The logo for next summer’s Sippin’ on the River two-day food-and-drink fest, to be held in Marine Park. The event joins a seasonal roster that also includes the International Flavour Fest, held in the White Street municipal lot, as seen below. (Click to enlarge)


Red Bank is about to get its fourth outdoor food fest, one that allows, for the first time, the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages in a public park.

Sponsored by the culinary alliance Red Bank Flavour, the two-day ‘Sippin’ on the River’ chowdown won clearance from the borough council Wednesday night to set up its tents in Marine Park on Saturday, June 29 and Sunday, June 30, in Marine Park.

“In addition to the charity aspect, which all our festivals have,” said Flavour founder and restaurateur George Lyristis, “this festival is designed to give people a great reason to come down to Red Bank to try out some of the best local food around, and have some wine or beer.”

Sippin’ joins the Red Bank RiverCenter-sponsored Interational Flavour Fest in early May and the Guinness Oyster Festival in October – both held in the White Street municipal parking lot, and both featuring wine and beer (or stout) for sale – as well as the booze-free Riverfest, held in early June in Marine Park and organized by the Eastern Monmouth County Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We could easily do it on White Street, but what would rather look at – parking meters, or the river and boats and whatnot?”Lyristis asked the council, which gave the plan unanimous approval after what Lyristis said had been a year of vetting by the borough’s Special Events Committee.

Like the RiverCenter events, Sippin’ will spotlight Red Bank restaurants, though out-of-town establishments will be allowed in if all 12 food slots aren’t sold to borough eateries, said Lyristis, who co-owns, with his brothers Charlie and Taso, the Bistro at Red Bank and Teak, on Monmouth Street.

The event will also incorporate, at the behest of Councilwoman Sharon Lee, some kind of boating activities. Lyristis said a mechanical bull may be among the games and and attractions.

“So many people in this town never get to experience the river,” Lee said. “I’d like to see more events take advantage of the resources we have.”

Lyristis and fellow Flavour participant Tom Cappello, owner of Gaetano’s on Wallace Street, appeared at the council meeting with event promoter Scott Harrison of This Is It Productions to seek a green light to offer beer and wine at the event. They got it, though officials agreed that rules about when, where and under what conditions booze might be allowed at future events need to be adopted in the form of an ordinance.

“Events like this are great, because they draw people to Red Bank,” said Mayor Pasquale Menna. “But some discernible standards need to be set for future events like this.

“We need to make sure we have parameters to control alcohol, a bigger police presence, appropriate places to serve and contain the frequency of these types of events, because all the costs will end up coming from the taxpayers.”

Afterward, Cappello said he wasn’t at all concerned about there being too many outdoor food events in town.

“It’s like saying, ‘don’t open another restaurant on the boardwalk,'” he said.

“At the end of the day, quality events are going to bring quality people,” Lyristis said, “and if those people like what they see, you know they will come back to Red Bank.”