Juanito’s Charcoal Grill features outdoor seating with colorful murals on either side. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
It was going to be a laundromat. Think: droning appliances, fluorescent lighting and the cloying scent of fabric softener perfuming a stretch of Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank.
Luckily for Red Bank-area lovers of food and immersive atmosphere, Juan Torres changed his plans. And on Saturday, the serial entrepreneur will debut his newest creation: Juanito’s Charcoal Grill, a restaurant that’s a volcanic eruption of colors, aromas and flavors, inside and out.
The new structure would be built between a six-unit apartment building, at left, and Juanito’s Market, at right, with all three properties sharing parking in back. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
The Red Bank zoning board approved the creation of a new laundromat and four apartments on a vacant Shrewsbury Avenue lot Thursday night.
But before the project can get underway, grocer and restaurateur Juan Torres will have to reduce a possible tab for water and sewer hookups that could total $562,000.
Juanito’s International Marqueta is the latest in a line of food-related businesses owner Juan Torres has created in town. Below, the store’s placeta-style checkout station. (Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
Leading a visitor through the aisles of his new supermarket on Red Bank’s West Side, Juan Torres wended his way past employees busily stocking shelves and freezers just hours before he unceremoniously opened the store to shoppers Tuesday.
Reminiscent of midsized neighborhood markets long ago displaced by supermarkets, Juanito’s International Marqueta features four short aisles and two longer aisles stocked with dry goods, many of them grouped together by nation of origin: Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and elsewhere, Torres said.
Likewise, along a wall of freezers, food is also grouped by nation of origin, including Salvadoran corn tamales known as pupusas.
The groupings, Torres said, were done to make shopping easier for Latino immigrants as well as non-Hispanic shoppers looking for beans, sardines and other products they used in their home countries, he said.
“People here take taxis to Long Branch to get ingredients,” he said. “Now, they can walk here.”
Juan Torres, owner of Juanito’s restaurant, testifies about his proposal for a large grocery on Red Bank’s West Side Thursday night. (Click to enlarge)
A plan for a supersized bodega on Shrewsbury Avenue didn’t make it to the checkout register Thursday night.
A hearing by Red Bank’s zoning board ended with more testimony, and objections, expected when the matter resumes on August 4.
Juan Torres, who owns Juanitos restaurant, Juanitos Bakery and El Guero grocery all on the borough’s West Side is seeking board approval for what would be the borough’s largest ethnic food store.
But first he’s got to clear hurdles related to the store’s size, parking issues and pedestrian safety, as well as the resistance of at least one other bodega owner.