RED BANK: BLUE WATER TO REOPEN AS CATCH

blue water 091914The new seafood restaurant could be in operation as early as this month, a partner says. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Upping their stake in downtown Red Bank, the owners of the yet-to-open Gotham bar have acquired the former Blue Water Seafood just up the block, a partner confirmed Thursday.

Joseph Squillaro tells Retail Churn that he and his co-investors, who include a Shrewsbury anesthesiologist, hope to open both Broad Street businesses by the end of October, with the seafood restaurant rebranded as ‘Catch.’

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RED BANK: CALLING DOCTOR DISCO

Gloria GaynorQueen of Disco Gloria (“I Will Survive”) Gaynor joins The Village People for a Saturday night concert at the Count Basie, a benefit for The Michael Fux Foundation.

Regular readers of redbankgreen know Michael Fux as many things — a foam-mattress pharaoh; a dabbler in the realm of restaurateuring, whose Blue Water Seafood was the flavor to beat for a while there in downtown Red Bank. A serious collector of auto exotica, who recently (and inadvertently) made headlines when a mechanic totaled his super-rare Ferrari Enzo.

Add philanthropist to the resume of the Cuban-born businessman, whose Michael Fux Foundation endowed a Family Center at Miami Children’s Hospital. The aim was to offer a comforting environment for families of sick and underprivileged children, during those times when the child is in the hospital. This Saturday, September 6, Fux will reportedly be announcing the site of an all-new Michael Fux Family Center in Monmouth County, during a special fundraiser show at the Count Basie Theatre.

Going up at 7 pm, the Disco Fever Benefit Concert stars two still-going-strong superstar acts from those polyester’d First Days of Disco — headlined by Newark-born Gloria Gaynor (“Never Can Say Goodbye,” “Let Me Know (I Have a Right),” and the evergreen anthem “I Will Survive”). The Queen of Disco will be joined by The Village People (“Y.M.C.A.,” “In The Navy,” “Macho Man”) — featuring charter member (and Asbury Park resident) Felipe Rose as the group’s iconic Native American; teamed with Eric Anzalone (Biker), Alexander Briley (GI), Jim Newman (Cowboy), Raymond Simpson (Cop) and Bill Whitefield (Construction Worker).

On the occasion of the 35th anniversary of Gaynor’s Grammy winning (and oft-covered) “I Will Survive,” the Disco Desk at redbankgreen spoke to the 64-year-old singer about survival, spirituality and centeredness on a crowded and crazy dance floor, with more around the corner.

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RETAIL CHURN: BOOTS, FOOD AND FIT KIDS

•dean ross 030714After 14 years in Fair Haven, Dean Ross is ready to take on double the rent to sell shoes in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This edition of Retail Churn reports on these developments:

• A Fair Haven shoe store specializing in Dr. Martens boots hopes to kick some butt in downtown Red Bank – and keep the lights on after other stores close.

• Two high-profile Broad Street restaurants have quietly gone idle.

• A fitness center for kids plans to open next month on Wallace Street.

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RED BANK RENEWS PUSH FOR LATE CLOSINGS

rb-late-nightBars and restaurants are doing their job keeping doors open late, some say, but more merchants must stay open to attract more visitors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As Red Bank continues to claw its way out of an economic hole it hasn’t seen since the we-don’t-like-to-talk-about-it Dead Bank days, Mayor Pasquale Menna tends to periodically jab downtown’s retailers with a reminder that it’s going to take work to bring Red Bank back as a top destination in the region and beyond.

Lately, though, he’s taken a firmer approach.

At a council meeting last month, when two requests for car shows on Broad Street appeared on the agenda, he paused from the typical rubber-stamping of such requests.

“This is a chance to tickle, pinch, smack our retailers to stay open on Sunday,” Menna said, and then pointed to Red Bank RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams, who was seated in the audience. “Get the word out. Tell them to stay open on Sunday. I might start smacking instead of pinching.”

It was another lash at a limp horse he’s been flogging since before Red Bank’s business dipped with the national economy. For years, Menna has been urging merchants to move away from the nine-to-five mindset and keep the lights on after dark and on Sunday, when too many stores, he says, are closed.

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FIRE INSPECTOR INSPIRES DREAD & RESPECT

j-druckerRed Bank Fire Inspector John Drucker and his dreaded cruiser. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

There’s no mistaking the seriousness of a situation when the white-and-red cruiser marked ‘6431’ pulls in front of your home or business.

The man behind the wheel is something of a fate holder, there to deliver good news or bad, to tell what you did right or wrong, to say you’re ready to open for business or that there’s more work to do.

“When the 31 rolls up, they know it’s John,” said John Drucker, Red Bank’s fire inspector and building code official, positions akin to taxman in terms of the dread they inspire.

But Drucker, 53,  says his aim is to make sure a home- or businessowner has followed every step required to complete a project. It’s a job designed to focus on minutia, and can send property owners to their flashpoints. But it’s a job that, once done, has a payoff for everybody involved, he says.

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RODS, REELS & BLUE WATER IN RED BANK

blue-water-seafoodTables are set for a possible Thursday night opening of Blue Water Seafood at 9 Broad Street. (Click to enlarge)

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By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

On Red Bank’s Broad Street, a hustle job is in the works, while over on East Front, they’re fishing for new customers.

Blue Water Seafood Company owner Jimmy Vastardis is hauling it to get his new restaurant, at 9 Broad, open by this evening, he tells redbankgreen. But a boatload of last-minute must-dos from the borough fire inspector may mean the two-story, glass-fronted place won’t open until Friday night, Vastardis says.

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CODA FOR TWO MUSIC SHOPS ON MONMOUTH

summitSummit Music has cleared out, and across the street, Honey Child Music has shut its doors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Within days of each other, two Red Bank music education shops shut their doors last week, dealing a double blow to Monmouth Street’s reputation as a place where kids learned the basic chords that might someday land them on the stage of the nearby Count Basie Theatre. rcsm2_010508

Summit Music, which in recent months shifted from instrument sales and drum repairs to kid-focused instruction by joining forces with the national School of Rock chain and Little Rockers, quietly cleared out of its space, at 52 Monmouth Street, just before Memorial Day.

Maureen Tieri, who’s owned Summit the last three years, could not be reached for comment.

Diagonally across the street from Summit, longtime children’s music shop Honey Child Music went dark after losing the lease on the space at 73 Monmouth.

The departures leave Monmouth Music, at 30 Monmouth Street, as the sole instrument and instruction shop on a street that boasted three.

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DOWNTOWN, THE YEAR CHURNS TO AN END

rb-dinerVacant since May, the former East Side Cafe is getting set to reopen as the Red Bank Diner. (Click to enlarge)

rcsm2_010508By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The last time redbankgreen published a rundown of Red Bank’s downtown economy, it was a rather dour picture sprinkled with a sense of optimism.

While clusters of storefronts worked better as mirrors than as shopping destinations, RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams was bullish on the borough’s economy, saying the large number of vacancies in town could be parlayed into new, exciting ventures for businesses to infuse new blood into the heart of Red Bank.

Seems Adams had a bead on the future.

Nearly a dozen new businesses have either moved in or are set to open their doors in the next couple of months, Adams said.

“There’s stuff going on. It’s kind of nice,” she said.

Here’s what’s churning in Red Bank:

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CHINESE, VIETNAMESE AND TATS ON TAP

temple1Temple, a Chinese restaurant, is expected to open in the former home of Torcello by the end of December. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Tired of Italian and pizza yet?

Soon enough, if plans hold, culinary options will broaden in Red Bank, with Chinese and Vietnamese eateries competing for customers on opposite sides of Broad Street.

And after dinner, if you’re up to it, maybe you can skip dessert and head across town for a tattoo.

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BLUE WATER SWIMS TO BROAD STREET OK

9-broadBlue Water Seafood won approval from the planning board to move into Red Bank Monday night. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Jimmy Vastardis says he’s always wanted to own a business in Red Bank, and, in fact, made an attempt in 2008 to move into the space once home to Ashes Cigar Club.

Looks like he’s finally coming to town.

Vastardis, of Holmdel, breezed through a hearing before the planning board for a list of variances Monday night, clearing the way for him to open Blue Water Seafood restaurant in the heart of downtown.

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RISING FROM THE ASHES? WATCH THIS SPACE

jack-anderson-072110Landlord Jack Anderson says he’s gotten a number of proposals for the former Ashes space. (Click to enlarge)

A collective groan was heard through downtown Red Bank earlier this month went a court-appointed official abruptly shut down Ashes Cigar Bar, a high-profile if controversial eatery and bar that served as a nightlife anchor for more than a decade.

Just what we need when the retail and restaurant sectors are struggling to claw back to profitability, store owners said: a honking big vacancy in a town with plenty of small and medium-sized ones. How will the building’s owner find a tenant to replace Ashes in this economy?

Well, landlord Jack Anderson doesn’t think the outlook is dire. He says he’s already got offers for the three-story building on his desk across the street at Jack’s Music Shoppe, and he’s “motivated” to get a deal done ASAP.

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