By JOHN T. WARD
You’ll be able to get a bourbon with that porterhouse when Char Steakhouse opens in Red Bank later this year.
And among those who may want to raise a beverage in celebration is landlord Jack Anderson, whose hedge bet on a liquor license has paid off.
“I’d be screwed without it,” he tells redbankgreen.
Anderson won approval from the borough council last week to sell a liquor license he purchased two years ago to his new tenant, which is renovating space at the former location of Ashes Cigar Bar to a rumored tune of $2 million.
Records show Char paid Anderson the same amount he paid to acquire the license from the now-defunct Little Kraut/Red Bank Beer Garden: $385,000.
After legal fees, the license purchase was a money loser, Anderson said. But overall, it was an important element in bringing in the Raritan-based Char as a 30-year tenant, he said.
Anderson bought the Little Kraut license amid rising uncertainty over the legal outlook for Ashes, which had frequent run-ins with local officials over code violations and was a recurring problem for police. The place was widely rumored also to have been the scene of heavy drug use.
But Anderson said he was thinking primarily of using the Little Kraut license to lure another restaurant to the adjoining space he owns at 35 Broad, which was then occupied by he River’s Edge restaurant. Instead, he landed another booze-free tenant, Surf Taco.
Ultimately, though, the state Alcohol Beverage Control division suspended the Ashes license, which Anderson did not own, because undisclosed parties were found to have had interests in it.
A court-appointed receiver, Red Bank lawyer Bunce Atkinson, shut down the restaurant as a money-loser and, in November 2010, auctioned off the liquor license. It went to Eugene Devlin and Sean Dunne, owners of the Dublin House Pub on Monmouth Street, for $395,000.
Anderson says he could not have lasted long in a bidding war against the Dub owners and a third party who dropped out of the auction because of a miscommunication.
“Head to head, I couldn’t bid against them,” he said.
Now, he’s looking back on the Little Kraut license buy with relief as Char guts the building across Broad Street from his primary business, Jack’s Music Shoppe.
“The long shot was that I would need it there [at the Ashes space], but that proved to be exactly where I needed it,” he said.
Anderson said Char is shooting for an early September opening.
In other Churnings:
• Ashley DuPre is aiming for a May 9 opening of her lingerie-and-swimwear store Femme By Ashley at 15 Broad Street.
• Ice Costume Jewelry has opened at 12 Monmouth Street, in the space last occupied by Soapmarket.