RED BANK: ANIMA OPENS, CAFÉ REBRANDS

Women’s clothing store Anima has opened in the former home of a Duxiana bedding shop. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallWe’ve got a new women’s boutique, a new gym and a new name for a restaurant in this edition of redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

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RED BANK REGIONAL LEADS AT MODEL UN

modelun2015Left to right: Red Bank Regional High School students Lauren O’Brien, Victoria Ovanesian, Jack Anderson, Kristen Wimmer and Brianna Napoli were among those who held leadership positions during the 2015 Model UN Conference in Hershey, PA.

Press release from Red Bank Regional High School 

This past January, a group of students from Red Bank Regional High School participated in the YMCA Model United Nations Conference, held in Hershey, PA. Several of the RBR students held leadership positions, while others were recognized with several awards.

Victoria Ovanesian (17, Little Silver) held the esteemed position as chair of the Arab League, while Jack Anderson (17, Little Silver) was invited as an alternate to the highly selective Conference of National Affairs. Kristen Wimmer (15, Little Silver) was recognized as the Outstanding First Year Delegate for the Social & Humanitarian Committee. Lauren O’Brien (17, Red Bank) was honored as the Premier Diplomat for the European Union, and Brianna Napoli (17, Interlaken) received the Outstanding Country Award for her representation of Egypt.

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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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CHAR GETS LIQUORED UP & LANDLORD SCORES

The restaurant is doing an extensive overhaul at 33 Broad Street and plans a September opening, says the landlord. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508You’ll be able to get a bourbon with that porterhouse when Char Steakhouse opens in Red Bank later this year.

And among those who may want to raise a beverage in celebration is landlord Jack Anderson, whose hedge bet on a liquor license has paid off.

“I’d be screwed without it,” he tells redbankgreen.

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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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RED BANK: CHAR TO SEEK PARKING VARIANCE

char-exteriorArchitect’s drawings of the proposed Char facade include a wavy awning and two-story windows. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

char-ext-2The restaurant that plans to fill the downtown Red Bank space last used by Ashes Cigar Bar took several key steps toward fruition in the recent weeks.

Still, Char Steakhouse may yet need zoning variances before it can begin what’s expected to be an expensive renovation of the prominent structure, on the southeast corner of Broad and Mechanic streets.

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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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SURF TACO SURFING INTO RED BANK

rivers-edge-cafeRiver’s Edge Cafe is moving out, and Surf Taco is moving in to 35 Broad Street. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Rcsm2_010508Jack Anderson has a saying: “Nothing is a done deal until five minutes after the ink dries.”

The ink dried at 35 Broad Street, at around 4p Monday, so the deal is done. Surf Taco is coming to Red Bank.

“They are officially the tenants,” Anderson, the building’s landlord and owner of Jack’s Music Shoppe, told redbankgreen.

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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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DUB GETS ASHES LICENSE AT AUCTION

ashes-auction1Hundreds packed the shuttered Ashes Cigar Bar Tuesday to bid on anything and everything on the auction block. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

At a public auction for the assets of Ashes Cigar Bar, the owners of Red Bank’s Dublin House bought the defunct nightclub’s liquor license for $395,000 Tuesday.

While that was the biggest ticket item on the block, hundreds of restaurateurs, workout vultures and spectators filled the Broad Street space to place bids on everything from barstools to kitchen equipment to bottles of wine.

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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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RECEIVER STUBS OUT ASHES CIGAR CLUB

ashes2-071210A passerby peers into Ashes Cigar Club Monday night. (Click to enlarge)

The court-appointed receiver in a complex series of lawsuits over Ashes Cigar Club has shut down the Red Bank restaurant and nightclub and has no plans to reopen it, he tells redbankgreen.

It could take months to find a buyer, says attorney Bunce Atkinson, who stubbed out the last hope of rekindling the business on July 7, when he directed that it be closed for good. Information about the reasons for the shutdown were unavailable until this morning.

Meanwhile, two groups of investors who claim to have had stakes in the bar’s liquor license have been squeezed out, and the state is looking to impose fines over identities having been hidden from regulators, Atkinson says.

“There’s going to have to be a fine paid” to the state Alcoholic Beverage Control agency, he says.  “It’ll come out of the sale of the assets.” The former owners won’t see another dime from their investment, he says.

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