By JOHN T. WARD
At Via45, restaurateurs Lauren Phillips and Claudette Herring ended an 11-year run on Broad Street. Around the corner on Monmouth Street, Marissa Clifford oversaw the final children’s birthday party at Paint A Tee.
An outpouring of emotion followed the announcement on Facebook last Friday that Via45 was closing.
“Overwhelming,” said Phillps. “So much love.”
“Over 11 years, we provided a place that felt like home,” Herring said, as she, Phillips and others made plans to repurpose bookcases, mismatched table sets, glassware and more. “Dispersing pieces of 11 years, that’s hard.”
The pandemic, they sense, will bring long-lasting changes to the way Americans view dining out, with greater emphasis on the home. So the two chefs will “bring Via45 to the table,” Herring said.
The switch from a storefront to a custom catering and takeout operation is just “a pause in our journey,” said Phillips.
Watch Facebook and the Via45 website for upates.
• At Paint A Tee, young customers designed their own t-shirts and hoodies in a supervised party atmosphere. Their creations were ready to wear when they headed out the door.
Marissa Clifford opened the shop at 18 Monmouth in 2012. Its closing is “100-percent’ attributable to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, Clifford said, as she pressed a kid’s design into a garment.
“I was having my best year ever” when the pandemic roared ashore in March, she said. Cancellations of previously booked parties tumbled in unabated through August.
Faced with the prospect of a lease renewal, Clifford decided instead to reorient the business out of the brick and mortar space.
Now, she’s in the process of buying a van to make Paint A Tee a mobile enterprise that will travel to its customers’ homes, bringing the party to them.
For those tracking the Retail Churn changes, the space Paint A Tee vacated was home to Readie’s (pronounced REED-ees), a butcher shop and deli owned by Jack Readie, which began life as the Village Pork Store in 1957.
In 2000, Readie sold the business to Tom Fishkin, who kept the Readie’s name and moved the business to Broad Street 11 years later, turning it into a deli and catering operation. Fishkin closed the shop in 2018, repositioning it again, this time into a catering-only business based in Hazlet.
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The storefont was home for just four months last year to a florist shop; before that, it was leased to the Spice & Tea Exchange, which lasted five years.
• The windows at 19 Monmouth Street may be papered over, but City Barn Country Penthouse says it has only “temporarily suspended” its retail store operations, which open just days before the pandemic.
Owners and spouses Carrie Carretta and Rick Giambastini posted on Facebook that they’re instead focusing on their online business, and offering free delivery within a 10-mile radius.
• Next door, at 21 Monmouth, the former home of Ocean Café is also papered over. New signage indicates a business called Rice Box is coming, but otherwise, it’s a black box: we’ve been unable to find any information about it online.
• ICYMI, the Downtown restaurant and bar at 8-10 West Front Street has changed hands, as reported by redbankgreen Monday. Read about that deal here.
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