By JOHN T. WARD
In this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn: piping-hot news of changes at two restaurants in downtown Red Bank.
Though one is closing and the other is newly opened, for the owners of both, the appeal of the Broadwalk seasonal dining and shopping plaza remains strong four years in.
As previously reported, the address was part of a July transaction in which the Middletown resident paid $6.1 million for two adjoining buildings totaling more than 14,000 square feet of retail and commercial space in the heart of Broadwalk: 17 and 19 Broad Street.
Though DiLeo filed plans with the borough indicating an Italian restaurant called Ora will open at the address, that was simply a placeholder, he told Churn. In fact, “it’s still yet to be determined what we’re going to do there,” he said.
“I can tell you that the new restaurant will be just as nice and as beautiful as Centrada,” DiLeo said, referring to the swanky night spot he opened 17 months ago after an expensive overhaul of its three-story home, at 8-10 West Front Street.
Why change? For one thing, “seafood is, unfortunately, one of the most boring restaurants there is,” said DiLeo. “No matter what concept we add, you’re going to have plenty of fish,” but the menu doesn’t need to be organized around it, he said.
For another, 19 Broad retains much of the interior design done for Gotham, a nightclub that opened there in 2014, and lighting from Hamilton Jewelers, which preceded Gotham, said DiLeo. “It’s dying for a makeover,” he said.
Dominick Rizzo relocated his seafood restaurant, Catch, to the space and rebranded it as Catch 19 in 2017. Rizzo, who is a partner in Catch 19 and Centrada, will continue in his role, DiLeo said.
Whatever style of restaurant he opens, DiLeo said, it should be ready to open when Broadwalk begins its fifth summer season next year, assuming the borough council reauthorizes another season for the vehicular shutdown. DiLeo is bullish on a renewal.
Until Broadwalk debuted early in the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, “Red Bank always suffered in the summer,” he said. “But now, the closing of that street gives people reason to say, ‘hey, let’s go to Red Bank, they’ve got all those restaurants with the seats outside.’ I still think it’s a help for the restaurant industry. The only thing that still troubles me is that so many of the retail stores are closed at night.”
As for the future of 17 Broad, the vacant former home of Coco Pari dress shop, that’s also TBD, said DiLeo.
“I’d love to have high-end retail, and I’ve had a slew of interest,” but another restaurant is also not out of the question, he said.
• After an elegant interior makeover, Ceviche House Perú restaurant opened Wednesday at 51 Broad Street.
Owned by Jaime Villanueva, who also has a small restaurant in Callao, Peru, Ceviche House Perú is run by his son, Sebastian Villanueva, and manager Ruben Lopez, all of Long Branch.
So why open in Red Bank?
“We saw that within a radius of maybe 20 miles, we didn’t find a Peruvian restaurant,” Sebastian told redbankgreen. “We wanted to bring our culture, our food, and our love of the food, to you guys.”
Broadwalk only added to the appeal, he said. “We saw a lot of people, and a lot of Italian restaurants, but not a lot of Latin places.”
Working with the distinctive vegetables – such as corn and peppers – and flavorings of his home country, “100-percent Peruvian” chef Alfredo Bravo oversees a menu that reflects the native as well as “fusion” influences of Asia and Africa on Peru, Villanueva said.
Ceviche House Perú takes over the space last occupied by El Gavilan Tio Juan, which closed recently after a brief run, and whose sign still hangs above the entrance.
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