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A Brief History of Skinner’s Loft & Before

Skinner’s Loft continues a tradition of hospitality which owner Maggie Veca began cultivating in 1985 when she started working as a waitress (in those days it was ‘waitress,’ before ‘server’ became the preferred term) at the Hamilton Park Ale House (now the Hamilton Inn).  Following twelve years of triple duty - working a day job, a night job, and raising two kids - she used her life savings, and help from her three brothers, to buy the place in 1997. 

Always passionate about food, she hired her friend and longtime chef Lorraine Wullamey and made it a fun place to socialize, drink, and eat well. She worked hard to make the Ale House a lively, neighborhood place for nine years, until being priced out by an expired lease and rising rents in 2006. It was around this time, that she discovered a new space, and began to explore her vision for a new place, Skinner’s Loft. 

Newark Avenue in 2007 did not have much of a restaurant scene, with only the pioneering LITM and Sawadee (both of which are no longer - but always will be missed and fondly remembered) holding it down. 

Her two adult children were uneasy in their careers and considering a change. Needing some help getting a much larger venture than before going, Maggie invited her children to work with her. Her daughter, Erin, left her position with the New York Botanical Garden, and her son Will left behind a job in advertising. Initially intending to commit for only a short while, until things were up and running, they had found their calling and have remained integral members of the Skinner’s Loft community. 

Focused on fresh, contemporary cuisine, with a nod to the traditional, we at Skinner’s provide our guests with a warm, welcoming environment and equally enticing food and drink. We dedicate a portion of our menu to some dishes which are tried and true and others that are inspired by the freshest available seasonal produce, dairy, farm-raised meat, and wild-caught fish.

Skinner’s Loft is a team of dedicated professionals who all share a passion for food and hospitality. Our cooks have over 100 years of collective kitchen experience and are led by Head Chef Juan Gabriel Veliz. 

Chef Juan Gabriel was born and raised in Mexico. His background of growing up on a farm, and cooking professionally throughout New York and Jersey City for the past 20 years, has well equipped him to use the freshest available local ingredients to create inspired, delicious food.

With a diverse range of backgrounds and interests, the team at Skinner’s Loft shares a common ambition of being hospitality professionals, graciously serving great food.

A Little About the Name

Skinner’s Loft is a family-owned and operated restaurant named for family matriarch Doris Skinner, mother of Maggie and her five siblings. ‘Loft’ simply refers to the loft space of the building.

Born in Jersey City in 1924, Doris’ family settled here in the 1800s. She grew up in Jersey City, raising six children here. Though Doris passed away a few years ago, she was known to enjoy a gin and tonic at her namesake from time to time. 

There is a long history shared between the Skinner family and Jersey City. Doris’ grandmother was heavily involved in politics and held a position as a ward boss. Her father was a boxer and dock worker. Doris’ two cousins, Douglas and Arthur, both from Jersey City, were killed during WWII on the same day in 1945, one fighting in the Philippines, the other in Germany. The City of Jersey City helped memorialize their valor and sacrifice with Douglas & Arthur Skinner Memorial Drive, a dedicated section of street near the Medical Center, as well as Skinner Memorial Park, in the Bergen-Lafayette section.

Douglas & Arthur Skinner Memorial Drive (at Jersey Ave & Grand St).

 Skinner Memorial Park.

Sgt. Joseph Anthony Park