9-broadBlue Water Seafood won approval from the planning board to move into Red Bank Monday night. (Click to enlarge)


Jimmy Vastardis says he’s always wanted to own a business in Red Bank, and, in fact, made an attempt in 2008 to move into the space once home to Ashes Cigar Club.

Looks like he’s finally coming to town.

Vastardis, of Holmdel, breezed through a hearing before the planning board for a list of variances Monday night, clearing the way for him to open Blue Water Seafood restaurant in the heart of downtown.

If the council approves an amendment to the borough’s parking deficiency ordinance — and all signs indicate it will — all Vastardis has to do is obtain the proper permits to put fish in the frying pan.

Blue Water, which has been a staple in East Brunswick for nearly a decade, would open its second location in the two-story, 2,500-square-foot spot that was recently filled by Zakson’s Fine Furniture. The lease is still being negotiated with the building owner, who also owns CoCo Pari next door, attorney Anthony Locascio said. Vastardis is hoping to be open some time between January and February.

Barring any glitches in the permit process, Blue Water will outfit the space with bathrooms and a kitchen, but Vastardis said the location will go largely untouched because right now, “it’s a beautful space. It doesn’t need much at all.”

The restaurant will have tables on both floors; 50 on the first floor and about 40 upstairs. It does not have a liquor license.

Blue Water’s move, while filling a gap in a market flooded with Italian and pizza joints, could help spark the downtown economy, Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

And that was the purpose of proposing the moratorium on payments into the borough parking fund, although Vastardis says it was a coincidence that he applied to move into Red Bank a month before the measure was introduced by the council.

“It just happened,” he said. “I always loved Red Bank. I just never had an opportunity or money.”

Menna, who also sits on the planning board, heaped praise onto Vastardis, saying that if he can duplicate the quality of his East Brunswick restaurant in Red Bank, Blue Water will be a sure success. Even more, he said it gives businesses and visitors another reason to come to town.

“You’re still inviting people to our downtown, and that’s what we want,” Menna said.”I think it is a tremendous addition to the downtown. I would love to make a motion to approve this.”

Board chairman John Cash seconded it.

“Welcome to Red Bank,” he said.