Guess Who's Muscling In!

by Melody Kettle

(photo credit: Melody Kettle)Forget the Y – At Montclair’s newest restaurant you  can build muscle, cut calories, and reward yourself with cheesecake just by “lifting” a fork!

Tom Trilivas, owner of Nutley’s successful  Muscle Maker Grill is planning to open a new location in the space formerly occupied by Mexicali Rose on Park St, across from Samba, and a stone’s throw from the World Famous Montclair Rooster. It will be the perfect post-YMCA place to nosh.

A health and fitness enthusiast for over 20 years, Trilivas, who also works as a kitchen cabinet designer, often had a difficult time finding healthy choices to eat between appointments. We’ve all been there, the day gets crazy and healthy options that fit our schedule are few and far between, and often include the phrase “would you like fries with that”. Knowing that he was not the only one with this problem he bought a Muscle Maker Grill franchise in Lyndhurst. Nutley soon followed, and now Montclair will just have to wait until May to discover what everyone else knows.

Muscle Maker Grill was started in 1995. With roots in Colonia NJ the company now boasts over 200 franchises across the country. Everything is either grilled, or sauteed, there’s not a fryer to be found. The Montclair location is slated to have the same menu as Nutley, where breakfast is a feel good way to start the day. Breakfast includes Protein Pancakes, Omelets (egg white or whole egg), turkey bacon or sausage, b’fast wraps, and unique breakfast items like turkey chili. The Nutley location opens at 6:30 am and closes at 10pm. Details for Park St are still being sorted, Trilivas hopes to have similar hours in Montclair.

Come lunchtime, the menu switches over  to include wraps, salads, and sandwiches that are high in protein, low in carbs, and low in fat. Don’t worry, they are all high in flavor. (So much so you’ll think someone snuck something bad for you into your order.) Pasta dishes feature whole wheat pasta and there are even vegetarian options. Running really late with no time to eat with a fork? The Big Protein Shakes come in flavors like Chocolate Peanut Butter, Snappy Apple, as well as the more traditional chocolate and vanilla. Treat yourself to the sugar-free cheesecake, trust me on this one.

(photo credit: Melody Kettle)Given the fitness theme that inspired the restaurant the coolers include protein shakes and power drinks as well as more traditional fare like Honest Tea and Fuse. Instead of a candy rack often found in diners, Muscle Maker has a wide assortment of power bars. A juice bar and protein shake café will be  a part of the Montclair experience – something not found at either the Y or NYSC.

Township residents who attended last summer’s Montclair Animal Shelter Block Party might remember the pasta dishes. They were donated by the Muscle Maker team in Nutley long before opening the Montclair location was even being considered. It’s still several weeks until the opening  but I think Muscle Maker Grill is going to be a familiar foodie hang out in no time. 

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