By JOHN T. WARD
This edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn notes the passing of a torch on Red Bank’s West Side.
The longtime former home of Johnny’s Jazz Market, vacant since the death of butcher Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta four years ago, finally has a new tenant. And the proprietor of the new Shrewsbury Avenue shop, called La Orquidea, is someone who may be familiar to patrons of another former Red Bank favorite, the River’s Edge Café.
Angel Perez, who immigrated to the United States 20 years ago, spent most of that time working as a cook at Bob Guido’s River’s Edge Café, first on West Front Street and then on Broad Street. Guido packed it all up four years ago and moved the restaurant to Ocean Township, where it’s thriving, says Perez, who continued to work in the kitchen until just last week.
And he would have continued if he could, said Perez, a 40-year-old former Red Banker who used to shop at Johnny’s Jazz Market and now lives in Eatontown.
“Cooking is my real love,” said Perez. But after becoming interest in flowers through a friend several years ago, he’d opened a flower shop called Red Rose in Long Branch a year and a half ago, and the demands of now running two was just too demanding. “Bob knows I need to run my own stuff,” he said.
When Churn popped by on Friday, La Orquidea – Spanish for “the orchid” – had been open just one day, and just in time for a crush of Valentine’s Day business. Perez showed off a table laden with bouquets of flowers about to go out the door for delivery, including one to the Count Basie Theatre, and another to someone named Corrine in Tinton Falls.
The shop also had racks of stuffed animals, many in a Valentine’s theme, and other gifts. Perez, who’s still setting up shop, said he’ll also carry party supplies.
The online clock counting down to the opening of Blu Bistro + Bar, just next door to La Orquidea, was reset earlier this month. The former Sal’s Tavern, Two If By Sea and Siena Grill was to have opened on January 31. But as of Friday, the clock indicated the opening was now 29 days away.