By JOHN T. WARD
Amid a proliferation of new restaurants, downtown Red Bank is taking on a decidedly Asian flavor.
Two weeks ago, Oriental Empire opened at 54 English Plaza, joining five other purveyors of Asian cuisine in the heart of town – most of them of recent vintage.
Now, a sushi restaurant has signed a lease at the high-profile corner of Broad and Monmouth streets., in the former home of the Broadway Grille.
The new sushi place – to called Taka, though it is not connected to the restaurant with the same name in Asbury Park – would be the fifth owned by restaurateur Sean Liu, according to Jeff Katz, of Jeffrey Realty, the North Plainfield-based broker who negotiated the deal.
Liu was not immediately available for comment.
Taka, which has already papered over the windows of its future home, takes over a 2,800-square foot space with large windows on two sides. The space, at 80 Broad Street, was home to the show-themed Broadway Grille, which closed in August, 2013 after 22 years. Owner John Copeland attributed the shutdown to rising rent – which was about to surpass $10,000 a month – and declining receipts.
The building, home to often-overlooked Red Bank Mini Mall, is owned by Atlanta Realty Associates in Oakhurst, according to Monmouth County tax records.
Negotiations with the landlord were “tough,” Katz said, and though he declined to share the terms of the lease, he said Liu will be paying less than the advertised $10,000 a month.
“One thing we were not happy about was everybody telling us how hard it is getting through the bureacratic red tape” at town hall, Katz said. “That said, we’re moving ahead as fast as we can,” and Liu is excited to find that Red Bank is not, as he thought, “out of his league,” Katz said.
Katz said Liu is “giving himself three-and-a-half-to-four months to get it done” and open Taka.
Taka will find itself not only smack in the center of town already burgeoning with restaurants – and more slated to open – but among a growing number of Asian-themed eateries where diners long had little more to choose from than the takeout offerings of the now-closed Jade Garden.
Already on the scene: Sogo Sushi and Teak Asian Fusion on Monmouth Street; Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street; Pho Le, a Vietnamese restaurant just across Broad from Temple; and Muang Thai, which displaced a French restaurant on East Front Street. Across town in the Galleria is Siam Garden, another Thai place.
They were joined last month by Oriental Empire, the second restaurant created by Jim Lin, whose first was Eastern Empire in Ocean Township. Look for more about Oriental Empire and a host of other new businesses in another Retail Churn article next week.