The former home of the Belmonte and, before that, Red, has been vacant for more than two years. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)
By JOHN T. WARD
A long-vacant restaurant space in Red Bank won approval for rooftop dining Monday night, despite objections by the board’s chairman.
Restaurateur Jack Manousos and partner Jason Zoracki, of Little Silver, who co-own Proving Ground Waterfront Dining in Highlands and other eateries, needed planning board approval for changes to their latest acquisition: 3-5 Broad, the former home of the Belmonte, and before that, Red restaurant and nightclub.
The property consists of two original structures: a two-story building at 3 Broad, and a three-story at 5 Broad. Manousos and Zoracki bought the property for $1.9 million in April, at the same time they acquired the liquor license for an undisclosed price.
They propose creating a 75-seat rooftop dining area atop the two-story portion, while retaining the existing operations on the first and second stories.
The third floor of 5 Broad, previously used for office space, would accommodate a staircase, an elevator and service station, but no dining tables, project architect Jason Vico testified.
The expansion plan would create a need for 33 additional parking spaces, none of which are provided, Vico said.
Applicant’s attorney Rick Brodsky noted that the property is just steps away from a valet parking drop-off and pick-up station on Broad Street.
Board Chairman Dan Mancuso, however, was not sold on the changes.
“I hate rooftop dining,” Mancuso said, without elaboration, “and I have a real issue with the increased parking demand.”
At the same time, Mancuso said, “I’d love to see this restaurant working again. I just think you’re shoving too much in here.”
“I love rooftop dining,” said board member David Cassidy. “I agree we do have some issues with parking, but I’ll make a motion to approve.”
Mancuso cast the lone dissenting vote as Cassidy, Fred Stone, Lou Dimento, Barbara Boas and Art Murphy voted in favor, with several board members absent.
Afterward, Manousos told redbankgreen has hasn’t yet decided on a name for the restaurant, which he hopes to open in the spring or summer of 2020.