In preparation of Hurricane Sandy's arrival later Monday, many area businesses didn't take chances and closed up well before things started getting windy and rainy Monday morning.
Which is what helped make the lit-up "open" sign outside Jersey Boy Bagels stand out that much more.
"The news crews always come here, because we're the only ones ever open," said owner Aref Aboukwaik between customers. "We may close a little early, it really depends on the weather."
C'est Cheese, just a few storefronts down, also announced they had opened sometime after 9 a.m. and would be open "at least until 2 p.m.," according to their Facebook page. A reader also noted The Jury Box and John's Deli, both on Washington Street, also had decided to open Monday morning. As the morning went on, others including Strawberry Fields Frozen Yogurt and J.C. Reiss Opticians also said they would be open for at least part of the day ().
By 9 a.m. Monday, the weather outside was frightful, but the smell of food and coffee inside were delightful for a steady stream of volunteer firefighters, EMS volunteers, and just those looking for a bite to eat before things get really hairy.
"We just wanted breakfast," said Morristown resident Doug Biro, whose friend Mike Wallenjack had come into town from Philadelphia to wait out the storm.
"I'm not too worried," Wallenjack, a student at Temple University said. "We just hope we don't lose power."
Apparently a lot of people had the same thought.
"There isn't a generator to be had in Morris County," said Eric Meyer, volunteer fire captain for Morris Township, operating out of their Mount Kemble station on 12-hour shifts "until the storm ends," he said.
Kenilworth resident Michele Dangle was eating a bagel and killing time while her husband went through a work-related training session at Headquarters Plaza that wasn't cancelled. "We drove to Connecticut for a generator," she said.
A manager at the Kilkenny House in flood-prone Cranford, Dangle said a number of regular customers there came to the restaurant last night to move all equipment out of their basement. "If that doesn't lift your spirits, nothing will," she said. "Don't worry, they drank their wages."
Generators were not the only item flying off shelves. Morris Township Committeeman Scott Rosenbush advised anyone looking to take advantage of the free sandbags available at their Department of Public Works to call ahead, as he wasn't sure any were left.
"My hope is we learn from last year," he said before placing an order.
That, for UPS Store sales associate Jim O'Shea, may include knowing when to stay home.
"I felt like a damn fool," he laughed as he recalled his drive from Mendham on Route 24. "I look in front and there are no cars ahead of me. I look in my mirror, there are no cars behind.
"What am I doing wrong here," he said.
O'Shea said a few "regulars" had called and planned to come in, but otherwise things had been quiet. "I don't know how long I'll be here," he said, noting he wasn't even sure if pickups, usually at 6 p.m., would even happen on Monday. "Nobody's coming out, it's just going to get worse."
Still, the rare soul to brave Sandy's early affects offered perspective on the moment for the Morristown area. "It could be worse, we could be in South Jersey," he said.