A pair of Sea Bright business owners — Frank Bain, of Bain’s Hardware, and Alice Gaffney, of Alice’s Kitchen — talk about the approach of Hurricane Joaquin in this short video by Rutgers journalism student Dan Natale of Red Bank. (Video by Dan Natale.)
Christina Galinas outside the Ocean Avenue building she brought back to life. Below, Katy Fraggos, who’s opening a dance-based workout studio on the third floor. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
There’s been no shortage of notable comebacks from Hurricane Sandy in Sea Bright, starting with the front-end loaders that tackled six feet of sand on Ocean Avenue a day after the storm.
The recovery marked a milestone six weeks later with the lightning-fast reopening of Bain’s Hardware, which like every other store and restaurant in this oceanfront town was knocked offline by Sandy. And since then, more than a dozen businesses, some of them new, have added to the downtown’s revival.
Nineteen months later, the saga continues, with the reopening in coming weeks of a three-story building that has lined up two tenants brand new to town: a seafood restaurant and a fitness studio.
BONUS: SEE THE PHOTO TOUR OF A BLOCK IN RECOVERY AT THE END OF THIS ARTICLE
The unofficial end of summer may have passed, but Bain’s Hardware on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright seems to have ignored the memo. Anyway, locals know that there’s still plenty of time left for beach fun, when the sun cooperates. And the National Weather Service says it will today, when we get ample sunshine and temperatures in the low 80s. Which way to the beach? (Click to enlarge)
Governor Chris Christie, accompanied by Mayor Dina Long, heads into Northshore Men’s Wear, above, and meets with Jake O’Donnell of Jake’s Surf Shop, below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The rain that he said with certainty was following him from Cape May held off, long enough at least for Governor Chris Christie to make a whirlwind tour of Sea Bright’s downtown Wednesday.
The latest in a handful of visits to the borough since Hurricane Sandy knocked out every one of its commercial establishments, the 90-minute tour gave Christie a chance to tout his administration’s storm recovery efforts, slam a couple of federal agencies, and glad-hand supporters as he runs for a second term.
Though “not everything is perfect by a longshot” with the Shore’s recovery and efforts to attract tourists this summer, “we’re laying the groundwork for next summer, when I know things are going to be significantly better here in Sea Bright and all up and down the Jersey Shore,” Christie said.
But within this returning tide is a second wave: newcomers to Ocean Avenue business district. Risk-takers willing to stake their livelihoods, and their life savings, on the chance that the Shrewsbury River and the Atlantic Ocean won’t again meet in the places their renting. Not soon, at least.
Last week, redbankgreen introduced you to Alice Gaffney, a former school cafeteria cook who opened Alice’s Kitchen in the space long occupied by Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch. Here’s a look at three more newcomers owners of a full-service restaurant, a burger place and a surf shop.
Repairs on the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge may take up to two weeks longer to complete than previously anticipated, but will allow for traffic flows on weekends. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A compromise to a widely criticized plan to shut down the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge for three weeks starting this weekend January 28 was reached Tuesday, town officials said.
Under the compromise, repair work on the bridge will be halted on Friday afternoons and resume on Monday mornings, with the Shrewsbury River span remaining open to traffic throughout the weekends.
“It’s a win-win-win,” said an ecstatic Chris Wood, whose restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille, is scheduled to reopen for business Wednesday for the first time since Hurricane Sandy slammed into the shore, wiping out every business in town.
One of three wraparound radiators now gets post-Sandy prominence at Bain’s Hardware. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
When the Atlantic Ocean and Shrewsbury River decided to throw a raucous party in Sea Bright, it was bad news for Bain’s Hardware. Every piece of merchandise, including 1,500 gallons of paint and an inventory that ran to 65,000 individual items, was lost.
But that was then, and owner Frank Bain has put Hurricane Sandy behind him. He’s even found a number of upsides to the storm, what he calls “Sandy’s sand dollars.” The biggest, he says, is the generosity of the dozens of customers, friends and strangers, not to mention a paint supplier, who chipped to help him rapidly reopen the paint side of the operation. He cheerfully painted that room a color he calls ‘Sandy Beige.’
Here’s another sand dollar, said Bain: the opportunity to show off a rare, eye-catching radiator.
News of the planned closure of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge had restaurateur Chris Wood lobbying elected officials for a modification Friday. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Business owners in Hurricane Sandy-walloped Sea Bright were reeling Friday afternoon on word that Monmouth County plans to shut down the Rumson-Sea Bright (Route 520) bridge for up to a month starting as early as January 28.
“It’s cutting off our lifeline as we’re recovering from a massive heart attack,” said Woody’s Ocean Grille owner Chris Wood, who just took delivery of $50,000 worth of liquor and food in preparation for a planned reopening in the desolate downtown next Wednesday.
“We’re just trying to get ourselves back open,” said Frank Bain, owner of the recently reopened Bain’s Hardware, “and a very large portion of our customer base comes over that bridge.”
Frank Bain outside his Ocean Avenue hardware store, where all the inventory was destroyed in Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)
By WIL FULTON
This isnt a competition,” said a stone-faced Frank Bain, when asked if his would be the first business to reopen in Sea Bright after Hurricane Sandy.
But checking in on recent activity at Bain’s Hardware, a visitor might conclude that not only was Bain in a race, but one that his life depended on winning.
One late afternoon last week, the Ocean Avenue storefront was a swarm of dust-encrusted laborers, some installing new subflooring even as others continued with interior demolition work. At one point, an impromptu crew, Bain included, picked up and hustled the pieces of a shattered street lamp from the sidewalk out front to the side of the building.
Make no mistake about it: Bain is in a major hurry. With no flood insurance and every item in his 65,000-SKU shop destroyed, his economic life hangs in the balance, he’s the first to admit. “Getting that register ringing again is paramount,” he told redbankgreen.
But he’s driven just as much, he said, by the importance of his store to other businesses and homeowners who themselves are faced with rebuilding challenges. We are out here working so that we can get back on our feet and help this town as soon as humanly possible, he said.
Residents and sightseers wait on the Rumson side of the Shrewsbury River for authorization to enter Sea Bright Wednesday morning. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Anxious residents and a steady stream of wannabe gawkers poured into eastern Rumson Wednesday, hoping to be allowed into storm-wracked Sea Bright.
But Rumson police, abetted by a Monmouth County sheriff’s officer and a handful of National Guardists, continued to bar access to the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge, citing widespread hazards in the sandbar borough.
Deep sand, building debris and natural-gas leaks make it impossible for anyone other than emergency workers to be allowed in, officials said.
“One match, and a whole block could go up,” a sheriff’s officer who asked not to be identified told redbankgreen, citing the leaks.
If the TV cameras are out in Sea Bright, a storm must be brewing: Councilman Read Murphy being interviewed Thursday. Below, a rainfall forecast map issued early Friday by the National Weather Service. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
In Sea Bright, a spit of sand laid down between a mighty ocean and a fast-moving river, they’re taking this one seriously.
For the first time since Hurricane-slash-Tropical Storm Irene 14 months ago, the town’s business owners and officials say they’re bracing for a possible weather wallop this time in the form of a combined Hurricane Sandy from the south and cold front from the north.
It’s a collision that’s already been dubbed ‘Frankenstorm‘ four days in advance of its expected arrival. The New York Times says it could produce “a historic and potentially devastating storm” for the Northeast.
“It’s coming. It’s bad,” said Cono Trezza, owner of Sea Bright Pizza on Ocean Avenue. He’s thinking of sandbagging the front and back doors of the recently remodeled space.
Megan Heath Gilhool of Long Branch has been using her brushes to transform the bus stop on Ocean Avenue in downtown Sea Bright into a colorful and cozy cottage interior. “I wanted to make it look beachy,” she tells redbankgreen. “I wanted it to look like a place I’d like to live.” Bain’s Hardware donated the paints. (Click to enlarge)
From “hardcore hardware” (no, it’s not as kinky as it sounds) to tchotchkes, just about all the minor necessities of householding can be found at Bain’s Hardware in Sea Bright, says owner Frank Bain.
The aisles overflow with beach chairs and towels, fishing gear, gardening supplies and plumbing pipe. The business includes a full-fledged paint store.
Here, the affable, seemingly unflappable Bain helps customers prying open a stubborn battery compartment on a Gameboy, fixing a window screen while graciously answering redbankgreens sometimes silly queries about his shop. Middletown resident Bain and his wife, Pat, bought the nearly 100 year-old business 15 years ago, and have expanded it twice.
Why did you open a hardware store?
It was my dream. I always wanted a hardware store forever. I worked in corporate America, and didn’t like it. I was 40 years old when we bought this, and raising a family. My wife was never even in a hardware store, and then she owned one. Weve been married 32 years. Shes my first wife. (Pat shakes her head).
It was either hardware or rock and roll, and I can only play the radio. I grew up working in a boatyard, taking bicycles apart. I was a sailor. I was a shipfitter. God gave me a machinery gift. I can fix a lot of things.
This morning’s dailies are today mulling over why the storm that caused so much havoc elsewhere in New Jersey went so easy on the Shore.
Citing the state Department of Environmental Protection, today’s Asbury Park Press reports that the storm caused some erosion at many beaches in Monmouth and Ocean counties, including Sea Bright, where waves “cut into a 1,000-to-1,500-foot stretch of dunes.”
However, a fairly calm storm season and the lack of erosion this winter left many area beaches prepared to withstand the high winds and big waves from the storm, the DEP said.
Mark Mihalasky, director of research at the Coastal Research Center at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, said he and an assistant walked on many of the beaches on Long Beach Island and found minor erosion in spots.
“Our assessment is that this (storm) was fairly overblown with respect to . . . the hype,” particularly on the part of TV, Mihalasky said.
Ten quick questions for Eric Auerbach of Clearview Window Cleaners, Long Branch. He’s shown here at Bain’s Hardware, Sea Bright.
How long have you been a window-washer? About 13 years. I started off working for another company and then I went off on my own. I was doing all the work, and he was making all the money, so I just went off on my own.
Do you enjoy your work? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I do enjoy it, for the most part. You do the same thing day in, day out for 13 years, you get a little tired of it. But for the most part, I feel I’m lucky to have what I have. There’s a lot of people who don’t have jobs, or go to a job that they hate. I like what I do. I make all the decisions. There’s no corporate bureaucracy to deal with. I’m the corporate bureaucracy.
We have no winners from last week’s ‘Where.’ So no, it wasn’t a window display from the Red Bank Antiques Center, as one reader guessed. It’s a window display from Bain’s Hardware in Sea Bright.
A little off our usual patch of dirt, but we’re trying to broaden our range a bit.
This week’s should be easier, we think. As usual, please send your guesses to us via e-mail.
And feel free to provide an explanation for the image. Make one up, if you like. Why not?