Itris_muralA mural in the window of the former Itri’s eatery signals Guy Johnson’s hope that the grill will soon sizzle again.

Last we heard, the former home of Itri’s luncheonette on West Front Street was being scoped out by a pair of young couples who wanted to buy and revive the classic tiny eatery.

But talks got hung up on their lawyer’s worries (not shared by the buyers themselves, we’re told) that the place had no clear easement to the driveway running alongside the building — the only way to get to the business’s eight parking spots out back. The deal fell apart earlier this year.

No such worries constrained Guy Johnson, though. The owner of the massive Antique Center of Red Bank next door bought the place last month at a deep discount, ($350,000, compared to the 2004 listing at $589,000).

“I had to buy it,” Johnson tells redbankgreen. “I was always taught you should buy the property next door so the neighbors don’t complain.”

Itris_808The Itri’s building, just to the east of the Antique Center on West Front.

And what about the driveway, which is owned by PRC Group, the property company that owns the Grandville Towers high rise behind the eatery? Johnson’s not worried. He claims the law says a shared driveway must be closed at least one day a year for its owner to deny user access, and “that hasn’t been closed for a hundred years.”

He’s got plans for the place, too. Johnson has hired Red Bank’s S.O.M.E. Architects to come up with a plan for a small restaurant to replace Itri’s.

The work on the plans has just begun, so stay tuned.

If his plan goes through, Johnson says he’ll be looking to rent out the entire building to someone who’ll run the restaurant and live in the attached house.

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