RIVER’S EDGE SEEKS RETURN TO COZINESS

bob-guidoRiver’s Edge Café owner Bob Guido says he’s been trying to sell the lease to his Broad Street location for about a year so he can move into a smaller space. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For more than a decade, Bob Guido had himself a cozy little business serving breakfast and lunch on Red Bank’s West Front Street, often with lines forming out the door.

But after 13 years running the River’s Edge Café in the spot now occupied by Muscle Maker Grille, it became clear to Guido that he needed more space than the 50-seater afforded him. One option was to buy the Elks Lodge next door, but that didn’t work out, which led him to where he is now, at the spacious, high-profile restaurant at 35 Broad Street.

“In 2003, everything was humming,” he said. “We used to have a line at the old place. I saw Broad Street as an answer to expansion.”

rivers-edge-cafeGuido says the space is too big for his needs, and so he’s looking for something smaller in town. (Click to enlarge)

Between 2004 and 2006, Guido says the move paid off, even though he lost a portion of his customer base. But now, with a not-so-gentle push from the economy, Guido is — and has been — looking to, as he puts it, get back to his roots. Meaning: downsize.

Guido’s been courting potential buyers to take over the lease at his 3,500 square-foot location for about a year now, while looking for a smaller spot downtown to relocate. The emphasis is on ‘relocate,’ not ‘close,’ he emphasized to redbankgreen when we dropped in on him unexpectedly last week to ask him about rumors of a possible closing.

“The economy just ate me up. We’ve all been hit,” Guido, 62, said. “I’m not leaving the business and I’m not going to retire. I want to continue.”

With three years left on his lease, it’s possible the West Long Branch resident will keep the café for the duration. But Guido’s hopeful someone will step forward and take over the space. The key, he said, is for whomever takes over to do something different than River’s Edge.

Dinner, perhaps. Guido is known for breakfast and lunch, and only serves dinner twice a week. The lack of a liquor license doesn’t help, either, he said.

“The turn of the economy has made my particular type of business suffer,” he said. “A different business would fare well.”

Guido was hopeful that the touted savior of downtown businesses, Urban Outfitters, would trigger a turnaround, but that hasn’t panned out in the two month’s the clothing and housewares story has been open, he says.

But wherever Guido goes, so will the River’s Edge name, as it did with the last move. And he hopes that unlike last time, all his customers will follow him and appreciate his new setting, which will undoubtedly harken back to his days on West Front.

“I love this space. It’s beautiful, really, but there’s a lot of people who love that coziness of a small space,” he said. “I lost the coziness of the place. That’s what people tell me. I’m trying to get back to that.”