By JOHN T. WARD
This edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has news about two businesses on Red Bank’s West Side: Cluck U Chicken and Green’s Auto Performance.
But we start downtown with No Joe’s Coffee House, where Churn was surprised to find itself sharing a sidewalk table earlier this week with new owners, who have some pretty ambitious plans.
Last we checked on No Joe’s, the ever-adapting founder Mike Tierney had brought in a new partner, Keith Giordano, to help him run the Broad Street mainstay of more than two decades.
This, after recent attempts to turn the business into a combo coffeehouse/burger joint with the beastly name of Beasty Burgers, and another one to reposition it as a pastisserie.
But as we were enjoying a cuppa on a warm spring afternoon this week, Giordano introduced Churn to Dan and Grisel Salazar, and Grisel’s sister, Adela Carrazana. Two months ago, the late-40s-early-50s trio answered an ad in which Giordano, who’d acquired the business from Tierney, was himself looking to sell. They wound up entering into a new venture with him: Mag 7.
Mag 7’s goal is to take the No Joe’s name and concept – right now it’s coffee, a lunch menu and some pastries – and roll it out to other locations, via licensing agreements with buyers, in which built restaurants are handed over as turn-key operations.
“They’ll be able to have their own flair” without paying killer franchise fees or living under the thumb of an inflexible parent company, says Grisel, who has a day job on Wall Street.
The goal is to do this for hundreds of stores, she says. And while it may sound blue-sky, Mag 7, in which Giordano is involved, has already identified potential buyers and locations in Asbury Park, Ocean Grove and elsewhere, says Dan, who works at an architecture firm in town.
The Salazars live in Holmdel, and Adela – who immigrated with her family to the United States from Cuba when she was 12 and her sister was 9 – lives in eastern Pennsylvania. None of them is particularly passionate about coffee, they admit. But that’s why they’ve brought on Miguel Menes, a coffee aficionado who’s choosing their blends for them.
What’s going to make No Joe’s work in Red Bank, let alone on broader scale? The gregarious trio say they’re from “a family of entrepreneurs,” “love business,” and think their infectious enthusiasm will win out.
Green’s Auto Performance has vacated its longtime home on Shrewsbury Avenue, at the corner of Catherine Street. Eric Green tells Churn that owner Steve Rapoza decided not to renew his lease, so Green – a cousin of former owner and landlord Vinnie Green – bought the 42-year-old business and moved it over to Central Avenue under the new name, Green’s Auto Repair.
We couldn’t reach Vinnie Green to find out his plans for the property.
Cluck U Chicken reopened in the City Centre shopping mall fronting on Water Street after getting its temporary certificate of occupancy Friday morning. The entrance is still covered in plywood, however, until a new storefront is installed – hence the temporary C of O, says borough inspector John Drucker.
The restaurant had an unwanted drive-through on March 3, an accident that, along with three similar incidents in recent years at the strip mall, has prompted plans by the landlord to install bollards, as previously reported.