Appropriate for Valentine’s Day, Highland Park is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its love affair with Pino’s.
Everyone is invited to celebrate Highland Park’s entertainment “heart,” watering hole, living room, live music venue, and gift basket shop and wine cellar on Friday February 14, 2020, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., 13 North Fourth Avenue. The event will be a tribute to the history of Highland Park and the 100-year journey of Pino’s.
At the event, Pino’s will debut their 100-Year-Anniversary cocktail menu, featuring a Highland Park Scotch tasting and Birnn Chocolate pairing for just $10, plus Highland Park chocolate whiskey cupcakes, live music with Rouvan and imagery/artifacts provided by the Highland Park Historical Society.
Aside from its great selection of beers, wines, and gifts, Pino’s is Highland Park’s de facto gathering spot in all weather, indoors and outdoors; it is part of the fabric of the community.
“I would be really depressed if Highland Park had no Pino’s – a lively, happy place to be for music and just hanging out with one’s neighbors. Just this week, Pino’s on Wednesday night had an Open Mic Night Hosted by Tommy Strazza and on Thursday night featured live music with Pete Hovrath,” said a Pino’s regular.
According to the Pino’s website:
Since 1920, when it started as a “green grocery,” Pino’s Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar has been a Highland Park tradition. The “mom and pop shop,” started by the Pino family, has endured prohibition, recessions, relocation and changes in ownership. The promise to offer “constantly superior” product, is why Pino’s has remained a tradition since 1920.
The third owners of the business in 98 years, Steve and Siobhan Weinstein purchased Pino’s in 2013, and they brought a vision for the Highland Park “Gift Basket Shoppe and Wine Cellar.” The first thing they did was to give the Shoppe a new look – an image over haul that included bright walls, vintage artwork, clean floors and shelves, as well as a revived, carefully chosen, selection of product.
The community always boasted that the “old” Pino’s, formerly on the corner of North 4th Ave and Raritan, was one of a kind, a reflection of its original owner, Vinnie Pino. Customers recall that he was eclectic, knowledgeable and meticulous in the selection of product he offered his customers.
The famed “wine cellar” in the basement, with sawdust on the floor, where you had to duck to enter, is the tale most commonly recounted. Each of these stories, photos, and bits of history influenced the choices that Steve and Siobhan made, as they set out to breathe new life into the shop.
As Highland Park residents themselves, they take pride in their community and understanding its roots, so they can provide a nostalgia-filled and joyful store, located within the boundaries of their little town of Highland Park.