By JOHN T. WARD
And when the reopening takes months longer than expected, as has been the case with Gennusa’s Zebu Forno coffee house in downtown Red Bank, life can get truly white-knuckle.
But one thing that Gennusa says has kept up his spirits is his occasional visit to the Starbucks just down Broad Street. It’s there that, along with a cup of joe he happens to like, he’s sure to get a dose of love from his own customers, who tell him they can’t wait for his restaurant to reopen.
“That’s been the most encouraging thing,” he tells redbankgreen. “You and I can go in there right now, and no less than two people will ask me when I’m reopening. I have strangers stopping me on the street to ask.”
In a jolt to schmoozers, loiterers and actual customers from far and wide, Gennusa shut his eatery at 20 Broad in mid-September as part of a settlement of a rent dispute. At the time, he hoped to reopen within six weeks at his new address, 12 Broad.
But delays in obtaining borough permits and scheduling of contractors has turned that six weeks into nearly five nerve-scraping months. Media types, dealmakers from nearby offices and occasional customers have been cast adrift as though they’ve lost their polestar.
Now, Gennusa says, he’s nearing completion, and shooting to reopen the week of February 20.
Comparable in size and layout to the last store, the new one will feature two seating areas totaling about 80 chairs.
It will also show off some of the distinctive visual elements that give Zebu its Algonquin Roundtable vibe as a place for creative types to open up their laptops for extended stays. Most prominent among those are two vast murals of famous painters throughout history, executed by artist Gregg Hinlicky.
Gennusa plans to be onsite full-time as usual, and the store will be managed by longtime former server Danielle DeAngelis, who’s returning to replace Ryan Timmons. (Timmons resigned last week to take a new job as general manager of JBJ Foundation Soul Kitchen, the pay-what-you-can-or-work-it-off restaurant opened by pop star Jon Bon Jovi on Monmouth Street.)