By JOHN T. WARD
It took almost a year and a half longer than expected, but Fizz Soda Fountain has finally bubbled to life in Red Bank.
Done up in turquoise and gleaming stainless steel, the tiny burger-and-shake joint is as effervescent as the poppiest tune on a 1950s diner jukebox.
Created by partners and borough residents Canio Paradiso and Kevin Kopacko, Fizz takes over the space at 8 Monmouth Street vacated in mid-2016 by Paradiso’s short-lieved Red Bank Sub Shop.
The market for subs downtown was just “oversaturated,” Paradiso told redbankgreen as he and Kopacko prepared for their first paying customers. His foremost takeaway from efforts to compete in the crowded restaurant market, he said, was that an eatery has to stand out from the pack.
Toward that end, Kopacko and Paradiso gutted the sub shop to create a mini-diner, with eight turquoise-topped stools at a counter trimmed in mirror-shine metal. Its centerpiece: a functioning 1950’s style soda fountain that Kopacko found and had restored. It will be used to dispense carbonated sodas not available locally, he said.
“One reason it took so long to open was that we wanted a certain look,” Kopacko said. “We wanted a finished look that’s as authentic ’50s as we could get.”
The decor isn’t the whole story, though, Kopacko said. Fizz also aims to fill a void left by the demise of the Broadway Diner three years ago and its subsequent replacement by Amy Harrigan’s Toast, an eatery that closes after serving the lunch crowd.
“On thing we felt was missing downtown was a late-night option,” he said. “There are other places open, but nothing similar to what the Broadway used to be.”
Featuring what the partners say is the town’s first self-contained stove hood, meaning no outside ventilation is required, Fizz offers an array of diner staples: burgers ($8 for a single patty, $12 double); egg sandwiches and other breakfast fare; shakes, sundaes, egg creams and more.
But Kopacko, a 43-year-old who’s been in the restaurant business his whole life, has appended a line to the wall menu: “If we have the ingredients and the time, we’ll make it.”
Fizz plan to operate Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; on Fridays and Saturdays from 11 to 3 a.m. “or whenever people stop coming in,” Paradiso said; and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
An unusual open-to-the-sky seating area created for the sub shop in an air-shaft won’t be part of the restaurant, however. Morco, the building’s owner, plans to create luxury apartments on the upper two floors, and the airway will house an elevator shaft, Paradiso said.