21 w front 082614The former Wayne’s Market on West Front Street is slated to open as a Jimmy John’s franchise owned by Gaslight Anthem bassist Alex Levine, at left below, and Matt Schaffert, right. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


levine schaffert 020116The owners of two Red Bank restaurants left Monday night’s planning board meeting with unanimous approvals, one to expand and the other to open.

Buona Sera, at Maple Avenue and Monmouth Street, won an OK for a plan for a 1,200-square foot addition that might accommodate up to 50 standing customers. And Jimmy John’s Deli, a sandwich franchise co-owned by a member of the rock band Gaslight Anthem, got a thumbs-up to open in the former Wayne’s Market space on West Front Street.

6 w front 091914Bob Ebner will dress up the facade at 6 West Front, a vacant building long partly covered by a mural. But he still doesn’t have plans to lease the building. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

6 w front 020116• Buona Sera’s plan calls for closing off a driveway that opens onto Maple Avenue at the southern end of the property and extending the building into that area, architect Michael James Monroe told the board.

The planned two-story addition includes an open-air space with no dining tables, he said, and up to 10 barstools where customers can gather for drinks or while waiting for a table elsewhere.

Trash will be stored for pickup in a refrigerated enclosure, Monroe said.

The plan, which needed parking and sideyard-setback variances, drew no comments from the public.

• Jimmy John’s, a national fast-food franchise that offers sandwiches available for delivery within 15 minutes, got a green light to open in the former home of Wayne’s Market, at 21 West Front Street, after some discussion about its 41 seats.

The building is owned by Nima Nili and partners, who have extensive property holdings in the neighborhood, and has been vacant since the death of merchant Wayne Fisler almost four years ago.

Franchise owner Matt Schaffert told the board that he and partner Alex Levine don’t expect the place to be filled often. In fact, the 1,900-square-foot space is bigger than they’d prefer, said their lawyer, Marty McGann.

“They don’t really need a space this large, but it’s the only space available,” he said.

Th question of size arose in the context of both parking needs and how big, and how loud, an after-hours crowd the restaurant might attract, given that it will be open as late as 3 a.m. Board member and newly elected Councilman Mike Whelan noted that Jr.’s Burgers a couple of doors away gets packed with customers at closing time for nearby bars, and sometimes needs the services of a security guard.

“It’s nice to have a board member who’s up all night after all these years,” vice chairman Dan Mancuso quipped about Whelan, who’s 24 years old.

Board member and borough Administrator Stanley Sickels said he was glad to see another late-night food establishment opening in the area.

“It takes more people off the street, so they don’t get right in their cars or get into fights” after a night of revelry, he said.

The business model of Jimmy John’s centers on speed: fast “gourmet” sandwiches for counter service or delivery by car or — to avoid traffic delays — bike, Schaffert said.

“You’d better invest in more bicycles” to avoid traffic congestion, Mayor Pasquale Menna told him.

Gaslight Anthem bassist Levine said little during the hearing, and told redbankgreen afterward that he doesn’t expect to be involved in the operation of the place. The Middletown resident, whose talents extend to handling razors and scissors, also owns Tiger Cuts, a menswear line inspired by what he calls barbershop culture, and has talked about opening a barbershop in Red Bank.

• Nili and partners also own the long-vacant former Love Lane Tuxedos building at 23-25 West Front, next door to Jimmy John’s. Citing a weak market for office space, they won approval to convert what was to be offices on the second floor to two two-bedroom residential apartments.

The first-floor space, zoned for retail, remains without a tenant, though extensive renovations have been completed. Interior designer Amy Manor was to have taken the space, but changed her plans for the Red Bank Design Center and opened it in late 2014 at Broad and Harding Road instead.

• The board directed the applicant proposing to convert a retail space at 132 Broad Street to a sushi restaurant called Red Lantern use to come back with more detailed plans. The space was last rented to Monmouth Mattress.

• Bob Ebner, who owns a string of retail properties on West Front Street facing Broad Street, plans to give a facelift to one of them: the long-vacant two-story yellow brick building at 6 West Front.

Known to area oldtimers as a former Panasonic electronics store, and to the history-minded as the onetime the Sheridan Hotel, the structure has been vacant for at least a dozen years, and at some point acquired a mural covering most of the storefront. Now, with a nudge from the borough code enforcement office, Ebner plans to redo the facade, an idea that also won unanimous board approval.

But Ebner still has no immediate plans to renovate the interior, which it need to be made leaseable, he told redbankgreen.