RED BANK: CHAR TO OPEN THIS MONTH

A view from Char’s second-floor dining room of the new two-story windows overlooking Broad Street. Below, the restaurant features a waveform awning with heating elements underneath for outdoor dining in cool weather. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

After an extensive overhaul of a 19th-century Red Bank building, Char Steakhouse plans to open in the former Ashes Cigar Bar space on Broad Street  later this month, redbankgreen has learned.

The widely anticipated debut marks the end of a two-and-a-half-year vacancy in a prominent building as the downtown has struggled to recover from the recession that began in 2007.

It also caps what is believed to have been one of the largest investments in a downtown restaurant in years.

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PLANNING BOARD: CHAR DESIGN WELL-DONE

Char owner Matteo Ingrao with supporters after obtaining approval for his steakhouse, which includes a makeover of the two-story portion at right in the image below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

In a decision widely seen as replacing a busted cylinder in downtown Red Bank’s economic engine, the borough planning board approved a handful of variances for Char Steakhouse Monday night.

The restaurant, which plans to occupy the space long held by Ashes Cigar Bar at the corner of Broad and Mechanic streets, encountered only light resistance over questions of whether changes to a two-story extension of the original 19th-century building complied with historic district guidelines.

Mayor Pasquale Menna brushed aside such concerns, likening a pair of two-story, rectangular windows on the 1960s addition to I.M. Pei’s once-controversial installation of a glass pyramid to bring light into the depths of Paris’ Louvre museum.

“I see your attempt to infuse rays of light” into a dark space where his mother once worked as a seamstress, Menna said. “That is a very creative use and recycling of a property.”

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IT’S OFFICIAL: CHAR TAKES ASHES SPACE

ashes-072011Vacant for the past year, the corner building on Broad Street has a new tenant. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The three-story space formerly home to Ashes Cigar Bar in Red Bank is about to get some of its sizzle back.

After a year of vacancy, the building at the corner of Broad and Mechanic streets has a new tenant, Char Steakhouse. An ill-kept but unconfirmed secret in town for weeks, the acknowledgement came Monday, when signs appeared in the windows of the vacant space to alert passersby.

Building owner Jack Anderson of Jack’s Music Shoppe across Broad Street also confirmed the deal, and said he is in the process of obtaining borough government approval to sell Char the liquor license he bought from the now defunct Little Kraut restaurant on Bridge Avenue.

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