Lambert Epperly, founder and owner of National Bartenders School, oversees the progress of each of his school's students, and provides individual advice and adjustments from their first class through graduation. His bartending gurus pass on their knowledge and techniques in a custom-designed cocktail-lounge classroom, engaging students in hands-on training behind a 40-foot-long, fully stocked bar. These experienced instructors lead a 40-hour certificate program and other seminars in both English and Spanish, tailoring class times around students' work and crime-fighting schedules. For extended courses, they provide a bartending textbook spanning more than 200 drink formulas and detailing elements of the craft, such as types of glassware and customer-service practices. Licensed by the New Jersey Department of Education, the school keeps tuition low and connects its students with free job-placement assistance in local watering holes.
It's no secret that kids have short attention spans. Normally that's a challenge, but at Kidz Village, it's the expectation. The staff has assembled more than 12 themed play areas inside the facility, ranging from simulations of a hair salon and a comic-book store to an arcade (with real prize tickets) and a fairy-tale castle. And if families feel like dropping by on a whim, they're more than welcome, as open play is available everyday. Adults always receive free entry and can relax in an area with complimentary WiFi and views of all the play areas. An onsite restaurant, Perky's Pizza, serves chicken tenders and hot dogs to keep kids fueled.
The party packages at Kidz Village are quite accommodating, as they include a mix of both open access to play areas and reserved time in a private party room. In the private room, staff hosts orchestrate a custom lineup of games that might include limbo or trivia based on the birthday child's favorite TV shows. Even once the private-room reservation is over, groups are welcome to stay and party for free until closing time or the staff's nap time.
When Laura Occhipinti founded New Jersey Young Professionals after moving to Somerset County in 2004, she was just hoping to make a friend. In the first year, she made 2,000. Today, the organization boasts more than 4,000 paid members aged 21?39, who get together at their choice of 20?30 events each month. These range from happy hours to wilderness hikes, speed-dating sessions, comedy shows, and wine tastings. Members also get discounts to regularly scheduled multi-group mixers, where they can mingle with hundreds of professionally situated peers, whether looking for a job, a significant other, or a partner for company-mandated rounds of "London Bridge is Falling Down."
Gold-leaf writing inscribed across the towering red portico at the entrance to The Shannon Rose Irish Pub announces what one might expect to find inside: “Premium Stouts,” “Irish Whiskies,” and other culinary staples of the Emerald Isles. Behind this imposing entryway lies a series of dining rooms that have a markedly different effect; chandeliers create a sense of intimacy as they illuminate Gaelic artwork and aged hardcovers resting on lofty bookshelves.
With six handcrafted beers on tap and a full menu of delicious pub provisions, J.J. Bitting Brewing Company enrobes taste buds in warm, comfortable flavors. The Blazing Brewhouse wings ($5.95) perk up palates with a tangy zest that earned them the title of Best Hot Wings in Woodbridge by BestHotWings.com. Wrangle the Colorado burger's bison patty into hungry mouths aided by sautéed onions, mushrooms, and sun-dried-tomato pesto mayo ($7.95), or follow the delicate salmon steak's incredible journey through pan-searing and potato-breading before rousing it from snug beds of rice and fresh veggies ($15.95). Like the cool table in a high-school cafeteria, Bitting's homegrown pints ($4.50 each) stay popular with or without delicious food. The Garden State IPA balances appealing bitterness with a floral aroma, and the heavily roasted Black Jack Stout swoops up from cellars to slake any thirst in the house.