jim lin 110314Jim Lin, owner of Oriental Empire, said customers of his Ocean Township restaurant urged him to open one in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)


Rcsm2_010508In this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn, we’ve got details on these recent developments in ever-churning downtown Red Bank:

• Oriental Empire, a restaurant offering a mix of Asian cuisines, opened last month at 54 English Plaza.

• A former sales associate at the recently departed Nirvana is opening her own women’s clothing store on Broad Street.

• A restaurant called Hansel & Griddle plans to open on West Front Street.

• A nail salon changes hands and rebrands.

• The space formerly occupied by office supply retailer Staples is turning into office space for a securities brokerage.

evelyn mcgurk 110614Evelyn McGurk outside Madison, her soon-to-open boutique on Broad Street. Below, the exterior of Oriental Empire, on English Plaza. (Click to enlarge)

oriental empire 110314• The arrival of Oriental Empire marks the second restaurant for owner Jim Lin.

His first, Eastern Empire, in Ocean Township, opened in 1999, and drew heavily on the Red Bank area for customers, including staffers at Riverview Medical Center, a regular destination for his delivery crew, he says.

“It was customer demand” that prompted him to look for space in town, Lin tells Churn. Put off by the rents on Broad Street, he said he was pleased to find the space last held by women’s clothing boutique P.S. Poppyseeds.

Oriental Empire offers an extensive menu of Japanese, Thai, Chinese and Hibachi-style cooking. It’s open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and dinner reservations are recommended, because the 35-seat space does fill up, even on weeknights, Lin said.

Unlike Eastern Empire, Oriental Empire doesn’t deliver, but does offer takeout.

• A new women’s clothing store offering “the coolest stuff around” is getting ready to open in the longtime home of Cesar’s Creations following the retirement of jeweler and building owner Joe Cerasa, which we wrote about back in March.

The shop, to be called Madison, is the creation of Evelyn McGurk, 27, of Tinton Falls, who spent five years working at Nirvana, on White Street, while studying at Brookdale Community College to become a nurse. Studies completed, she’s holding off on taking the final test to enter the profession while she gives retail proprietorship a go.

Working at Nirvana, she said, “taught me how much I enjoyed fashion, and convinced me that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life,” McGurk tells Churn. She hopes to open by December 1.

Nirvana recently relocated to the Grove in Shrewsbury. No word yet on what will happen with the 4,000-square-foot building it still owns on White Street.

• A New Brunswick restaurant called Hansel & Griddle hopes to open in the former 30 Burgers space at 38 West Front Street, next door to the Elks Club, according to an application filed with the borough planning office.

The restaurant offers an extensive menu, including breakfast, “quesadilla crisps,” paninis and buffalo wings.

Planned renovations include a facade makeover. There was no immediate word on the expected opening date.

liz hamill 110614• L Studio is the new name for Salon 31, at 31 Monmouth Street. Liz Hamill, right, who worked at the predecessor  business for three years, is the new owner.

With a staff of five stylists and two makeup artists offering hair and nail services, Hamill said she also hopes to make L Studio into an education center offering mini-seminars to clients on makeup and other grooming tips.

• Part of the former Staples store space at 137 Broad Street is being converted to offices for the securities brokerage Capitol Securities Management. The building is owned by Downtown Investors, which leases the adjoining space to another brokerage, Scottrade, and owns buildings nearby that include Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as tenants.

Downtown Investors principal Jay Herman tells Churn that the walk-in concept still works for the retail brokerage industry. Having a storefront sign on a busy street “is of terrific value,” he says, noting that Scottrade was “absolutely hidden” in office space behind English Plaza for years and “couldn’t wait to come to Broad Street.”

The Staples space was leased “frankly, before we hit the street to market it,” says Herman.

Capitol Securities is taking 2,800 of the available 4,000 square feet, says Herman. According to an industry report, the office will be run by Brian Hanlon. His former employer, Oppenheimer Securities, put the kibosh on his short-lived candidacy for borough council earlier this year.