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"Stealing Food Space" Strives To Please The Palate

New Livingston restaurant offers a mixture of sandwiches, salads, pasta and Mexican fare.


The restaurant's name is unusual and even a little bit criminal, but Stealing Food Space owner Ken Chen said its title is meant to be a joke. 

Chen, who has worked in the restaurant industry for 12 years as chef and entrepreneur, said he has taken the best recipes from the different places he worked at and decided to put them all under one roof in his new eatery. Hence the wide variety of different specials on the menu, which include several types of sandwiches, tacos, rice bowls, pastas and soups.

Chen also said the small, family-run business hopes to "steal" the hearts of customers with its food. Chen and his wife, Landy Shi, said everything they serve is fresh, homemade and not frozen. The restaurant also offers catering, take-out and delivery service.

"It's funny, a Chinese guy not making Chinese food," Chen said. "But we're doing OK, so I think the people approve."

Chen, who emigrated from China in 1999, said he started working in the food industry at the Ocean Restaurant and Sbarro in New York City. 

In 2003, he and his brother, Steve, opened a restaurant - China Garden - in Orangeburg, S.C. 

Two years later, Chen became involved in the Desert Moon Fresh Mexican Grill franchise. He became a partner in a restaurant at the Palisades Mall in Rockland County, N.Y., for three years. He also operated a Desert Moon restaurant at the Essex Green Shopping Center in West Orange from 2006 to May 2011.

At his new restaurant, Chen said the specialities include fresh guacamole, Buffalo wing dippers, chopped chicken salad and fajita platter. He noted that they also make all of the chicken wing sauces in house in flavors such as hot mango and honey hickory. 

"We let the people come in and try (the food) and let us know what we can do better," Chen said. 

In the summer, Chen said he hopes to sell ice cream and have tables for outdoor seating. 

Stealing Food Space, located at 10 E. Mount Pleasant Ave., is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. For more information, call (973) 992-9090 or visit its website

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