The Bistro’s George Lyristis: “You can’t always ask somebody else to fix the problem.”
Business is tough these days for many Red Bank restaurants. And it’s not simply a matter of the winter blahs.
The economy has soured. Would-be patrons are turned off by the perception of aggressive ticketing by the borough Parking Authority, and by real or perceived parking shortages. Competition from Pier Village in Long Branch and even downtown Asbury Park is siphoning off business.
And that’s just the out-of-towner trade. Then there are closings of retail stores and less noticed second- and third-floor businesses that supply a steady flow of weekly customers. A doubling of taxes last year after a revaluation has added to the burdens of premium-priced leases.
“You know what it is? It’s the two-, four-, six-person offices,” says Gary Sable, who owns That Hot Dog Place off Monmouth Street. “It’s the parking, it’s the rents. They’re moving out to Tinton Falls, moving out to Wall Township.”
As Zebu Forno owner Andrew Gennusa sees it, the problem is a borough administration that is indifferent to the impacts that soaring taxes and picayune code enforcement have on downtown businesses. “They have a heavy hand in this town,” Gennusa tells redbankgreen.
Conditions, in other words, are widely thought to be less than ideal for businesses that require big capital investments and daily purchases of large amounts of perishable inventory.
So roughly a dozen owners of restaurants, delis and takeout businesses from throughout Red Bank not just the downtown have decided to put their heads together to see what they might do collectively for themselves.
At this point, it’s little more than a concept, but they think they may have gotten the ball rolling on forming a restaurant association, an organization that will cater (pardon) specifically to their needs.
“Restaurants bring a lot of business into this town,” says George Lyristis, who owns The Bistro at Red Bank on Broad Street with his brothers Charlie and Tasso. “But we don’t have a voice.”