For months the building across the street from Borough Hall in the heart of Hopatcong stood vacant after several restaurants shut down the past few years.
But now a Hopatcong family is looking to add some excitement to that 30 Hopatchung Road spot, after bringing a new type of restaurant to town.
Uncle Sam's Bagel Café, which features a variety of homemade American food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, had its grand opening on Sunday.
Owners Sam and Stacy Ibrahim, and their two kids Salah, 7, and Samara, 6, are excited for residents to experience their new café, and are hoping to provide the next community hang out inside the borough's main business center.
"I look forward to our place being that family place that everyone feels comfortable at," Stacy Ibrahim said, "where everybody knows your name."
The Ibrahims, who previously owned a bagel deli in Dover called Metro Deli, saw a need for a nice bagel place in the borough.
Stacy Ibrahim said the idea first came to mind in June, when she would drive her kids to Hudson Maxim School, and noticed there wasn't a place nearby that offered a quality bagel.
"I thought a bagel place would be really good here, but I didn't see anything vacant."
Then she noticed the empty building over the summer, which was previously Thyme Out Grill before it closed in January, and before that Parkside Grill, which closed in November 2010 after a decade-long run.
She and her husband were looking to open a new bagel place because their Dover location was closing, and this location interested them because of the community appeal.
"I wanted to do something that was within the community, that maybe we could eventually do things for the school, and with the township," she said.
With several months of planning, the Ibrahim's were able to turn the place into a full service restaurant, that includes a mix of a bagel deli and a lunch and dinner restaurant.
The breakfast items range from everything from pancakes, french toast, omeletes, and taylor, ham and cheese sandwiches.
For lunch, the menu offers a number of Uncle Sam's Sammi's with specialty sandwiches and wraps, where customers can either build their own or get them already made. Hot Sammi's, including french dip, classic or turkey reuben, and the monte cristo are also offered.
Burgers, cheesesteaks and kebabs are also available for lunch and dinner, and are reasonably priced at under $7.
Stacy Ibrahim said all of the items are homemade, even the bagels, which her husband rolls by hand.
"I'm really excited for the people to get to experience my husband's cooking, and his talent for making bagels," Stacy Ibrahim said.
The restaurant's name was chosen by the Ibrahim's son, Salah, who combined his interest in patriotism and idea to name the business after his father.
Some of the menu sections reflect the American theme, including the Star Spangled Breakfast, which offers three different breakfast combos to choose from, and the Freedom Flyer, which includes french fry sides.
Within the first week, Stacy Ibrahim said she and her family have already gotten positive feedback and are looking forward to breaking into the community. She said they're offering a free coffee to everyone who "Likes" their Facebook page.
"We just want it to be known as really good food, really great prices, and community-oriented," she said.