Louis Zanias is on a roll.
On Feb. 15, the restaurateur confirmed plans to open Marty’s Smoke Shack with partner Martin Hadicke (Fabulous Fest Catering in Stockton, N.J.) at 110 S. Main St. in New Hope at the site of the former Botter Bob’s and Cafe LuLu. They hope to open the new barbecue/comfort food destination in March.
Then, on Feb. 18, the Free Press broke the story on Zanias’ opening of a new Nina’s Waffles location at the Peddler’s Village retail complex in Lahaska, Pa. Zanias said he hoped to have the Peddler’s Village shop ready for the annual Strawberry Festival May 20-21. Nina’s Waffles currently operates locations in New Hope and Doylestown, and Sergeantsville, N.J.
Now, the Nina’s logo is appearing in the windows of 87B S. Main St. in New Hope, currently leased by Clusters Caramel Corn next door at 87A S. Main St. as a retail coffee shop. Clusters Caramel Corn is owned by Lambertville “River Towns” Chamber Board Member Linda Sghiatti, and her husband Jules, who serves on New Hope’s “revitalization” committee. Spokespersons for Clusters and Nina’s were not immediately available.
Sources close to the situation say the “partnership” between the businesses appears to involve a sub-lease of indeterminate duration, and that coffee wasn’t moving like hotcakes — or waffles — at that location. Competition for coffee drinkers is fierce in New Hope, but then again so is ice cream, and Nina’s ice cream offering will come up against The Last Temptation just down the block, featuring Thomas Sweet ice cream.
But can two Nina’s locations thrive scarcely more than a block apart?
Sources say the thinking is that the original Nina’s at West Mechanic and New streets will continue to draw locals and after-dinner sweet seekers from Zanias’ Karla’s and Zoubi restaurants just down the block. Meanwhile, the second New Hope Nina’s Waffles will be serving up waffles to the flood of tourists descending on South Main Street during the warmer months. A March opening is said to be targeted, as significant work at the site does not appear to remain.
Meanwhile, the savvy, seasoned Zanias builds his food empire, even as deep-pocketed newcomers enter the fray in New Hope’s perennial food wars.