SHREWSBURY AVENUE SPICES UP BANCO ROJO

Nopales, left, and sabila, above, are available at Rincon Latino Supermarket. (Photos by Grace Goldoni. Click to enlarge)

By GRACE GOLDONI

Rich South American hot chocolate in blocks. Subtropical coconuts. Exotic, prickly and tangy vegetables.

We’re not in your typical white-bread American supermarket. Here on Shrewsbury Avenue, the main thoroughfare on Red Bank’s West Side, the striking flavors of fresh and authentic Latin food create a south-of-the-border atmosphere.

In recent decades, this commercial stretch has adopted a strong Latino accent, just like its surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve never stepped outside your car and visited this street, home to about half a dozen bodegas and small grocers, well, grab a shopping cart…

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RED BANK: MURAL MAKEOVER

Jim Fitzmaurice working on the mural at Juanito’s last month. Below, a detail. (Photos by Dan Natale. Click to enlarge)

By DAN NATALE

An outdoor mural near the Red Bank train station has been getting a wholesale freshening-up in recent weeks. And it’s not the first time.

Painter Jim Fitzmaurice of Rumson has been restoring the mural on the side of Juanito’s Mexican Grill, located at the corner of Monmouth and West streets.

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JUANITO’S OPENS MEGABODEGA ON WEST SIDE

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.”

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JUANITO’S MARKET GETS A GREEN LIGHT

juanitos-market-091311An expert testified that “close to 100 percent” of the store’s customers would arrive on foot, making a parking shortfall irrelevant. (Click to enlarge)

By MOLLY MULSHINE

Red Bank’s biggest bodega yet is on its way to Shrewsbury Avenue.

The borough’s zoning board approved Juan Torres’ application to bring a 5,310-square-foot grocery store to the area after a hearing on Thursday night.

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NO DECISION ON MEXICAN MARKET PLAN

juan-torresJuan 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 Juanito’s restaurant, Juanito’s 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.

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MEXICAN MARKET PLANNED ON SHREWSBURY

197-shrewsbury-ave

Juan Torres is looking to move his Juanito’s brand to Shrewsbury Avenue, formerly the home of Red Bank Furniture Emporium. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI rcsm2_010508

There’s an appetizing item on the Red Bank Zoning Board‘s plate tomorrow night: Mexican.

The mini-empire of authentically Mexican eateries and retail food outlets, Juanito’s, is looking to spread into a space at a recently shuttered Shrewsbury Avenue furniture store.

Juan Torres, who owns Juanito’s Restaurant, Juanito’s Grocery and El Guero Grocery, is seeking the board’s approval for a short list of variances to open up Juanito’s Market at 197 Shrewsbury Avenue.

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