New Jersey Man Working to Turn Aberdeen Movie Theater into Craft Brewery

6
Alternate Ending Beer Co. Aberdeen 1
A rendering of Alternate Ending Beer Co., which lifelong New Jersey resident Scott Novick plans to open in spring 2020. Rendering courtesy Bernardon.

While growing up in the old Morganville section of Marlboro, Scott Novick, 38, enjoyed seeing films at Strathmore Cinemas in Aberdeen Township, a smaller alternative to the chain theaters, and a place where he and his sister remember watching the now classic ’80s teen flicks.

Novick graduated from Tulane University in 2004 with a communications degree and went to work for VH1.


“I was always into movies, always into cinema,” he said in a recent interview. “I took cinema classes at school. I never enjoyed big theaters; I enjoyed the smaller theaters, like Strathmore before it became Bow Tie [in 2013].”

A man of many passions, he grew tired of corporate life. While working at VH1, he frequently brewed beer with friends at home. When layoffs came to his company, he took a severance package and enrolled in an online beer brewing course run by a company in Vermont. Then he became an apprentice at Jughandle Brewing in New Jersey.


After that, he started working in Brooklyn for a favorite beer company, Other Half.

“It was a dream come true for me,” he said. “It was like playing for the Yankees. They make some of most popular beer in the country. People trade it all over the country.”

But he was working 10- to 12-hour shifts in the middle of the night, driving from his Colts Neck home to Brooklyn. He thought about opening a brewery close to home.

One evening, he was out to dinner with friends in Old Bridge. One of them was a member of the family that owns the mini-mall including Strathmore Cinemas.

The cinema was expected to close in the summer of 2019 (which it did). Novick said he’d be interested in starting a brewpub there.

By Monday, he was meeting with mall owner Harry Rosenblum, who “heard my vision and liked it,” he said, “and from there we agreed to meet again and agreed to move forward. I put my notice in at Other Half.”

The mall’s owners are making renovations to the theater, and by the end of the year, Novick will begin outfitting it for a restaurant. He’s already got social media handles and a website set up for his new business, Alternate Ending Beer Co.

Alternate Ending Beer Co. Aberdeen 3
This isn’t a rocky horror picture show — it’s the former Strathmore Cinemas building in Aberdeen, which is undergoing renovations so that Scott Novick (pictured) can transform it into a 9,000-square-foot brewery/restaurant by spring 2020. Photo courtesy Alternate Ending Beer Co.

He hopes to open the brewpub/restaurant in time for Memorial Day weekend 2020.

Novick said that his enterprise will be more than a small brewery. He plans to bring in a top-notch chef for the food and wants the restaurant to be family-friendly, a place he’d be excited to take his wife and two children.

“I think there will be something for everyone,” he said. “We’ll even have food that’s vegetarian and vegan-friendly, with quality ingredients.”

The 9,000-square-foot enterprise will also contain a screening room for films and private parties.

“We really wanted to bring the nostalgia of the theater back to this project,” he said. “Bow Tie left us signs, light boxes, and 12 seats. We’ll have a movie feel without going too kitschy.”

He said they’ll screen kids’ films on Sundays.

And what about the beer?

“We’re going to have a draft system capable of 15 beers,” he said. “I’d like to have at least 10 of our own. We will have cocktails on draft and eight to 12 unique beers, with a focus on IPAs.”

He noted, “We’re very focused on being community-oriented. We want to hire local and bring in business for the shopping center [which contains AMF Strathmore Lanes and a bagel store, among other shops]. The township has been incredible. The mayor is a very special person. He’s been so supportive. We worked with a point person on the police force to acquire a liquor license.”

Strathmore is a large neighborhood in Aberdeen, bordering Matawan, through which many New Jersey residents have passed. It was built by Levitt and Sons in 1961 after they finished several other post-World War II suburban communities such as Levittown on Long Island. It became a popular place for Baby Boomers — once they reached adulthood in the 1960s and 1970s — to buy starter homes for their new families.

Alternate Ending Beer Co. Aberdeen 2
Scott Novick stands with his family in front of the now defunct Strathmore Cinemas, which he hopes to reopen as a brewpub by Memorial Day weekend in 2020. Photo courtesy Alternate Ending Beer Co.

The theater opened in 1971 as Matawan Twin Cinema. It was purchased by Clearview Cinemas and then taken over by Bow Tie in 2013. For the last 15 years, it was known for weekly Friday night showings of the cult favorite film, “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Those screenings have moved to a Bow Tie theater in Red Bank.

Novick said he’s not thinking about expanding his operation past that area yet.

“I’d be content doing this and having a great work/family balance,” he said. “We’ll see down the line. Right now I’m solely focused on this one, making it the best possible brewery. And giving back to the employees and the community.”

Related:

--

Have something to add to this story? Email [email protected].

Click here to sign up for Jersey Dig's free emails and news alerts. Stay up-to-date by following Jersey Digs on Twitter and Instagram, and liking us on Facebook.

6 COMMENTS

  1. He loved frequenting the movie theater as a kid. So he buys it, tears it apart and builds a business that is terrible for kids and teens. So eventually no more memories are made for kids there. Smart, put a bar in between an ice cream shop, a bowling alley, and a retro console video game arcade/shop that is surely to go out of business now that there will be no kids coming from the theater. Great Job. At least we get 10 new craft beers to go with the cordless ones from the 1000907982 breweries in NJ.

      • Well you know brother, I have to be honest, I’m a beer lover, and I especially enjoy different craft beers. It’s just that seeing the picture of a place that provided many childhood memories all smashed up and destroyed is very shocking and depressing. Realizing that there will no longer be kids congregating there, as myself and my friends had the opportunity to do, evokes anger and disappointment. Seeing the Spider Man FFH and Toy Story 4 photos in three picture reminds us how quick and sudden the sale, closing, and destruction occurred to this place we love so much. I don’t mean to disturb this guy’s dreams, but I just don’t think his experiences there were involved in his decision to reimagine the place (he would realize he’s not helping kids) , and I don’t think he realistically had the kids in mind. Ok they do plan to show some low budget movies no one wants to see on Sunday, but are they free or is it for profit? I will enjoy the beer, but will always know it was at the expense of what was essentially a common after school meeting location that will now be a bad place for children. Strathmore Cinema was a local place that local kids could walk to, meet, and have fun, now it will be a a local bar that alcoholic drunk (sometimes violent) people can walk to, meet, and have fun. I wouldn’t let my kids hang there.
        Hopefully they have a great sour beer!

LEAVE A REPLY

COMMENTING POLICY: At Jersey Digs, our goal is to inspire thoughtful and respectful conversations. We ask that you keep a level head and an open mind as you discuss the complex issues facing our community. Members who are unable to maintain civility may be blocked from commenting and have their posts removed.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here