Skip to content

A town square for an unsquare town

redbankgreen

Standing for the vitality of Red Bank, its community, and the fun we have together.

RED BANK: MOSAIC SHOP TAKES BALLEW SPOT

Tessarae, featuring works like the 500-pound “Penthouse Views,” below, plans to open at 36 Broad Street in early July. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After a 99-year run as a jewelry store and two-plus years as a vacant shell, the former Ballew Jewelers storefront in Red Bank is about to become an art store.

Sort of.

Tesserae, as it’s called, will feature only mosaics, all of them the brainchild of a 27-year-old restaurateur who’s only been in the creative realm for 18 months and leaves the execution of his ideas to someone else.

A budding Jeff Koons of the shattered-stone world, Pete Theodoropoulus makes no pretense to being an artist. What he’s selling, at prices ranging from $3,000 to $20,000, is home decoration – some of it weighing in at as much as 500 pounds, he tells redbankgreen.

“I wouldn’t consider myself an artist,” he said. “I have the vision – that this company could eventually have hundreds of stores worldwide.”

Theodoropoulus has been gutting the 2,000-square-foot former Ballew space in the week since signing a lease, and plans to open Tesserae by the first week in July.

So, who is he, and what’s this all about?

Theodoropoulus, who grew up in Phillipsburg, attended Monmouth University. But he dropped out, he said, because he was “too busy” working in local restaurants as a server and bartender. He also alludes to “trouble” he got into that prompted him to turn his life around at age 19.

At age 23, he returned home to remodel a diner owned by his family in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. He also started acquiring his own businesses. Theodoropoulus said he now owns two diners, three Rita’s Italian Ice stands – two of them paired with tanning salons he also owns to offset the seasonality of business – and a steakhouse called The Brown Stone, in Metuchen.

“I keep busy,” he said.

A couple of years ago, on a visit to Atlantic City, Theodoropoulus became smitten by a large mosaic. He wanted to buy one for the original diner, but couldn’t find anything comparably pleasing to his eye, except for one priced at $100,000, which he considered “a little much.”

So he “found a guy” in Newark, Rick Velser, who specializes in wall and floor mosaics for penthouses and swank lobbies, gave him an image, and told him he’d be back – with a business plan. Six months later, after taking delivery of the first piece, Theodoropoulus said he told Velser, “here’s 100 images. I want you to create them.”

Velser’s now in the process of doing so, Theodoropoulus said. The works range from abstractions to photorealistic, sometimes comprising 265,000 pieces of granite or other stone, and no grout, which Theodoropoulus said would detract from the image. They range in size from four feet by four feet to 20 by 32; most will be priced between $5,000 and $8,000, he said.

Solely on word of mouth, Theodoropoulus said, he’s sold $150,000 worth of the mosaics. So he’s decided to go brick-and-mortar with a store.

Why Red Bank? Theodoropoulus said he fell in love with the area while at Monmouth U, and “I always said, once I make it, I want to come back.” Now, he regards the borough as not only bustling, but about to “explode.”

“I truly believe, more than any other downtown I’ve seen, that Red Bank is probably two years away from becoming the premier city on the East Coast,” he said. “I really think it’ll blow the doors off the rest of the Shore. There’s a lot of action coming down on Broad Street.”

Rumson resident Michael Morgan paid $1.5 million for the three-story building in July, 2011 through an entity called LLC 36 Broad Street, according to Monmouth County property records. Morgan also owns 58-64 Broad.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
Partyline
YAPPY TOGETHER
RED BANK: Look for this cutie pie, named Sacramento, at Yappy Hour on Broadwalk Saturday. He's looking for a new home.
YELLOW RAINCOAT DAY
On a rainy May morning, the only golden sight on Broad Street this morning were the matching raincoats of Eileen and her dog Benny.
STOP. JUST STOP.
RED BANK: For those who don't get the meaning of a stop sign, crossing guard Diane Johnson amplifies the message with some colorful outfits. ...
RECORDS SKIP INTO TOWN
RED BANK: Devotees of vinyl records expected to drop needle at Broad and Mechanic Saturday. Here's why.
Feline fortunes on Monmouth Street
Christopher Russell and feline pal Princess take in some fresh air on a warm May night Thursday in the doorway of Gina’s Psychic Bouti ...
GOING UP?
RED BANK: Public Library will be closed Friday for the start of elevator construction. (Click for more.)
TREEBIRTH
RED BANK: Replacement of nine trees gets underway on South Street, where a wholesale removal angered residents last September. (Click for mo ...
RIVERSIDE FLOW
New Jersey Flow Arts brings together jugglers, poi spinners, hoopers and more weekly in Riverside Gardens Park.
Honeybee swarm carted away
Beekeeper Tanya Ptak of Ptak’s Apiary inspects a swarm of honeybees that chose a flower pot in the courtyard of Red Bank Primary Schoo ...
BELOVED POISONED DOG PHOTO SURFACES
   
THREE ON TOUR
RED BANK: Three borough sites will participate in a weekend of self-guided tours of 52 historic locations in Monmouth County May 4 & 5.
VOLUNTEERS GET INTO THE WEEDS
Toting plastic trash bags, 51 volunteers conducted a walking litter cleanup on Red Bank's West Side Saturday.
“IT’S A PARTY AT WAWA!”
You wish you could vibe like Brian, who lives on the other side of Hubbard’s Bridge. He caught redbankgreen’s attention in Red B ...
POPE OKS ORATORY
RED BANK: St. Anthony of Padua obtains papal approval to establish Oratory of St. Philip Neri, a community of priests and brothers devoted t ...
RED BANK: NEW MURAL BRIGHTENS CORNER
RED BANK: Lunch Break founder Norma Todd is depicted in a mural painted this week on the front of the newly renovated social service agency.
TULIPS TOGETHER
Spring tulips taking in the sunset outside the Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank Monday evening.
RIVER RANGERS RETURN
River Rangers, a summer canoeing program offered by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association, returns this summer for up to 20 participa ...
DOUBLE DYLAN IN RED BANK
Trucks for a production company filming what one worker said was a Bob Dylan biography have lined Monmouth Street the past two days with cre ...
AFTER THE RAIN
A pear tree branch brought down by a brief overnight storm left a lovely tableau on the sidewalk in front of Red Bank's Riverside Gardens Pa ...
CONE OF UNCERTAINTY
Asked by a redbankgreen reporter why these cones were on top of cars, the owner of the car in the foreground responded: “That’s ...