Chester Bakery Expands into Long Valley with European Café

Owner of successful Chester shop brings new flavor to Restaurant Village.

For 16 years, Maria Solano has been running Maria’s of Chester, a successful bakery and retail store in Chester offering fresh-baked breads and desserts, as well as dry goods including pastas, and olive oil.

Solano is now expanding west, but her vision for the Long Valley 'Maria’s' will go beyond the bakery and retail establishment in Chester, to offer breakfast fare, gourmet Panini sandwiches, homemade soups, healthy shakes, yogurts, and a wide range of baked goods and coffees.

Solano said she is transforming the former into a bistro style café, similar to what one might visit in Europe.   

The historic building that was once Neitzer’s Tavern, built in 1763, welcomed General George Washington on a number of occasions, who enjoyed a glass of wine served by William Neitzer, the owner’s nephew and the town’s first tavern keeper, according to research by the Washington Township Historical Society.

Solano said she hopes to open the new café at the end of July, but since she doesn’t do anything ‘half-baked’, she said she will open after she has dotted all her ‘Is’ and crossed all her ‘Ts.”

“I want people to walk in and say ‘wow’–this is a place I want to come back to again and again,” said Solano. “I want people to enjoy the food and the environment as much as I do.

“We are creating an environment similar to a European café, a place with an old world feel–so that when someone steps into the café, they won’t necessarily feel like they are in Long Valley anymore, rather, they may feel like they are in the south of France,” said Solano, who has been involved in the restaurant business for more than 30 years.

She said she learned every facet of the restaurant business from her husband’s family who has owned and run Solano’s Restaurant in Orange for 32 years.

Maria said the new menu will include stone ground breads, gluten free products, frozen drinks, health shakes, and there will be an emphasis on using fresh, local produce.

The sandwiches will be made of the freshest ingredients and could include prosciutto, Arugula, pesto, fig jam, fresh spiced turkey, grilled vegetables, provolone, and roasted peppers.

Desserts will include home made Italian cookies, biscotti, Cannolis, chocolate crème pie, cup cakes, chocolate crème pies, and cheese Danish.

Solano said she hopes to cater to local businesses, and schools, as well as residents. She also plans to offer gift baskets.

In the fall, she said she hopes to offer music and wine tasting events on Friday and Saturday nights. 

“I hope to get back to basics, offering delicious and healthy food. I also hope to get to know everyone who comes to my café by name,” said Solano.

She said, “Everything has gotten too impersonal. There are so many places where you order a cup of coffee and no one bothers to really get to know you.”

And like the long running sitcom, Solano said, she hopes to create a warm and inviting environment–where everybody knows your name.


Mark Lipinski July 16, 2011 at 01:17 PM
I've lived in Long Valley for 9 years, shop almost exclusively in Chester, and I've never heard of Maria's of Chester. I'm really looking forward to Maria's new venture and a nearby bakery and wish her much success (I'll be first in line), but while she's dotting her I's and crossing her T's, I hope she doesn't forget her P's and R's. If no one knows you're there then no one knows you're there! With wallet in hand, I'm off to find Maria's of Chester today!
Sheri Raupp July 17, 2011 at 02:14 AM
Hi Maria, I have really enjoyed your little shop in Chester and I admire and endorse your idea for a European style cafe in Long Valley. I wish you great success and look forward to having a place to get good, healthy, local food!
roxanne wallace July 17, 2011 at 09:42 AM
looking forward to your new venture here in long valley. ESPECIALLY looking forward to the gluten free products. thanks for covering all your bases, maria! roxanne wallace
Andrea Maletta-Bussel July 17, 2011 at 11:40 PM
It is with great anticipation we await your opening Good Luck and much success The Entire Restaurant Village Team
Leona Harrington July 18, 2011 at 01:45 PM
Yay!!!! Welcome Maria:) We wish you all the success in the world! Keep us posted... you have such a great place in Chester, and now you'll have the room in that beautiful space you need, to do do what you really want and what we so desperately need! Looking forward to you opening


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