By JOHN T. WARD
Red Rock Tap + Grill can convert some of its rooftop space to year-round dining under a decision by Red Bank’s planning board Monday night.
Also, Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash can keep its splashy, ordinance-breaking window treatment, the board ruled.
• Red Rock, which replaced longtime dive bar Brannigan’s at Wharf Avenue at Union Street in 2015, sought a variance to allow it to seasonally enclose some of its roof deck for dining.
Owner Paul Marcotte‘s plan also calls for the elimination of four employee-only parking spots on the site; the creation of an enclosed vestibule and stairwell; and the enclosure of the existing main entrance.
Changes to the building would allow Marcotte to relocate an internal stairway, “which is not really in the best location,” to a new stair tower, said architect Michael MonroE. Installing sliding doors around the existing open-air deck would allow for 24 more dining customers at a time through the fall and winter, he said.
“We have a very successful operation, but in the winter, it’s actually a money-losing operation,” Monroe said. “We have very good food, but there’s not enough seating.”
On the parking question, attorney and former mayor Ed McKenna told the board that “probably 98 percent of the time, [Marcotte’s] employees either bike or Uber to work, and they never, ever use the parking spaces” that are designated solely for their use.
Mayor Pasquale Menna, though, pressed Monroe on whether the restaurant and bar would be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act after getting rid of the spots. After consulting with Marcotte, Monroe said one spot would be kept for use by customers with disabilities.
Menna called the changes are “the piece de resistance — this puts the icing on the cake” of the renovations done for years ago, he said. And removing the parking spaces eliminates a danger posed by vehicles backing out into a roadway opposite the emergency room of Riverview Medical Center across the street, he said.
After a 17-minute hearing, the board’s approval was unanimous.
• Secret Stash, the 20-year-old comic book shop owned by filmmaker Kevin Smith, applied to the board for a variance that would allow it to keep its windows at 35 Broad Street fully covered in signage. The building owner had been cited for exceeding the 20-percent limit.
Assistant manager Mike Zapcic said the coverage was needed for several reasons, including protection of the store’s inventory.
“Sunlight degrades our product, comic books, and would damage 90 percent of our stock,” he said.
Then there’s the steady stream of visitors who come in the hope of seeing Smith —who visited Saturday, signing autographs for about 300 fans — or other celebrities, said Zapcic.
“We’re sort of a tourist destination,” he said. “We get a lot of lookie loos, and this cuts down on people pressing their faces up against the glass.”
“I’m not a fan of 100-percent covered windows,” said board chairman Dan Mancuso. But he moved the application for approval, saying that the circumstances “outweigh my general prohibition.”
The board’s approval was unanimous. Menna, noting that he had done unrelated legal work for Smith, recused himself.