Downtown Businesses Give Back to the Community in So Many Ways

Local businesses are an important part of any community. They provide dining and shopping options, as well as personal or professional services. But, local businesses do so much more and their support is essential to schools, PTAs, sports teams, civic organizations, and charitable events.

Mane Event
We wondered just what this support means in dollars, so we reached out to our more than 200 downtown businesses to get an idea of how they support and contribute to causes near and dear to local residents. We heard back from just 36 business owners, but their contributions alone topped more than $110,000 last year.

These contributions came in a number of forms. Many times businesses will donate gift cards, food, services, or merchandise, in addition to offering sponsorships and discounts. These donations were spread across local schools, non-profit organizations, religious institutions, and sports teams. Many times the businesses will also hold fundraisers to support causes, donating not only money but also time. In addition, local businesses also give back to the community by employing local residents. In the five years since they first opened, the owners of Augusta Mae estimate they’ve employed about a dozen high school students. There’s no doubt that many Cranford teenagers’ first job was at a local business. A number of hair salons and retailers also help out each year with the high school fashion show, donating hair styling services or outfits for the students to wear.

We hope you’ll join us in thanking our business owners for all that they do. Their generosity, in both time and money, is one of the things that makes Cranford so special. So from all of us, thank you!

Cake Artist Cafe and Dinner in a Pinch Re-open, Bigger & Better

Cake Artist Cafe originally opened in Cranford 6 years ago. The business was started by Ligia DeJesus as a showcase for her custom cakes, and eventually expanded to also sell cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, and additional sweet treats. Ligia and her husband Rui also purchased the neighboring business, Dinner in a Pinch, as a way to showcase their cooking skills as well. With two businesses under one roof Ligia and Rui found themselves on the hunt for a bigger space downtown. They found that space at 8 Eastman Street, and re-opened both businesses the first week of April.

Display case
One of the main reasons Ligia wanted a larger space was because of feedback from her customers. Many of them told her they would love to sit at tables in Cake Artist Cafe and enjoy their food there. Ligia also wanted to offer a bigger variety of baked goods, and the new space allows her to do that. In the morning people can enjoy a cup of coffee with a danish or breakfast sandwich, while at lunchtime sandwiches and salads are on the menu. In the evening Dinner in a Pinch will be taking orders, and customers can also stop by and pick up a dessert to take home. Cake Artist Cafe and Dinner in a Pinch will be open from Tuesday-Sunday, closed only on Mondays.

Since they opened in the new space, Ligia and her employees have been hard at work keeping the display cases stocked. All of the food is baked on premises, and Ligia also can often be found hard at work decorating her cakes. In the brief time the new location has been open, Ligia has already seen a noticeable increase in foot traffic and walk-in customers. Eventually the bakery will have a selection of dessert cakes in flavors like tiramisu, strawberry shortcake, and more. Ligia also plans to offer specials on cupcakes and cake pops for students.

We hope you’ll join us in congratulating Ligia and Rui on their successful move, and thank them for choosing to keep their business downtown. Here’s to many more years of success in downtown Cranford!

Cake Artist Cafe / Dinner in a Pinchh
8 Eastman Street
Cake Artist Cafe: (908) 967-6007
DIAP: (908) 272-5136

Celebrate Easter and Spring with our Downtown Merchants!

Spring is here, and Easter isn’t far behind. Check out the list below to see how Downtown Cranford businesses can help you celebrate.


Decorations, Clothing & Gifts

  • Periwinkle’s has their beautiful hand painted Austrian eggs for sale, as well as Paper Mache Easter eggs filled with jelly beans and German chocolate bunnies.


  • If you’re looking for an Easter outfit for your little one, then you need to stop by Milk Money. The store has adorable Easter outfits for boys and girls, as well as toys and accessories that are perfect to fill Easter baskets.


  • Breakfast with the Bunny at Giggles on April 8 is sold out, but you can also stop by and pick up gifts from Melissa & Doug or play passes, perfect for your kid’s Easter basket.
  • Embroidered keepsake stuffed animals from think d’sign print are popular Easter gifts. They’re are available in Bunnies, Lambs, Dragons, Unicorns, Penguins and Teddy Bears.


  • Celebrate the start of spring by framing the needlework projects that you worked on all winter! The Artist Framer has a number of framing options for any of your projects or artwork.


  • Spring clothes, shoes, and accessories, perfect for your Easter celebration, can be purchased at The Amber Feather.
    Amber Feather
  • On the hunt for adorable earrings and other accessories that would make any Easter basket shine? Head over to Augusta Mae.


  • Belladonna’s has a number of unique items to fill your child’s Easter basket. Cookie cutters, bunny boxes, and decorated Easter eggs are just a few of the things you can find at the boutique.


  • s’well bottles in new spring colors & patterns are the perfect addition to any Easter basket! Check them out at Anthem’s spring shopping night 4/6, 6-9pm!


Delicious Easter Treats

  • Your Easter celebration won’t be complete with a Bunny-Shaped Bread from Breadsmith. Who wouldn’t want a beautiful centerpiece that’s also edible?

Bunny Bread

  • Looking to finish off the meal with something sweet? Pick up an Easter ice cream cake from Vanilla Bean Creamery!


  • Easter themed cookies, cakes, cupcakes – you can get all of that and more at Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe.
  • Edible Arrangements has delicious and colorful bouquets available for Easter, as well as for Passover. Contact the store to learn about the seasonal specials they have available.


  • Easter lollipops, candy, decorating kits and so much more are available at Sweet N Fancy Emporium. You won’t have any problem filling Easter baskets with all of the goodies found here!

    Even More…
  • NJWineSeller has a number of wines that pair perfectly with Easter dinner, as well as a large selection of Kosher wines for Passover.
  • On Easter morning Hot Yoga Revolution will have classes for those who wish to practice before church, who are visiting from out of town, or for those who like to just come in and sweat. Class schedule for Easter is 7:30am, 9am, & 10:30am.
  • Fire Me Up! is hosting a Happy Easter Board Art event on April 8th from 7-9PM, and is also selling Bunny and Egg boxes and pottery-to-go kits for Easter baskets.


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From all of us at Downtown Cranford, have a wonderful Spring and Easter!

Cloud9 Fabrics Finds the Perfect Spot for Its Growing Business Downtown

Gina Pantastico and Michelle Engel Bencsko met while working in the garment industry. They worked together for over 10 years, and continued to stay in touch even after their paths diverged. Eventually the two women began to speak about starting their own fabric company, and 8 years ago Cloud9 Fabrics was formed. Michelle and Gina set their company apart by only working with organic fabric, an eco-friendly option that was important to them. The company was started in Gina’s garage in Cranford, which functioned as their warehouse. Eventually the business outgrew the garage, and then another space, before the partners finally found the perfect home in the Riverfront building on South Avenue. They chose to have their business in Cranford not only because they both live nearby, but also because they recognized Cranford as a thriving town that offers good foot traffic and a convenient location.

Michelle is the Creative Director of Cloud9, while Gina is in charge of Operations. The designs Cloud9 puts out are split about 50/50 between in-house and designer collections. The designers who collaborate with Cloud9 are often found through connections or are sought out after sharing their work on social media. Once artwork is submitted a sample will be made by the mill, and Cloud9 will go back and forth until the finished product is perfect, a process that takes about 5 months. Once it’s completed the fabric will be sold at stores nationwide and abroad.

Cloud9 Fabrics first made a splash in the fabric business when Gina and Michelle rented a booth at Quilt Market, a trade show that bring in people from all over. People were drawn to the fresh look of their brand, and in time came to know Cloud9 Fabrics for its consistency. The company puts out patterns in a number of different cloths and fabrics, including flannel, canvas, knit, corduroy, and voile. In 2009, when the company first started, quilt making was the trend. However, in the last 2-3 years the company has morphed into one that focuses on apparel sewing, allowing it more creativity when it comes to patterns and colors. The fact that Cloud9 Fabrics chose to have its headquarters in downtown Cranford is something we’re extremely proud of. There is so much more to downtown than meets the eye!

Corner of studio

Cloud9 Fabrics
200 South Ave. East


Bombshell Portraits Captures Kids At Their Best

What parent hasn’t been frustrated when they’ve tried to take a picture of their child? Even the best effort often leads to goofy faces or blurry images, and the end result is usually less than ideal. For parents who want truly great pictures of their children, let us introduce you to Bombshell Portrait. The studio, located upstairs at Bombshell Hairdressing, is owned by Amy Kilgannon, and specializes in children’s portraiture.


Amy came upon her photography profession through her general love of photography and working with children. Originally employed as an accountant, Amy left the industry after having children, but found herself looking for a job with flexibility. She began working part-time with a sports company based in Red Bank and learned from the photographers at the events. Eventually she opened her own photography business in Scotch Plains, and then moved the business to Cranford last summer. Amy’s specialty is children’s portraits, which are almost always done in her studio. The studio is also used for birthday photo shoot parties, where the birthday boy or girl and up to 15 of their friends can have a fashion shoot, complete with multiple costume changes, a print provided to each guest, and a link to an online slideshow. If that sounds like something your child would love, that’s not surprising – Amy’s daughter came up with the idea for her 4th birthday!

Holiday card

The creativity and enthusiasm Amy has for her profession shines through in her pictures. She loves working with the kids, and says that one of the keys to her success is having patience. She will let the kids be kids, taking shots and just waiting for the perfect moment. Amy also enjoys the creativity photography involves. In addition to taking photographs, Amy will also use Photoshop to design special pictures or holiday cards. She can also create special moments in the studio, such as 1st birthday smash cake sessions or family portraits. Welcome to Cranford, Bombshell Portrait – we think a lot of families will be calling on you to catch their children at their cutest!

Cake Smash

Bombshell Portrait
105 South Ave. West (2nd floor)

Valentine’s Day is Sweeter When You Celebrate it with Downtown Merchants

Roses are red, violets are blue – let our downtown merchants make Valentine’s Day easier for you! Listed below are ideas from downtown businesses, from unique gifts to pampering to sweet treats and romantic meals.

Gift Ideas

  • Golden Touch Jewelers has a number of beautiful jewelry pieces for your loved one, including this stunning necklace.
  • “Lock Your Love” with one of these pieces from designer Helchi Belluni, available aMartin Jewelers.
    Martin Jewelers
  • ANTHEM style + gift has cards, jewelry, smartphone cases, and more for your valentine.


  • Belladonna’s has some stylish pieces of jewelry, perfect for your valentine.

Belladonna's necklace

  •  Just 4 Pooches reminds you: don’t forget your furry friend at Valentine’s Day! They have collars, bandanas, treats, and even some artwork for your walls. Smooch your pooch!
    Just 4 Pooches
  • Augusta Mae has so many ways to say “I love you,” including these colorful and stylish bracelets.

Augusta Mae

  • Valentine’s themed pillows, made from pure New Zealand wool, can be yours from Periwinkle’s.
  • Swimsuit Junction is offering 20% off LoLo accessories through February 18th, as well as 10% off other accessories.
  • think d’sign print has adorable embroidered stuffed bears, as well as fun Valentine’s Day shirts. Check out their website or store for additional designs.
  • The Amber Feather has cute accessories, shoes, and clothing that are perfect for your Valentine’s day outfit. It’s also a great place to pick up a gift for your sweetheart.
    Amber Feather
  • If you’re looking to decorate your home in the language of love, then a stop at Simply is in order. The store also has a unique selection of accessories, jewelry, and gifts.

Night Out

  • Fire Me Up! Studio will have a “Ghost Night” on February 10th, and also always has the option for customers to walk in and create their own homemade gifts.


  • For Valentine’s Day, Bella Organici has chocolate facials on sale for $89 and chocolate body wraps for $149. Gift certificates also always make the perfect gift.

Sweet Treats

  • Don’t mind us, we’re just busy drooling over these strawberry tarts from Alfonso’s Pastry Shoppe.
  • Cake Artist Cafe has decorated cookies, cookie pops, mini cookie packs…basically if you want cookies, they have you covered!
    Cake Artist
  • Edible Arrangements  has exactly what you need to celebrate your special someone…. freshly-crafted fruit arrangements with pineapple hearts, including a new Edible Signature Chocolate Box created by Jacques Torres with six decadent flavors.

Dining Out

  • Bar Americana will have a special Valentine’s menu that includes a complementary champagne toast.
  • Kilkenny House will be serving up their regular menu, as well a number of specials including Bone-In Ribeye, Coconut Shrimp, and Lobster Salad. Kilkenny House is the perfect place to bring your sweetheart, or the entire family. Or give one of their gift cards for a night out!
  • Vinny’s  will be offering its regular menu plus some specials, including Braised Short Ribs over Wild Mushroom Risotto, Grilled Shrimp over Arugula salad with fresh Strawberries, and Zeppoles stuffed with Cannoli Cream. And of course, they’ll be cooking up their heart-shaped pizzas!

Vinny's Zeppoles

    • Pairings will be offering a 4-course Valentine’s Day menu. Make a reservation now and you’re sure to have a night to remember.
    • Mr. Bin’s Sushi & Grill has their Sweetheart Roll, perfect for Valentine’s Day or any day you’re dining out with your special someone.

Don’t forget about all of our great restaurants and bars!

From all of us at Downtown Cranford, have a wonderful Valentine’s Day and thank you for supporting our Downtown businesses!

Giggles Celebrates Its 1 Year Anniversary

In January of 2016, Giggles opened its doors. Since then it’s become the go-to place for parents to take their kids when they need to run around, burn off energy, or just generally have tons of fun. Giggles has become popular for both open play and amazing birthday parties. Owner Kinga Keaveney also had additional events in the space last year, including a Princess Party with Anna and Elsa from “Frozen,” and visits from Santa and the Easter Bunny. On January 25, Giggles will be celebrating its first birthday with half-off admissions, as well as face painting, balloon artists, and treats.

The winter is Giggles’ busiest time of year as parents search for indoor play opportunities. Kinga is always listening to suggestions and constructive criticism from her customers, and looking for ways that she can best serve her their needs. To that end, Giggles is now open on Mondays, and is currently offering extended hours on Friday nights.  The business has also started selling Melissa & Doug toys, which are a great option for people attending a birthday party there. Giggles will wrap the gift and parents don’t have to stress beforehand about picking something up. One of Kinga’s favorite parts of being a business owner is getting to know the families who come through her door. She sees the children grow, and many of the families have expanded from when they first started coming.


Giggles has come about its success due in large part to positive word of mouth. Parents are quick to tell their friends about the play space, and Kinga has also received great feedback on the birthday parties. Kinga is also always adding new toys and activities in the space so children never get bored. Customers receive a card to stamp every time they come, and with the 10th stamp they receive 1 Free Admission. Before Giggles was even open a year, Kinga found that one of her customers had brought her children there 29 times, proving that kids just can’t get enough Giggles.

A Look Inside Nature’s Salt Cave & Float Pod

When you walk through the doors of Nature’s Salt Cave & Float Pod you’re greeted by an inviting lobby, filled with the warm glow of salt lamps. The business itself is devoted to promoting salt therapy, which is believed to benefit those who suffer from certain respiratory illnesses and ailments, including asthma, allergies, sinus infections, and headaches. The downtown Cranford business was started when the owner and his family came across a salt cave in Europe. The salt therapy significantly helped their son’s asthma, and they decided to open their own salt cave back home.

Nature’s Salt Cave has two salt therapy rooms. The walls of the rooms are lined with blocks of Himalayan salt and have halogenerators which ignite the salt and disperse the particles into the air. The larger room seats about ten people, and the owners plan to use it for meditation sessions. The family room is smaller, and even includes toys so parents can do a session with their children. The sessions are 45 minutes long and can be purchased either one at a time, in a package, or in a monthly membership.

Large room
The business also offers a float pod, which is filled with Epsom salt and provides customers with the opportunity to disconnect from the outside world for an hour. The therapy is intense, as it usually takes a few minutes for people to completely shut off their minds and relax. Float pods have their devotees, who find them an escape from everyday stress and worry. They’re also popular with professional athletes, who claim they help with recovery time.

Float pod
In addition to the salt therapy and float pod, Nature’s Salt Cave also offers Moxibustion, a Chinese herb therapy that helps with circulation, and Hydrafacial MD, done by licensed estheticians. Potential customers should feel free to walk in, though appointments can also be made. We can safely say – Downtown Cranford has never seen anything quite like Nature’s Salt Cave & Float Pod, and we’re happy to welcome them to town.

Nature’s Salt Cave & Float Pod
49 Alden Street

Business Update: Anthem style & gift

Cori Eberling opened her clothing, accessory, and gift shop Anthem style & gift at the tail end of the holiday season in 2015. Now her store has been open for a year, and she finds herself running a retail shop that has already made a name for itself with its trendy, stylish, and unique items. Cori has found that many of her customers are excited to have another retail option in town, meaning they don’t have to head to the mall when they’re looking for a new outfit. She has also recognized that people’s schedules have changed, so she often keeps the store open later, taking advantage of potential customers who are on their way home from work or heading out to dinner downtown.

Cori and employee
There are a number of items at the store that Cori can point to as being popular among her customers. S’well bottles have been a hit since Cori started stocking them, and many people grab the bottles for themselves or as a gift. Anthem also sets itself apart from bigger stores by selling unique items done by smaller designers. Cori is constantly attending trade shows and scoping out the latest hot items via social media. The core customer of Anthem tends to be women between 25-35, though customers of all ages have found reasons to love the store. Working women, stay-at-home moms, teenage girls – they all make their way to Anthem on a regular basis to check out what new items are in stock.

While this holiday season was in full-swing Cori was already looking forward to what she would stock in the spring. With the previous spring season under her belt, she has a better idea of what her customers are looking for. She also plans to hold more events, as the ones she held in 2016, including Friendsgiving, were extremely successful. “I owe my success to my customers,” Cori said. “They’re so loyal, and always popping their heads in to see what’s new. I’m so pleased with our experience in downtown Cranford.”

Small Biz Sat

Join Our Downtown Businesses for a Holiday Open House!

It’s hard to beat our local downtown businesses when it comes to offering a selection of unique gifts from the heart. And gift giving is never more important than around the holiday season, so we’re very excited to announce the 1st Annual Holiday Open House. A number of our downtown businesses are participating, offering up small bites, refreshments, special discounts and promotions, as well as giveaways.  Also, starting on December 8th, there will be FREE SHOPPER PARKING through December 25th. Please note that parking time limits still apply (1 1/2 hours on-street parking, 3 hours in the lots, and 4 hours in the parking garage). For many businesses too, if you wear an ugly sweater, you’ll be entered in a raffle to win a Downtown Cranford gift certificate!

If you’re looking for a complete list of our businesses, please check out our business listings, or refer to the Downtown Cranford Holiday Guide. This annual magazine was mailed to homes in Cranford and surrounding towns, and has some valuable coupons inside. Check out the list below to see what our businesses will be offering during this Holiday Open House.

  • Augusta Mae will have a coupon where customers will receive $10 off when they spend $50.


  • Belladonna’s will be serving up refreshments all weekend, as well as offering 30% off select items.  On Saturday, the store will have a weaving demonstrating.
  • Periwinkle’s is giving its customers $10 off a purchase of $50 or more and will be serving up hot, mulled cider.
  • Milk Money will be having a 20% off sale storewide. These cute bows would be the perfect holiday accessory for your little girl.

Bows from Milk Money

  • For the open house, Anthem style + gift will be giving customers who spend $100 a $20 gift card, and there will also be snacks and refreshments.
  • Hynes Jewelers is having a Trunk Show December 8, 9, and 10. The store will have extra jewelry merchandise these days, and also remember that the entire store is 20-50% off.
  • Bella Organici will have DJ playing tunes, while also offering light bites. Customers can check out their selection of organic skin care, soaps, scrubs, and malas, or pick up a gift certificate.
  • The Amber Feather will be open until 9pm on Friday and will have live music for an hour somewhere between 5-7. The Riverside Inn will be catering the open house with some of their most popular homemade appetizers.
  • Giggles, which now sells Melissa & Doug products, will have Sila Boutique, Keep Collective and Arlo Design there on Friday from 5-9PM. Admission for play during that time will be 50% off, giving parents the opportunity to do some shopping at Giggles while their kids play.


  • Swimsuit Junction will be offering 20% off the entire store. Any customers who spend over $300 will also receive a $25 gift card that they can use anytime after January 3rd.
  • A caricature artist will be at Simply on Saturday from 1-3 (longer if needed), and the store will also have a “pick your own discount tree” during the open house.
  • Atlantic Beach Soap Co. customers will enjoy 50% off select items.
  • The Artist Framer, a great place to pick up unique note cards or framed pictures of notable Cranford scenes, will be greeting customers with coffee and cookies.
    Artist Framer
  •  Nicole Michelle Hair Spa has special nail packages, including “The Merry, Merry Manicure” and “Peppermint Pedicure.”

There are so many great reasons to head downtown this weekend. We hope to see you there!