitchers,” in which any standard cocktail can be upgraded into a pitcher for various prices.
Toson began the opening for his North Plainfield Arooga’s in July of last year after learning about the chain following its win as America’s Next Top Restaurant Franchise, where it beat out 250 entrants in 36 states in a contest co-sponsored by Sysco Foods and The Franchise Edge in their nationwide search to find an independent restaurant to become the next great franchise opportunity.
“Toson just fell in love with the idea,” said Jack Santos, manager. “He loved the focus on food quality.”
The North Plainfield location will mark the first Arooga’s in New Jersey and the 14th in the United States. Toson has the rights to both Union and Somerset counties and plans to open four to six more locations.
Toson chose the 1250 Route 22 East location due to the strip mall’s up-and-coming status following the opening of the Costco and Texas Roadhouse, said Santos. Arooga’s will operate in the former Ruby Tuesday’s location as well as in space next door.
“I thought the demographic was right and the community needed it,” Toson said. “Franchises have gotten a bad rap, but here, you can eat the food that you want to eat in a healthier form.”
Staff Writer Jenna Intersimone: JIntersimone@MyCentralJersey.com, 908-303-8390
Arooga’s North Plainfield
Where: 1250 Route 22 East, North Plainfield
Contact: aroogas.com/Route-22-North-Plainfield; 908-822-9464