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RED BANK: DOWNTOWN GETS SOME RETRO FIZZ

Fizz Soda Fountain opened Wednesday in the Monmouth Street space formerly occupied by Red Bank Sub Shop. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It took almost a year and a half longer than expected, but Fizz Soda Fountain has finally bubbled to life in Red Bank.

Done up in turquoise and gleaming stainless steel, the tiny burger-and-shake joint is as effervescent as the poppiest tune on a 1950s diner jukebox.

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RED BANK: TOAST RISKS HEAT OVER CARD FEES

amy russo harrigan 102715Amy Russo Harrigan, owner of Toast in Red Bank and two other locations, is now imposing a 2.5-percent surcharge on customer bills paid with credit or debit cards, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Harrigan “knows she risks irritating customers; she has the social media posts to prove it,” writes reporter Michael Diamond. “But she said the [card processing] fees prevent her from hiring and offering raises to her staff, so she’s trying to figure out a way to share the burden without raising prices.” (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? TOAST TOSSED SALAD

110515toastsaladA Chopped Greek salad with grilled shrimp, above, and a plate of hash and eggs, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

103115toast1Peace, Love and Pancakes: How can you go wrong with a slogan like that?

The newest foodie haven in Red Bank, Toast is slinging all three, along with hash and other comfort foods, in a glossy retro-American-meets-Scandinavian style luncheonette in the former home of the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street.
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RED BANK: AT HOME WITH TOAST & TARRAGON

amy russo harrigan 102715Amy Russo Harrigan in the newly opened Toast, housed in the former Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street. Below, an ad for the original Palace Diner that appeared in the Red Bank Register in 1945. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

palace diner ad 1945From outside, the neon-and-stainless-steel trimmed building at 45 Monmouth Street in Red Bank still looks like the classic diner it was for most of the past 70 years. The sign over the front door even proclaims “City Diner” under the new name.

But to the chagrin of some hardcore nostalgics, and to the delight others, Toast, which opened earlier this month, is not a mere rebranding of the Broadway Diner, which occupied the railcar-style building for 18 years.

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RED BANK: TOAST POPS UP

toast 101615 2toast 101615 1The widely anticipated revival of the former Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street in Red Bank as Toast restaurant was completed with a quiet opening Friday afternoon, moments after borough officials issued a certificate of occupancy.

Toast owner Amy Russo, whose late father was a partner in the 24-hour-a-day diner and closed it down 15 months ago, has maintained the stainless-steel exterior and classic look of the interior, though with ample decor changes. The menu, however, is new, as are the hours: 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m, except for Saturday, October 17, when it opens at 8 a.m, an employee told redbankgreen.

[UPDATE: Owner Amy Russo Harrigan informs redbankgreen that Toast will open for friends and family on Saturday, be closed Sunday, and open for “business as usual” Monday morning.] (Click to enlarge)

ON THE GREEN: SLOW ROAST AT TOAST

toast curb 072815HOT-TOPIC_01With temperatures headed toward the high 80s, John Cushing of Bayonne rolled on with his work Tuesday, painting curbs outside the Toast restaurant under construction in the former Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street in Red Bank.

The National Weather Service said Tuesday was the first of at least seven consecutive days in which peak daytime temperatures were expected to be close to 90 degrees. (Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: PLAIN DECOR BUT GOURMET GRITS

053015inbetweengritsSouthern style shrimp and grits from the specials menu at the Inbetween Café. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

What magnetic pull does the Inbetween Café in Red Bank have that keeps loyal customers waiting to share a table with others for breakfast or lunch?

Achieving almost a cult-like status, in part because of  the gourmet fare his kitchen churns out seven days a week, owner and chef Bob Koehler may sling hash a little more slowly than some others, but that’s because he makes sure every plate comes out just right. Showing off his experienced chops, he’s not afraid to try a new recipe on his hungry legion of devoted connoisseurs.

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RUTGERS TO RED BANK: HANSEL ‘N GRIDDLE

011715 hansel3Casey Ruff, owner of the newly opened Hansel ‘n Griddle on West Front Street serves a chicken cobb salad. Below, French Toast from the breakfast menu offered throughout the day.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011715 hansel4The newest eatery to open in Red Bank is described by its creator, the 33-year -old Nick Komandis, as “A mom-and-pop shop that has the appeal of a modern-day fast-food restaurant.”

The Rutgers grad came up with this foodery concept just out of college, and with backing from his parents opened his first Hansel ‘n Griddle in New Brunswick. A second restaurant, also in New Brunswick, and a third in Somerville quickly followed.

Now a franchise, the fourth Hansel ‘n Griddle – which opened this weekend at 38 West Front Street,  most recently home to 30 Burgers – is owned by 27-year-old Casey Ruff, who met Komandis while a student at Rutgers. An owner of two laundromats, Ruff says he “likes dealing with people. I love this environment, the customers and the people who work for Hansel, and I’m not sitting behind a desk.”

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RED BANK: BREAKFAST ALL DAY LONG

092014 rbdiner lighter2A breakfast of fried eggs, homefries and sausages from the Red Bank Diner on Broad Street. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumSince the unexpected closing of the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street two months ago, the question of where you can get breakfast for dinner in Red Bank has been on some ravenous minds.

Although it’s not open 24 hours a day, you can indeed have the customary first meal of the day when others are eating their last at the Red Bank Diner on Broad Street.

“We serve breakfast all day long, including pancakes,” says diner owner Louis Kanellos.

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RED BANK: BELATED GOODBYES TO A DINER

taylor sisters 072214Sisters Sarah and Claire Taylor came to the Broadway Diner from Ocean Township with their mom on Tuesday not knowing it had closed. Below, the diner’s famous buttermilk pancakes are now a memory. (Photos by John T. Ward and Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

072214 diner pancakesThe promise of a “Diner Open 24 HRS,” proclaimed in neon, ended in Red Bank Monday morning without an opportunity for fans even to say goodbye.

For 18 years, the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street was a vital and consistent part of the community, as reflected in the degree to which both staffers and customers felt blindsided by its abrupt closing.

“I am in mourning,” said 18-year-old Colts Neck resident Jess Soden, who came into town with a friend Monday afternoon jonesing for the diner’s waffles, but ended up theatrically curled into a fetal position on its front steps. “They were just so crunchy, yet so fluffy on the inside.”

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RED BANK: DINER TO REOPEN AS TOAST

  bway diner 072114 1“Sorry, closed” is all sign in the door tells patrons of the Broadway Diner, where some 40 workers were shocked to learn they’d lost their jobs Monday. Below, workers emptying out the kitchen. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD & SUSAN ERICSON

bway diner 072114 2Red Bank’s Broadway Diner, which closed abruptly Monday morning, will reopen as Toast Red Bank, according to a report in the Asbury Park Sun.

Following renovations, a reopening is expected in about about eight weeks, the Sun reported, quoting Amy Russo, Toast’s founder and the daughter of one of the diner’s owners.

Russo could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon, and an employee at her Asbury Park restaurant said she would probably not comment.

But the sudden closing in Red Bank stunned customers and employees alike.

“I just found out half an hour ago that I don’t have a job anymore,” an employee told a customer who had asked what she’d do now. “Can you imagine?”
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ON THE GREEN: WHERE TO WELCOME 2017

SouthsideBasieNewYrsThe champagne corks are poppin’ as Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes continue a Count Basie New Year’s Eve tradition this Saturday night.

HOT-TOPIC_03Here at the tail end of a year that many people are all too anxious to put in the rear view mirror, there’s still sufficient cause to keep the party percolating right up to the last ball-drop. And in the bars, restaurants and performance spaces of the Greater Red Bank Green, revelers have a choice of options that range from an intimate table at a favorite bistro to a big event that’s become the toast of all New Year’s Eve Extravaganzas in the state of New Jersey.

Here’s a sampling from Red Bank, Fair Haven, Rumson and Sea Bright nightspots.

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CHURN: SIGNS OF THE PAST… AND FUTURE

18 broad 082415Builder Mike Rovere uncovered turn-of-the-century signs in gold leaf on either side of the facade at 18 Broad, home to a series of shoe stores dating back to 1883. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallSummer doldrums? Not in this installment of redbankgreen’s Retail Churn, which finds downtown Red Bank abuzz with Churnage, as usual.

We’ve got renovation work uncovering history at the site of a planned restaurant; progress on two other new businesses; and more news, right around the “read more” corner.

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CHURN: 10TH AVE. NEARS OPENING DATE

10th ave 071415 1Signage is now up at 10th Ave. Burrito on West Front Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallWith the restaurantization of Red Bank in full swing, this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn serves up a groaning board of food news.

• The long wait for 10th Ave. Burrito Company is nearly over.

Sicilia Ristorante on Broad Street has a new owner, and he’s planning to split the business in two, sort of.

Details, and some assorted table scraps, are just around the corner.
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CHURN: A COUNTDOWN CLOCK & A BULL’S EYE

rb blue 011015 2The website of Blu Bistro features a digital clock ticking off the seconds to the opening date. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn small This edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn finds acres of wallboard transforming spaces on the loosely defined West Side of Red Bank these days.

That means lots of new businesses on the horizon in coming months – or in the case of one new restaurant, days, hours, minutes and seconds.

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