By JOHN T. WARD
This edition of Retail Churn reports on these developments:
• A Fair Haven shoe store specializing in Dr. Martens boots hopes to kick some butt in downtown Red Bank – and keep the lights on after other stores close.
• Two high-profile Broad Street restaurants have quietly gone idle.
• A fitness center for kids plans to open next month on Wallace Street.
Dean Ross, owner of the Doc Shoppe on River Road in Fair Haven, plans to move his 14-year-old shoe store from its strip mall location to 43 Broad Street in Red Bank in early April. That’s the space recently vacated by Backward Glances, which moved to Asbury Park.
Ross, who also owns the Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street, tells Churn that in moving up from 935 square feet to 1,200, he’ll be paying twice as much rent. But he sees it as worth it.
Fair Haven has been a “great town” for the Doc Shoppe, “but unfortunately there’s no night business here,” and not the kind of foot traffic he longs for, he said. “It’s time to take this store to the next level.”
With a new space in the heart of the downtown, across the street from Starbucks, Ross believes the town he grew up in will be good for him, and that his shop will be good for the town.
Toward that end, he swears he’ll do what other merchants don’t: stay open well into the evening. The Doc Shoppe will be open until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It will also be open on Sundays, Ross said.
“I’m a retailer,” he said. “I get annoyed if there are people walking around and stores aren’t open.”
In addition to its eponymous line of Doc Martens, the Doc Shoppe also carries the Birkenstock line, and will be a certified Red Wing dealer in the new space, Ross says.
What will become of the Fair Haven space? Ross said he’s thinking about putting in a bagel shop there, and has even filed papers with the town for a possible conversion of the space for food use.
Blue Water Seafood, which had been the subject of increasing complaints about quality and service, has been closed for the past month or so without explanation, other than a sign on the door that says “Closed Temporarily.”
What’s up? Landlord Rick Stavola says we should talk to 9 Broad Street’s tenant, but it’s not clear who that is, since Jimmy Vastardis apparently parted ways with the restaurant several months ago, and Stavola declined to give out a name.
Murphy Style Grille, at 26 Broad, is also dark. A sign on the door says, “Closed Until Further Notice.”
According to borough Clerk Pam Borghi, an application is pending for a transfer of the restaurant’s liquor license to an entity called RB Spirits LLC. We’re told, but haven’t confirmed, that RB Spirits is related to the building’s landlord, Onyx Equities, and that Onyx also bought the business.
A call to Onyx was not immediately returned. Onyx was the developer of the Metropolitan luxury residences on Wallace Street.
Speaking of the Metropolitan, a new business called Kid Fit Academy is expected to move in across the street, into a space that last held Hip & Humble Home – now relocated to Monmouth Street – and before that, Red Bank Surplus, an Army/Navy clothing shop.
Kid Fit Academy owner Michael DeSevo says he’ll offer fitness training and health education for kids from pre-school through eighth grade.
“It’s really designed for those kids who aren’t comfortable in an athletic environment, to give them an alternate route to fitness other than just sports,” says DeSevo, a 33-year-old graduate of CBA who tells Churn he lost 100 pounds as a college freshman and has been in the fitness business ever since as a trainer and coach.
He plans to open in early April.