AND NOW, THE BEST APPEALS

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

In what could be the start of a long process, Best Liquors’ owner Sunny Sharma has begun appealing his case to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control division in an effort to block the borough of Red Bank from permanently yanking his liquor license.

Last night, in a session that took less than 10 minutes, the council unanimously passed two resolutions: one to revoke the store’s retail distribution license, and the second, to deny renewal when its two-year term ends at midnight tomorrow.

Last week, the council found Sharma guilty of seven charges, five of which alleged sales to underaged persons.

Those sales were the tipping point that prompted Councilwoman Grace Cangemi to be part of the unanimous revocation vote, she said last night.

“It was too many sales to minors,” she said.

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ON THE WINGS OF SOBRIETY

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

What do you do if you’re out on the town and you realize you’ve had one too many?

You know you shouldn’t get behind the wheel. You could call a cab, but your car is sitting in a parking lot and you don’t want to leave it there overnight. You could call a friend, if you’re willing to have one more ex-friend in the morning.

Four Rumson college students who call themselves “The Wingmen Driving Service” think they have the answer.

Their slogan: “We drive you and your car home.”

That none of the four is old enough to buy beer hasn’t been an obstacle to the growth of their business, they say.

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COUNCIL TO CLUBS: ‘SHUT IT’

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Once a month at Teak, after the diners have finished their Asian-fusion sushi, a merengue band sets up in the front room and the place explodes with sounds from south of the border.

In fine weather, the large windows on three sides of the room are thrown open, turning the place into a throbbing lanai on Monmouth Street as salsa dancers spill out into the parking lot.

Well, it may be the dead of summer, but it’s time to button up, borough officials say.

The borough council is dialing up a campaign against nighttime noise with a proposal that would force clubs and restaurants to shut their doors and windows after 11p when they’re playing music, whether live or recorded.

“As more and more places go to big open windows — which is lovely — the noise is becoming more intolerable for the neighbors of those establishments,” says Councilwoman Grace Cangemi.

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ISLAND THEME, RIVER VIEW

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RiverCenter’s Tiki Party at the Elks Lodge Wednesday night took place under perfect weather conditions and drew the biggest-ever crowd to the annual bash, organizers said.

Though the final tally wasn’t yet available, it was also thought to have raised the most money yet for holiday-season street decorations.

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SUNNY’S DONE; COUNCIL PULLS LICENSE

Just_in

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

In a sweeping show of bipartisanship, the Red Bank Borough Council this evening voted not to renew the alcohol distribution license of Best Liquors, the packaged goods store on Leighton Avenue that last year became a hothouse of illegal activity and drew the enduring wrath of its neighbors.

The governing body voted 5-0 against the store on each of six charges that formed the basis of the license hearing. Councilman RJ Bifani, who had an unspecified potential conflict of interest, did not attend hearings in the matter.

Both store owner Sunny Sharma and his antagonists — a group of homeowners living near the intersection of Leighton Ave. and Catherine Street — were surprisingly subdued as the outcome of the case became clear.

The decision not to renew the license, which under normal circumstances would expire June 30, is the first step in what could prove to be a prolonged battle in the courts. Next, the council will draft an resolution to introduce Monday night, at its next regular meeting, calling for the permanent revocation of the store’s liquor license.

A special meeting to vote on the resolution was scheduled for 5p next Thursday. If the measure passes, it would become effective at 11:59p that night.

Store owner Sunny Sharma, however, is expected to appeal to the state Alcoholic Beverage Commission. According to his lawyer, Samuel ‘Skip’ Reale Jr., a former deputy state attorney general, the store will be permitted to continue selling alcohol during the pendency of the appeal.

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A HEMISPHERE, OR TWO, ON EVERY PLATE

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

With Asian, Italian and vegetarian (to name a few) influences, the Eurasian Eatery has long managed to defy categorization.

It’s not vegetarian, exactly, though vegetarian dishes account for 70 percent of the menu, making it a favorite among meat avoiders. Yet there’s no shortage of carnivores who patronize the Monmouth Street restaurant.

“Couples come in, and only one is vegetarian, but everyone finds something on the menu,” says Joe Kriete, who with his wife Tara, took over the restaurant one year ago.

“I’d love for it to be all vegetarian, but it wouldn’t be fair to people who come for our meat dishes,” says Joe, himself an omnivore.

As its name suggests, the Eurasian embraces both Asian and European cuisine. Joe describes the menu as “a broad mix between European and Asian cultures, and everything in between.”

Where else, for example, can you find a pairing like Neapolitan dumplings with homemade marinara sauce and a parmesan cream, wrapped in Asian rice paper? Or black bean moussaka sharing menu space with Hungarian chicken paprikash and Thai sautés?

“Italian and Thai dishes — those are a lot of fun.” says Joe.

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A SPICY, SAVORY & SPECTACULAR SELLOUT

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Faces, fashions and flavors from around the world were on display last Saturday night at the Red Bank Primary School for the annual International Night, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.

LAWYER: STORE FACES ‘DEATH PENALTY’

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI

Red Bank’s legal offensive against the controversial Best Liquors store on Leighton Avenue is the economic equivalent of a ‘death penalty’ case, its lawyer argued Thursday night at the conclusion of a three-hour hearing.

The session wrapped up at about 10p without a decision by the Borough Council, which is sitting in judgment. The council instead opted to adjourn until next Thursday at 4p, when it is expected to rule on whether the store’s record of illicit booze and cigarette sales to minors merits action. Download best_liquors_charges_and_specifications.pdf

If so, the penalties, if any, could be as severe as a revocation of the store’s license to sell liquor, Mayor Pasquale Menna said earlier this week.

That possible fate is not lost on either Sunny Sharma, who owns the store, or his lawyer, Samuel ‘Skip’ Reale Jr., who ripped the case made against the store by Borough Attorney Tom Hall.

Reale said Hall was relying on “second- and third-hand hearsay” in an effort to shut the store down.

“Hall is basically asking for the death penalty,” Reale said in a summation to the council. “Is the evidence you’ve heard the type of evidence you’d want somebody to use in determing whether your business should continue or not?”

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Where060707

Word on the street is that the Colmorgen boys, Bob & Carl, were running all over town on hunches as they tried to figure out where they’d seen last week’s location.

In which case Bob, who lives in Eatontown, probably drove right past it more than once. Yet neither he nor Carl nor anyone else for that matter was able to call it.

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VICTORY MARKET WAVES THE WHITE FLAG

Img_1419It’s a wrap as Debra Johnson arranges final details after closing Victory Market for the final time last Friday.

A Red Bank meat business with World War II roots closed its doors Friday after the owners could not agree with the landlord on new lease terms.

Owners Debra Johnson and her daughter, Dana Palmer, had hoped to relocate the business to the English Plaza space recently vacated by Maxwell & Sophie, which moved around the corner to White Street. But faced with daunting costs and delays involved in a change of use at that address, they’ve dropped that plan for now, Johnson said.

“Everybody’s coming in here crying,” Johnson told redbankgreen after she’d locked her doors for the final time Friday afternoon. “I told them, tell it to the landlord.”

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IT’S ON

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Kids

The Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival kicked off to a terrific start Friday night before a light rain rolled in at about 9p during Billy Hector‘s headline show.

Red Bank’s own Chuck Lambert Band, above, stirred the festival to life. And in the natural amphitheater facing the main stage, a trio of kids enjoyed cold treats.

Below, a fan videotapes Hector’s performance.

Today, weather permitting, there’s a full-schedule of acts from noon to 10p, with festival headliner Big Bill Morganfield slotted to go on at 8:30p.

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EIGHT-BAR BLUES: FESTIVAL SHRINKS TO FIT

Jazzed3_ir

The Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival might be forgiven for having one monster case of the blues. In recent years, it’s been battered financially and encountered its fair share of literally stormy weather.

Yet the people who pull it together soldier on, this year presenting what corporate types might call a “rightsized” 21st annual edition of a free event that manages to draw music, food and crafts lovers by the tens of thousands, when the weather cooperates.

And almost as if reaching for a good-luck charm, the festival kicks off tonight amid forecasts of iffy weather with local favorite Billy Hector. The firey blues guitarist reprises a headlining role of a few years back that drew the biggest opening-night crowd in the event’s history.

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A SECOND LIFE AT THE INTERNET CAFÉ

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By LINDA G. RASTELLI
Joe Cullity doesn’t like to make a big deal out of his hip injury, and speaks reluctantly about the day he got it — September 11, 2001.

“I was lucky I was late for work,” he says. “I lost a lot of my friends that day.”

A software designer for the New York Mercantile Exchange, Cullity was inside Tower One, waiting at the elevator bank to go up to Cantor Fitzgerald, the bond trading firm, when the first plane hit the building.

“I walked to the back and saw all this debris coming down and flames and people running like hell,” he recalls. “Then I went to the front. Everybody was looking up at the building. I was standing under the door. After a few seconds I ran like a bastard across the street. At that time we thought it was an accident, an idiot controller. We had no idea.”

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BEST LIQUORS CASE TO RESUME

The Red Bank Borough Council has set June 14 as the resumption date of its hearing in the Best Liquors license matter.

The hearing, a special session of the council, will begin at 5p.

Borough Attorney Tom Hall, who is prosecuting the case, tells redbankgreen he expects that the hearing will conclude that night.

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NO ‘POLITICS’ AS MARINES HEAD TO WAR

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At yesterday’s Memorial Day send-off for 87 reservists attached to the Red Bank headquarters of the 6th Motor Transport Battallion, there was little talk of recent polls showing that Americans have soured on the Iraq war.

Nor was there much discussion inside the black palisade fence at Newman Springs and Half Mile roads of the rising sect-against-sect violence, or the terrorism directed at coalition soldiers and American personnel on the ground in Iraq, or the effectiveness of the new Iraqi government in assuming control of its own country.

Those topics were set aside as “politics,” something to be avoided in general, but particularly on this day.

While two gleaming tour buses idled amid the seven-ton green trucks built to haul ammunition and food to the front lines of conflict, the talk among the men and women in sand-colored fatigues was of bringing their fellow soldiers through safely.

The talk among the families and friends seeing the Marines off was of having their own return unscathed eight or ten months hence.

“They can have him as long as they bring him back home alive,” said Maggie Walling of Tinton Falls, referring to her son Tim, a 2005 graduate of Red Bank Regional High School. She said she and her son had “stayed up all night” savoring their time together.

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AFTER FOUR HOURS, SHARMA’S BACK ON ICE

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By Linda G. Rastelli
In a hearing characterized by polite sparring between lawyers, the Red Bank borough council sat through nearly four hours of testimony in the case against Sunny Sharma and Best Liquors without a decision Tuesday night.

No date was set for a resumption of the hearing, in which the council is sitting in judgment. Mayor Pasquale Menna said he hoped the next installment could be scheduled within 30 days.

Testimony was taken from four witnesses for the borough: a 20-year old Middletown woman who was arrested for illegally buying beer from Best Liquors last year and three police officers involved in arrests or investigations centering on the store at Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street.

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ANOTHER TRY AT TRIAL OF THE CENTURY

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After six months of delays, the Borough of Red Bank’s administrative law case against Best Liquors will finally happen next Tuesday.

That’s the plan, at least.

At stake for Best Liquors owner Sunny Sharma is his ability to sell beer, wine and liquor at the corner of Leighton Avenue and Catherine Street.

For his residential neighbors, what’s at stake is their ability to get a good night’s sleep and to wake up knowing that tiny airline-style liquor bottles haven’t rained down on their lawns and sidewalks.

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RUGGERS PLAY HARD, PARTY HARDER

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Late in the first half of Monmouth Rugby Football Club’s April 28 match against Bayonne at Thompson Park, a Monmouth player slowly righted himself from the turf after taking a hard tackle.

It was a while before he was unsteadily back on his feet. By the time he was, the action in the game had moved nearly to the opposite corner of the pitch. But this guy was going nowhere. Limping along the sideline, he signaled to Monmouth Coach Brian Muller that he needed to come out.

Muller, though, told the player he had no one to sub for him, and turned his attention back to the ongoing action. The player stayed in and shook off his injuries enough to carry on.

Just another day on the pitch in one of the world’s more primitive team sports, a game of tissue-scraping, bone-bruising beauty. And afterward, the ‘lads’ from both squads (you hear the word ‘lads’ a lot at a rugby match, often shouted with an Irish or English accent) went off for a therapeutic pint or two.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Where051007

We had just one response to last week’s picture, and damn if it wasn’t yet another correct one from Carl Colmorgen.

That’s five Colmorgens in a row, for those keeping count.

How is it that a guy can return to Red Bank after living for more than three decades in Florida and seemingly know this place like the back of his hand?

Carl, a school crossing guard who refers to this feature as “Where Am I,” explains in an email how he sussed this one out, at least:

In studying the Where Am I, I was looking down my sister said looking
up. On my way to Broad and Harding, I go down to Marine Park while waiting
to get out of Wharf Ave. what to my wandering eyes should appear but the
GLOBE HOTEL, and I just had to send this in.

The famed Globe Hotel on East Front Street.

Carl Colmorgen

PS:

Not typing in all upper case.

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DRUNK RED BANK TEEN MAKES SELF AT HOME

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A unidentified Red Bank teenager, drunk and separated from his partymates, wandered into an Ocean Township home early today, where he noshed on food before passing out in a chair, the Asbury Park Press is reporting.

From the story:

The 17-year-old, who was not identified because of his age, was discovered by police sometime after 5:35 a.m. when a resident woke up to the sound of the family’s dog barking and realized an intruder was in the house. The resident called 911 to report the prowler, police said.

The teen was charged with defiant trespassing and consuming alcohol on private property while under the age of 21.

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