By JOHN T. WARD
Red Bank’s zoning board gave unanimous approval Thursday night to a plan by Kitch Organic to turn a vacant neighborhood deli and liquor store on the West Side into an organic take-out restaurant.
The new business will deliver pre-ordered meals, allow for pick-ups but offer no onsite dining at the former home of Best Liquors, co-owner Rick Ivone told the board.
The dowdy one-story building, at the corner of Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street, will also get a a makeover that includes a glass pyramid skylight, extensive plantings and an herb garden out back.
“Aesthetically and functionally, it will be far superior to what’s there now,” planning consultant James Higgins told the board.
No neighbors turned out for the hearing, and board members were effusive in their praise for the plan.
“I love it,” said one, Sean Murphy.
Board member Sharon Lee, too said she loved the plan, but was concerned about how well Kitch Organic would integrate with its neighbors, given that meals are expected to be priced at $18 to $25.
“This is concerning me because it’s going to be kind of off-limits to the immediate community,” she told Ivone, who owns the business with Joe Durso. Acknowledging the difficulty of providing organic-ingredient meals at low prices, Lee said the result might be “a wonderful-looking place that’s pretty much forbidden” to its neighbors.
“It’s not $1.99 meals with a Slurpee,” Ivone said, but added that his vision is to offer some lower-priced items such as juices that will help acquaint local children with organic and healthy alternatives.
Kitch also plans to offer cooking classes and create an online video cooking series, he said.
The building will be outfitted with solar panels on the roof and a rainwater harvesting system to irrigate a small garden the owners plan to plant behind the store.
Ivone said the project, in development for three years, would go to construction as soon as possible.