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RED BANK: BOWLING FOR FOOD DOLLARS

The scene at the newly opened Playa Bowls last Friday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn small

This edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has news on three downtown eateries: one that’s doing gangbuster business, one that got a recent makeover, and one that’s calling it quits.

Details follow…

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RED BANK: A ‘VET FEST’ ON THE RIVER

“Medicated” Pete McHeffey is one of the Downtown All-Stars of Red Bank teaming up to raise funds for veterans in a special Wednesday evening event on Front Street.

They’re called the Downtown All-Stars of Red Bank LLC — “a collective of local musicians and performing artists bound together to raise both funds and awareness.” You know them as the folks who entertain regularly at venues that range from your favorite neighborhood watering hole to the summertime sidewalks of Street Life, and in some instances they’re “the people that you meet when you’re walkin’ down the street.”

But every so often these artists convene like some jukebox Justice League, to address a cause dear to their hearts and musician’s souls — and this Wednesday evening, the occasion is a concert and CD release party for those who’ve served in the United States military.

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RED BANK: COAT-FREE IN FEBRUARY

Warm weather made for comfortable busking and strolling in shirtsleeves in downtown Red Bank over the weekend, when daytime temperatures bumped up against or reached 70 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. The outlook for Monday, Presidents’ Day, called for mostly-sunny skies and a daytime peak of about 52. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

RED BANK: APARTMENT PLAN RETURNS

A view of the proposed project, as seen from the opposite side of West Front Street. (Rendering by Rotwein + Blake. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After several months of dormancy, one of Red Bank’s more hotly disputed land-use proposals is expected to return next week.

The owners of the vacant downtown lot at 55 West Front Street are scheduled to try once again to win approval for a 35-unit apartment building that the zoning board shot down almost a year ago, triggering a series of measures that split the borough council for much of the year.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUPER SUB AT ELSIE’S

The #15 Italian sub from the 58-year-old Elsie’s Sub Shop in Red Bank.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

On a visit to Elsie’s Sub Shop in Red Bank back in September, PieHole met Michael Mullins, a retiree from Middletown now living in Arizona. Whenever he returns to his Monmouth County roots, he told us, he makes a point of stopping at Elsie’s.

“In 1959, I’d take the bus down to the Carlton Theater [now the Count Basie Theatre] from Middletown. Back then the bus was ten cents,” he said. “Before I caught the bus to go home, I’d stop at Elsie’s for a number five,” or a turkey-and-cranberry-sauce sub.

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RED BANK: ONE-STOP WEDDING BIZ OPENS

The Wedding Establishment takes over a space vacated by Love Lane Tuxedos 13 years ago. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallAs the son of a singer in a wedding band, Mike Hernandez Jr. says he “grew up in the wedding business.” He was there when the band came to the house for its weekly rehearsals, and when no babysitter was available, he’d be schlepped to gigs, killing time behind the drummer.

That, and much more, he says, makes him well-qualified to create something he doesn’t believe has ever succeeded before: a one-stop market for wedding services. And in doing so, he’s ended one of downtown Red Bank’s most enduring vacancies.

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RED BANK: SUNRISE AND WEATHER

Thursday’s sunrise on the Greater Green, as seen from Tower Hill Presbyterian Church in Red Bank: that’s the intersection of Harding Road and Prospect Avenue at lower left.

The day began with temperatures around 30 degrees, and under mostly cloudy skies, with the expected daytime peak around 40 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. But the outlook for Friday through Monday, Presidents’ Day, called for mostly-sunny skies and daytime peaks well into the 50’s. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge.)

RED BANK: CRIMES AND ARRESTS

The crime and arrest reports below were provided by the Red Bank Police Department for the period of , 2017. This information is unedited. For additional information, please scroll to the bottom of this post.

2017_authorities_cherrytop_rb3CRIMES

Criminal Mischief: On 02-07-17 in the area of Prospect Ave it was reported that a driver’s side mirror on car was broken off. The damage did not appear to be from another motor vehicle. Ptl. Michael Zadlock.

Theft: On 02-11-17 in the area of Bank St the victim report a surf board to be taken from the driveway. The board is described as a blue and white Hap Jacobs 9” valued at $1100.00. The bag is a heavy gray canvas worth $250.00. Ptl. George Travostino.

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RED BANK: A COUNT-DOWN TO THE OSCARS

Casey Affleck stars in tonight’s showing of MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, one of the heavily favored Oscar contenders being presented on the Count Basie screen at a pleasingly retro ticket price.  (Amazon Studios)

It happens every year at this time: the kind of awards-season buzz that turns the most casual-viewing couch potato into the most discerning of armchair film critics and festival adjudicators. As the February 26 airdate of the 89th Academy Awards draws closer, film fans scramble to catch up with as many of the nominated features as there are hours in the week — and the Count Basie Theatre is there to meet them, with a special slate of screenings that spotlights some of 2016’s most acclaimed releases, at a price of admission that’s a throwback to some twenty years ago.

The schedule that kicked off on January 31 with the noir western Hell or High Water (four Oscar nominations, including Best Picture) continues tonight, February 15, with a 7 p.m. screening of a “little” movie that’s made a big splash with audiences from here to Sundance: the drama Manchester By The Sea.

Set in the Massachusetts coastal town of that name, the tale of old wounds, second chances and heavy burdens stars Casey Affleck in his Golden Globe winning turn as Lee, an emotionally scarred handyman who’s forced to return to his old hometown when he’s named the guardian of his recently deceased brother’s teenaged son. Coming out of left field to score six major Oscar nominations — for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor (young Lucas Hedges), Supporting Actress (Michelle Williams as Lee’s ex-wife), plus Kenneth Lonergan’s original screenplay and direction — the film is all the more impressive for having catapulted its distributor Amazon Studios into the big leagues of Oscar-lauded contenders.

A presentation of the Count Basie Theatre Cinema Society, tonight’s showing of Manchester by the Sea plays at Monmouth County’s longest continuously operating movie venue for just $5 per ticket (or free of charge, for Cinema Society members). Buy two admissions for $15, and receive a $10 concessions vouchers — and take it here to reserve.

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RED BANK: FEDS TAKE ON ‘SEGREGATION’ CASE

The Red Bank Charter School, on Oakland Street, hotly disputes allegations that the borough schools are “segregated” as a result of its enrollment practices. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03As requested three months ago by two advocacy groups, the federal Justice Education Department is investigating allegations of segregation leveled at the Red Bank Charter School, correspondence obtained by redbankgreen on Tuesday showed.

The decision by the department’s Office of Civil Rights to open an investigation “in no way implies that the OCR has made a determination with regard to its merit,” a government letter to the complainants said.

But the revelation set off a fresh round of sniping in a bitter battle over the charter school’s existence.

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RBR SCHOLARSHIP MAKES DREAMS COME TRUE

Pictured are student models from last year’s very successful Latino Scholarship Fashion Show, sponsored by Red Bank Regional’s school-based program The SOURCE. This year’s show takes place 12 p.m. on February 26, at the Oyster Point Hotel.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School

The Andrew Kroon Memorial Scholarship Fund, operating under the auspices of The SOURCE at Red Bank Regional High School, is helping to make dreams come true through its scholarship program. Founded over ten years ago, this program assists qualifying Latino students at RBR in affording their dream of college.

To benefit the scholarship, the foundation is sponsoring a fashion show and gift auction on Sunday, February 26 from 12 to 3 pm, at the Oyster Point Hotel, 146 Bodman Place in Red Bank.

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RED BANK: BRUSH UP YOUR SHAKESPEARE

It’s one of William Shakespeare’s most raucous comedies; one that indicates that even the celebrated Bard wasn’t above cranking out a “popular demand” money shot. Picking up the character of Sir John Falstaff from the two parts of Henry IV — and plunking the portly, cowardly, boastful and besotted knight down into a farcical fracas of amorous misadventure and comical come-uppance — The Merry Wives of Windsor does its job within a relatively short running time, and with a relatively economical cast of 20 characters.

Or does it? According to Eric Tucker (pictured), co-founder and artistic director of NYC’s Bedlam Theater, the circa-1600 play can be brought to life just fine by a company of no more than three very busy actors — and tonight, February 13, Two River Theater offers the public a free-of-charge chance to watch director Tucker in action, as he works with his modestly scaled (but expansively skilled) cast in an Open Rehearsal at the Bridge Avenue arts center.

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RED BANK: STINSON LIVE & LEFT OF THE DIAL

Rocker Tommy Stinson, below, is the special guest performer for Sunday events at Brookdale Radio (above) and Jack’s Music.

Veteran listeners of 1980s-’90s college and alternative playlists know him as the spiky-haired, plaid-suited, juvenile delinquent bassist and sometime vocalist of Twin Cities punk pioneers the Replacements. His road since then has seen him play a stint with elusive superstar act Guns ‘N Roses (including the recording of unreleased sessions with both of his former bands), establish an on-again/off-again with ’90s alterna-rockers Soul Asylum, and emerge every now and then with a solo project under the name Bash & Pop.

This Sunday afternoon, Tommy Stinson is a man about town on the Greater Red Bank Green, when the upstate New York resident plays a pair of free intimate sets during two special events — the first at Brookdale Community College radio station 90.5 The Night, and the other at downtown Red Bank landmark Jack’s Music Shoppe.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? PAZZO SANDWICHES

Grilled chicken pesto panini, served with a side salad. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Keeping track of how many years it’s been in Red Bank is easy at Pazzo MMX. Architecturally defined by its red brick facade and bound between an office building and a parking garage on West Front Street, the start date is in the name, which translates from Italian to “crazy 2010.”

PieHole stopped in at lunchtime this week to find a bustling dining room and the aroma of garlic wafting from the open kitchen, where you can keep an eye on every dish delivered.
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RED BANK: ONCE AGAIN, IMPROV IN A JAM

Audience members twist the limbs of Improv Jam members Chris Rearick and Mike O’Keefe during a recent skit. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

They’ve been evicted so many times it’s almost funny, and the comedians who brand themselves as Improv Jam are about to lose their current home, in Red Bank.

But they haven’t lost their sense of humor, and comedy lovers — including those willing to surrender their cellphones to the cause — can catch them at their antic best every Saturday night, for free, on Monmouth Street.

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RED BANK: ADD SOME LOVE TO ‘EPIC’ POEM

For the past week, a team from Red Bank’s Project Write Now, a nonprofit dedicated to helping community members tap into their creativity through writing, has been handing out forms around town, inviting recipients to share a few words about what they love, and then pass the form to someone else: a friend, a family member or even a complete stranger.

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ON THE GREEN: HOW MUCH WHITE STUFF?

A coming snowstorm that’s closed schools and government offices is expected to be brief but intense Thursday. As of 6 a.m., with heavy snow reported in northern New Jersey, the rain had just changed to sleet in Red Bank. But the white stuff is expected to begin falling on the Greater Red Bank Green at around 8 a.m. and diminish by early afternoon, with a “most likely snowfall” forecast of 5 to 9 inches, according to the National Weather Service. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

RED BANK: A VALENTINE IN MUSIC AND DANCE

Singer-dancers Joan Hess and Kirby Ward (above) are special guest Valentines of the New Jersey Symphony this Friday night at the Basie, and star conductor Xian Zhang (below) leads the orchestra back to Red Bank on February 25.   

When it secured the services of the internationally celebrated Xian Zhang as principal conductor last year, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra upped the ante on its bid to earn a place among the New York region’s premier musical organizations.

Now, the orchestra returns to its coastal New Jersey venue of choice — Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre — with a February slate that stands as a virtual valentine to its own versatility, whether waltzing across the works of the old masters or doing a Tin Pan Alley tapdance through the Great American Songbook.

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RED BANK: PARK, VACANT SITES ON AGENDA

The council may authorize the creation of a concept plan to turn the former landfill at West Sunset Avenue into a park.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The Red Bank council has a packed agenda for its semimonthly meeting Wednesday night, including possible progress toward a long-dreamed-of new park on the West Side and some bad news for landlords who neglect vacant properties.

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ON THE GREEN: UNUSUAL WARMTH, THEN SNOW

Snow’s coming. Yes, the peak daytime temperature Wednesday is expected to hit 56 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. But that could be followed by “heavy” snow falling at the rate of up to two inches per hour between 3 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday.

“The snow should be wet in consistency and therefore will tend to stick to trees and power lines, possibly resulting in some power outages,” the weather service said in a Wednesday morning briefing. “North-to-northwest winds will increase late tonight and Thursday, with gusts in the 30-35 mph range.” (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

RED BANK HUMANISTS MARK DARWIN DAY

Press release from Red Bank Humanists

Since 2005, the Red Bank Humanists have used the February edition of their monthly forum to celebrate International Darwin Day.  The goal of Darwin Day is to inspire people to reflect and act on the principles of intellectual bravery, perpetual curiosity, scientific thinking, and hunger for truth, as embodied in the life and work of Charles Darwin.

On the morning of Sunday, February 12, RBH will host the latest in its monthly series, hosted at the Red Bank Charter School, 58 Oakland Street. The program, going on from from 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon, is open to the public and admission is free — and the theme for Darwin Day 2017 is “The Self-Domestication of Humans,” featuring guest speaker Ron Flannery (pictured).

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RED BANK: PARKING FORUM OPENS ‘DIALOGUE’

Red Bank “is losing its position as a walking community” in part because of a lack of parking, said Joel McFadden, a White Street jeweler who served as event moderator.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Hoping to get a “dialogue” going with residents about the need for a downtown parking garage, Red Bank merchants hosted a town hall meeting that drew dozens to the borough middle school Monday night.

There, members of the Red Bank Business Alliance served up their perspectives on what they see as a longstanding problem that’s worsened in recent years under a changeover from a retail economy to one driven by restaurants and entertainment.

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RED BANK: HAMPTON INN WINS APPROVAL

Peter Steck, a planner hired by an opponent of the proposed hotel, testified that the developer was “stuffing” the one-acre site. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After nearly seven years of battles, a proposed hotel at the northernmost entrance to Red Bank won approval Monday night.

The planning board’s OK of a six-story, 76-room Hampton Inn at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge came after a last-minute concession by the developer.

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