PACKIN’ THEM IN

A dozen new metered parking spaces were created along West Front Street this week, the result of efforts by retailers who complained about inadequate parking near their businesses and decided to do something about it, according to Tricia Rumola, Executive Director of RiverCenter.

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For all the talk about underutilized parking lots east of Broad Street, shoppers on the west side, like those everywhere, want to park nearest their destinations, says Rumola.

“Customers are all about convenience, and you can’t change that mindset,” Rumola says, “and RiverCenter is all about customer service.”

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TAKE-OUT TROUBLE?

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The West Side property that’s the site of Best Liquors has been home to retail businesses for 90 years. For a good part of that history, it was a grocery, but since 1965, it’s been a liquor retailer, says store owner Pankaj ‘Sunny’ Sharma.

Sharma, who’s 30 years old, drives a red sports car and could pass for a matinee idol, has had the store for just three years. But in that time, he says, he’s been diligent about upgrading and maintaining the property.

He matched public funds to pay for a colorful mural along the store’s exposed southern wall. He installed halogen lighting outside and a camera system so he could keep an eye on things from his cash register. Recently, after complaints from neighbors, he hired someone to come by twice a day to pick up wrappers and other debris that customers drop on the sidewalk.

“All of this stuff, the store didn’t have before,” says Sharma. The effect, he says, has been to improve both the look of the corner and the safety. “Even the police chief said that in the last five years, crime is down 70 percent at this corner,” he says.

But Sharma’s neighbors, all of them homeowners, aren’t buying it. Citing a welter of complaints about noise, littering, public urination and prostitution that they say is getting worse—and which they link directly to the store’s presence—they insist that it’s time for the shop’s long run to end.

No matter what it takes, they say, it’s time to shut Sunny down.

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SEALFONS SEALING ITS DOORS

Sealfons, the largest store in the Grove, is moving out by the end of the year because of rising rents, the Asbury Park Press is reporting.

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The 25,000-square-foot space will be divided between Brooks Bros., which already has a store at the Grove, and Anthropologie, whose intentions with regard to the Grove were reported here in June.

The closing means the end of the family-owned Sealfons department store chain, which grew to its peak of six stores in the mid-1990s but has been in paring mode in recent years, the Press reports.

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JUDY’S FIFTEEN MINUTES

Judy

Take the name Bruce Springsteen, mix it up with some hot gossip, and you’ve got a volatile fuel, ready to propel a story around the globe in a flash.

Judy Barnaby’s been getting a ride on such a rocket. Her fifteen minutes, you might say.

Readers of redbankgreen know Judy as the Antique Center of Red Bank manager who got a hug and a scoop from Patti Scialfa a week ago. On a visit to the store with her husband of 15 years, Patti told Judy that the gossip item in the previous day’s New York Post about an imminent split in the Scialfa-Springsteen household was bunk.

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OLD IS NEW

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Here’s a belated welcome to Scott Betesh and his two-month-old Broad Street emporium called Maison Blanche.

Betesh, of Long Branch, comes from a family of antiques wholesalers, and he’s the first to venture into the dicey game of retail.

He sells antiques, yes, but also new furniture, jewelry and some outdoor pieces. “There’s a big antique market here in Red Bank, and a lot of home furnishings stores, but I try to bring something a little different.”

Why Red Bank? “It’s really become a destination,” he says. “I used to come here for drinks, and I really like the way the town has evolved. I see a really, really bright future here.”

If Betesh is concerned about getting caught in the riptides of the Broad Street churn, he keeps it to himself, just as he’s not bashing the landlords for the rental rates that others complain are out of whack.

“I could have gone to a lot of other towns, but I think Red Bank is worth it because it’s a destination,” says Betesh.

He’s got some help in the shop, but his relatives are sticking with the world of wholesale.

“Nobody else wants to work retail—they think I’m crazy,” says Betesh. “It’s a lot of long hours.”

The store is at 65 Broad.

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BRUCE: ‘THE BEST 18 YEARS OF MY LIFE’

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Well, Judy Barnaby and the folks at the Antique Center of Red Bank are looking like pretty good judges of character right now, contrary to the cynical intepretations by some regarding events at the store last Friday.

Judy and her colleagues were visited by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa that afternoon, something that’s happened innumerable times over the past two decades. Store employees and antiques dealers chatted with the couple, got a hug or two, and sat ‘enthralled’ with the few customers present while Bruce and Patti put on a scruffy little performance with some old string instruments they found in the stalls.

The dealers even talked with Patti and Bruce about a blind item that appeared the day before in the New York Post, which reported the couple was about to split up because of an alleged affair between Springsteen and an unnamed Sept. 11 widow. The story was ‘ridiculous,’ Scialfa and Springsteen both said.

Afterward, and with evident reluctance, Barnaby and her colleagues broke their usual omerta about their celebrity customers to tell redbankgreen, in an exclusive, that the couple looked as happy as they ever have, no matter what the Post said.

Now, either Scialfa and Springsteen are playing a masterful game of PR manipulation—and doing an impressive acting job—or Judy Barnaby & Co. have pretty good radar.

In a message posted today over his signature at his website, Springsteen writes:

I hesitate to use this website for anything personal believing it should remain a place where fans of my music can come free of the distractions that occasionally arise with the rest of my job.
However, due to the unfounded and ugly rumors that have appeared in the papers over the last few days, I felt they shouldn’t pass without comment. Patti and I have been together for 18 years- the best 18 years of my life. We have built a beautiful family we love and want to protect and our commitment to one another remains as strong as the day we were married.

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WHAT, NO IMPROMPTU SHOW?

Good god, how did we get sucked into this celebrity coverage all of a sudden? First Kittie, then the Springsteens, and now this. Will it never end?

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Anyway, we feel it is our duty to report that Sheryl Crow just finished a shopping spree at the Antique Center. Yes, the same place where Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa gave a scruffy little concert on Friday, no doubt much to the chagrin of the scribes at the Post’s Page Six.

Crow is performing tonight with John Mayer in Holmdel, at the Arts Center named for a bank. We’re told she bought a lot of stuff for a farmhouse she purchased recently.

Somebody informed Crow about the Springsteen/Scialfa visit on Friday. Her response, according to our highly reliable source: “Oh, I really want to give them a call.”

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BRUCE & PATTI: MEDIA SIEGE BEGINS

You’ve got to feel for the folks at the Antique Center of Red Bank.

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Up until now, the story that Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa were as lovey-dovey as they’ve ever been when they shopped and gave an impromptu concert Friday afternoon has been a redbankgreen exclusive. (See the two items immediately below this one, please.)

Frankly, we’d love for it to stay that way for two reasons. One is to assure a lot of hits to our infant site. The other is to spare store employees from pestering about two of their favorite customers.

But now, the national media appears about to descend, either in person or by telephone, on the West Front Street establishment. We hear that one publication is at the center at this very moment. And it seems logical to assume that others will follow.

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SPRINGSTEEN-SCIALFA UPDATE

Here’s an update to the story below.

redbankgreen spoke tonight with Judy Barnaby, the Antique Center employee who waited on Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa on Friday afternoon.

Barnaby echoes what Guy Johnson told us earlier: that the couple was holding hands, and laughing with dealers and customers as they shopped for about an hour.

They even stopped and picked up a couple of old instruments, which they tuned up and used to give an impromptu concert lasting about five minutes.

“Bruce was strumming an old guitar, and Patti was strumming an old mandolin, and they were singing and cuttin’ up and have a good time,” says Barnaby. Customers in the store at the time were naturally “enthralled,” says Barnaby, and the intruments were immediately snapped up for purchase afterward.

And according to Barnaby, who’s known Springsteen for 20 years, they were not hiding from the rumor that their marriage was on the rocks.

“I got a hug from Patti, and I told her I was very happy to see that they were back together,” says Barnaby. “She said, ‘Isn’t this the pits?’ referring to the coverage. She said, ‘Isn’t it ridiculous? My friends are more upset than I am.’ “

“Several of the dealers said the same thing to them—that they were sorry to see what was in the papers. But (Springsteen and Scialfa) said it was ridiculous.”

“The rumor’s not true, from the horse’s mouth,” says Barnaby. “They were holding hands and kissing and carrying on. They weren’t any different than they have been in the past 20 years. They were their old selves. They enjoyed themselves, and they took their goodies and went home.”

Barnaby declined to discuss what the couple purchased or how much they spent, out of respect for their privacy and fear of dissuading them from returning.

“They bought a lot of nice things,” she says. “They’re nice people and they’re human beings and they like to shop.”

[Note: a photo of a yellow building that ran with an earlier version of this story was included by mistake. It’s not the building where Springsteen and Scialfa were shopping Friday.]

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BRUCE & PATTI: STILL SHOPPING

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By now, everyone in the eight-planet solar system has probably heard some version of the New York Post’s gossip item claiming a Bruce Springsteen-Patti Scialfa split is in the works.

The story, sexed-up with tantalizing hints of another redhead—this one a Sept. 11 widow—hit the wires and got picked up all over the place, including a Romanian publication that had trouble spelling Bruce’s last name. Wikipedia’s entry on Scialfa has already been updated with the gossip (though it was curiously absent from Springsteen’s bio this morning).

But the couple spent more than an hour shopping yesterday at the Antique Center of Red Bank, and appeared to be having a rockin’ good time together, redbankgreen has learned.

Store owner Guy Johnson says he was at home, having just read the rumor in the Asbury Park Press, when one of his employees called to tell him that Scialfa and Springsteen were in the shop.

“I said, ‘Are they fighting?’ She said, ‘No! They’re holding hands and laughing and going up and down the aisles picking stuff out,’ ” Johnson reports.

The couple, who have homes in Rumson and Colts Neck, dropped “at least $3,000” on a sterling silver set and other decorative items, says Johnson. Bruce put the tab on his black MasterCard.

It seems that Springsteen and Scialfa were doing pretty much what they always do. They’ve been customers of the warehouse-like antiques emporium for years, Johnson says. Sometimes they shop together, but Patti also likes to peruse the 30-percent-off tables solo or with her mother, he says.

Bruce has also shown up stag “just before Christmas, picking up stuff for Patti or whatever, every year for the past six or seven years,” says Johnson. “He’s pretty much a regular in the place.”

Was this shopping spree a PR ploy meant to quell the talk of marital discord? Who knows? But as Johnson sees it, if Springsteen and Scialfa were hoping to generate counter-buzz to the gossip, they picked a strange place and time for it, as there were few customers in the store when they dropped in.

Springsteen is aparently fond of the pre-owned markets, by the way. Earlier this month, one of the Princeton Packet newspapers ran a story about an antiques dealer in East Windsor who said Springsteen had “filled his house in Rumson” with items purchased at that shop.

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SHREWSBURY JEWELER JAIL-BOUND

The owner of a jewelry store in The Grove was sentenced to federal prison earlier this week for tax evasion that a judge called an example of “appalling” greed.

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The Asbury Park Press has the story about Lincinio Neves, owner of Neves Jewelers. He also owns a second store in Woodbridge.

Neves, a 60-year-old Spring Lake resident, was sentenced to serve six and a half months in prison for failing to report cash purchases at his stores. Then he’ll be confined to his home for another six and a half months.

Neves pleaded guilty in 2001 to hiding $150,000 in sales. No reason is given in the story for the five-year gap between Neves’ plea and his sentencing.

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SAME OLD ‘WAR STORIES’ ON PARKING

Today’s Asbury Park Press samples some of the familiar complaints about parking in downtown Red Bank, an issue in which the challenge of finding a space near one’s destination or staying one coin ahead of the meter reader counts as a “war story.”

A Shrewsbury man criticizes having to pay for parking, and says merchants should pick up the tab. A woman from Ocean says the difficulty in finding a space “pushes you away from going there on a Saturday night for dining.”

The idea for a parking garage on the site of the 274-space White Street municipal lot is resurrected, to no one’s surprise. But there’s no mention of the recurring counter-argument that the municipal lots east of Broad Street are woefully underutilized.

Press reporter Larry Higgs devotes several paragraphs to a multi-use Princeton Borough garage built by a private developer, in which the borough collects rent on the underlying land.

But that’s as close as the story gets to the issue of who should pay for a Red Bank garage, which through several attempts to get one built has been the major sticking point. The story makes no mention of the taxpayer opposition to a plan for a White Street garage in 2001, when the cost was estimated at $8.4 million. Nor does it fully explain what happened in July 2005, when the council hoped to quietly authorize bonding for 570-car garage, whose cost had risen to $11.8 million. Angry residents packed the council chambers and spilled into the hallways of borough hall. The bonding ordinance was tabled when garage proponent Mayor Ed McKenna announced that he had heard from several private developers who might be interested in partnering with the town on the project.

“These are some very exciting possibilities,” McKenna said at the time, according to an account in The Hub.

Higgs now tells us that “those plans never materialized.”

Residents keep hearing that there’s a pressing need for the White Street garage, and that it’ll be so popular that it will pay for itself. So where is the private-sector money ready to capitalize on this demand?

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BUY, OR FEEL THE LASH OF THE WHIP

Spykes, the naughtywear shop on Shrewsbury Avenue, is going dark today. Patent-leather dark.

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Owner Mary Jennings is temporarily putting the business in storage while she plans a move around the corner, to the former Gasper Sign shop on Bridge Avenue, opposite the train station. But first, there’s a sale today (Saturday), from noon to 3p. All merchandise is 50-percent off.

After that, it may be months before devotees of menacing heels and see-through everythings can get their fill. Jennings says she doesn’t yet have a reopening date. Do you have a problem with that?

Elite Hardwood Flooring is slated to take over the Shrewsbury Avenue space.

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HOME-GROWN IN THE PARKING LOT

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Eight years ago, when the Red Bank Farmers’ Market opened in the Galleria parking lot, it had only two vendors.

Today, there are 30, and every week more merchants ask to be let in, some hoping to hawk goods that have nothing to do with the market’s self-defined mission: to promote locally-grown produce. “I had a guy come here once wanting to sell rain gutters,” says Jim Sourlis, who manages the market. “He was so insistent, I had to call the police to get rid of him.”

The gutter guy probably couldn’t have cared less about the origins of the market, where the corn and tomatoes come from, or the feeling of community that springs to life on the blacktop here every Sunday in the summer. But Sourlis, whose family owns the Galleria mall, does. He says the market came into being to help support small farmers, who get first consideration in terms of space allotment. That’s what Jim’s mother, Elaine Sourlis, intended when she dreamed the place up, he says. (Elaine was vacationing in Europe until recently and was unavailable for an interview.)

“We pride ourselves on being a farmers’ market first,” Sourlis says. “The number-one thing is New Jersey farmers. It has to be from here.”

In addition to its weekly crop of vegetable and flower growers, the market features purveyors of honey, organic foods, fresh eggs, handcrafted jewelry, ravioli, a chiropractor, Lithuanian baked goods, stained-glass mobiles, tea, soap, frozen treats and hurly-burly paintings.

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HOT DEALS

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The 52nd annual Red Bank sidewalk sale, which began yesterday, continues today and runs through tomorrow.

Stay hydrated, shoppers. Temperatures will soar into the mid-90s. The National Weather Service has an excessive heat warning in effect from 2p today until 8p Wednesday.

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‘DARK GREEN DIAPERS’ PROBABLY WOULDN’T FLY, EITHER

We got a late start on last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, so this is a few days old. But hey, it’s the doldrums, right?

Rob Walker, who writes the ‘Consumed’ column, has a piece titled ‘Silent Green,’ which makes the case that manufacturers and retailers of ecofriendly products are leery of pushing too hard “on the whole save-the-planet thing” for fear of alienating mainstream consumers.

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He cites a product called gDiapers, flushable nappies invented in Australia (and sold there as Baby Weenees Eco Nappy Products) now making their way into American markets via Whole Foods. Jason and Kimberly Graham-Nye, an American couple who own the U.S. rights to the product, decided to give it a vague name rather than emphasize the ecofactor, an approach they thought would restrict the market to what they call ‘dark green’ consumers. (The company’s website, by contrast, doesn’t skimp on the ‘happy planet’ talk.)

In the piece, Walker reports also on a recent article in the journal Environment titled ‘Avoiding Green Marketing Myopia,’ which makes the point that a number of ecofriendly products have failed as a result of save-the-planet marketing strategies. That article cites a light bulb that bombed when it was marketed as Earth-friendly but succeeded when reintroduced merely as a money-saver.

For the record, and because a number of our readers have asked: the ‘green’ in redbankgreen is first and foremost an allusion to the idea of a village green or town square. But we’re happy to be associated with ecofriendliness, and hope to be at least a small voice in discussions about how we grow our food, make our products and dispose of waste. But ‘redbankdarkgreen?’ Nah…

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LEDGER PACKAGES RED BANK

Today’s Star-Ledger has an eight-page pullout guide to Red Bank in its “Ticket” section, and a more extensive version at its website.

The section doesn’t aim for depth (thus we’re reminded, repeatedly, that 20 years ago the town was known as “Dead Bank”). But it does have overviews of the arts, dining, nightlife and shopping scenes that visitors will find helpful.

Noteworthy is an interactive map that shows the locations of art galleries, restaurants and other attractions. Kudos to the Ledger for making the map so big and for encompassing everything from Two If By Sea and The Little Kraut on the West Side to Design Front on the east. (Rok+Lola, just few doors east of Design Front, may have a differing opinion.)

The package also includes a terrific slideshow of pictures by staff photographer Aristide Economopoulos. They’re not included the dead-trees version.

MAKING THE ROUNDS

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Ten quick questions for Gail Mayr of Lena’s Bagels and Deli, 441 Broad Street, Shrewsbury.

We understand you’re quite well-traveled on the local bagel circuit. So where have you worked?
I started at the Bagel Station on Monmouth Street, where I worked for 11 years. Then I was at the Windward Deli, on Maple Avenue for four years. I went to Grandma’s Bagels in Little Silver, but it changed hands, and it just wasn’t for me. I worked there about eight months. I’ve been at Lena’s about four months now. I’ve known Lena (Maddalena Caruso) for probably 30 years, and she kept asking me to come work with her, but I wasn’t too sure about working for a friend. But then I figured, if I’m gonna bust my butt, it might as well be for somebody I like.

Have you had other food-industry jobs?
Oh god, yeah! I worked at the Willow Deli in Little Silver; I was there for nine years. Then the owners started the Cherry Street Deli (in Tinton Falls) and they asked me to help start that up, so I was there for a little while. Then I got TMJ and couldn’t work for a year, and after that, they were starting a Dom’s Deli in Fair Haven, and so I went there for a while. When that got a little slow, I went to the Bagel Station. Actually, it was the Bagel Deli part I worked in.

Why so many stops along the deli & bagel trail?
You know, it’s the funniest thing. I was at the Bagel Deli for 11 years, and I’m really more of a deli person—Dominick Melicia and his wife, Joan, taught me everything I know—catering, lunches, everything. But I’ve baked bagels—I used to do it one day a week at the Bagel Station. I can do everything with bagels except hand-rolling. It looks easy, but it takes a knack. Anybody can do it, but the bagels have to be uniform in size, and that’s hard to do.

What’s the most important step in making bagels?
The most important step is proofing the bagel. After they roll the bagels, the dough is at room temperature. You put a vinyl cover over the bagels and the heat from the dough makes it proof. If they’re not proofed they’re going to come out very small and almost hard.

What is it about bagels that people love so much?
Well, in the ‘80s, the bagels were very big. They just really caught on, because there was no sugar in them—they used malt. That went on for I betcha eight years. But now all of a sudden it’s wraps. People don’t come in and buy dozens of bagels anymore. Really. People would come in, buy a dozen, two dozen, cream cheese, butter and take them to the office. People don’t do that anymore.

So do customers follow you from one store to another?
Oh my god, yeah. ‘OHMYGOD! I FOUND YOU!’ You know what it is? I was at the Bagel Station for so long, and people knew that I wouldn’t sell them anything that I thought was bad. If I wouldn’t eat it myself, I wouldn’t sell it to you. That’s another thing that Dominck taught me. He said, ‘If you want a thriving business, you never sell anything you wouldn’t eat yourself.’ Plus, I’m very friendly. I always remember people’s names, ask about their families. I must have that kind of face people confide in. Sometimes, you get a new customer who’s just nasty, and I pour it on being nice, and the next time they come in, you’d think I was their best friend in the world.

When you say ‘things I wouldn’t eat,’ you’re not talking about things that are just a matter of preference, I presume.
When I worked for (IDENTITY OF A FORMER EMPLOYER WITHHELD TO KEEP redbankgreen FROM GETTING SUED INTO OBLIVION), if he thought something was bad, he’d tell you to just wash it off. Somebody would ask for egg salad, and if I knew it was sitting there for two days, I’d say, ‘No, you don’t want that.’ So that was their clue.

What’s your favorite bagel?
My favorite bagel is the everything bagel, with butter. I’m not a cream cheese person.

What’s your least favorite?
Cinnamon raisin. I just don’t know what it is—I don’t like it.

Which is more important to human happiness, bagels or comfortable shoes?
Oh, jeez. Human happiness? I’m going to have to say the shoes.

THE FINAL STITCH

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A fabric store is retail rarity, and not merely because there are so few left. There’s a special kind of intimacy nurtured within its sound-muted confines.

It’s a place where women—and the customers are almost always women, often accompanied by their daughters—share a passion for craft, for making things tinged with personal significance. Amid the bolts of patterned textiles and filigrees of trim, a bond may develop between the proprietor and her customer, even if the store owner knows the customer only by face or by the project she’s working on. They trade tips and suggestions. Tastes are revealed, and values. They open up to one another, speaking of the highs and lows of life: the births, the marriages, the deaths. Secrets may be shared as well, ones that husbands will never know.

“People who come to a fabric store will tell you all kinds of secrets,” says Gisela Soliman, owner of Town Trimmings, and keeper of confidences. “There’s something about a store like this that invites this.”

At the end of July, the women of The Green who still sew will lose a half-century-old sanctuary of sorts when Gisela closes her door at 24 Monmouth Street for the last time.

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WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

It’s official: this game has been liberated from the iron grip of the Dueling Steins, Dayna and Larry. We have a new champion, Dylan Barlett of Little Silver, who correctly identified last week’s image as the giant emblem painted on the side of Little Szechuan in Little Silver.

This week, a rusting ladder in a dying tree. Yes, we know what you’re thinking: Where haven’t I seen this? But who will be the first to answer correctly?

As usual, e-mail your guesses please, Greenies.

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‘I NEVER BUY SHOES HERE’

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Ten quick questions for Marcos Machado, owner of Fernando’s Shoe Repair, 74 Monmouth Street, Red Bank.

What happened to Fernando? He retired and moved back to Portugal. I’ve had the shop since 1998.

You moved here in April from 4A West Front Street. Which location is better? It’s better here, because of ease of parking.

Did you go to school to learn your trade? No. My grandfather and father did shoe repair and shoemaking in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and I learned from them.

Are there occupational hazards, like swallowing hobnails? You get a cut here and there, but nothing serious.

Can you tell anything about someone’s personality from the way they treat their shoes? No.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve gotten? People sometimes bring in boots, they want me to cut off the calf or take it in. Some orthopedic work.

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In an era when people throw away expensive items when they break down, what keeps the art of shoe repair alive? Because it’s cheaper to fix them, especially if you have good shoes that are comfortable.

Do you ever make shoes from scratch? Not any more. I did in Brazil, but there’s not enough demand for it here.

What’s the one thing you look for when you buy shoes for yourself? I never buy shoes here. I buy them when I go to Brazil. Brazil and Italy are the top shoemaking countries in the world.

Which is more important, sturdy shoes or quality food? Now you got me. Quality food.

‘SMOKED EEL WITH A BOW ON IT’

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Ten quick questions for “Chef Kevin” Lynch, executive chef and manager of the cheese, dairy and bakery departments at Sickle’s Market, Little Silver.

Are you a ‘foodie’? Yes.

Which is more important, quality food or comfortable shoes? Tough question. You gotta remember that chefs are on their feet a lot. But I’m going with food.

What’s your earliest food memory? Having my grandfather come down from Jersey City and give me and my brother $100 to go to Leroy’s Fish Market on Route 36 in Middletown. He’d have us buy shrimp, crabs, lobster tails and a smoked eel. He liked smoked eel—every Christmas we’d give him one with a bow on it. This was around 1970, when I was 10. A hundred dollars was a lot of money back then.

Who was the biggest influence on your life, foodwise? My mother. She would cook something different every week—she always liked to look at recipes. I’d always make the salad when I was a kid.

What was your first cookbook? I think it was Betty Crocker. My mother still has it.

What’s your favorite cooking show on TV? I liked the PBS series, ‘The Great Chefs,’ because I thought that was very knowledgeable—it got into the nuts and bolts of it. Currently, I watch “Behind the Scenes” and “Best Of,” but once in a while for laughs I’’ll watch Emeril, or sometimes, Rachel Ray. Sara Moulton’s show I like too. She’s the executive chef for Gourmet magazine.

What’s one ingredient you couldn’t live without? Garlic!

Have you had formal training? No. I went to school for computer science down at Stockton College, and became kitchen manager and then chef at the Smithville Inn.

What’s the one junk food you can’t say no to? Pretzels.

Where do you go when you eat out? Indigo Moon in Atlantic Highlands. I know the chef there, and the owner, Janet, used to work with me at Readie’s Fine Foods in Red Bank.

ESPADRILLES, CAKE MOLDS & THE STUDY OF HUMANITY

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Is women’s casual-wear and home-décor retailer Anthropologie coming to The Grove?

A jobs posting last week on craigslist indicates the chain is hiring store managers, department managers and other anthropologistes with retail experience for a location given as “Red Bank.” And the chain’s own website lists six job openings in “Red Bank.”

A reliable source tells us, however, that the location for the coming store is actually The Grove at Shrewsbury. Folks at Metrovation, The Grove’s managing partner, say there’s nothing they can discuss at this point.

For the uninitiated, Anthropologie hawks “such remarkable pieces as one of a kind hand-beaded and dip-dyed vintage cashmere cardigans; sandals hand-built from the wooden heels up with vintage tie material and embroidered buttons; and the first quilt ever printed with one hundred hand-cut blocks by artisans in Jaipur, India.”

Well, no wonder they call it Anthropologie. It’s so much more on-the-nose than “J. Peterman.”

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