Comedian Jon Stewart brought some star power to lunchtime at the Count Basie Center for the Arts Wednesday.

Stewart, who owns homes in Red Bank and Middletown, worked the window of the Shore Good Eats truck out of Neptune, dispensing short-rib grilled cheese sandwiches, cookies and quips — all gratis — to startled construction workers involved in building a $26 million expansion of the Monmouth Street venue.

Kyle Watson, who’s installing the fire safety system, was among those surprised. “I came over, just thought it was a normal stand, was going to order something,” said Watson, of Toms River. “I didn’t expect Jon Stewart. He was like, ‘you got a free lunch coming.’ Cool day, right?”

The aim of the event, which attracted a clutch of media, was to thank the workers as they prepare to install the final beam on the project next month, said Basie CEO Adam Philipson. Stewart, who helped raise $50,000 for the theater with a June appearance, volunteered to work the food truck when he heard about the event, Philipson said. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)