Last Call at Ted & Jo’s

Normally a Tuesday night is a slow but steady one at the soon-to-be-old Ted and Jo’s on 11th and Park. But on Tuesday, March 25, you couldn’t fit a shoe horn in the joint.

Forget getting a table to eat…that simply wasn’t happening without a half-hour wait. The place was packed with the usual assortment of Dave Matthews, John Mayer and U2 playing in the background. Hell, even the most experienced bartenders, including the owner, Gerry, almost looked overwhelmed behind the bar (but remember: almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades). The wait for a drink time went from 10 seconds to about a minute, but given the size of the crowd, the service was still as fast as anywhere you’ll find in Hoboken.

In an effort to find a little elbow room, we went to the end of the bar on the 11th Street side. It was there that I started up a conversation with a a girl who was taking pictures of the crowd and/or her group of five friends.

“I’ve been here every night since Friday,” she said. “This is so sad…I’ve spent so many New Year’s here, so many nights. This is like home, you know?”

I asked her is she will be here tomorrow (Wednesday) night for the grand finale.

She looked at me like I was asking Jack Nicholson if he was going to Game 7 of a Celtics-Lakers NBA Final.

I’ve lived either on 8th and Willow or 8th and Park for seven years now, so while I can only point to one New Year’s Eve spent there (2002), I can say safely say that I’ve been to T&J’s at least 100 times over that stretch.

Sure, it first appears to be a crazy number, but keep in mind:

A) I use my oven for storage

B) It’s the closest restaurant to me outside of Margherita’s.

C) Using the NOTE (Number of Times Entering) formula, 100 (times going to T&J’s) divided by 7 (years) is about 14. 14 (number of times going per year) divided by 12 (months) is 1.1. So I essentially went there about once a month over seven years…not bad. And to go off on a tangent for a moment, my NOTE results for the Parker House in Sea Girt since 2002 is 12.2 times a month (for the four months it is open) over six years.

And I wonder why I see vapor trails when people walk by me in the city on summer Monday’s…

Tuesday night at Ted & Jo’s also meant running into (as I always do there) Hoboken comic and Contributor Adam Wade on my way out the door. He had written a quality piece for the Hoboken Reporter this last Sunday on T&J’s, but I still preferred to get a quote from him after he had a few beers in him:

“I don’t know where I’ll go. Rogo’s? This just had such a comfortable, Irish pub feeling to it,” Wade says. “You could come in here alone and always talk to the regulars or strangers. There was no pretentiousness to this place at all.”

Our readers largely continue that thought:

“I can’t believe Ted and Jo’s is closing. I worked there for 6 1/2 years and met some of my closest friends there,” explains Pam Stengel, a former hostess. It wasn’t just a job for me, it was like my second home with a whole other set of family members. Gerry was an amazing boss and Mr. Chen (the head chef) created some of the most delicious dishes for what was considered just a hometown pub. It truly is an end of era for me and the neighbors of this wonderful establishment!”

Trista Redavid-DeFilippis, a former Ted and Jo’s employee for ten years, states, “This successful establishment will surely be missed!  During the time I worked there, not only did the owners treat their staff like family, they made each person that walked through the door feel as if they belonged.  I haven’t seen that kind of warmth from any other restaurant in Hoboken.”

Some were more cynical:

“What will I miss most?” asked carpetbagger Bryan Finley, who moved to the suburbs but regularly comes back to Hoboken and acts like he’s Francis Albert Sinatra himself, “Walking by it on my way to The Madison or City Bistro.”

“As usual you have to make this about YOU” shouts one reader with an email that only starts with frb725. “This was just another place with average food and fat men always at bar. Don’t treat it like it’s Yankee Stadium closing!”

But mostly, the response was less angry and more melancholy.

Marci simply mourns the loss of her favorite serving there by writing: “I’ll miss my favorite nachos” (sad emoticon)

“Holy crap! how sad. I always thought they did a good business,” writes a befuddled Lauren O’Reilly

“Ted and Jo’s…my first Hoboken St Patty’s Day was there,” recalls Jen Walsh. “That’s where I met my ex-Mike. That’s the place I took my mom for lunch when I first started looking for a place to live, and it was was the first bar my best friend Melissa took me to when I first came to visit her/meet her for the first time.

The aforementioned Melissa writes:

“I stole someone’s scarf from there…and then lent it to a friend who then stole the scarf from me. I used to smoke cigarettes in that bar..when it was legal…but then I guess i did that in every other bar…but doing it at T&J’s was special. And I got yelled at by a bartender in mid-pee for peeing in the boy’s bathroom on St. Patty’s Day there two years ago.

…………………………………………….this is awful!”

Kelly Van Dorn keeps it pithy: “What???? Crazy…”

Beth Esposito-Teifert: “I just can’t believe they’re closing…and so soon… without any sort of notice?! Crazy to me.”

Amanda Brady: “I’ll miss Nick…my favorite and adorable bartender. So sad!”

Jennifer Powderly, University of Delaware graduate: “Wow, my first reaction was similar as to when I heard the famous Stone Balloon down at UD was closing – which in truth was more tragic to me. That closing was more upsetting – like if the Parker House closed. Not directly affecting my life anymore, but just as shattering nonetheless.”

“So when do the good citizens of Hoboken, who desperately do not need yet another Japanese Fusion Nail Saloon City-esque ‘Lounge’, start hammering this clown Tarpinian’s company (the owner of the building) or him personally with emails in regard to renegotiating with (Ted and Jo’s owner) Mr. Farelly?” asks Frank Giummo. “I was so looking forward to making Ted & Jo’s my local watering hole as I am moving uptown next weekend. T & J’s was the site of my 1st date with my fiancee and countless Capt’n & Cokes in the trips that followed.”

“It’s not just a bar. It was what made Hoboken a special place to live. We’re acting more like a city than a town these days with places like the W Hotel ruining our intimacy,” says Patrick, who asked that we not use his last name since he’s a Principal in Bergen County. “Ted and Jo’s is gone because of greed. But the memories I’ll have will always be with me long after I leave for life in the suburbs. Gerry and Millie (his wife) and the rest of the wonderful staff, you were like family to me.”

Some cynics will say that people like Patrick needs to get a life, that Ted and Jo’s was just a place to drink, that it wasn’t big, or that it didn’t have huge plasma TVs, music you can dance to, or long lines and red carpets out front.

And that’s the point.

Great place, wasn’t it?