HobokenLife™

The Mystery Shops of Hoboken

Abandoned tavern, or Hellmouth? We'll never know.

Hoboken is a thriving little mini-metropolis. Now that the construction boom has returned with a vengeance, the whole town seems to be popping, with new stores cropping up (including the vaunted arrival of Trader Joe’s) and new crowds of people spending money in them. Plus, of course, new condo buildings and the hordes of people who will soon occupy them, adding to the hum of commerce throughout our little burg.

And then there are the mystery stores.

Sweet Mystery of Hoboken

They are few and far between, but they are persistent. It’s possible a crackerjack investigative reporter might be able to figure out what’s going on with these properties, but where’s the fun in that? We’d rather wildly speculate, and we invite you to contribute your theories as well.

What we mean by “mystery store” are the spots around town that are either never open, have a mysterious business case, or have been empty for far longer than the hot Hoboken real estate market ought to allow. Come with us down a brief journey exploring Hoboken’s strange, half-abandoned side.

Style Square

STYLE SQUARE: The door being open was a pleasant surprise. I didn't go in, out of fear of the unknown.
STYLE SQUARE: The door being open was a pleasant surprise. I didn’t go in, out of fear of the unknown.

730 Washington Street. If you have ever walked down Washington Street, you have likely passed this dark little boutique clothing store that is absolutely, 100% never open. It doesn’t matter what day or time it is, that place is locked up tight, and yet has been there for years now. Theories range from private shopping service to plain old-fashioned Hoboken money laundering front. One thing is for sure, you never see a single soul in there, which makes how they pay the rent kind of mysterious. And we’d swear the same clothing has been on display in the window for years.

Grubb’s Takeaway

mys2
Sun-faded, but it still wants us to get excited about Grubb’s.

418 Washington Street. This, of course, used to be a Subway sandwich shop. Last year Subway disappeared literally overnight, replaced by a lot of paper over the windows announcing a new Grubb’s Take Away, a popular chain of delis and sandwich shops. The paper is now yellowed and tearing, and there has not only been no sign of Grubb’s, there’s no sign of any activity whatsoever. That’s a pretty ideal location, and it’s hard to believe a storefront like this can just sit empty for this long—unless Grubb’s has been secretly operating behind that paper these last few months, making sandwiches on the down-low.

340 Park Avenue

Abandoned tavern, or Hellmouth? We'll never know.
Abandoned tavern, or Hellmouth? We’ll never know.

This spot across the street from Church Square Park and Onieal’s has been empty for as long as anyone can remember. It’s clearly a storefront, and has brown paper on the windows. It’s a good spot for a certain type of business, and yet it has been ominously empty for a very, very long time. The worst part is every time you go to Onieal’s for a drink, you step out and imagine horror movie music playing as you hurry past this empty, abandoned storefront.

A Mystery Store has to combine a certain length of time with inexplicable qualities such as not selling anything or being more or less abandoned—did we miss any?

 

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Jeffrey Somers

Staff Writer • Jeff Somers (jeffreysomers.com) is the author of 9 novels including We Are Not Good People (wearenotgoodpeople.com) and the publisher of The Inner Swine (innerswine.com). Jeff may be reach at [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter at @jeffreysomers .

  • Julia P

    I’ve seen Onieal’s staff go into the empty corner property across the street and bring out tables and barstools before opening, so they must have some sort of lease or ownership to the place. Maybe an eventual expansion?

  • Stephen Melachrinos

    You forgot park cafe on 8th and park

  • idlewild

    The owner of O’Nieal’s owns 340 Park and actually *rents* the space which houses O’Nieal’s. He uses the building he owns, 340 Park, as…gulp…storage.

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