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.

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RED BANK: NIGHTCLUB EYES BROAD STREET

rb gotham 060414Gotham Lounge would feature bars on two floors. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

HOT-TOPIC_02By JOHN T. WARD

Vacant for just a month, the former Red Bank home of Hamilton Jewelers could become a swank nightclub if approved by town planning officials.

A Shrewsbury anesthesiologist, Ted Kutzin, has proposed converting the storefront at 19 Broad Street into the Gotham Lounge, a “high-end bar/lounge with tapas food and occasional entertainment,” according to documents filed recently with the town planning office.

Gotham would become part of an rapid overhaul of upper Broad Street that includes half a dozen new restaurants, as well as two that have already failed, and another that’s about to add 200 seats to a competitive dining market. It would also join Red and the Downtown in competing for clubgoers.

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RED BANK: VALET PARKING GETS FEWER SPOTS

rb valet 2 032814A drop-off area outside Char Steakhouse has been eliminated under changes to the Broad Street valet parking program, officials said. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

park_it_021Love it or hate it, downtown Red Bank’s valet parking service about to undergo some more changes.

Red Bank RiverCenter, the special improvement district overseer, has taken over administrative control of the program, which was previously loosely run by individual stores and restaurants, said agency executive director Jim Scavone.

In addition, two zones – one for drop-off and one for pick-up – have been reduced to one since Monday night. That means this weekend will be the first test of whether the new arrangement – which is actually a reversion to the original set-up – will be adequate, said Scavone, who plans to work Thursday night to observe the activity.

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RED BANK: VALET PARKING GOES WEST

Curbside valet service is expected to ease parking pressures resulting from the construction of the West Side Lofts. (Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Like Broad Street, Bridge Avenue in Red Bank will have its own valet service during evenings in an attempt to improve the accessibility of nearby businesses and attract those weary of parking woes caused by the West Side Lofts project.

This week, the borough council Ok’d a valet service on Bridge Avenue on a temporary basis.

“This is a wonderful season for Red Bank in terms of our rebirth and revitalization,” Menna said, “and as a result of the redevelopment on the West Side there is a need – because the West Side Lofts projects are starting construction – to hold a valet parking program.”

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CHAR DESIGNER HEATS UP THE DINING SCENE

Restaurant designer Jeff Cahill at the new Char Steakhouse, below, which opened on Broad Street Wednesday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Now rising from the ashes in Red Bank: Char Steakhouse, the most widely anticipated business to debut downtown since Blue Water Seafood landed one block north on Broad Street in June, 2011.

Will it generate the economic oomph to match the dollars – not to mention the expectations of nearby merchants – that have been poured into it? Restaurateur Matteo Ingrao is betting on it: he’s rumored to have dropped $2 million on renovations to the former Ashes Cigar Bar space with hopes of creating a dining mecca.

But also clutching his Sharpie on the sidelines is Jeff Cahill, a soft-spoken, self-taught interior designer who’s gradually transforming the look and feel of dining out on the Green, one dazzling location at a time.

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COUNCIL NEWS: PARKING, LIBRARIAN, BUDGET

The valet station on Broad Street in October. Under an approval granted by local officials, another will be added outside the soon-to-open Char Steakhouse. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Items from Wednesday night’s meeting of the Red Bank Mayor and Council:

More downtown parking spaces are being set aside for valet service with the anticipated arrival of Char Steakhouse.

The town has a new head librarian.

And the cost of providing health insurance to borough employees is rising, but at a slower pace than last year.

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FOR CONTRACTORS, AN OPEN-DOOR POLICY

Rcsm2_010508On a stroll through downtown Red Bank Thursday, redbankgreen found an unusual amount of renovation work underway.

Some of it, like the conversion of the former Ashes Cigar Bar at 33 Broad Street to a Char Steakhouse, above, has been proceeding for months. But other sites that have long appeared dormant now seem to have stirred back to life.

Click the Read More to take the photo tour yourself. Have we missed any? And do you see a common thread? (Click to enlarge)

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CHAR GETS LIQUORED UP & LANDLORD SCORES

The restaurant is doing an extensive overhaul at 33 Broad Street and plans a September opening, says the landlord. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508You’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.

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PLANNING BOARD: CHAR DESIGN WELL-DONE

Char owner Matteo Ingrao with supporters after obtaining approval for his steakhouse, which includes a makeover of the two-story portion at right in the image below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

In a decision widely seen as replacing a busted cylinder in downtown Red Bank’s economic engine, the borough planning board approved a handful of variances for Char Steakhouse Monday night.

The restaurant, which plans to occupy the space long held by Ashes Cigar Bar at the corner of Broad and Mechanic streets, encountered only light resistance over questions of whether changes to a two-story extension of the original 19th-century building complied with historic district guidelines.

Mayor Pasquale Menna brushed aside such concerns, likening a pair of two-story, rectangular windows on the 1960s addition to I.M. Pei’s once-controversial installation of a glass pyramid to bring light into the depths of Paris’ Louvre museum.

“I see your attempt to infuse rays of light” into a dark space where his mother once worked as a seamstress, Menna said. “That is a very creative use and recycling of a property.”

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RED BANK: CHAR TO SEEK PARKING VARIANCE

char-exteriorArchitect’s drawings of the proposed Char facade include a wavy awning and two-story windows. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

char-ext-2The restaurant that plans to fill the downtown Red Bank space last used by Ashes Cigar Bar took several key steps toward fruition in the recent weeks.

Still, Char Steakhouse may yet need zoning variances before it can begin what’s expected to be an expensive renovation of the prominent structure, on the southeast corner of Broad and Mechanic streets.

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IT’S OFFICIAL: CHAR TAKES ASHES SPACE

ashes-072011Vacant for the past year, the corner building on Broad Street has a new tenant. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The three-story space formerly home to Ashes Cigar Bar in Red Bank is about to get some of its sizzle back.

After a year of vacancy, the building at the corner of Broad and Mechanic streets has a new tenant, Char Steakhouse. An ill-kept but unconfirmed secret in town for weeks, the acknowledgement came Monday, when signs appeared in the windows of the vacant space to alert passersby.

Building owner Jack Anderson of Jack’s Music Shoppe across Broad Street also confirmed the deal, and said he is in the process of obtaining borough government approval to sell Char the liquor license he bought from the now defunct Little Kraut restaurant on Bridge Avenue.

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