OCEANPORT – MGT Foods, which makes treats such as Mr. Green Tea Ice Cream and Mr. Mochi Ice Cream, has signed a lease to come to The Commissary at Baseline, located on the former grounds of Fort Monmouth.
This is the second lease signing by Denholtz Properties, which has also locked in craft beer brewer Birdsmouth Beer for the site. Birdsmouth is due to open on October 15.
The third-generation family business was started in Brooklyn in 1968 by Santo Emanuele, a World War II veteran who flew in the bomber squadrons that made up the 100th Bomb Group. After the war, he worked in the dairy industry and became an entrepreneur around the time the sushi craze hit the East Coast.
His grandson, Michael James Emanuele, the company’s vice president, said his grandfather recognized the need for traditional ice cream for Japanese restaurants and developed a few signature flavors.
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“There was an increase in Japanese restaurants in Brooklyn and he started selling directly to them,” Emanuele said.
One of those flavors was Mr. Green Tea Ice Cream, where the name MGT comes from.
The company moved to Manalapan in 2002, then to Keyport in 2008, where it is headquartered today. MGT specializes in food science, food manufacturing and distribution. Its other brands include The Bear & The Rat Cool Treats for Dogs and Eat Mud Non-Dairy Ice Cream.
Demand for their product line, which sells in both domestic and overseas markets, prompted them to lease a larger 19,567 square foot facility at the fort. Emanuele said they had watched the commissioner a few years ago, but now was not the right time.
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Emanuele said MGT will retain its headquarters in Keyport but close the production plant there. He plans to open the Economat production plant early next year. Over time, the company will create 15 to 20 new jobs at the fort, which does not include approximately eight to 12 employees who will leave Keyport.
The commissary was part of the fort’s warehouse district and is enjoying a second life as the fort undergoes a transition to private investment. Red Bank-based Denholtz Properties bought the warehouse district — a total of 12 buildings, including the commissioner — for $4.3 million in 2020 from the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority, the state agency in charge of the revival of the former US Army base.
“We recognized the enormous untapped potential of The Commissary in Fort Monmouth from day one of our ownership of the property,” said Kristine B. Hurlbut, senior vice president of leasing at Denholtz Properties.
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Denholtz invests $60 million to renovate the warehouse district with the commissary as its centerpiece.
Denholtz Properties is also moving forward with its plans for phase two at The Commissary at Baseline, where it will build 72,400 square feet of modern-specification industrial/flex space across three buildings. This construction should be completed next year, according to the company.
When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel isn’t reporting the news, you can find him in a classroom where he’s a history teacher. Contact him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072; [email protected]