Glassboro businesses optimistic about Rowan growth


It seems impossible to travel anywhere near Rowan University without seeing new construction appear almost out of thin air, most notably the development of Rowan Boulevard, which connects the university directly with the city of Glassboro.

With rapid development that further integrates Rowan into the city, the future of long-standing businesses is questioned, but curious onlookers may be surprised to learn that the development of such additions have been in the process for several years as the result of a strong partnership between Rowan University, Nexus Properties and the city of Glassboro.

“As each phase of Rowan Boulevard is approved and completed, the university and the borough have become more as one and it’s hard to tell where campus ends and downtown begins,” Glassboro Borough Council President George Cossabone said. “As time goes on, that will continue to evolve as new areas are added to the landscape.”
With recognizable businesses such as Chickie’s and Pete’s and Tony Luke’s slated to open on Rowan Blvd. within the next year, it would make sense for Glassboro business owners to have doubts about the future of their long-standing establishments. Angelo’s Diner is to the beloved grandfather who has resided in Glassboro for the past 70 years, as Chickie’s and Pete’s is to the flashy new kid on the block.

Angelo’s Diner and other local businesses welcome the evolution of the town in which they thrive.

Curtis Spry, of Glassboro, has been a cook at Angelo’s Diner for the past 32 years and appreciates the restaurant’s loyal customer base.

“We’ve been here a long time, and people know about us,” Spry said. “We [in the business community] all communicate and work together, so everything will be fine.”

Rowan students welcome the availability of new dining options, but are sure to stick to the classics as well.

“I think that when new restaurants open I’ll be more inclined to try them out, but I’ll probably stay with the places that I’ve loved since my freshman year,” Alex LaVallee, a junior public relations major of Rowan, said of the addition of new businesses to the area.

PB’s Diner and Taproom has resided in Glassboro for 62 years, and its head chef, Mark Eberle, embraces every new development in his beloved city, particularly that of Rowan Blvd.

“As the town gets bigger with more students and more people, you need new businesses to keep things going,” Eberle said. “It’s not like it’s a competition, it’s more like a family and you need to evolve.”

The Glassboro family is only expected to grow over the next two years.

According to Ronda Abbruzzese, Vice President of Marketing of Nexus Properties, the end of 2018 will leave Rowan Blvd. with extensive new development that includes three additional buildings, a 900 space parking garage and the beginning of 80,000 square feet of retail space. She believes the strong communication among the pillars of Rowan, Glassboro and Nexus Properties is the key to the success of development in the area.

“Glassboro and its leaderships have really taken advantage of the economic engine of Rowan and there is an excellent partnership with the university, which is what makes it successful,” said Abbruzzese.

Abbruzzese, who formerly worked for the city of Glassboro in business development, also noted that quarterly business owners meetings used to attract about a dozen attendees — 65 business owners were present for the last meeting in December.

Businesses such as Angelo’s Diner, PB’s Diner and Taproom and Steve’s Grilled Cheese and Quesadilla Factory — which opened on High St. with success in October 2015 — who all rely on Rowan students for a significant portion of their business, believe that students will choose to support new businesses while still supporting the old ones.

“When we first came in, we definitely felt welcomed by the city and by other businesses in the area,” said Samantha Freda, 26, manager of Steve’s Grilled Cheese and Quesadilla Factory. “We’re really happy to be a part of the Rowan and Glassboro community and we’ll do whatever we can to we can do to make people feel more welcome and be involved and give back.”

Moving forward, continuous growth of Rowan Blvd. will only support the city of Glassboro and its residents, according to Cossabone.

“The growth of Rowan Boulevard has fostered integration between the borough and Rowan for all three of those areas, bringing market rate and student housing opportunities, creating jobs among the retailers, and hosting events in and around that area for residents and students alike to enjoy,” Cossabone said. “Things like these only further integrate residents with students, enabling them to come together in a social setting to enjoy what Glassboro has to offer.”