SEA BRIGHT: BROGUE, HEARTH AND PORK ROLL

Alice’s Kitchen takes over  space that was home to downtown fixture Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch. Below, Alice Gaffney with a customer shortly after opening her doors Friday morning. (Photo below by Colby Wilson. Click to enlarge)

By COLBY WILSON

The first time you visit Alice’s Kitchen in Sea Bright, order an Irish breakfast.

That’s on the recommendation of the chef and owner, Alice Gaffney, who’s bringing the food – and an architectural touch – of her homeland to 1100 Ocean Avenue, but doing it Jersey-style.

“We’re going to have Irish soda bread, Irish breakfast, and of course pork roll,” Gaffney tells redbankgreen. After all, “this is the Jersey Shore,” she says.

The traditional hearth Gaffney installed in the restaurant. (Photo by Colby Wilson. Click to enlarge)

Alice’s Kitchen opened Friday morning in the space occupied for 37 years by Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch, which was wiped out by Hurricane Sandy nine months ago.

Gaffney and her two children, Seana and Dara, also experienced Sandy’s destruction. They lost their basement, two bedrooms and two bathrooms in their North Beach home, also on Ocean Avenue. Seana and Dara lost everything, she said.

“We were all devastated,” she said. “But the people here are very courageou,s and we have great leaders,” she told redbankgreen.

Cleaning out that basement, Gaffney rediscovered a forgotten artifact she’d brought over to America from Ireland years ago: a traditional cottage hearth. She had it reassembled, front and center, in the restaurant.

Gaffney says the building, at the corner of Chruch Street, had about five feet of water inside during the storm, and  that rebuilding has been a long and difficult process.

“Everything had to be done from scratch,” she said. The work cost close to $100,000, but you can’t put a price on your dreams, she added.

Like others reopening businesses in the storm-battered town, or opening new ones, she worries about another storm as destructive as Sandy, but is counting on that having been a once-in-a-lifetime event, she said.

This isn’t Gaffney’s first business in the area. In 2006, she opened the Claddagh Irish Pub on Bay Avenue in Highlands. She also spent seven years running the kitchen at the Red Bank Charter School.

But this venture is different, she said. It means more.

“It has been my dream for a very long time,” she said.

Alice’s Kitchen is open seven days a week, from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Under the current soft opening, Gaffney is serving breakfast and lunch only, but plans to have a dinner menu in the near future.

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