By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Rob Nagel had Red Bank on his wish list for seven years, but few opportunities to expand his wildly successful Surf Taco chain to this end of the Jersey Shore arose.
“It’s always been a goal to get up here,” Nagel told redbankgreen. “It’s high-energy, an urban feel. There’s always something going on in Red Bank, and I think it’d be a great fit for us.”
Nagel’s chance to get into town came when Bob Guido, owner of River’s Edge Cafe, packed it up and moved out to Ocean.
“Once I walked into here, I felt the vibe,” Nagel said. “We knew we had the right location.”
A month after signing a lease for the 3,000-square-foot space at 35 Broad Street, Nagel is shooting for a March 1 opening, and appears to be on track.
On Saturday, Surf Taco management interviewed prospective employees for more than a dozen positions with the Mexi-Cali chain.
Next week, a friend of Nagel’s will be in the store adding finishing touches to the space, hanging original artwork and decorating.
After that, it’s a matter of tying up loose ends to get the doors open and the crowds inside, Nagel said.
Opening a new restaurant in Red Bank this will be the ninth of the chain is a bit off track for Nagel, who started the franchise in 2001 in Point Pleasant. Surf Taco tends to situate itself in seaside locations where flip-flops are the normal dining wear. The chain boasts stores in Belmar, Seaside Heights and the West End section of Long Branch among locations.
“It’s a good stepping stone for us, to reach into more of a kind of urban setting,” Nagel said.
Surf Taco’s arrival also represents a sea change in the downtown, where a slow exodus of businesses has, in recent months, reversed into a flood of new merchants eating up vacancies. Restaurants and dress shops have been leading the resurgence.
Nagel sees this as a positive for both Red Bank and his business, and he’s looking forward to what the future may bring.
“I think we’ll be a good addition to the new mix,” he said. “I’m stoked to be a part of this community.”