EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ–Traveling out of Hub City via Route 18 you may see the large electronic billboard advertising Moe’s Southwest Grill towering above Old Bridge Turnpike.
But a mile ahead, on the left, between W. Prospect and Wilmot Streets, the new Moe’s franchise that promised to open this summer is completely dark.
Though the inside of the unit looks virtually ready except for a few piles of boxes, and some miscellaneous equipment or supplies stationed inside the front entranceway, the restaurant still has not opened.
While new lights accentuate renovations to the outside of the building and new landscaping borders the parking lot and burnished trash area, there’s been no sign of a grand opening lately.
There’s been an “issue with PSE&G providing power into the site,” said Township of East Brunswick Construction Official, Edward Grobelny.
“Moe’s has cancelled the final inspection six times,” said Grobelny, citing inspection records, also seen by New Brunswick Today.
But Grobelny said final inspection is now schedule for September 7.
“The restaurant is ready to open, just awaiting final CO [Certificate of Occupancy],” said restaurant spokesman Stephen Donnelly in an email. "It will be opening soon."
“Everything today in the digital age is programmable. Today, it’s more than just flipping a switch, now they have to program things and get things set up,” said Grobelny.
He explained that it wasn’t the first time his department has seen cases where it takes time for the local utility, PSE&G, to come out and make their final connections. And it’s especially common on highways, where the utility company must shut the highway down to bring lines across it, he said.
“Everything kind of plays on the power," said Grobelny. "Unfortunately, without electric service and power, it’s kind of difficult to handle an approval.”
The construction official said he’d spoken to his electrical subcontractor and his other inspectors only to learn that PSE&G needed to bring new wires into the site to redo or upgrade the service, prompting multiple cancellations by Moe’s.
“They had the final inspection scheduled all the way back as far as July 7th but cancelled them, said Grobelny. “They kept cancelling them.”
Given PSE&G’s need to “do infrastructure upgrades” involving transformers, for instance, things can be held up, Grobelny explained.
“That’s usually the case,” with an upgrade, noted Grobelny.
“I think the power got cut and when [Moe's] went to get new service they were waiting for PSE&G to put a new line in or turn the new power on,” he said.
And in order to stock coolers with product and keep them cold, electricity is required.
“They scheduled the final inspection and then cancelled because they can’t check fire alarms systems, safety systems, [or] refrigeration [if it] can’t run,” adding there’s also fire suppression systems in the hood that require power.
Though July 7th was the original, he didn’t know if the electric service was actually done then, because they called and cancelled “numerous times” [however], the electric service inspection was finally approved on August 11, said Grobelny.
Grobelny said the township probably could conduct the inspections at night, adding East Brunswick likes to help businesses get opened as soon as possible since they typically need a little time to program equipment and tweak other details necessary to operate.
“Without power, they can’t operate safety systems, hoods, grills, and all the attributes that go with running a restaurant,” added Grobelny.