By Mike Fitzsimmons, Taste of Westwood
Conrad’s Confectionery is the longest running business in Westwood, New Jersey at 89 years young. Thanks to a recent renovation, stepping into the shop is like stepping back in time to the 1930’s. We spoke with owner JJ Krachtus about his business and the three generations of his family who have served the community.
Taste of Westwood (TOW): How long has Conrad's been in business? Are you the oldest running business in town?
JJ: Conrad’s was started by Fred Conrad in 1928. He stayed in Oradell, New Jersey during the Depression years, and then, when he was financially able to do so, moved to Westwood in 1935. At the time there were nine soda fountains in Westwood serving ice cream sodas and sundaes. Every drug and stationery store had a fountain where soda jerks made egg creams and malteds. After the movies, everyone headed to a soda fountain to share an ice cream soda or dip into a sundae.
Conrad combined the soda fountain model with his homemade candy business and quickly became a Westwood tradition. School children stopped by for an ice cream cone on the way home from school, and young couples on a date would share a booth in the back. Conrad’s chocolate confections became a staple in many a household’s holiday traditions.
TOW: You recently underwent a renovation yet everyone thinks of it as an old fashioned ice cream parlor. What hasn't changed and what has?
JJ: The mirrors behind the counter and a couple of milkshake machines are original. There have been at least four remodels with the last looking more 50’s and 60’s Formica. We wanted a 20’s and 30’s look and everyone has responded positively to the work we did.
TOW: You have started “retro nights” offering a free ice cream to anyone who comes dressed in clothes of the era. How much fun is that?
JJ: Lots of fun! We had live music this past Tuesday and plan another 60’s night August 1st. Follow our Facebook page to see highlights and check out our video!
JJ: Our walk up order window is open until 11 PM from Memorial Day to Labor Day and creates a lot of foot traffic during the summer months.
TOW: For all this retro feel, you surprisingly sell chocolate online. Do you ship year round?
JJ: We make chocolate year round but we only ship between Halloween and Mother’s Day. We avoid shipping during hot weather. At the opposite end, our ice cream service starts a month after Easter and goes into the fall.
TOW: What will you bring to Taste of Westwood this year?
JJ: We will bring our nonpareils in the fall as everyone starts to think about chocolate then.
TOW: Conrad’s has been a supporter of this event from the beginning nine years ago. What do you like about Taste of Westwood?
JJ: It’s the same as everything I like about my business -- meeting people, having a mutual relationship, growing that relationship and sharing a love for our community.
TOW: We saved the toughest question for last, what is your favorite candy and favorite ice cream flavor?
JJ: Lately I like the dark chocolate butternut crunch and mint chocolate chip ice cream, but I hesitate to pick favorites, as I like them all, and I don’t want the other candies or ice creams to get jealous.
Sink your teeth into Conrad's chocolates at the Taste of Westwood! Tickets are on sale now!
by Mike Fitzsimmons, Taste of Westwood
We spoke to Sean Tremble of The Iron Horse about their 45 years as a Westwood institution and here is a little of what he had to say. (Scroll to the end of the article to find out where the cheese is.)
Sean: Taste of Westwood is a lot of fun for the restaurants. It's one of the few times we all get to see each other and hang out. The rest of the time we are all working.
Taste of Westwood (TOW): You guys have been a huge part of the success of Taste of Westwood from the very beginning. What do you get out of participating?
Sean: We have always given back to our community, but to have the Westwood Public Library benefit directly is important to me. One of my favorite things is a book I have in my hand from Shaw’s books. I look forward to the next novel by Dan Brown and I want to keep that love of books in my community. The staff at the Library are the most altruistic people and the services they provide are invaluable, especially to those who don’t have resources we take for granted.
TOW: What will you be bringing to this year’s Taste of Westwood?
Sean: Every year on September 1st we begin Oktoberfest, so we will bring our Brat, Knock and Weisswurst along with red cabbage and sauerkraut.
TOW: What are you doing for 4th of July?
Sean: As my Dad says, “It never rains on our barbecue.” so we will have all the burgers, wings, ribs and beer you need to properly celebrate the 241st anniversary of our independence!
Taste of Westwood
Westwood's finest restaurants present their signature dishes.