SUBWAY CAFÉ TO ROLL INTO RED BANK

subway-2The 28-seat sandwich shop will feature 14 seats of semi-enclosed dining where there’s now an alcove, at center above. Below, a concept drawing of a Subway Café, though not in the layout planned for Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

subway1Red Bank’s aversion to national fast-food outlets is about to get a new test, this time by the 35,473-store Subway chain.

A franchiser won approval from the borough planning board Monday night to build a 28-seat Subway at 60 Broad Street, in a long-vacant space between the Red Bank Nail Salon and Hip & Humble Home furnishings.

But in a town where McDonald’s, Cold Stone ice cream and others have failed, Subway plans to make it by changing up its usual approach.

Ojas Patel, who will build and own the shop, says this one will be a “café” version of Subway, one that’s now found only in three other locations nationwide: at the Pentagon, the Smithsonian museum and the University of Maryland.

Patel, who owns Subway shops in Middlesex Borough, Monroe Township and Princeton Junction, described the café in terms of decor: exposed stone and brick, stucco, muted earth tones – details that will make it “not monolithic, not just another Subway,” said attorney Armen Macomber. The menu will be the same as at other stores in the chain.

It wall also feature an architectural element not seen elsewhere in town. What’s now an entry alcove with curving display windows and a center doorway will be torn out, with he door repositioned to the right. To the left will be a semi-enclosed recess, set off from the street by a low fence, with tables and seating for up to 14 in warm weather. During the winter, the tables and chairs will be removed, though a permanent bench will remain.

Some members of the board hesitated over the bench, recalling days when homeless people and partiers out on a bender used to sleep in store entryways. But they were assured by Patel that the space would be monitored overnight by security cameras.

The main sticking point for the board was parking: the shop has no spaces out front, owing to a yellow curb, and just a few spots in a rear lot that’s not accessible to customers. Still, the board unanimously granted a parking variance, provided that building owner Michael Morgan create a dedicated handicapped-user’s spot when he rebuilds the lot, an obligation he’s required to meet by next July 15.

The board also approved a request for a food use in the space, which had most recently been an eyewear store.

Patel tells redbankgreen he expects to open in the spring.

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