By JOHN T. WARD
In this edition of Retail Churn:
• Three brothers with a long track record as linen-napkin restaurateurs open a fast-food eatery rooted in their Greek heritage Tuesday.
• A wedding planning business that has its roots in a flower shop throws off a new shoot in Red Bank.
• A ginormous pharmacy chain opens a controversial store here.
Karissa Petrellese runs the new Red Bank branch of NJ Wedding Pros, a business born in her parents’ Ocean County florist shop. Below, server Peter Yim fills a pita at Greek Eats. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
• Greek Eats, a fast-and-healthy restaurant selling gyros, opens Tuesday at 89 Newman Springs Road in Shrewsbury.
Joining Platypus furniture and Megacycle spin gym, it’s the third and final entry in a new three-tenant building erected by developer Metrovation on the former site of Memory Bowling, which was destroyed in a spectacular 2009 blaze.
Owners Charlie, George and Taso Lyristis — who also own the Bistro and Teak, both in Red Bank, and earlier this year sold Zoe, in Little Silver — modeled Greek Eats on Chipotle Mexican Grill, where customers “build” their own meals at a cafeteria-style counter. In this case, the starting point is the choice of pita, salad, or plate. Then diners load up with their choice of chicken, pork or beef and lamb, followed by sauces and toppings.
The meats are free of MSG and other preservatives and fillers, George tells Retail Churn.
“If you went to a gyro place in Greece, this is what you’d see spinning,” he says, pointing to three vertical rotisseries of sizzling meats. Charlie notes that the proper pronunciation of the name is “YEE-ro,” which he said most Americans seem to get, but New Jerseyans turn into “JY-ro.”
The flavors at Greek Eats are strictly Greek: bifteki, or ground beef and lamb with Greek herbs; tzaziki, or a yogurt-based cold sauce that comes in three varieties, including a kicky sriracha; hallumi cheese, a springy substance that retains its form even while being imparted with the flavor of grilling. Even the soda case is loaded with beverages from Greece.
The 40-seat restaurant features a clean industrial design created by Red Bank architect Steve Raciti supplemented by bold branding by Asbury Park’s M Studio. The result is a simple look with a simple menu that the Lyristis brothers hope to make ubiquitous by creating more Greek Eats restaurants, with an eye toward franchising, said George.
Through the end of the year, the Lyristises plan to donate part of the proceeds from the business to Stomp the Monster, a charity that provides support to cancer patients and caregivers.
• NJ Wedding Pros opened for business last month at 43 West Front Street. Run by 23-year-old Karissa Petrellese, the wedding-planner business was founded in 2009 by her parents, Nancy and Ralph Petrellese, as an outgrowth of the flower shop they’ve operated in Brick Township for the past decade.
A recent graduate of the Laboratory Institute of Merchandising, which specializes in the business side of fashion, Karissa tells Churn she convinced her parents there was an opportunity to integrate the business in a town that’s home to numerous photographers, gown shops, catering halls and related businesses that serve brides-and-grooms-to-be.
So many, in fact, that Red Bank RiverCenter, the downtown promotion agency, annually hosts a Wedding Walk in March that attracts hundreds of brides-to-be, and the occasional groom-to-be. That was another attraction, she said.
Red Bank is also “the perfect in-between location” for the business, which draws heavily on customers from the northern part of the state, Petrellese said. “I think we have a really good growth opportunity here.”
• Twenty-one months after it won approval from the borough planning board, the giant pharmacy chain Walgreens has opened a store on Broad Street in Red Bank on the site of the former Rassas Buick auto dealership.
The company had 13,100 stores in 11 countries as of August, according to its website, including one on Prospect Avenue in Little Silver, less than two miles away from this one.