RED BANK: CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR FOR POT SHOP

red bank galleriaThe Galleria’s application indicated the business would be located in space now occupied by Siam Garden. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njThree months after Red Bank changed its zoning laws to allow sales of medical marijuana, the borough has rejected its first application for a retail pot shop, officials said Wednesday night.

The denial appears to underscore one of the main problems such a business would have to navigate: limitations on their proximity to schools and parks.

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RED BANK: DOWNTOWN GETS FIRST TATTOOS

red bank front st tattooMichael Saunders inks a new tat for Red Bank resident Nick Goskowsky on opening day at Front Street Tattoo. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Just three months after the Red Bank council voted to allow tattoo parlors downtown, one has inked its first butterflies and skulls onto biceps and bellies.

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RED BANK: TATTOO SHOP INKS LEASE

red bank, nj, tattoo shop, 37 east frontFront Street Tattoo plans to take a portion of the space previously used by Sugarush; the cupcake shop remains. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

red bank, nj, retail, retail churnJust a month after the Red Bank council voted to allow tattoo parlors downtown, one has inked a lease in the district.

Also in Retail Churn: a new women’s accessory shop plans to open.

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RED BANK: NEW RIVERCENTER VISION & HQ

scavone menna red bank, nj,RiverCenter executive director Jim Scavone, left, with Mayor Pasquale Menna and Visitors Center executive director Margaret Mass at the office’s opening last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njRed Bank RiverCenter embarked on a new mission last week.

The manager of the town’s special improvement district nailed down a fresh set of priorities that calls for greater emphasis on leveraging the town’s Navesink River waterfront as a draw for visitors and investors.

It also opened its new offices to Broad Street.

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RED BANK: TATTOO, MEDICAL POT ZONES OK’D

Under the changes, medical marijuana dispensaries are now allowed in retail zones, and tattoo parlors are permitted in additional zones. (Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

hot topic red bank njAs expected, the Red Bank council approved measures on medical marijuana shops and tattoo parlors Wednesday.

Officials also introduced an ordinance to recognize a turn toward do-it-yourself crafts and other forms of “commercial recreation” downtown.

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RED BANK: RIVERCENTER ‘VISION’ SHARPENS

Bill Fontana speaking at the Two River Theater Monday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

After four months of public meetings, Red Bank RiverCenter‘s effort to redefine its vision began coming into focus Monday night.

Topping a list of six priorities that the downtown promotion agency should focus on is a “reimagined, redeveloped and reinvigorated riverfront,” a consultant told several dozen business owners and borough residents at the Two River Theater.

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RED BANK: DOWNTOWN ‘VISION’ GAINS FOCUS

Consultant Bill Fontana onstage at the Two River Theater Monday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Downtown Red Bank is safe, clean and friendly, but it’s got problems with parking, store vacancies and its mix of operating businesses.

Those observations, while perhaps glaringly evident to many, were among the findings of a recent survey conducted for business promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter and revealed Monday night.

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RED BANK: TWO EATERIES AND A ‘WILD EYE’

The Melting Pot features induction heating elements in tabletops to keep the pot contents melted. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

A long-closed Red Bank restaurant re-opens, a new one headed by a pair of vaunted chefs announces its debut, and a new retail shop arrives with an intriguing pitch…

All in the latest edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

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RED BANK: RIVERCENTER REBOOT BEGINS

Attendees filling out questionnaires at the RiverCenter strategy session at the Oyster Point Hotel Monday night. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Amid intensifying competition regionally for business investment and shoppers, Red Bank RiverCenter kicked off a four-month effort to redefine its vision for the downtown Monday night.

About 70 people, most of them merchants, gathered in a ballroom at the Oyster Point Hotel to hear from a consultant on how to determine “what you want this place to look like in 10 years,” as he put it.

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RED BANK: RETHINKING RIVERCENTER’S JOB

The downtown promotion agency RiverCenter kicks off a mission review next week, and is seeking public input, its officials say. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

Through his Monmouth Street store, the Cheese Cave, Steve Catania has been doing business in Red Bank for seven years. And for much of that time, he’s been involved in efforts to advance the interests of downtown retailers like himself.

But if you ask them, most probably couldn’t tell you what Red Bank RiverCenter‘s job really is, says Catania. And that’s a problem, given that it’s supposed to be their advocate.

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RED BANK: 10TH AVE. BARMAN SMOKES ‘EM

dudley delhagen 080515 2Dudley Delhagen, bar manager at 10th Ave. Burrito Company in Red Bank, was named the winner of a national contest to come up with a new cocktail using DeKuyper’s-brand cordials Monday.

Launched in September, the contest invited bartenders across America to craft a signature cocktail; fans were then asked to vote for their favorite creation online. Delhagen’s employed the company’s JDK & Son Fleur Elderflower Liqueur. A press release announcing Delhagen as DeKuyper’s first-ever “cocktail master” described his concoction as “the perfect balance of sweet and smoky.”

The recipe for Delhagen’s creation, called the Smoked Blossom, is below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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MIDDLETOWN THROWS ITSELF A FESTIVAL

Middletown DayBouncing back for 2015, the annual Middletown Day celebration brings colorful sights, sounds and savor to the grounds of the township’s Parks and Rec headquarters this Saturday.

Mtown day logo 2015The annual Middletown Day celebration returns to the headquarters of the township’s Department of Parks and Recreation (the Croydon Hall facility on Leonardville Road in Leonardo) for a rain-or-shine afternoon of all-ages activity that commences this Saturday at 11 a.m.

It’s an eclectic event that promises everything from bounce-houses to business showcases; live rock music to rock-climbing walls; touch-a-firetruck ops to petting zoo — plus food and craft vendors, Granny’s Tag Sale, kids’ activities, all-ages hayrides and all-for-fun sporting contests and tournaments.

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RED BANK: 10TH AVE. ENTERS THE RING

brian katz 080515 110th Ave. Burrito owner Brian Katz with a mural depicting luchadores in an agave field—complete with a tequila distillery. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

10th ave 07191510th Ave. Burrito Company opened in Red Bank last week, and there’s no mistaking: it’s serious business, aiming to leverage its 165 seats, a coveted liquor license and primo views of the Navesink River to success.

But with a giant mural of masked Mexican wrestlers, a cadre of tattooed and weird-bearded servers, and a barely filtered owner, the West Front Street eatery appears to be off to a running, if low-key, start on his goal of “bringing something unique” to the town.
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CHURN: 10TH AVE. NEARS OPENING DATE

10th ave 071415 1Signage is now up at 10th Ave. Burrito on West Front Street. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallWith the restaurantization of Red Bank in full swing, this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn serves up a groaning board of food news.

• The long wait for 10th Ave. Burrito Company is nearly over.

Sicilia Ristorante on Broad Street has a new owner, and he’s planning to split the business in two, sort of.

Details, and some assorted table scraps, are just around the corner.
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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK BILLIARDS TO REOPEN

lucky break 102113Lucky Break was closed for more than two months as the owner struggled to find a way out of red tape over BYOB rules.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Lucky Break Billiards, the Red Bank pool hall that shut itself down after becoming entangled in bureaucratic red tape over beer and wine consumption, will reopen Thursday.

Hall owner James Hertler tells redbankgreen he got the green light to reopen Wednesday from Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“The gist of it was that there was no complaint” by anyone that Hertler could challenge in court, Hertler said Menna told him. “My takeaway was that we’re good to go.”

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK’S SHATTERED DREAM

lucky break 102913James Hertler, below, shut down Lucky Break Billiards in September, a month after police cracked down over BYOB issues. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

james hertler 101813How’s this for an auspicious start for a business?

• In early 2011, in an effort to spice up nightlife, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna spearheads a zoning law change to allow billiards parlors and other entertainment-based businesses to operate downtown.

• Several months later, former Mayor Ed McKenna, as lawyer on a lease for a planned billiards parlor, calls now-deceased police Chief Steve McCarthy to confirm that it could operate as a bring-your-own-beer and wine establishment. McKenna gets an OK, he tells his client, James Hertler, who was in McKenna’s office during the call.

• That October, Hertler goes before the zoning board and wins quick, unanimous approval of his plan for Lucky Break Billiards. Throughout its lengthy resolution of approval, the board notes that Lucky Break will be a BYOB that serves coffee and microwavable snacks and will allow its customers to bring in food from nearby restaurants.

• The following March, Hertler and partner Jeff Regen open Lucky Break at 14 West Front Street, in a space that had been vacant for four years.

• Lucky Break toughs it out for the next 18 months, building a repeat clientele largely based on private parties and edging toward profitability.

• Though it’s located amid a busy cluster of bars, there’s not a single incident requiring a police response at Lucky Break. “We worked hard to be a good neighbor,” said Hertler, a borough resident.

Yet without any change in the pattern described above, guess who abruptly finds himself accused of violating liquor laws – and out of business?

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SEA BRIGHT: ANJELICA’S REOPENS

anJelica's 101113Workers putting finishing touches on the restaurant’s interior last week. Owner Ray Lena, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

ray lena 101113Nearly a year after it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, another of Sea Bright’s stalwart businesses is set to reopen Wednesday night.

“Did I think it would be a year?” said Anjelica‘s owner Ray Lena, while overseeing the installation of a rustic shelf and dealing with a stream of contractors and vendors. “Sometimes, I thought it would be never.”

It was a year of waiting, dealing with the bureaucracies of FEMA and insurance, and four or five months of construction, said Lena, a former sportswriter who opened the restaurant, named for his daughter, 17 years ago.

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SEA BRIGHT: RISK-TAKERS FLOODING TOWN

Antonio Murray, above, opened Beach Burgers and Grille on Tuesday. Below, Billy Geltzeiler with server Greer McCarthy at Billy G’s Beach Bistro. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Store by store, restaurant by restaurant, the old-timers are coming back to Sea Bright, a town where not one was spared the trauma of Hurricane Sandy.

From Angler’s Marina to Yumi, from Woody’s Ocean Grille to Northshore Menswear to Bain’s Hardware,  merchants have restarted their businesses as quickly as their bank balances would allow. Others are in the process of renovating. Expect Gracie & the Dudes to return shortly. Ditto for the the 7-Eleven.

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.

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SEA BRIGHT BEGINS LOOKING TO 2020

Borough residents at Monday night’s 2020 session, where FEMA planner Linda Weber, below, took notes. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The scene: a public brainstorming session at Sea Bright’s borough hall.

The purpose: to begin shaping what’s expected to be a long-range process to address housing and commercial needs both in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and in anticipation of another such walloping.

With the floor opened to observations, one woman raised concerns about vacant homes attracting prowlers.

A man’s suggestion that all the utility poles along Ocean Avenue be removed drew a smattering of applause.

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SEA BRIGHT: ANOTHER RESTAURANT REOPENS

Yumi restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright is now back in business, adding to the growing list of stores coming back on line in the hurricane-battered borough. The eatery features sushi and “neo-Asian” cuisine. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

SEA BRIGHT: COUNCIL WAIVES PERMIT FEES

Members of the borough council at Tuesday night’s meeting. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Amid complaints by residents about unresolved insurance claims and other rebuilding delays, the Sea Bright borough council rolled out several measures aimed at getting them back into their homes with less hassle and cost Tuesday night.

Among the moves: a moratorium on construction permit fees for all work related to Hurricane Sandy-related rebuilding and repairs.

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SEA BRIGHT: EATING, REFLECTING AND RISING

Chris Wood, as seen in a video, above, and Mayor Dina Long, below, at Saturday night’s event, which raised $130,000 for Sea Bright Rising. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

A hotel in Long Branch was transformed into a showcase of the area’s best culinary talents Saturday night, courtesy of the charity organization Sea Bright Rising and the generosity of local vendors and restaurant owners.

Complete with a live band, charity auction and a video showcasing the relief effort, the sold-out gala, dubbed “The Big Beach Bash,” raised almost $130,000 for Sea Bright’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, according to the charity group’s Facebook page.

But the real story of the event was perhaps best told by the restaurateurs and merchants whose tables lined the walls of the ballroom of the Ocean Place Resort and Spa. Many were Sea Bright business owners trying to help rebuild their broken beach community joined by owners from neighboring towns looking to lend a hand to friends in need.

Over the lively the noise and, redbankgreen spoke with some of these participating businesses, and here’s what they had to say:

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SEA BRIGHT: CHRISTIE TOUTS FOCUS ON BIZ

Joined by Mayor Dina Long and business owners, Governor Chris Christie unveiled a new cabinet-level office to focus on post-storm rebuilding efforts. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Governor Chris Christie came to Sea Bright Friday afternoon, making his second visit to the storm-ravaged community since Hurricane Sandy struck. But while his first visit was a gesture of support to the beachside borough, this trip was all business.

At a news conference in the borough firehouse, Christie stood in front of a signs from local businesses including Bain’s Hardware, Woody’s Oceanfront Grille and Sea Bright Pizza to announce and lay out plans to help businesses that were affected by the hurricane. These include, he said, the creation of a new cabinet-level position – the Office of Recovery and Rebuilding – and the formation of a business impact assessment group, designed to aid businesses on a personal level.

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