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RED BANK: SCAVONE TO LEAD RIVERCENTER

Jim Scavone, left, rockin’ promotional sunglasses at a Red Bank Flavour event last month with RiverCenter program director Amanda Lynn, center, and Visitors Center director Margaret Mass. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank RiverCenter kept it local, choosing interim director and borough resident Jim Scavone to lead the downtown promotion agency, the organization announced Tuesday night.

The selection of Scavone, who was RiverCenter’s operations manager prior to the April departure of Nancy Adams as executive director, marks a win for members of the search committee who urged their store-and-restaurant-owning colleagues to stick with in-house talent rather than bring in someone unfamiliar, people involved in the selection process told redbankgreen.

“The best man won,” said Tom Fishkin, RiverCenter’s vice chairman and owner of Readies Fine Foods on Broad Street.

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RED BANK: ADAMS QUITS RIVERCENTER HELM

Nancy Adams with RiverCenter vice chairman Tom Fishkin, center, and board secretary Michael Warmington in 2011. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

The top job at downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter is vacant following the abrupt departure of Nancy Adams as executive director Friday.

Adams announced her resignation in an email to redbankgreen, describing her departure as neither a firing nor a forced resignation but as an amicable split with RiverCenter’s board of directors.

“It was a mutual thing,” she said in an interview Saturday. “Overall, I think the board was very happy with what we did to move forward from economic devastation.”

But she cited “ruffled feathers,” scapegoating and what she said was a relatively short lifecycle for heads of state-chartered Special Improvement Districts among her reasons for leaving.

Readie’s Market Café owner Tom Fishkin, one of three board members whose meeting with Adams Friday prompted the resignation, attributed the move to “some creative differences” and a desire for a “fresh start.”

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RED BANK RENEWS PUSH FOR LATE CLOSINGS

rb-late-nightBars and restaurants are doing their job keeping doors open late, some say, but more merchants must stay open to attract more visitors. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

As Red Bank continues to claw its way out of an economic hole it hasn’t seen since the we-don’t-like-to-talk-about-it Dead Bank days, Mayor Pasquale Menna tends to periodically jab downtown’s retailers with a reminder that it’s going to take work to bring Red Bank back as a top destination in the region and beyond.

Lately, though, he’s taken a firmer approach.

At a council meeting last month, when two requests for car shows on Broad Street appeared on the agenda, he paused from the typical rubber-stamping of such requests.

“This is a chance to tickle, pinch, smack our retailers to stay open on Sunday,” Menna said, and then pointed to Red Bank RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams, who was seated in the audience. “Get the word out. Tell them to stay open on Sunday. I might start smacking instead of pinching.”

It was another lash at a limp horse he’s been flogging since before Red Bank’s business dipped with the national economy. For years, Menna has been urging merchants to move away from the nine-to-five mindset and keep the lights on after dark and on Sunday, when too many stores, he says, are closed.

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STOKABOKA, ADAMS IMPORTS GOING UNDER

stokaboka-072811Stokaboka Surf and Skate will likely close its doors for good by the end of the weekend, says owner Mike Boylan. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

rcsm2_010508An outgoing economic wave is claiming two stores on Monmouth Street in Red Bank: Board and beach outfitter Stokaboka Surf and Skate and Polish stoneware boutique Adams Imports.

Stokaboka, a destination for rail-riders and beach bums, cleared out a majority of its merchandise in this past weekend’s sidewalk sale, and will likely lock the doors by the end of this weekend, owner Mike Boylan tells redbankgreen.

“It’s more of an economy and internet thing,” said Boylan, who operated the store for six years with his wife, Kathleen. “There’s just a lot on the internet I just can’t compete with.”

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VALET UP FOR A VOTE IN RED BANK

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

park_it_021There soon could be fewer cars circling downtown Red Bank in search of parking spots if the borough council gives the green light to a proposal by Red Bank RiverCenter Wednesday night.

The business promotion agency, in an effort to pull in more visitors, hopes to try valet parking on a trial basis.

“It’ll benefit anybody whose customer doesn’t want to drive around or park themselves,” RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams said.

Motorists who covet the six spaces on Broad Street that will be dedicated to the valet service might have a different take, however.

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RIVERCENTER PLANS DOWNTOWN KIOSKS

rivercenter-sandwichRiverCenter’s first kiosk is slated for installation in English Plaza to let visitors know its new location. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Not that it was so easy to find when it was sequestered in a second-story space above Broad Street, but with Red Bank RiverCenter‘s move three months ago, the agency compromised what little visibility it had, taking up residence in an all-but-hidden office in English Plaza.

And if you’re a tourist looking for the Red Bank Visitors Center, which shares space with RiverCenter, well, good luck trying to find it.

But the move presented a fresh reason for RiverCenter, which promotes the downtown and portions of the West Side businesses, to put into action an idea executive director Nancy Adams has harbored since she stepped into her role more than three years ago, she said.

On Wednesday night, Adams presented the borough council with a plan to install information kiosks in English Plaza to alert visitors to the new RiverCenter and the Visitors Center digs.

It would be the first of a handful of kiosks downtown to offer maps and pertinent borough info to people coming into town, Adams said.

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CUPCAKE CRUSH IN RED BANK

mrMr. Cupcakes is one of two new cupcake purveyors in Red Bank, making three in total. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The batter’s going to start flying in Red Bank.

Just months after Chris Paseka and Jesse Bello-Paseka opened cupcake-centric Sugarush on Front Street, two new niche bakeries plan to open in town, waging, if nothing else, a serious cupcake competition in town.

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WANTED: STREETLIFE PERFORMERS

img_6371721Buskers, like this unidentified trio from Streetlife 2009, are warming up their pipes for the 2011. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Dust off yer geetar, groom your rabbit and brush up on your Marcel Marecau gestures. Auditions for StreetLife are right around the corner.

And if you want to be on one of Red Bank’s corners performing this summer, this is your chance to showcase your talent.

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GET THE RICE READY: WEDDING WALK IS BACK

wed-wlkWedding Walk strolls back into town Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Seems like only yesterday that Red Bank was flooded in white satin, with sparkly-eyed women peering over jewelry cases and trolleys carting hordes of hungry brides-to-be to and from the wedding wonderland that the downtown has become.

Yup, it’s been just four months since the marital merry-go-round last spun in Red Bank, but don’t get used to this being a frequent bridal bacchanal.

Wedding Walk 3.0 gets into action tomorrow — the first and last of ’11 — so, ladies, if a rice cooker isn’t on your registry, this is the chance to find all the essentials for that special day in a one-stop tour through downtown Wed Bank, New Jersey.

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RETAILERS & BRIDES PRAISE WEDDING WALK

wedding-walk-iiA model lured customers to shops on White Street all day Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Jayne Hernandez stood inside Hamilton Jeweler’s Saturday with a clicker in her hand, and pulled its lever every time a customer walked through the door.

By 2p, she’d done that 230 times. Not bad for a Saturday, she said.

“It was a mob scene,” said Hernandez, a manager at the store. “A bride mob scene.”

In terms of business, a mob scene is a good thing, she Hernandez said.

And it came as a direct result of Red Bank’s second Wedding Walk, in which hundreds of brides-to-be and their families descended upon businesses downtown and elsewhere.

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THE BRIDES ARE BACK IN RED BANK

wdng-walk1A jeweler at A.H. Fisher Diamonds sizes a woman for a wedding ring at Red Bank’s first Wedding Walk in March. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Wedding season is over, but there’s no such thing as planning too early for next year’s, right?

RiverCenter thinks so. Therefore Red Bank is host, for the second time this year, to Wedding Walk, a bride-to-be-minded affair that shines the spotlight on all the business that can help make getting hitched go off without a hitch.

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EMPTY WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY?

65-broadA year after taking over space from the short-lived Nevada Exchange store — which itself followed the short-tenured Maison Blanche — D’Angelico Guitars has left Red Bank. (Photo bu Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

With all the empty storefronts and ‘for sale or lease’ signs downtown, it might be hard to see a silver lining for Red Bank’s economy.rcsm2_010508

Scattered along on Broad and Front streets, windows show reflections and hollowed-out stores, not merchandise.

Or they’re plastered with contact information, like one downtown cornerstone, Ashes Cigar Club, which was abruptly shut down during the height of the summer bustle.

But there’s still hope for Red Bank, says Nancy Adams, executive director of RiverCenter, and things aren’t all that bad when you look at the larger economic picture.

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GUINNESS TO SHUCK UP RED BANK

white-st-lotThe White Street municipal parking lot will be the site of Red Bank’s first Guinness oyster festival in September. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It looks like downtown Red Bank will ring in the fall season by playing host to a daylong ragbag of an aphrodisiacal and Irish bent.

Mirroring the annual oyster festival across the pond, in Galway, Ireland, and other major cities, Red Bank is bringing in brewery giant Guinness to sponsor a spree of beer (ahem, ale), food and music dubbed the Only One Red Bank Guinness Oyster Festival on Sunday, September 26.

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McKENNA RETURNS TO RIVERCENTER

ed-mckennaFormer Mayor Ed Mckenna at his Broad Street law office Wednesday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Amid a tough times for retail and changes to how it does business, Red Bank RiverCenter has enlisted one of its founding fathers to help fulfill its mission.

Political magnate and former mayor Ed McKenna was named to the independent agency’s board earlier this month.

It was a sensible move, as the agency is focusing more heavily this year on attracting shoppers and businesses to move into town, all while trying to help established merchants succeed in this sludgy economy, said Nancy Adams, Rivercenter’s executive director.

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RIVERCENTER STEPS UP MARKETING

rivercenter-sign-051310The 2010 budget shows no increase, but reflects new economic priorities, says RiverCenter’s executive director.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Financially, it’s status quo this year at Red Bank RiverCenter. The independent agency that promotes the downtown and West Side special improvement district is working with a zero-increase, $512,000 budget.

Where that money is going, though, is a little different from previous years.

After the borough council gave its approval for the center’s 2010 budget Monday night, redbankgreen caught up with RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams to find out what’s changed in the year’s spending plan.

The folks at 20 Broad Street are stepping up their marketing and advertising of the borough, a move Adams said is much needed at a time when the small businesses are trying to get more traffic through their doors.

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