By JOHN T. WARD
In recent years, it’s been an ironware store, a teahouse and a teahouse-plus a place, that is, where one might buy and consume food along with hot beverages, but no cooking could occur.
All have failed. But the building’s owners believe the former home of two editions of NovelTeas, located across Bridge Avenue from the Red Bank train station, is ready for a full-fledged restaurant.
Owners Roy and Mary Jennings have filed papers with the town’s planning office seeking permission to cook on premise and make changes to the building, including the addition of a rear outdoor deck.
The single-story, garage-like structure would retain its heavy carriage-house doors at the rear, according to the plans.
If approved and built, the restaurant would be just steps away from San Remo, a not-yet-open restaurant that’s relocating from Newman Springs Road to the former home of the Little Kraut, at the corner of Bridge and Oakland Street.
It would also be smack in the heart of a district that, on paper at least, is slated for an explosion of development in coming years.
Among the projects on tap are the 57-unit Courtyards at Monmouth residences on Monmouth Street at West Street; the conversion of the former Anderson Brothers cold storage warehouse into 23 condos; and the MW West Side Lofts project, which recently won revised-plan approvals for 92 luxury rental apartments as well as street-level retail units, live-and-work artists spaces, and a Triumph Brewing Company restaurant.
“The West Side is finally starting to come around,” says Mary Jennings, who with her husband owns a number of properties in town, and formerly operated Spykes, a racy lingerie store, a block away on Shrewsbury Avenue.
Jennings tells redbankgreen that she and her husband get at least two inquiries a week about 78 Bridge, but “everybody wants to put in a pizzeria.”
The couple is convinced, however, that a “destination” restaurant which they would not operate would succeed, given the flow of humanity through the train station and the draw of the theaters nearby.
The request is under review by borough Engineer Christine Ballard and there’s no word of whether variances will be needed.