RED BANK: SIGN RULES IN LIMBO

rb signs 032416 2Proposed changes to the ordinance that regulates signage were rejected by the council. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

The Red Bank council yanked the plug on a new sign ordinance Wednesday night, leaving the town with a law that even local officials say is hot mess.

Amid widespread criticism, and some squabbling among majority Republicans, the governing body on Wednesday rejected proposed changes to the sign law that Councilwoman Cindy Burnham said had been in the works for three years and cost the town $18,000.

Read More »

RED BANK: SIGN LAW FLICKERS BACK TO LIFE

rb signs 061214 2A proposed ordinance to regulate signage is still too complex, officials say. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD
HOT-TOPIC_03

After more than two years of review and tweaking, a proposed change to Red Bank’s signage law is still too complicated, according to… well, nearly everyone who’s looked at it.

“Fourteen pages of regulations with three pages of tables does not help simplify what’s allowed and not allowed,” Jim Scavone, executive director of the downtown promotion agency Red Bank RiverCenter, told the borough council two weeks ago.

His comments have since been widely echoed. Planning board member Linda Cohen, who owns Eye Design on Broad Street, expressed concern that prospective business tenants would get one look at the document and decide to set up shop elsewhere.

Still, the planning board unanimously agreed Monday night that the proposed changes did not conflict with the town’s Master Plan, and kicked it back to the council with the message to “keep tweaking,” even if the amendments become law. Read More »

RED BANK: COUNCIL TAKES UP BUSINESS BIZ

rb doc shoppe 081915Doc Shoppe, and only Doc Shoppe, is permitted to have a table on the sidewalk out front under a trial run approved by the council. Meanwhile, a sign ordinance was sent back for more revisions. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb signs 061214 3Efforts by Red Bank businesses to draw in more customers were the subject of two measures discussed by the borough council last week.

One concerned retail and restaurant signage, which was the subject of an enforcement crackdown that generated considerable blowback a year ago.

The other is a trial run, using one store, to gauge the impact of allowing merchants to display wares in front of their stores.

Read More »

RED BANK: CLASSIC RASSAS SIGN RESCUED

rassas sign 091714 2 rassas sign 091714 3A bit banged up but salvageable, one of the classic neon Rassas Buick signs in Red Bank seen below in 2013 – was saved from the bulldozer Wednesday by restoration aficionado John Oakley of Fantastic Signs. Oakley credits Pete Esposito and crew from Esposito Construction with “going above and beyond” to get the sign down intact. Now, restoration of the open-face letter channel sign “will make a nice winter project,” said Oakley, whose Shrewsbury Avenue shop has become something of a museum of local signage. redbankgreen will let readers know when it’s done.

The former Rassas auto dealership was torn down this week to make way for a new Walgreens pharmacy. (Photo above and right by John Oakley. Click to enlarge)

rassas 1 052213

RED BANK: MOONSHINE REPLACES NEON

rb crate's 082614 2A display of moonshine products at Crate’s Liquor in Red Bank. (Photos by Rachel Weston. Click to enlarge)

By RACHEL WESTON

rb crate's 082614Neon signs may be endangered, but the light of the moon shines more brightly in Red Bank after Crate’s Liquors installed a new window display last week.

Russell Burlew, owner of the North Bridge Avenue bottle shop, was among the retailers who received a confusing letter from borough hall this spring directing them to remove illuminated and neon signs from storefront windows. The signs violated borough ordinances, they were told.

After an outcry by business owners, some of whom have had their signs for decades, enforcement of the orders has been halted by the borough council, which is reviewing the sign ordinance.

Meantime, though, Burlew went ahead and removed 15 signs that advertised beer and other beverages and found a new use for the space: a moonshine display.

Read More »

RED BANK: DINER TO REOPEN AS TOAST

  bway diner 072114 1“Sorry, closed” is all sign in the door tells patrons of the Broadway Diner, where some 40 workers were shocked to learn they’d lost their jobs Monday. Below, workers emptying out the kitchen. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD & SUSAN ERICSON

bway diner 072114 2Red Bank’s Broadway Diner, which closed abruptly Monday morning, will reopen as Toast Red Bank, according to a report in the Asbury Park Sun.

Following renovations, a reopening is expected in about about eight weeks, the Sun reported, quoting Amy Russo, Toast’s founder and the daughter of one of the diner’s owners.

Russo could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon, and an employee at her Asbury Park restaurant said she would probably not comment.

But the sudden closing in Red Bank stunned customers and employees alike.

“I just found out half an hour ago that I don’t have a job anymore,” an employee told a customer who had asked what she’d do now. “Can you imagine?”
Read More »

RED BANK: DINER POURS FINAL CUP

Broadway DinerThe diner will reopen as a new restaurant, an owner says. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank’s Broadway Diner, a gleaming all-night mecca of stainless steel, Formica and neon, has closed.

The Monmouth Street eatery ended an 18-year run owning to the death of one of its owners, Bob Russo, and a restructuring of the business.

By coincidence, Mayor Pasquale Menna and new borough school Superintendent Jared Rumage were the last customers, Menna told redbankgreen.

“We had the last cups of coffee,” he said.

Read More »

RED BANK: SIGN CRACKDOWN SPARKS IRE

RB signs 061214 1Neon signs in store windows at the City Centre strip mall on White Street. Cluck U Chicken, above left, got a warning, but Psychic Advisor Gina on Monmouth Street, below, did not, according to borough records. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rb neon 061714A recent crackdown on neon and other illuminated signs that lit up the business community with outrage prompted Red Bank officials to pull the plug on enforcement Wednesday night.

The blitz came to light at the bimonthly meeting of the mayor and council, when Councilman Mike DuPont said he had been besieged with complaints by merchants and restaurateurs over warning letters for signs some of them have had in their windows for decades.

“Many of the restaurants I visited complained bitterly,” said DuPont. “I heard all about it.”

Read More »

PUTTING THE ‘ARM’ IN PHARMACY

mario-mazzeoMario Mazzeo of Lite Brite Signs in West Long Branch reaches through the R while doing maintenance work on the neon sign of Red Bank Professional Pharmacy on Broad Street earlier this week.

Mazzeo, who specializes in neon signs, says the drug store’s 30-plus-year-old sign, with its exposed tubes, is among the last of a vanishing breed. (Click to enlarge)