BUONA SERA LANDS ACCESS TO PRIZED LOT

buona-sera-parking2Buon Sera now has dibs on a primo parking lot in downtown Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

park_it_021By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

A parking lot once coveted by Red Bank officials is doing double duty, but still for the private sector.

Buona Sera restaurant now has nighttime and weekend dibs on a lot at the corner of Monmouth Street and Maple Avenue that’s reserved during school hours for Red Bank Catholic High School.

The popular restaurant and catering hall entered into a contract with property owner Stavola Leasing to use the lot last week, said Buona Sera owner Chris Mariano.

The restaurant has exclusive use of the lot between 3p and 2a during the week and throughout the weekends, Mariano said.

Buona Sera, which has no on-site parking facilities of its own, suffered this winter with the unusually large amounts of snow on the streets. Having use of the Stavola lot, located diagonally across the intersection, is a huge plus for business, Mariano said. Spaces are in particularly short supply when there are shows at the Count Basie Theatre next door on Monmouth Street.

“We had to,” he said. “It’s difficult. People just can’t park.”

In 2006, Stavola won municipal approval for the development of a four-story, mixed-use retail and  project with 30 apartments and underground and surface-level parking on the site, the former home of Tubby’s Shell Station.

But the economic downturn put a crimp in those plans, and Stavola doesn’t foresee getting its intended project off the ground for several years, company president Gary Vialonga said a year ago.

After Tubby’s was razed in 2009, Red Bank officials said they hoped to work out a deal to allow the municipality to park government vehicles on the site, but no agreement materialized.