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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? RELIABLE FRIED CHICKEN

Lunch specials numbers 1 and 3 from Chicken Kitchen in Shrewsbury Plaza. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Shrewsbury Plaza in Shrewsbury has seen its share of transition, with businesses coming and going, but the Chicken Kitchen, shoehorned into a spot next to a tile store and a nail salon in the strip mall, can boast that it’s been there longer than most.

Matt Kascsak, the restaurant’s third owner, tells PieHole he was born the same year, 1982, that the restaurant was launched. Working for the second owner, he got a feel for what was good and what could be improved. Which was not a lot, apparently.

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RED BANK: RIVER BACTERIA SOURCES LOCATED

Busted sanitary sewer lines in two locations along Marion Street in Red Bank were significant sources of bacteria winding up in the Navesink off Fair Haven, investigators said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Environmentalists and government officials have found two culprits, just yards apart in Red Bank, believed to be contributing to a spike in human waste bacteria in the Navesink River, they said Thursday night.

And the mystery could not have been solved without a trio of specially trained sniffing dogs, an ecstatic Clean Ocean Action leader Cindy Zipf told redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: FOOD FEST TO PACK PARKING LOT

More than 20 local food purveyors will be present  when the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest commandeers the White Street municipal parking lot this Sunday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

While the recent cancellation of Riverfest has left a hole in Red Bank’s yearly segue into summer, fans of strolling smorgasbords and top-down tunes needn’t wait too long to get their festival fix — as this Sunday, the White Street municipal parking lot will be the scene for the 2017 edition of the Red Bank International Beer, Wine and Food Fest.

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RED BANK: ‘BEAUTY’ ON THE BASIE STAGE

The interlude between the end of April and beginning of May signals the traditional rising up of a real Red Bank institution — Phoenix Productions, the borough-based theatrical company that for more than two decades has presented its musical entertainments on the boards of one of the region’s most legendary stages: the Count Basie Theatre.

This Saturday sees the curtain go up on the first of the 2017 offerings from the Phoenix fun factory — and, it as they did with last year’s season-opening production of The Little Mermaid, the troupe will be delving into the Disney Broadway playbook for a fresh and family-friendly staging of the romantic fantasy perennial, Beauty and the Beast.

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RED BANK: 5K TO RUN AGAIN IN 2018

Runners head down Branch Avenue in the 2015 edition of the George Sheehan Classic, which was cancelled a year later. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Filling a gap left by the departure of the George Sheehan Classic a year ago, Red Bank will again host a 5k race in June, 2018. And this one will be run entirely within the town’s borders.

The borough council gave a green light Wednesday night to the event, which is being organized by the Red Bank Business Alliance.

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RED BANK: SPARKS FLY OVER BUDGET

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, seen here last May with GOP colleagues Mark Taylor and Mike Whelan, found herself at odds with them, and Mayor Pasquale Menna, Wednesday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank adopted its 2017 budget Wednesday night amid some odd political frictions.

Councilwoman Linda Schwabenbauer, who leads the budget-setting finance committee, took clear umbrage at a last-minute critique of the spending plan by Mayor Pasquale Menna. Then, the only ‘no’ votes when it came up for adoption were cast by her two fellow Republicans on the dais.

And before the night was over, Schwabenbauer’s main adversary in this year’s election, Democrat Ed Zipprich, issued a press release commending her.

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LINCROFT: DOGS AND GUITARS ON DISPLAY

The Monmouth County SPCA’s annual Dog Walk and Pet Fair returns to Brookdale Community College Saturday.

This weekend marks the return of two more-or-less yearly events to the Lincroft campus of Brookdale Community College — the Monmouth County SPCA Dog Walk and Pet Fair and the Brookdale Guitar Show — both of which had their origins in the generally cooler months and have since relocated to rank among the favorite rites of spring on the Greater Red Bank Green.

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RED BANK: SCHOOL TAX TO RISE 3.26 PERCENT

Facilities are growing tighter as enrollment rises, said Superintendent Jared Rumage. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Board of Education approved a $22 million budget that would raise the local school portion of property tax bills by 3.26 percent Tuesday night.

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RED BANK: CHARTER SCHOOL TO BUY BUILDING

The building, in which the charter school now rents space, has several commercial tenants, and another slated to take the retail space formerly leased by Prown’s Home Improvements. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank Charter School plans to buy a commercial building that adjoins its Oakland Street home under a plan approved by the school’s board of trustees Tuesday night.

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FAIR HAVEN: TAXES ON THE TABLE

The February sale of a vacant borough-owned lot on Fisk Street helped keep a lid on property taxes this year, said Administrator Theresa Casagrande.   (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Taxes dominated the Fair Haven council’s semimonthly meeting Monday night, with a borough budget up for adoption and presentations on spending plans by two school districts on the agenda.

Bottom line(s): a drop in the borough levy, a drop in the local school tax, and an increase in the one that funds the regional high school.

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RED BANK: HOMEBUILDER EYES FACTORIES

A cluster of industrial buildings between Catherine Street, above, and River Street would be razed for new brownstones, according to the prospective builder. Part of the site abuts the Cedar Crossing homes, seen in the distance above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A block of factory buildings on Red Bank’s West Side, including some old millworks and a former guitar factory, could give way to new housing in coming months, redbankgreen has learned.

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RED BANK: PADILLA ‘WOMEN’ ON THE WING

The cast of ‘The Women of Padilla’ share a cathartic moment in the Tony Meneses play that concludes its world premiere engagement this week at Two River Theater. (photo by T. Charles Erickson)

Beginning with a 1 p.m. performance Wednesday, seven opportunities remain for the general public to catch The Women of Padilla, the latest in an ever-growing portfolio of plays that have made their world premiere on the Red Bank stage of Two River Theater.

Written by Tony Meneses (whose previously produced project here was Guadalupe in the Guest Room), the drama is an ensemble piece that reflects an ongoing commitment by the theater company to develop and promote new works by Latino creators. It’s also a succinct and slightly surreal piece with an underlying universal quality — a glimpse at the home front in a time of seemingly eternal war, as well as the ways in which we find family, build community, and latch onto gossamer wings of hope whenever something important goes missing from our lives.

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RED BANK: MAKING ALL LOCAL ART STOPS

The new Ani Art Academy America on Broad Street is among the scheduled “art stops” for a Tuesday evening Gallery Gallivant, departing from the Monmouth Street headquarters of Monmouth Arts.

It’s being called a “Gallery Gallivant” — the latest in a series of Red Bank art walks hosted by the folks at borough-based Monmouth Arts, and a stimulating little constitutional for anyone who’s itching for something to do on a normally sleepy Tuesday in town.

One of a slate of offerings designed to give arts aficionados a strolling/rolling perspective on what’s happening in and around the “MoCo” (Monmouth County) Arts Corridor — that scintillating strip of station stops along the Matawan-to-Manasquan stretch of the North Jersey Coast Line — the two-hour guided tour sets sail tomorrow evening, April 25, from the organization’s storefront headquarters at 105 Monmouth Street (the western corner of the Count Basie Theatre building).

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RED BANK: COP PLANS MENTORING PROGRAM

Patrolman Mike Zadlock, who’s spearheading a project called ‘Club 109’ to engage middle school boys. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The boy hadn’t been showing up at school, so a Red Bank police officer was dispatched to the family’s home to make sure everything was OK one day in January.

Nothing was amiss when Patrolman Michael Zadlock arrived. But the boy’s single-parent mother said she simply couldn’t get her son to go to school, and so she would reluctantly leave the pre-teen at home when she went off to work, Zadlock said.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ‘ALL IN’ IN SEA BRIGHT

Shrimp, arugula and capellini pasta at the newly opened GiGi’s New York Style Pizza and Restaurant. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Admiring the new street lights installed as part of a streetscape makeover on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright earlier this week, PieHole spied the equally new GiGi’s New York Style Pizza and Restaurant.

Located next door to Melonhead in a space that most recently housed the Black Swine restaurant, which moved to a larger spot a block away, Gigi’s turns out to be owned by familiar faces: chef Kenny Gambella and his wife, Kelly, who also own Sonny’s Sandwich Shop just down the street.

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FAIR HAVEN: SELDIN STORMS BACK AT 70

Shore music legend Stormin’ Norman Seldin returns to the scene of a legendary months-long stand when he observes his 70th birthday Saturday night in Fair Haven.

With all due props to Count Basie, he’s the “other” Kid from Red Bank, even if he’s long since earned a senior discount at IHOP.

To aficionados of the Shore music scene, Stormin’ Norman Seldin is still the same ginger-haired, piano-pounding prodigy (at age 13, the youngest person to become a member of the American Federation of Musicians) who’d staked out a career as a singer, bandleader, promoter and record label owner by his teens — and who, through his old combo the Joyful Noyze, introduced audiences to a bigger-than-life talent by the name of Clarence Clemons.

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RED BANK: THEATER ADDITION APPROVED

A rendering of the proposed addition to the left of the existing theater and fly tower at center, as seen from the northeast. (Rendering by Kaplan Gaunt Desantis Architects. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s Two River Theater won raves from neighbors, and zoning board approval, Thursday night for a plan to expand its non-performance space.

But West Street residents pressed for, and failed to obtain, changes to aspects of the plan that they worry will direct more traffic onto their block, some of it from motorists using the theater lot simply to avoid street traffic.

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RIVER PLAZA MAN IN HEROIC RESCUE

A Middletown man was among a group of rescuers who pulled a motorist from a submerged car following an accident in Eatontown Sunday night, according to a report by the Asbury Park Press.  

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MIDDLETOWN: FOR EARTH DAY, VISIT A PARK

A “Roving Naturalist” guided tour of Tatum Park’s hiking trails is among the activities scheduled at county parks throughout Middletown Township for Earth Day.

Saturday, April 22 marks the annual observance of Earth Day, and with our not-so-gently-used home planet in need of more TLC than at any time in its history, the Monmouth County Park System is offering several ways to raise awareness of local earth-friendly programs at its sites in Middletown Township.

In addition, Saturday marks the annual return of two popular events at neighboring facilities on Middletown’s Red Hill Road — both of them enhancing the Earth Day experience, and all of it designed to better acquaint local residents with several genuine public jewels of the Greater Red Bank Green.

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RED BANK: RIVERFEST UNPLUGGED, AGAIN

The event, which often drew tens of thousands of visitors to Marine Park, was revived in 2011 after a 10-year absence. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Scratch another big outdoor event from the calendar: this year’s Red Bank Riverfest is off.

The cancellation followed a dispute over money, with the borough claiming it had been shorted last year, and an event organizer saying the town had “nickeled and dimed” the food-and-music festival until it was no longer viable.

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RED BANK: SECOND-STORY CONFESSIONS AT 99

The upstairs “Studio 99” rehearsal facility at the Count Basie Theatre is the venue for the Dunbar Repertory production of BUTTERFLY CONFESSIONS, going up this Friday for the first show of a two-weekend stand.

Seasoned explorers of Red Bank’s cultural scene know that the second story often plays host to a whole other story — for proof, take it upstairs to any of the art opening events at Salon Concrete or McKay Imaging — or dig if you will such special events as tomorrow night’s Red Bank Blooms fashion show upside Teak.

When it’s not bumper-to-bumper busy booking some of the biggest names in show business on its storied stage, the Count Basie Theatre can be found hosting activities that can extend from the street-level Carlton Lounge and back-scenes patio, to the “Studio 99” rehearsal rooms on the landmark building’s second floor. It’s there that one of the area’s best-kept-secret theatrical companies has found a home for many of its projects — and there that Dunbar Repertory Company will present the play Butterfly Confessions for a two-weekend engagement that begins this Friday, April 21.

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FAIR HAVEN: ACME CENTER MAKEOVER OK’D

Three renderings of the proposed monument sign that proved a sticking point for planning board members. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A makeover of Fair Haven’s dowdy Acme shopping center won borough planning board approval Tuesday night, but minus a proposed slab of signage that dominated a three-hour meeting.

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RED BANK: JUST-IN-TIME DELIVERY?

Seen in a truck cab outside the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank Tuesday afternoon: a couple of road veterans who appear to have racked up more than their share of miles.

Who’s got a good caption for this photo? Let’s hear it. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)