By JOHN T. WARD
Praised for adding “urban” flavor and criticized for adding to parking woes, Teak resturant won approval Monday night to build the Red Bank’s first rooftop dining space.
Planning board vice chairman Dan Mancuso, who was on the short end of a 6-2 vote, blasted the expansion, which was alternately described as having a shortfall of 39 and 66 parking spaces.
“I’ve gotta tell you, you’re squeezing every inch out of this property, as the previous owner did,” he told co-owner Charlie Lyristis. “I don’t see this as a win for the town at all.”
The restaurant’s second story is to include 1,340 square feet of year-round indoor dining, plus 1,545 SF of outdoor seating above a dining room that is now open on three sides in good weather, thanks to large windows.
Lyristis agreed to a condition requested by the board that the open-air space would never be enclosed.
The debate among board members was limited to Mancuso and Mayor Pasquale Menna.
Though the plan calls for two handicapped parking spaces, up from the current single space, Mancuso challenged it for moving that spot from near the front door to the opposite side of the “drive aisle” in order to also add to street-level dining space, which he said would be a hardship for people with canes and wheelchairs.
He also said the restaurant was adding to the woes of nighttime visitors, who often must hunt for parking spots.
“To just keep adding to it and hoping people will find a parking spot you know the lots are full,” he said.
Menna, though, said the plan would enhance Red Bank’s “competitive edge” in attracting diners and shoppers. He compared the rooftop to that of the Watermark restaurant on the boardwalk in Asbury Park.
While Teak won’t have an ocean view, or even one of the Navesink River, “you’re creating an urban feel,” Menna said. “I think that helps in bringing people in, or if they’re already here, they can explore it.”
Board member Len Calabro also voted against the plan, without comment, while Menna, Ed Zipprich, Chairman John Cash, Barbara Boas and Linda Cohen voted in favor.
A moratorium on enforcement of a borough law that requires payments of up to $2,500 per parking-space shortfall remains in effect through December 31. Though he proclaimed earlier this year that the waiver had done its job in helping eliminate storefront vacancies downtown, Menna spearheaded a move to extend it in June through the end of this year, and said Monday night that the borough council was expected to extend it again, this time through June 30, 2013, when it meets Wednesday night.
In order to avoid the fees, Teak would have to obtain its building permits by June 30, he said. Lyristis said the remodeling of the restaurant would begin “as soon as possible.”
The Lyristis brothers Charlie, Taso and George, who also own the Bistro at Red Bank on Broad Street bought Teak in May 2011, with Bon Jovi bandmember David Bryan and Gregory and Clark Maloof onboard as investors.