RED BANK: MORE TABLES COMING?
The owners of the Downtown, at right above, hope to expand into the vacant retail space at left for more seating, including a rooftop dining area. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The already head-spinning rate at which downtown Red Bank is abandoning retail in favor of restaurants may soon accelerate.
Borough officials are weighing two new change-of-use proposals for eateries in the district.
An architect’s rendering of the plan for the Downtown; rooftop dining would be atop what’s now 12 West Front Street, at far left. Below: the space formerly occupied by If the Shoe Fits at 18 Broad Street would be turned into a restaurant under another proposal. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
One is for a new restaurant to be be created on the ground floor at 18 Broad Street, the former home of If the Shoe Fits, a shoestore that closed in August after a run, with changes in name and ownership, that traced back to 1846.
No specific restaurant is identified as utilizing the 2,500-square-foot space. A contract of sale filed with the Monmouth County Clerk’s office identifies the intended buyer only as 18 Broad Street LLC.
The facade design, by Red Bank architect Mike Monroe, would eliminate the shoe store’s beloved curved-glass windows, according to the plans. The second and third floors of the building would continue to be rented as an office and apartment, respectively.
No hearing has been scheduled for the proposal. Borough planning and zoning director Donna Smith-Barr tells redbankgreen she has asked the applicant for more information regarding ownership of adjacent properties whose facilities would apparently be utilized for trash storage and pickup.
Just around the corner, the Downtown restaurant and bar has an option to buy 12 West Front, pending borough approval of a plan to add tables for 94 diners, including 46 seats on a roof deck atop the narrow building.
Amy Manor Designs recently moved out of the space, relocating to a building at the corner of Broad Street and Harding Road, where she’s created the Red Bank Design Center. Prior to that, the storefront was the home of women’s clothing store 4B.
Plans filed by Downtown co-owner Dan Lynch indicate a parking variance is required. No hearing has yet been scheduled.
The Downtown underwent a major renovation and expansion in 2008.
Recent additions to the dining scene within a block of the two proposals include Catch, a seafood place, and Gotham, a gastropub, just doors apart on the east side of Broad Street, with common ownership; the Robinson Ale House, which replaced Murphy Style Grille; Patrizia’s; and Mac Attack Cheesery. All but the Robinson space were converted from retail use within the past five years.
The transformation isn’t to everyone’s liking, of course. George Lyristis, who with his two brothers owns the Bistro at Red Bank and Teak, says the trend is unsustainable.
“This is not going to work,” he said Wednesday.