CHAR DESIGNER HEATS UP THE DINING SCENE

Restaurant designer Jeff Cahill at the new Char Steakhouse, below, which opened on Broad Street Wednesday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Now rising from the ashes in Red Bank: Char Steakhouse, the most widely anticipated business to debut downtown since Blue Water Seafood landed one block north on Broad Street in June, 2011.

Will it generate the economic oomph to match the dollars – not to mention the expectations of nearby merchants – that have been poured into it? Restaurateur Matteo Ingrao is betting on it: he’s rumored to have dropped $2 million on renovations to the former Ashes Cigar Bar space with hopes of creating a dining mecca.

But also clutching his Sharpie on the sidelines is Jeff Cahill, a soft-spoken, self-taught interior designer who’s gradually transforming the look and feel of dining out on the Green, one dazzling location at a time.

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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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