Here’s a movin’-on-up story we don’t see many examples of here in Red Bank’s ever-churning downtown.
At an age most retail establishments would kill to attain, Monmouth Street mainstay Readie’s Fine Foods, with roots that go back 54 years, is heading uptown.
Not that the diplomatic owner, Tom Fishkin, who doubles as chairman of Red Bank RiverCenter, would put it that way.
“People have always said Broad Street is better” because of its wider sidewalks and cachet, Fishkin tells redbankgreen. “But if you’re a destination store, it doesn’t matter which street you’re on.”
Except that is, when you’re a destination deli, with no place for customers to eat the sandwiches you make.
Readie’s (pronounced ‘reed-ies’), which came to life in 1957 as the Village Pork Store and became Readie’s Fine Foods under owner Jack Readie in the 1980s, has been in Fishkin’s hands for the past 10 years. Known for its gleaming 30-foot-long deli counter and $5 brown-bag specials, the walk-in business has been bolstered by a growing catering operation, Fishkin says.
Still, with no room for tables in the 1,000-square-foot railcar-style shop, Readie’s is limited in its ability to sell lunches to visitors, who have no place to sit and eat unless the weather’s nice and they’re willing to park it on a bench.
Fishkin’s chance to address that issue, and to fulfill his dream of turning his shop into a true, New York-style deli, came with the failure this month of the Original Soup Man/Nathan’s hot dog place at 39 Broad. He seized on the somewhat newly renovated 1,600SF space, owned by Pat Strauss, opposite Starbucks.
Fishkin plans to work in his present store through Friday, September 9, and reopen his business as a 30-seat eatery, which he’s rechristening as “Readie’s Presents Café Carnegie,” the following Monday. The deli counter will make the move, he says.
“We’re wasting no time, taking no prisoners,” he says, noting that the new spot is in move-in condition. All it needs is some paint and a few other touches.
The menu will include monster 16- and 32-ounce sandwiches of the kind you get in New York delis, says Fishkin, who has a proclivity for naming sandwiches after local institutions and people and says he’s going to name one for his favorite hyperlocal news source, redbankgreen.
The space will enable Fishkin to serve eat-in breakfasts and lunches during its hours of 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Near-term, Fishkin says he plans to stay open Friday and Saturday nights.