By JOHN T. WARD
The three-story space formerly home to Ashes Cigar Bar in Red Bank is about to get some of its sizzle back.
After a year of vacancy, the building at the corner of Broad and Mechanic streets has a new tenant, Char Steakhouse. An ill-kept but unconfirmed secret in town for weeks, the acknowledgement came Monday, when signs appeared in the windows of the vacant space to alert passersby.
Building owner Jack Anderson of Jack’s Music Shoppe across Broad Street also confirmed the deal, and said he is in the process of obtaining borough government approval to sell Char the liquor license he bought from the now defunct Little Kraut restaurant on Bridge Avenue.
Anderson said he didn’t know Char’s timetable for opening, and principals of the company, which has a restaurant in Raritan Township, Somerset County, could not be reached for comment.
“All I know is that I’ve eaten at their other restaurant, and that this will be the top steakhouse on the Shore,” Anderson told redbankgreen.
The filling of the space has been much anticipated by local merchants, who regarded the vacancy as both a lost opportunity to boost foot traffic downtown and a honking sign of failure.
“It’s awesome,” said Roberto Nogueira, owner of Prima’s Home Café furniture store, also opposite Ashes on Broad. Nogueira said he had watched in dismay as customers who might have been eating at Ashes or its replacement have instead flocked to the northern end of Broad, to the new Blue Water Seafood restaurant.
Char’s owners, we’re told, were reluctant to announce the deal on redbankgreen out of fear that commenters would associate them with the owners of Ashes, who were repeatedly in trouble for fire code violations and ultimately failed when the state Alcohol and Beverage Control Commission moved to penalize them for liquor license violations. Yet, the window signs announcing the new tenant, rather than ignoring the former one, say “Up from the Ashes rises Char.”