Taking a chance on Main

CRANBURY- Businesses like Cranbury’s small-town feel

By: Casha Caponegro
   Opening a small business can be a risky endeavor for anyone.
   It can be especially difficult in a small town, such as Cranbury, which doesn’t always get an abundance of traffic from outsiders looking to shop on Main Street.
   Chryssanthi Chisholm, who owns Bread and Life with her son, Aaron, said she had some anxieties when she opened the shop last June.
   "I didn’t know what to expect," said Ms. Chisholm, who modeled her shop after the quaint eateries that populate her native city, Paris. "This was my first time ever going into business."
   In almost a year since Bread and Life opened, Ms. Chisholm said, the shop has been extremely successful due to the hard work she and her son have put in to make sure customers receive a fresh product.
   "Aaron comes in at midnight to bake the bread every day," she said. "Everything we sell is made daily here."
   In addition, Ms. Chisholm said the small-town atmosphere has allowed her to develop a caring, individual approach to dealing with customers.
   "Cranbury is a beautiful town and the people love to be here and know each other," said Ms. Chisholm. "I try to make it even more that way in my business. It’s like serving people in your own home."
   Ms. Chisholm said she has had to increase the variety sandwiches and food products the store offers to keep up with the amount of business it has received. She said the store will continue to expand at a slow pace.
   "What we have we will keep and we will add more as we go," said Ms. Chisholm. "We want to keep the quality we have so we don’t want to expand too fast."
   Another new business that so far has had a great run on Main Street is Cranbury Pizza, which opened two years ago.
   "We have been very successful from day one," said Eddie Palma, who owns the pizza parlor with Ralph Avalone.
   Mr. Palma said the secret of his business’ success in Cranbury lies in the quality of the product he provides to his customers.
   "Everybody loves pizza," said Mr. Palma. "We give our customers a decent product and once they try us they keep coming back."
   Also aiding business is the fact that Cranbury Pizza is one of the few establishments on Main Street that stays open at night.
   "After 7 p.m. there’s really nothing going on," said Mr. Palma. "People walking by now have someplace to go and get some pizza or ice cream."
   Mr. Palma said his business particularly thrived during the summer, when residents gathered at tables outside the pizza parlor to enjoy a slice and the warm weather.
   "People seem very happy to have us here and we’re happy to have them as customers," said Mr. Palma.
   Hoping to match the success of Cranbury Pizza and Bread and Life is John Davison, who reopened the Corner Cafe delicatessen on Wednesday. For the past year, the cafe has operated as a corporate catering service.
   "I am now back into the dual role of both deli and catering," said Mr. Davison.
   Mr. Davison said he is confident that the deli will bring in the same amount of business as it did before. In the past, he said, the cafe was particularly popular with morning commuters and kids on their way home from school in the afternoon.
   He said residents also were drawn to the outdoor seating his business provides, which adds ambiance through "street-side dining in the historic town of Cranbury."
   In addition, Mr. Davison said he hopes to cash in on Cranbury’s growing warehouse district by providing a place where employees can grab a quick lunch.
   "There’s a large corporate contingency in this area," said Mr. Davison. "We see a continued service to local eateries from people who work in the area and feel the need for a good sandwich or a cup of soup."
   Despite the fact that there are several eating establishments along Main Street, Mr. Davison said he does not plan on taking business away from other eateries.
   "I’m hoping people will come here in addition to other places, rather than instead of," said Mr. Davison. "I’m hoping to enhance the selections and choices at lunch time."
   Although her business may not be an eating establishment, Bonnie Evans said she also hopes for success in Cranbury with the recently opened Bonnie Evans In Touch Massage Therapy on Maplewood Avenue.
   Located in a red barn, her business provides a variety of stimulating massage techniques for patrons looking to relax and relieve stress.
   After working for two years as a certified therapist out of her home in South Brunswick, Ms. Evans expanded her business, adding four additional therapists.
   "It’s certainly more challenging than running a business by myself out of my house," said Ms. Evans. "Now I’m dealing with schedules and working more hours, but all-in-all its very satisfying."
   Ms. Evans said she already has a client base through working out of her residence. She said, however, that she still needs to get the word out to people in Cranbury who may not be aware of her business.
   "I’m located around the block from Main Street so people are not generally walking by," said Ms. Evans. "Once they drive by or come in, then they’re very interested."
   As a new business in Cranbury, Ms. Evans said it is important for all village establishments to rely on each other for business.
   "Some of my clients have never been on Main Street before," said Ms. Evans. "They’re delighted when I tell them there’s a pizza parlor down the street or a women’s clothing store."