RED BANK: WHAT, NO PONY RIDES?

Coming soon, if Coffee Corral has its way: bocce and horseshoe courts and a fire pit. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Nobody can say Russ Crosson isn’t adaptable. When the real estate industry took a nosedive a few years back, Crosson schooled himself in the craft of coffee-roasting and transformed his onetime construction office on Red Bank’s West Side into a must-hit place for consumers with a jones for fine java.

Now, just a year after opening his Coffee Corral, at the corner of Shrewsbury Avenue and Drs. James Parker Boulevard, Crosson is feeling his oats and ready to expand the operation.

But not in the way one might expect. Rather than seeking permission for on-premises consumption of joe at his takeout-only store, Crosson wants to supplement the business with horseshoes, bocce, a hot dog cart – and maybe a little live music.

Crosson submitted plans to the borough planning and zoning office this week seeking an OK to build a fire pit surrounded by outdoor seating, an ice cream chest, a horseshoe pit and bocce courts on his half-acre property at the busy corner.

Oh, and “dog parks.” One for dogs 35 pounds and under, one for 35 and over.

When the weather’s bad, he might like to accommodate some of his customers at a “limited” number of seats inside, he said in a filing with the town.

“The main purpose is mainly to get the tables outside,” Crosson told redbankgreen Wednesday. “It’s kind of lets-see-how-it-goes.”

Crosson’s half-acre property would be surrounded by a new fence and lit with some “low-level” exterior lighting, he said.

One proponent of the plan is Gary Casazza, a member of the Rumson planning board and a big fan of the Coffee Corral. Crosson, he said, is a “leader” in the specialty coffee industry, and his innovative hoofprint – er, footprint – would only grow with approval of the plan.

“It’s fantastic,” Casazza said.

Town officials say he’ll need a variance for a commercial recreation use. No hearing is yet scheduled.