ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — The Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce recognized several local businesses, organizations and individuals at its awards banquet on March 4 at the Chandelier in Belleville. The SECC presented the Business of the Year Award to Dr. Sean Flynn of Step by Step Pediatrics in Bloomfield, the Excellence in Education Award to Bloomfield College President Marcheta P. Evans, the Business Achievement Award to Thomas and Dean Maroulakos of Cowan’s Public in Nutley, the Community Service Award to the Bloomfield Animal Shelter, and the Support & Achievement Award to Patrick Colligan of 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey in Belleville.
The Suburban Essex Chamber of Commerce comprises Bloomfield, Belleville and Glen Ridge. The volunteer organization is dedicated to supporting the civic, industrial, professional and social welfare of its members.
Cowan’s Public, which is named for John Cowan, the long-time proprietor of the Nutley Pub, has a long history in Nutley. Built in the early 1920s, the building on Centre Street opened as a bar in 1934, immediately following the end of Prohibition, a period from 1920 to 1933 when, except for certain instances, alcohol was illegal in the United States. The building has operated as a pub ever since, through several iterations: Lou’s, John’s Tavern and, of course, the Nutley Pub. Paying homage to this history, the space has been transformed to honor its past, while being adapted for the modern day.
“Cowan’s Public, formed in 2015, was named after our dear friend and former owner of the Nutley Pub, John Cowan,” Thomas Marouklos told the newspaper on March 24. “The space had been a bar and restaurant since the end of Prohibition, so we wanted to honor that history by turning it into an art deco speakeasy with a rustic, casual vibe. We are a neighborhood pub, focusing on great cocktails, cold drafts and an American tavern menu with a twist.”
Cowan’s Pub was just the first step in a highly successful business venture for the Marouklos brothers, who have expanded their presence across North Jersey.
“As a chamber member from 2015 with their grand opening, the Cowan’s Public, formerly the Nutley Pub, was born from a desire to bring a new approach to food and beverage to the North Jersey market — one where unique design was met with an elevated approach to casual dining, craft beer and a revival of classic cocktails,” SECC Executive Administrator Donna M. Pietroiacovo told the newspaper on March 21. “This success for business owners Thomas and Dean Maroulakos, brothers, has paved a new way for their second project, the Barrow House in Clifton. From there, Skopos Hospitality Group was formed. And in 2019, the group saw continued growth with the opening of new projects: the Vanguard in Harrison, and the Franklin Social, (which includes a) tavern and garden, and the Junto: Attic Bar, in Jersey City.
“Even during the pandemic, nothing stopped Tom and Dean, and, in July 2021, Gus’ Last Word in Wood Ridge was opened, and coming in the spring is the Parkside Social in Verona,” Pietroiacovo continued. “The continued growth within the past seven years for these two young men far exceeds and enhances the growth and prosperity of the restaurant community at large.”
Even with their phenomenal growth, the Marouklos brothers have a special place in their hearts for Cowan’s Public and were deeply honored to receive the SECC’s Business Achievement Award.
“Restaurants are social, community-driven gathering spaces, and to be recognized for our work by the Suburban Essex Chamber is a tremendous honor,” Thomas Marouklos said. “The last two years have been very challenging due to the COVID pandemic; without the support of our local community, we would not be here today.”
Joining the Marouklos brothers as an honoree on March 4 was Colligan, the executive director of 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey. Founded in 1946, 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey has a long and rich history of assisting those with special needs in the state, as well as raising money and awareness.
“The mission of the 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey is to assist all students with special needs to lead more active and productive lives,” Colligan told the newspaper on March 21. “Offering individualized education plans and a comprehensive therapeutic approach, our nurturing staff aims to provide students with unique learning experiences that will enable them to reach their highest potential.”
According to Colligan, the organization provides services under the following categories: educational, residential, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy.
“Mr. Colligan, executive director for 21 years, is committed to enriching the lives of students with special needs. The 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey was founded in 1946 in Newark and relocated in 1953 to 7 Sanford Ave. in Belleville, conveniently located next to Clara Maass Medical Center,” Pietroiacovo said. “The 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey school is committed to enriching the lives of students with special needs. Their services are designed to facilitate cognitive, neuromuscular, sensory, motor, speech and language growth. The student population includes children diagnosed with developmental delays, cerebral palsy, autistic spectrum disorder, hyperactivity, sensory integration dysfunction, speech and communication disorders, and various orthopedic diagnoses.”
According to Pietroiacovo, the organization is a community leader in sports, music and art programs for its students, as well as various types of state-of-the-art therapies.
“The 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey school facility is equipped with a heated, indoor/outdoor therapeutic pool for year-round aquatic therapy, with saline water and a retractable roof,” Pietroiacovo said. “Offering individualized education plans and a comprehensive therapeutic approach, the nurturing staff aims to provide students with unique learning experiences that will enable them to reach their highest potential. Mr. Patrick Colligan has made many accomplishments and achievements during his 21 years at the school for the students.”
After 21 years with the organization, Colligan is still as passionate about its mission as he was on Day 1, and he is grateful to the SECC for the Support & Achievement Award.
“This is a great honor for our team at the 1st Cerebral Palsy of New Jersey,” Colligan said. “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to assist such dedicated and courageous students.”
Photos Courtesy of Anthony DiMatteo Photography