Westfield Garden State Plaza is a 2.118 million square foot shopping mall located in Paramus, New Jersey, just 30 minutes away from New York City. Opened in 1957, the Garden State Plaza is the fifteenth largest mall in America. It has two levels, over 300 stores and services, and 5 anchor stores, which are Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Macy's and AMC Theatres. This mall also includes nearly 11,000 parking spaces.
When the Garden State Plaza first opened in 1957, it was an outdoor open-air shopping center. But in 1981, the mall management decided to enclose the mall in order to compete with other malls in the area that were enclosed, such as the Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey.
In 1987, Gimbel's parent company, BATUS, which had been selling off its Gimbel's stores, sold its Garden State Plaza location to Associated Dry Goods. Associated reopened the store as the new headquarters for its Hahne's department stores. Hahne's had previously been headquartered at its flagship store in downtown Newark, which the company wanted to close. In the mid-1990’s, a Nobody Beats the Wiz store was added as an out-parcel to the mall site; it later became a Best Buy store that closed in 2018. The site was then occupied by a toy store called Toy City, owned by Party City.
On September 7, 1990, Nordstrom opened its first New Jersey location, building a $37 million, 272,000 sq ft (25,300 m2)., three-level store on the former Hahne's site. BJ's Wholesale Club opened across the street from the mall in 1992. In 1996, Lord & Taylor opened a store in the mall; its seventh in the state at the time. In 1997, Neiman Marcus opened on the northwest side.
In 1996, Garden State Plaza marked the completion of a $200 million expansion and major remodeling project that added over 700,000 sq ft (65,000 m2) of retail space and two four level parking structures, Parking Garage A, and Parking Garage B. The downstairs food court was connected to the lower level from the previous expansion. JCPenney grew by 62,000 to 150,000 sq ft (5,800 to 13,900 m2), and two new anchors were added, a 150,000 sq ft (14,000 m2) Neiman Marcus on three levels and a 135,000 sq ft (12,500 m2) Lord & Taylor on two levels, both targeted at the upscale fashion-conscious shopper. A Venetian Carousel was also added at that time of the expansion and remodeling and was located in front of Macy's. The carousel closed in 2016 and was removed so that the mall could use that space for The Bergen Performing Arts Center to give performances and shows. There was also a Bergen PAC ticket center located nearby as well. The performance area was short lived and was replaced by a video game theater before converting into a lounge area in 2017. By 2018, the Macy's area of the mall was labeled as "The Restaurant District" because three new restaurants moved in with Ruby Tuesday and Shake Shack. These three restaurants are Bar Louie, Mighty Quinn's BBQ, and Tomato & Company Pizza.
The Borough of Paramus petitioned the New Jersey Supreme Court to review a decision by borough's Planning Board, asking it to review the plans to construct a 163,000-square-foot (15,100 m2) "entertainment lifestyle precinct" at the mall that included a 16-screen AMC movie theater and 10 specialty retail stores, along with a 158,000-square-foot (14,700 m2) parking lot below the new wing, known as "Parking Garage C". The petition was turned down, and the mall celebrated its 50th Anniversary with the new expansion and stores opened on May 25, 2007. Other than the AMC, some of the stores and restaurants that are in the expanded wing are Grand Lux Cafe, Jamba Juice, a Sprint store, and Vans.
Adjacent to the parking lot is a guest services office and valet lounge. A year later, the mall added a 55,000 square foot wing at a cost of $160 million known as the "Fashion District" that has 22 stores and restaurants. The Venetian Carousel was removed in 2016 and replaced by a Bergen PAC performing area. Then, the Bergen PAC performance area became a video game theater, and currently, it is a lounge area. The mall is open from Monday-Saturday. However, the mall is closed on Sundays due to highly restrictive Bergen County blue laws, except for restaurants that have special Sunday entrances and AMC Theaters. Shake Shack is also open on Sundays.
On August 27, 2020, it was announced that Lord & Taylor would be closing as part of a plan of closing all 38 stores nationwide.
- AMC Theatres
- Bergen PAC Performing Area (formerly the site of the Venetian Carousel)
- Play Area (located by the food court)
- Venetian Carousel (1996-2016)
Sit Down Restaurants
(S) indicates that the restaurant is open on Sundays and has the special Sunday entrance.
- Bar Louie (S)
- Chili's (S)
- California Pizza Kitchen (S)
- The Capital Grille (S)
- Grand Lux Café (S)
- Legal Sea Foods (S)
- On The Border (S)
- Ruby Tuesday (S)
- The Rotunda Restaurant at Neiman Marcus (open from Monday-Saturday only)
- Villa Pizza
- Taco Bell/KFC
- Sarku Japan
- The Sushi Bar at Sarku Japan
- Charley's Grilled Subs
- Bourbon Street Grille
- Crepes Celeste
- MW's Hawaiian Grill
- Lotus Express
- Chipotle Mexican Grill
- Sarku Sushi Bar
- Ruby Thai Kitchen
- 16 Handles Frozen Yogurt
- Aroma Café
- Au Bon Pain
- Bacio Gelato
- Baked by Melissa
- Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
- Shake Shack (Open every day including Sunday)
- Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt
- Tomato & Co.
- GRK Fresh
- Wetzels Pretzels
- Lolli and Pop
- Neuhaus Belgian Chocolates
- Jamba Juice
In Popular Culture
- Garden State Plaza is the setting for Tricia Sullivan's science fiction novel Maul (2002). The novel takes its title from the way that the word "mall" is pronounced with the New Jersey accent. In the novel, three teenage girls start a shoot out with a local gang.
- The mall was seen in several episodes of The Sopranos, which was called the "Paramus Mall".
- The 2005 Sesame Street direct-to-video special All Star Alphabet, featuring Stephen Colbert and Nicole Sullivan, was filmed on location at the mall.
- Rockapella, the a cappella group best known for performing on the children's game show Where in The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, had their first public gig at the former Bamberger's store (now Macy's) at the mall on October 11, 1986 after performing at a private party nearby in Oradell six months earlier.