Seton Hall Students Return to Favorite South Orange Haunts
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 • 10:45pm
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ -- After a three-month absence, Seton Hall University students are back on campus, boosting business at two popular South Orange hangouts – Cryan’s and Bunny’s.
“Thank God,” said bartender Reggie Martin, who has been serving drinks behind the bar at Cryan’s Beef & Ale House on First Street for nearly 30 years. “It makes a huge difference. Business picks up big time.”
Martin, who is originally from Ireland and has been working for the Cryan family for several decades, added that the return of students is especially noticeable on the bar’s theme nights – Monday Night Trivia, $5 Burger Tuesdays and Karaoke on Saturdays – which have always been popular with students.
Gary Dunne, a Seton Hall student athlete and waiter at Cryan’s, said he thinks the most noticeable difference is during the week.
“The bars are empty on the weekdays during the summer,” he said. “When school is back, there is always something going on, no matter what day of the week it is. Whether it’s birthday party or something, it’s always busy.”
All of the deals Cryan’s offered last year have returned for the 2012-13 school year, including Friday vodka specials and Seton Hall night, where only 21-year-olds and above with a Seton Hall ID card will be allowed in after 10 p.m.
Just around the corner at Bunny’s Sports Bar, the summer was hectic.
“You have to remember, we have the kids from South Orange who go away to school back with us during the summertime,” said Leslie Pogany, the owner of Bunny’s on South Orange Avenue, as she reached out her hand to greet an old friend who stopped by the restaurant for dinner. “So we really have a mixture of everybody coming in.”
Bunny’s reopened in August 2010 after renovations and is a fully-stocked sports bar and restaurant, boasting 18 big-screen televisions and the NFL Sunday Ticket for football fans who want to have a drink while they watch the game.
Pogany’s family has owned the establishment for nearly 80 years, where her great-grandmother originally ran a small candy store. Now, with her two sons working behind the bar, Pogany said she feels like the family business is the perfect spot for college students and families alike.
“We’re four generations and we have a clientele that’s constantly growing,” she said. “I want Bunny’s to be everyone’s third place. You have work, then you have home, then you have us. We want people to come here and feel like they’re at home with their family.”
Bunny’s will continue its specials from the summer, including its newest deal, a pitcher of Labatt beer and two orders of wings with your choice of sauce for $15.95, a deal Pogany called “unbeatable.”
Also returning for the school year will be the restaurant’s most popular deal from last year: Bunny’s Happy Hour. Unlike most happy hours, Bunny’s offers $5 pitchers of beer and free pizza, a deal designed for students on a tight budget.
Each of the hangouts has its fans. Former Seton Hall student Danielle Maffei of Green Brook, N.J., was a Cryan’s patron during her undergraduate years.
“(Bunny’s) specialty pizzas are awesome,” she said. “But on Thursday nights, it was just always Cryan’s.”
Current student Omar Ahmad, a graduate student from Neshanic Station, N.J., said that most of the crowds at Bunny’s are regulars who live in the town, so they won’t have to rely heavily on a college crowd to do well. “Cryan’s had a summer special for students who were in the area,” Ahmad said. “But Bunny’s doesn’t have to worry about students not being around in the summer.”
The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.