RED BANK: RESTAURANTS HUSTLE TO REOPEN

red bank danny murphy 061120Danny Murphy, owner of Danny’s Steakhouse, with the safety guide he prepared for his employees. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

HOT-TOPIC_03Their industry battered over the past three months by the COVID-19 pandemic, Red Bank’s restaurateurs are now scrambling for a toehold on recovery.

With partial reopenings slated to begin Monday, they’re training staff in a host of new hygiene procedures. At the same time, some are also racing to shift operations into two new shopping and dining plazas being created downtown.

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LUNCH BREAK HOSTS 3RD ANNUAL FOODSTOCK

LunchBreak

Press release from Lunch Break of Red Bank

For years, Lunch Break has served as the first line of defense for thousands of residents of Monmouth and Ocean Counties and beyond, in the ever-expanding battle against hunger and the ravages of poverty in the midst of affluence. According to the nonprofit organization’s executive director Gwen Love, food pantry distributions have increased by a staggering amount, with more than 750 area families depending on Lunch Break each and every month for groceries — amounting to nearly 400,000 pounds of food.

“Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times,” said Love. “Summer is especially difficult, with schools closed and many people on vacation…but hunger doesn’t close for the summer or go on vacation.”

Between the hours of 11 am and 2 pm on Saturday, May 17, Lunch Break will host the third annual “Foodstock” community food drive at the Red Bank Middle School, 101 Harding Road. The goal this year is to collect an ambitious 50,000 pounds of non-perishable food — and all members of the greater Red Bank community are invited to spend the afternoon enjoying live music, good food,  good friends, and a chance to learn more about Lunch Break and its committed Board of Trustees, staff and volunteers.

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TAKING IT TO THE RIVER FOR THREE-DAY FEST

A weekend’s serving of cheek-bulging chow and hip-shaking music take up residence in Red Bank’s Marine Park this weekend. (Photos by Dustin Racioppi. Click to enlarge.)

By TOM CHESEK

It was the subject of a behind-the-scenes brouhaha that rivaled the most spirited Battle of the Bands: a “take back the weekend” campaign that pitted some of the mainstays of the Red Bank business community against an established event that many locals believed had both outgrown and turned its back on its host community.

When the calendar flipped to the first weekend in June, 2011, however, the consensus was that Riverfest was a refreshing breath of sweet summertime air off the Navesink — a successful revival of a seasonal signature that Lynda Rose, president of the Eastern Monmouth Area Chamber of Commerce, calls “a perfect fit for the town, the businesses and anyone who enjoys being in Red Bank.”

Beginning Friday and continuing into Sunday evening, Riverfest returns to the sloping lawns and waterfront walkways of Marine Park with a three-day, rain-or-shine, strolling smorgasbord of culinary creations, “local organic” music and family-friendly activities.

Billed as “New Jersey’s Largest Food and Music Festival with Free Admission,” it’s both a throwback to an earlier small-town vision of Red Bank, and a summer-season keynote to a new chapter in the borough’s ever-evolving history.

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FOOD FEST GETS DIBS OVER JAZZ & BLUES FEST

img_63997272A food vendor hawks his wares at the 2009 edition of the Jazz & Blues Fest. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

After a long absence, Riverfest will return to Red Bank’s Marine Park in 2011.

But securing the date required backers to first elbow aside Riverfest’s successor: the ersatz Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival.

On a night when the Red Bank Council was courted like the prettiest girl in class, the food-heavy fest won a sudden competition to take over the waterfront park the coveted first weekend in June.

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WEST SIDERS GETTING SOME OVERDUE TLC

danny-murphyDanny Murphy, outside his Bridge Avenue restaurant, is leading an effort to boost the Arts & Antiques District’s profile.

For years, a cluster of businesses west of Red Bank’s downtown has felt like a neglected stepchild.

That was supposed to change with the inclusion three years ago of a portion of the West Side in the special improvement district managed by Red Bank RiverCenter, the quasi-governmental entity that collects a tax on commercial properties and uses the money to spruce up and market the covered area.

The love has been slow to materialize, though. So business owners led by longtime restaurateur and nostalgia maven Danny Murphy have banded together to do the squeaky-wheel thing. And already, they’re starting to get some grease.

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