BILLIARDS HALL, OFFICE CONVERSION OK’D

14-w-frontThough no exterior changes are planned, Lucky Break Billiards will feature 19th-century decorative touches inside, the owners say. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

A billiards parlor that serves coffee and desserts to players could be open in downtown Red Bank by December, the owners say.

Borough resident James Hertler and a partner in Lucky Break Billiards racked up quick, unanimous approval from the town’s zoning board Thursday night for a use of the storefront at 14 West Front Street that’s not otherwise permitted.

Also approved: the conversion, over the objection of neighbors, of a building on Wallace Street back to the two-family residence it had been for more than a century before the same board allowed office use four years ago.

Lucky Break Billiards will feature seven pool tables and seven beverage-service tables for players to sit or stand at while waiting their turns at the felt.

No food will be prepared onsite, Hertler said. Instead, appetizers and desserts such as cheese and cupcakes will be brought in from nearby shops for purchase by players, who will pay $10 per person for use of the gaming tables. Customers will be permitted to bring in wine and beer.

Decor will be reminiscent of the style adopted by the Old World Shaving shop a few doors east, Hertler said. The business will open in afternoons and remain open until as late as 1:30 a.m.

“This is a very tough area to find a tenant, and I’d like to give this business a chance,” acting board chairman Tom Williams said in making the motion for approval, which got unanimous board support. The space was long the home of D&H Paints and briefly housed a Von Dutch motorcycle shop, which rode off in 2008. The storefront has been vacant since.

The board was divided 5 to 2, however, on Russ Crosson’s request to turn his four-year-old office building at 47 Wallace Street back into a two-family.

The key sticking point was an exterior stairwell and its proximity to the home just to the east, owned by Dennis O’Sullivan. He and neighbors who backed him said the open stairway, even if covered in latticework as suggested by Crosson’s architect, would provide O’Sullivan no privacy in his bedroom, a window to which is just feet away.

“It’s a joke how close that stairwell is to his bedroom,” said neighbor Doug Miller. “It’s absurd.”

Local homeowners, who were pleased when the decrepit house was refurbished and transformed into the home of Crosson’s construction business four years ago, said that although they wanted to preserve the residential character of the block, a switchback to residential use would leave them with up to 11 tenants, with up to 11 cars, living under one roof.

They recalled the days when the property was a “flophouse,” from which drunken tenants would throw bottles into the street and harass passersby from the porch.

Crosson agreed to fully enclose the stairwell, which Williams said was “a good compromise.” Board chair Lauren Nicosia and member Karen Waldman voted no.