Two Stones proved to be perfect match at portion of former Ogletown hotel site

Image from Architectural Alliance.

Paul Isken found plenty of interest in a pad site near the Holiday Inn Express and Comfort Inn off the Route 273 and Interstate 95 site in the Ogletown area south of Newark.

“We wanted the right fit,” said Isken. That meant turning down interest from chains like Cracker Barrel. After all, the two hotels on the property already serve complimentary breakfast and two diners are within walking distance.

Instead,  Isken sought out Michael Stiglitz, who heads the fast-growing Two Stones  group of restaurant/pubs.  Two Stones will have a half dozen locations after the opening of a location in Middletown.  Broker for Two Stones was Joe Latina of Patterson-Woods Commercial Properties, Wilmington.

Two Stones’ success

Isken had come to admire Stiglitz’s focus on food and an extensive selection craft beer in a family atmosphere. 


Stiglitz and Two Stones management were also looking at options.  The flagship restaurant in the Brookside area near Newark had “built the rest of the company” but had limitations in its configuration as well as a  dual role in serving as the headquarters for the company and its 2SP brewery.

A $300,000 upgrade a couple of years ago helped, but Stiglitz and his team said another location was needed.

After turning down other overtures, Isken agreed to develop a 6,400 square-foot site that would serve as the flagship restaurant and headquarters for Two Stones.

The project,  formally announced this week,  is now on a fast track, with completion slated for the fall of this year.

Middletown Ogletown and beer

The fall timeframe gives Two Stones breathing room after the opening later this spring of its location in Middletown. 

Also under the Two Stones umbrella is 2SP Brewing in neighboring Delaware County, PA.

2SP has not been immune to big changes taking place in the craft brewing business that now has  7,000 breweries nationwide at a time of slowing overall growth.

 But Stiglitz said 2SP  has navigated the choppy waters and ended up with a hit on its hands with a coffee-infused beer done in partnership with convenience store giant Wawa.

The beer quickly sold out in 2018  and plans this year call for wider distribution in Wawa’s footprint that includes Delaware and a large store cluster in Florida.

Wawa stores in Delaware are barred from selling beer under the state’s sometimes baffling alcohol beverage laws. 

Two Stones faces a tighter labor market

 Like other restaurants, Two Stones is dealing with an increasingly tight labor market and is more actively recruiting staff while raising pay, especially for its growing group of managers.

At the same time, the company wants to provide opportunities for advancement and growth that come with the opening of new restaurants. 

“I have so many good people and I don’t want to lose them,” Stiglitz says.

The  new location will stick with Two Stones’ philosophy of smaller restaurants with a neighborhood atmosphere.

One change will be a room that can hold larger parties.

Stiglitz admits the move from the Brookside location will not be easy, given its loyal clientele.

Meanwhile, the Ogletown restaurant will be put up for sale, equipment included. 

A new owner offering good food and service will be able to draw loyal diners in Brookside, Scottfield and other nearby areas, Stiglitz said, pointing to Two Stones successful run and the nine-years the previous occupant Piece of Ireland. 

Two Stones will mark the return of a restaurant to the property owned by Concord Towers Inc.

The Isken family company has owned this property began operating the original Holiday Inn in 1964,  years before the opening of I-95.

In 2006, the hotel, which featured a restaurant and meeting rooms was razed, with a new Holiday Inn Express taking its place. The company opened a nearby Hampton Inn in 1990 that became a  Comfort Inn & Suites in 2011.  

The smaller footprint of the Holiday Inn Express left an available pad that became the subject of interest in recent years, Isken said.

Isken says that landing Two Stones was worth the wait and proved to a “perfect match” for the site.

Regarding further expansion of  Two Stones, Stiglitz says the company will consider promising opportunities. If  Isken’s interest is any indicator,  other suitors will come calling.