Scotch Plains

Apple Blossom Flower Shop

Nomination from Jeff Stein

They opened and made rainbow bows to raise money for our local Rescue Squad Donates several hundred dollars. They worked very hard in getting our Local Farmers Market open to help those who needed to shop and were afraid to go into stores

They worked every Saturday to make sure people were safe and happy coming out to the Farmers Market. At the farmers market they collected food for our local food pantry. They also helped in selling masks to raise money for local food pantries.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

I had to pivot my business since it is usually consists of a lot of events and with those parties not happening, I started promoting bouquets to cheer someone you love up.

It was so hard to get flowers. They had no drivers and we had to drive an hour a day to pick up inventory.

We started making rainbow bows and gave a portion to our local rescue squad.

We tried our hardest to get our Local Farmers market going so people could shop outside and we could help local vendors who did not business for months.

At the Scotch Plains Farmers Market I helped sell masks made by our local Rotary Club (which I am a member of). All monies raised were donated to local food banks- I helped deliver those checks too! In addition while at the Farmers Market we also collected food donations for the local food pantry.

Hung’s Shanghai Restaurant

Nomination from Thomas Strowe

After briefly closing in the first few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic to develop their pandemic business strategy, Hung’s Shanghai Restaurant reopened in April 2020 with an evolved business model and demonstrated resiliency by remaining open during the remainder of the pandemic until today. Hung’s Shanghai Restaurant has been a family run business in downtown Scotch Plains for nearly 40 years.

In accordance with early COVID-19 guidelines, Hung’s allowed curbside pickup and later, as guidelines were revised, allowed in store pickup. Hung’s put up shields and a structure to prevent direct contact with customers as required by guidelines. A few weeks ago, as restrictions were lifted, Hung’s now offers indoor dining as an option.

While staying afloat during the pandemic, Hung’s also managed to donate food prepared by their restaurant to the Scotch Plains Police Department, Fire Department, Hospital Workers and Rescue Squad to support all of our first responders. Lunch and dinners were provided by Hung’s at their own expense to each of our first responder departments throughout the pandemic. Scotch Plains is honored to have Hung’s as a cornerstone of our downtown community.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

In the early stages of the pandemic, it was very difficult for everyone-it was tougher for us. As you know, just like most other restaurants, we had to close our restaurant for almost two months. The closure negatively impacted our restaurant, especially with having no source of income and still being responsible to pay the expenses of the restaurant. All of those issues caused us not to be able to afford to pay the rent. We tried to ask the landlord for help, but unfortunately they did not help us, and the landlord refused our requests. Fortunately, we got help from the government to assist us through these difficulties (I feel safer now). Without the help of the landlord, we had to reopen our restaurant at the end of April 2020 in order for us to keep up with the cost of paying the employees, rent and all other expenses.

At this time the pandemic was still very serious. We could only offer takeout which effects the business a lot and made the business very slow. We did not offer dine-in options to guests till July 2021. Due to our inside dining room being closed for more than a year, the business has suffered and profits are down. Even now there are only a few guests that will dine in, but at least we still have takeout to support us.  The take out business helps but we are still having a difficult time paying for all of these huge restaurant expenses.

We are very grateful for the help of government so we can continue to serve and give back to our society. We continue to give back to our community. We donate food often to fire stations, police stations, hospitals, and the elderly. We will always give to people who need our help! We have also donated masks, disinfectants and other materials to help prevent the spread of Covid. Our hope is that we can continue to give back to our community. We are very grateful for the help of the government and our loyal customers, who continue to support our business. Thank you to everyone who has help us along the way!

Soul Bowls

Nomination from Margaret Heisey

Soul Bowls is a 100% plant-based eatery in Scotch Plains specializing in Acai Bowls, Juices and Smoothies. This woman owned, family operated business started as a food truck in 2017. They opened their store-front in 2019. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Michelene re-designed her ordering and pick up process in order to allow customers a 0-contace experience.

Within a week of the shut down, Michelene created an on-line ordering system on her own. During this time, she also introduced weekly, seasonal produce boxes to help her clientele avoid trips to the grocery store. Produce boxes were ordered and picked up with as much 0-contact as possible. The leftover produce was donated to the Somerset-North Plainfield Food Bank. And, during the time where there was a scarcity of toilet paper, Soul Bowls left a box of it outside the store for people to take as needed.

Soul Bowls donated to First Responders & Essential Workers including but not limited to: Scotch Plains Police, Fire and Rescue, nurses at Overlook Medical Center and NY Mt. Sinai Hospital and teachers at Evergreen Elementary School in Scotch Plains. These deliveries were partially funded by donations from Soul Bowls customers, demonstrating the pay-it-forward spirit Michelene has brought to the community. Soul Bowls donated 100% of the proceeds of one of their of their food truck events to the Willow Rescue Foundation (a not-for-profit dedicated to animal welfare) in Westfield which allowed them to pay one of their largest vet bills. During this stressful time of unrest in our country, Michelene created the Compassionate Bowl to remind everyone to always have compassion and kindness for others.

Children from the community were invited to submit their rainbow drawings which were displayed in the front window of the store to lift spirits of those driving by or walking up. During the pandemic, Soul Bowls retained their staff of 13.

Union County Small Business Community Champion’s Story

Thank you for the nomination for a small business community champion. We’ve definitely had one heck of a year! It’s been both challenging and rewarding. It’s the midst of COVID we’ve had to redesign our business to make it as ‘zero contact’ as possible, implement guidelines to keep employees and guests safe, and remember to help our community during this time.

With the help of our customers who made donations we were able to give out free toilet paper, donate to local teachers, hospitals, sanitation departments, police departments, fire departments, food banks each week and tried our very best to be a ray of sunshine during a very tough time for the people. We did all of this not for the accolades but because these departments were putting their life on the line for our community, we felt the least we could do is donate lunch to them

One of the things I loved the most that Soul Bowls did, was when we asked the children of our community to draw rainbows for our windows. A lot of the kids came by to drop off their drawing and it was just the sweetest thing ever! I loved seeing them and their rainbows were so beautiful and always made our customers smile All of these acts were made possible by faith in God, trusting that he would guide us through these times.