By JOHN T. WARD
It’s not so much that the block on which her business resides is undercaffeinated, by urban standards, that compelled new Sugarush owner Amanda Porter to open a café at the Red Bank desserts shop.
But add to that the fact that she’s got available storefront space; a bakery out back with the capacity to create a whole new, non-dessert treats menu; and is a self-style “coffee snob,” and well, how could she not?
Porter, an Eatontown resident who spent 12 years in the Navy and still serves in the reserves, recently took over ownership of Sugarush from her brother, Chris Paseka, and his husband, Jesse Bello-Paseka. The pair moved to Las Vegas last year to care for Paseka’s father, and ended up putting down roots and opening a small restaurant there.
Porter’s been running the East Front Street shop in the interim, and now that she’s fully in charge, with her brother serving as a long-distance consultant, has decided to leverage the small storefront next door as Sugarush Café.
The shop fronts a large party room room that Paseka and Bello-Paseka created in 2013 after the departure of the Kathryn Barnett School of Dance. That space will continue to serve as a special events room on weekends. But during the week, it will provide ample room for customers to while away the hours, enjoying coffee, tea, scones, danish and free wi-fi, said Porter.
With 45 seats, and a few in the window of the new shop, “there’s plenty of space here to get away from the hustle and bustle,” said 33-year-old Porter.
Porter cites two years’ residence in Italy and another six in Seattle among her credentials as a coffee expert, and said one reason she created the café is that “I need good coffee.”
“I was so happy when Rook came to town,” she said, citing a coffee stand on White Street. “But there’s no where to sit there.”
Problem solved. Porter plans a soft opening of the café next week, she said.