WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A FRESH TAKE ON TAPAS

110815belmonte2An unusual adaptation of taquitos, above, and a glass of made-to-order sangria, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

110815belmonte4Gone are the heavy velvet drapes and dark, brooding atmosphere that once decorated Red in Red Bank. Renovated and re-dubbed the Belmonte, the Broad Street restaurant and bar with the panoramic front window is now lighter, brighter and much more inviting.

A cool, marble-topped bar elicits a bit of Old World charm. Banquettes lining the walls promise comfort, while high-top tables arranged down the center aisle of the room offer a variety of seating or standing options: playing off the primarily tapas menu, it’s a mixture of this and that.

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RED BANK: ANOTHER RESTAURANT APPROVED

18 broad 061315At 18 Broad Street, now concealed by scaffolding, the Art Deco foyer seen below will be replaced by one more reminiscent of the building’s 19th-century origins, the architect said. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

18 broad 040615Accelerating downtown Red Bank’s flight from retail to food, the zoning board approved the conversion of a longtime shoe store to a restaurant Thursday night.

Dominating the two-hour hearing were two issues: whether the new owner of 18 Broad Street should be permitted to have three apartments upstairs, rather than the two allowed under the zoning ordinance, and whether the Art Deco foyer should be saved or replaced.

Barely mentioned: the impact of the 76-seat restaurant on parking.

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RED BANK: FOCUS ON FOYER WINDOWS

18 broad 040615The foyer of the former If the Shoe Fits store is the last remaining example of Art Deco design downtown, say preservationists. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

[UPDATE: The zoning board meeting on the 18 Broad Street proposal was cancelled. The application was rescheduled for June 18.]

18 broad 010715A proposal to turn a former downtown Red Bank shoe store into a restaurant and replace its distinctive curved-glass entryway is slated for review at Thursday night’s zoning board meeting.

Preservationists have raised concerns about the plan for 18 Broad Street, which is located in the historic district, because, they say, it would eliminate the last remaining example of Art Deco design in the commercial district.

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RED BANK: MORE TABLES COMING?

12 w front 111114The owners of the Downtown, at right above, hope to expand into the vacant retail space at left for more seating, including a rooftop dining area. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallThe already head-spinning rate at which downtown Red Bank is abandoning retail in favor of restaurants may soon accelerate.

Borough officials are weighing two new change-of-use proposals for eateries in the district.

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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: PARTYING IN THE NEW YEAR

The bubbly flowed, hips shook and lips locked as Red Bank bars welcomed the start of 2014 Tuesday night, as captured in these photos by redbankgreen‘s Peter Lindner. Police responded to a number of slip-and-falls, and there was one DWI arrest – but overall, New Year’s Eve was a routine night for the RBPD, according to Chief Darren McConnell. (Photos by Peter Lindner.)

RED BANK: STILL GOING NAKED

It was nippy outside Sunday evening, but at Red Bank’s Red lounge, it was a place to Go Naked. Dozens came out to the third annual Go Naked and Check Yourself fundraiser and (ahem) educational event held to raise awareness about skin cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer and other detectable ailments. Once again, Red Bank’s Sugarush cupcakes and Sweetest Sin lingerie shops put the bounce in the event, which had previously raised more than $20,000 for health-related charities. (Photos by Peter Lindner. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: SHOWING SMOKERS THE DOOR

Amy Manor is closing off the vestibule to her design studio, above, because of damage she said has been done by nighttime smokers. Below, Manor with cigarette butts left behind the shop. (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

By DAN NATALE

Amy Manor is sick of blood, vomit, and broken windows.

She’s giving the vestibule of her eponymous Red Bank interior design studio, at 4B West Front Street, a makeover in reaction to damage that she says patrons of local bars have repeatedly inflicted.

At a cost of about $12,000, Manor is enclosing the vestibule.

The small cubby in front of the shop received particular abuse because of its ability to provide shelter to patrons of nearby bars. Partygoers have been known to huddle in the space during the winter to shield themselves, and their cigarettes, from the harsh elements.

Naturally, trouble ensued.

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RED BANK RENEWS PUSH FOR LATE CLOSINGS

rb-late-nightBars and restaurants are doing their job keeping doors open late, some say, but more merchants must stay open to attract more visitors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As Red Bank continues to claw its way out of an economic hole it hasn’t seen since the we-don’t-like-to-talk-about-it Dead Bank days, Mayor Pasquale Menna tends to periodically jab downtown’s retailers with a reminder that it’s going to take work to bring Red Bank back as a top destination in the region and beyond.

Lately, though, he’s taken a firmer approach.

At a council meeting last month, when two requests for car shows on Broad Street appeared on the agenda, he paused from the typical rubber-stamping of such requests.

“This is a chance to tickle, pinch, smack our retailers to stay open on Sunday,” Menna said, and then pointed to Red Bank RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams, who was seated in the audience. “Get the word out. Tell them to stay open on Sunday. I might start smacking instead of pinching.”

It was another lash at a limp horse he’s been flogging since before Red Bank’s business dipped with the national economy. For years, Menna has been urging merchants to move away from the nine-to-five mindset and keep the lights on after dark and on Sunday, when too many stores, he says, are closed.

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NATIONAL NIGHT OUT: RED BANK

rb-nno5rb-nno2Red Bank’s National Night Out celebration, a sun-soaked evening held in the borough hall parking lot, featured many fixings of a community coming together: a walk around town, tours of the police station, games, a handshake with a cop or two and char-grilled burgers.

Cops did it all Tuesday night. They flipped burgers, ran fingerprints, put the “drunk goggles” on golf cart-drivers and monitored the speed of young flamethrowers tossing a baseball.

Images from the evening’s festivities after the ‘read more’ button. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

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FEEDING THE BRIDE & GROOM

bridengroom4bridengroom3Kaitlin & Joe Baiata of Point Pleasant Beach took the streets of downtown Red Bank Friday night for some photos before their wedding that night at the Molly Pitcher Inn, and found themselves enjoying a movable feast of champagne, courtesy of a waiter at red, and sweets provided by a passing employee of Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe, right. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK RESTAURANTS PLAN PUSHBACK

rb-restaurantsTom Fishkin of Readies Fine Foods, Valerie Aufiero of Front Street Trattoria, Dan Lynch of red and the Downtown, George Lyristis of the Bistro at Red Bank and Anthony Ferrando of Dish are among the restaurateurs planning a new marketing effort. Click to enlarge)

Asbury Park and Pier Village in Long Branch have been eating off Red Bank’s plate for too long.

That’s the message from a group of borough restaurant owners who have banded together in an effort to recapture a bigger piece of the Monmouth County dining-out pie.

After three years of slow build-up, the no-name group is ready to bust out of the Red Bank RiverCenter crib with its own marketing effort aimed at bringing some sizzle back to the downtown.

“Red Bank has really fallen behind,” says red and the Downtown owner Dan Lynch. “We have a really great grouping of restaurants that needs to be showcased.”

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‘COUSIN EDDIES’ DO A CHARITY CRAWL

eddiecon11A cadre of ‘Cousin Eddies’ made their way around Red Bank Saturday night in a successful bid to get loopy and raise some money. (Photos courtesy of Robert Kern. Click to enlarge)

eddiecon32

Eighteen area men took to Red Bank’s bars and restaurants dressed in bathrobes and trapper hats Saturday night.

In a twist on Santacon, a somewhat raunchy gathering of faux Santa Clauses held annually in New York and elsewhere, the men did a pub crawl dressed as their favorite movie character: “Cousin Eddie,” from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.”

Led by Chris Kenny of Shrewsbury and Dave Carr of Rumson, the mostly thirty-something robesmen hit more than a dozen watering holes on both sides of town, eating, indulging in cold beverages and shaking a pail all along the way to raise money for the Monmouth Day Care Center.

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A RANDOM WALK THROUGH A TODDLIN’ TOWN

A hot summer night, dazzling smiles, an irresistible rhythm, a bit of flesh revealed…

Saturday nights have been hopping in downtown Red Bank of late, so redbankgreen dispatched photographer Peter Lindner to the streets and bars last Saturday to capture the post-sundown vibe.

He filed this set of 102 shots, from the couple enjoying a quiet dinner to the guys and gals on the prowl to to the folks who make it all happen in an orderly, law-abiding sort of way. Enjoy!

To enlarge the photo display, start it, then click the embiggen symbol in the lower right corner. To get back to redbankgreen, hit your escape key.

DATING AGAINST THE CLOCK

speed-dating1Thursday night’s speed daters at Red sitting down for a lightning-fast marathon of acclimation. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Speed dating, at first, is much like a middle school dance, but with a bar. Boys on one end, girls on the other, and somewhere in between, an invisible cloud full of shared thoughts, fears and intentions.

But when the bell rings, the only choices are either to get down to brass tacks or scurry out the door.

From there it’s a sped-up Saturday night on the bar scene: What do you do? Where are you from? Do you come here often? Rinse. Lather. Repeat — for about an hour, with a break in between.

Such was the scene at Red Thursday night, where speed dating made a return to Red Bank.

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