RED BANK: OWNER VOWS ‘NOT ANOTHER FIXX’

rb gotham 060514Gotham Lounge will have a dress code, a partner in the business said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

HOT-TOPIC_02By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to head off misconceptions, a partner in the Gotham Lounge, a proposed Red Bank nightclub, promises an “upscale, sophisticated” speakeasy-themed place with a dress code.

Joseph Squillaro tells redbankgreen that the Broad Street club will be respectful of local sensitivities.

“I know how important it is to the town that they not have another Chubby’s there, not another Fixx” he said, referring by the former and current names of a West Front Street bar that authorities shut down for three weeks earlier this year following two street melees within a month last fall.

Squillaro is partners with Shrewsbury anesthesiologist Ted Kutzin and a third investor on Indulge Lounge, a martini bar in Long Branch’s Pier Village. Squillaro said he, Kutzin and a third man, Colin Dudick, will own Gotham Lounge and that he will manage it, as he does Indulge. He said he has 16 years of experience in the restaurant and club business, including two at Indulge.

Why did the partners choose 19 Broad Street, which Hamilton vacated last month after failing to come to terms on a new lease?

“You walk into the place, and it’s absolutely beautiful,” Squillaro said. That will give him a head start on remodeling in both time and costs, he said.

Plans call for a 24-seat bar on the first floor and a 12-seat bar on the second floor, with “a small kitchen” producing tapas dishes.

The vibe will be “totally different” from that of Indulge, Squillaro said, describing it as “old-school speakeasy” with an emphasis on bourbon, rye and gin.

“The dress code is very important,” said Squillaro. “When people get dressed up to go out, the last thing you want is someone in there with ripped jeans, a hat, an oversized shirt. It’s ridiculous.”

The partnership is buying a “pocket,” or unused, license held by Eugene Devlin and Sean Dunne, owners of the Dublin House Pub on Monmouth Street, who paid $395,000 for it at a 2010 auction of the assets of Ashes, a troubled Broad Street club that was shut down

Squillaro declined to say how much the partners are paying for the license, but said that rumors of a $700,000 pricetag were “in the right area.”

The price would indicate a rapid escalation in the value of an on-premises consumption license in town as more restaurants eye the market. The last sale, from Murphy Style Grille to Onyx Partners, was for $500,000, according to borough records. Restaurateur Tim McLoone, who plans to open a restaurant in the home of the now-defunct Murphy’s, is expected to pay slightly more than $500,000 for that license.

Asked if he and his partners considered making an offer for Fixx, which has been rumored to be for sale, Squillaro was derisive, calling the business “a train wreck… the last thing I want is to take on a business with a bad and low reputation to it.”

No hearing date has be set for use variances and other clearances Gotham will need from the borough government.

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