The scene at the newly opened Playa Bowls last Friday. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


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This edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn has news on three downtown eateries: one that’s doing gangbuster business, one that got a recent makeover, and one that’s calling it quits.

Details follow…

The former Saladworks at 130 Broad Street is now Fresh Bowl. Below, Café 28 is closing next week. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

• As anyone who’s passed by on school afternoons has probably noted, the Playa Bowls at 14 West Front Street is not just packing them in: they’re often lined up out the door. That’s been true on weekends, too, as a crowd dominated by teens and tweens clamors for fruit-and-nut confections anchored by the acai berry.

Unlike the other stores in the rapidly growing Playa Bowls chain, the Red Bank store is independently owned by Robert Eliseo, who is also the landlord to the original store, on Ocean Avenue in Belmar.

The 3,000-square-foot space, which had been vacant since the demise of Lucky Break Billiards in 2013, also features a coffee bar out back and, thanks to a large window Eliseo cut into the back wall, a view of the Navesink River.


• The space formerly occupied by Saladworks, at 130 Broad Street, has gotten a new owner, a makeover and a rebranding as Fresh Bowl.

The business, which is not part of a franchise, is solely owned by Giuseppe Amato, a Tinton Falls resident who emigrated to the United States from Italy in 2001 and has worked in the food industry since then, including a stint at the Saladworks in the Monmouth Mall. That store, like the one now occupied by Fresh Bowl, was owned by the Soriso family, who also ran the Sicilia Cafe next door for five years.

Amato said Fresh Bowl has a broader menu than its salads-only predecessor, and offers pastas, paninis, wraps and more.

• After six years at 64 White Street, Mohamed Elbery is closing Café 28 and plans to open a new, table-service Mediterranean restaurant by the same name on West Park Avenue in Ocean Township.

His lease with the Bowers family, which owns a handful of buildings along White Street, expires on February 28, he said.