You may not know this month's Mom Boss by name, but you definitely know her businesses! As a busy local mom to teenagers, Hoboken OG, and owner of THREE busy restaurants and bars, Wanda Jacey and her husband have been taking Washington Street by storm. Owner of Black Bear, Arthur's Tavern, and Mills Tavern, Wanda knows a thing or two about business (and Hoboken!)
You have seen many changes in Hoboken in your years in town, what is the best change you have noticed?
We have been here for over 25 years and watched the transformation of Hoboken. I remember being able to double park my car overnight blocking my roommate's car and not get a ticket. There are also a lot more families than when I first moved here after college. I think it is a work in progress, but there is room for all different walks of life to thrive in this town.
When you do get out and have a night to yourself, where are your favorite spots to have a date night or a mom's night out in Hoboken?
I may be a little biased, but we really enjoy sports, so if we do go out we will watch a game at Black Bear. If you didn’t know it, we are pretty much known as a NY Rangers bar. (Editor's Note: And...they have amazing wings!)
What is the best business advice anyone ever gave you?
Location, Location, Location. We opened our first bar on 13th and Park and realized that we needed to be on Washington street where all the action is, that was 25 years ago when we decided to close Blue Star and we opened Black Bear.
You have teenagers and also own bars. Does that change the conversation you have with them about drinking?
It doesn’t change the conversation. We are very open with our kids. Our view is that you need to keep the conversation going and we address it head on. We do see a lot of craziness out there, but we also know that bars provide safety and a place to meet for the community.
What is your funniest “mom-fail” moment?
Where should I start? There are hundreds, but I think my oldest experienced the most of it. I actually think that there are no mom "fails", just a chance to learn and grow from it. There is so much pressure on a woman these days to be the perfect mom and we just don’t have to be. We need to support each other, because it really does take a village.
A restaurant is arguably one of the most difficult business to own. What is your advice to someone who wants to open a bar or restaurant?
Don’t. Run as fast as you can! People have the perception that it is a glamorous job, but they don’t realize the amount of work that goes into it. You need to be extremely hands on and put the work in. It’s not a 9-5 job, and it can’t run itself.
What is your favorite thing about raising a family in Hoboken?
The diversity. My kids see a lot of societal variety living here and being so close to the city. I think that is my favorite part of it. My two older kids go to high school in the city and they have become street smart, humble, and very aware of how lucky they are. There is so much to do and see in the city and it’s only a path or ferry ride away.
Some of us order in a lot (like, really a lot)…with three restaurants (read: chefs) at your disposal, do you ever cook?
I love to cook, so I don’t take advantage our places. The one thing I do at least once a week is pick up Arthur's steaks and grill them at home. They are the best! But, my guilty pleasure is Tenth Street Pizza!
A day in the life of Wanda…go!
I wake up at 6. Get my kids ready for school. If it's my day for the carpool into the city, we are out the door by 6:45. After that, I come home, hit the computer, and do my office work. I check in with managers, check social media, and do most of the back office from home. My husband is more of the day to day. We are a team and I don’t think it would work if we didn’t have each other. My youngest gets home at 3, so I hang in the kitchen and prepare dinner while she does her school work and we can talk about how her day was. Then, usually it is crazy time with all the after school activities. I have very active and athletic kids, so off we are driving one of them to their club teams But, hopefully, my son will be getting his license in a few weeks and he will be driving himself to hockey. Hard to believe! Then, maybe life will slow down a bit, but I am sure I will miss those days. I know it’s cliche, but enjoy them. In a blink of an eye, you are standing at your kids dorm room saying goodbye.
Be sure to check out one of Wanda's restaurants. (We go to Mills EVERY month for our Book Club meet-ups!) And, also follow them on Instagram at the below handles!
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