Vision for Vacancies: What Should Move to the Former Ekko Restaurant?

Property up for auction next month.


In this occasional column, Patch presents a vacant space in town and asks you to tell us what you think would be the best use for it. Think of it like a digital town hall called for community planning. 

This week, Patch asks you what should be placed at 481 Northfield Ave., the former Ekko Restaurant. The property has been sitting vacant for about three years now.

This location comes up because the Tranzon Auction Company will be putting the bank owned property up for auction on Saturday, July 17, at the Raritan Center at the Sheraton Hotel, 125 Raritan Center Parkway, Edison. The full listing can be found here

So what do you think should go there? Another restaurant? A retail store? The property is located along a well-traveled road and has plenty of parking. 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below! Know of a vacant space/building we should highlight? Email mike.donofrio@patch.com.

yaya June 16, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Ralph, You took the words right outta my mouth! Yea to Trader Joe's. We need something different on Northfield, no more restaurants that haven't "made it" in years.
Tom G. June 16, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Speaking of vacancies, I noticed a sign today in the window of the old Nemo's Seafood at the corner of Pleasant Valley Way and Eagle Rock Ave. Apparently there is a Turkish restaurant moving into that location.
Leah June 16, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Sanford Josephson June 16, 2012 at 10:56 AM
Don't think we need another Trader Joe's. Already in Millburn and Florham Park. How about a branch of Chimney Rock Inn,now in Gillette and Bridgewater?
Sanford Josephson June 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
What's happening at the Mount Fuji Steakhouse location?
jazz marazz June 16, 2012 at 01:45 PM
There isn't plenty of parking and that was part of the problem when it was a restaurant and night club. Street parking is prohibited and ticketed or towed. Neighbors complained. Why would a busy business want to be in such a residential area? A high end spa would work best there.
rhoda Weinstein June 16, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I agree.
seth June 16, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Trader Joes. They would pull from a large geographic area that finds it inconvenient to travel to Millburn or Florham Park. They are also closed in the evening, which will help minimize disturbances to the large residential areas in the vicinity. Any upscale restaurant will be open until 11 or later and serve alcohol. They would be doomed for the same issues that Essex House recently had.
Ken June 16, 2012 at 07:49 PM
That would be cool, actually. Needs something else, though, too -- I think it's got to be two or three times as big as an average Starbucks.
Ken June 16, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I think the TJ's in Millburn is close enough ... but I also can't see that space as anything other than a restaurant, not without significant demolition. The neighborhood might not want a restaurant (or anything else) in that location -- I wouldn't blame them, either -- but if it's already zoned to be one, it may be the most likely use. I think I like the higher-end restaurant idea the best -- maybe McLoone's apparent success shows that some restaurants CAN do well in that area.
Sanford Josephson June 17, 2012 at 01:44 AM
I don't see how you consider Northfield Ave. a residential street.
yaya June 17, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Who said McLoone's is doing well? Why would they advertise 20% off for frequent diners? C'mon now, what successful business needs to cheapen their advertising like that?
Ken June 17, 2012 at 02:38 AM
It's obviously not, but Ekko has a neighborhood right behind it; look at the satellite view on Google Maps: http://bit.ly/KQx02Y
Ken June 17, 2012 at 02:39 AM
The two or three times I've been in there, it's been pretty crowded; that's all I'm basing that on. Is it that uncommon for restaurants to run some sort of loyalty program / discounts during slower periods?
yaya June 17, 2012 at 02:49 AM
Any upscale restaurant does not need to run a promotion. Why should summer time be slower for outdoor dining? We do not need another restaurant to open and fail on Northfield. Think "Julios"???!!!
Ken June 17, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Hey, I'd like to see something successful there, too, but I'm just saying I don't think there's much chance of anything like a Trader Joe's going into that spot. It's a restaurant building smack up against a residential neighborhood, and it's just a few easy miles to the next Trader Joe's.
yaya June 18, 2012 at 12:30 AM
........and a hop, skip and a jump to the next failed restaurant on Northfield! Nobody wants to see anything but success on Northfield more than I do!
Patricia L. Schall June 18, 2012 at 12:24 PM
I live in the neighborhood near the restaurant. We have had nothing but problems with every restaurant that has been there (other than Bel Mondo, where nothing seemed to go on during business hours)- parking, noise, trash, rowdy behavior, and vandalism. The driveway to the restaurant is on Rock Spring Avenue, not Northfield Avenue. It is a residential street, not appropriate for a lot of traffic. I'd like to see the building demolished or converted into some quiet professional offices that don't interfere with the neighborhood. If you lived near the restaurant, you would understand how bad it has been and why we have been happy that it is vacant.
Ken June 18, 2012 at 08:48 PM
That really is an unfortunate site for a restaurant, especially something that runs late & includes a bar. How did that sort of use ever get approved in the first place?
James Johnston June 19, 2012 at 03:55 PM
The building has been a restaurant for decades. The original place was sold to investors who, with more greed than knowledge, borrowed millions to rebuild it into an upscale dining establishment, at a high point in the economy. The biggest issue was paying the rent, which drove out successive businesses. The last incarnation had a sad finish, as the desperate owner encouraged an urban nightlife clientele, which only caused a neighborhood backlash, and still could not keep afloat. Perhaps a bargain basement sale price will enable a successful franchise to move into the space, but parking will remain a problem.
yanira August 13, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Does anyone have any knowledge on the foreclosure results? Do we know what will happen to the property?
Suzanne August 13, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Could ekko be converted into a residential property?
Gary Englert August 13, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Suzanne: the property is currently zoned commercial and a change to residential would require action before the Zoning Board. It might be convertiable to residential but, someone with the interest and resources to accomplish it would have to take that initiative. My guess is that the residential neighbors would welcome such a change but, with the housing/mortgage market being what it is, I rather doubt it would happen anytime soon.
Tom September 04, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I think it should be used as zoned... old folks home?
MSS September 27, 2012 at 01:48 PM
How about a Pancake House.
Todd Robichaud September 27, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Perfect tenant suited for the building would be a P.F. Changs. There's none really local and it is of a sufficient quality that it could help rehabilitate that strip.
Patricia L. Schall September 29, 2012 at 09:28 PM
It's not a "strip." It's a residential neighborhood.
badbul September 30, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Whatever they plan to put there, I think they should level it and start from scratch. Someone mentioned "pancake house", I would love to see an IHOP. A Golden Corral would work because of the arena and zoo. How about a Walgreens? Famous Dave's BBQ? Five Guys Burgers and Fries? Whatever they put there, please don't let it be another Krauszer's.
Russell Gibson October 06, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I see there is work being done at Ekko...any idea who purchased and what are their plans?
Lisa November 29, 2012 at 02:50 PM
The Christmas Tree Shop would be perfect ! The closest one is on 21 or route 17 ... There are year round seasonal deals that are fantatstic - They not only sell Christmass items, they sell all year seasonal items like backyard and home decorating items ...http://www.christmastreeshops.com/newjersey.html -


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