ANOTHER DONOVAN’S DEAL FALLS APART

Donovans_1007_2Might there be another summer of cocktails on the beach after all?

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

For the second time in six months, the owners of Donovan’s Reef are back to square one in their effort to sell the beachfront bar, redbankgreen has learned.

A proposed $5 million sale to Stone Enterprises of Toms River announced in Octoer is off the table, and the owners are looking for another buyer, says Bob Phillips of Avon, one of three partners in the oceanfront nightclub.

Stone, a condominium builder, backed out of the deal, Phillips said, though he declined to discuss specifics.

“Life goes on,” Phillips said.

Last year, the Borough of Sea Bright considered, and then rejected, the idea of buying the club, located next to its borough hall. Councilman Tom Scriven said last week that the cost of the property was too high to be practical.

Donovan’s Reef, named after a 1963 John Wayne movie, may be the last place in New Jersey where one can legally drink beer in a bathing suit while sitting on a public beach.

It’s also “the only piece of [oceanfront] property open 365 days a year between Sandy Hook and Cape May,” said Phillips.

But last summer, two out of three owners — Phillips and Bob Carducci — felt it was time to move on, and the proposed sale to Stone was met with sadness and not a little nostalgia by patrons and supporters of the long-time beach hangout.

Their partner, Chris Bowles, has said he would favor holding onto Donovan’s and continuing to run it as a bar, but needs other partners to buy out Phillips and Carducci, who are both retiring.

Phillips said he’s confident of finding another buyer, despite the general downturn in the real estate market. As for the asking price, “that’s to be determined,” he said.

Meantime, the bar is open for business.

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