BELIEVE IT: RUNA TO OPEN IN RED BANK

runa 082114 2At Runa: a quinoa croquette appetizer topped with avocado, heirloom tomato and aji amarillo pepper. Runa owner and chef Marita Lynn, below.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

marita lynn 082114The runway to Runa turned out to be long and bumpy, but Red Bank’s first Peruvian restaurant is finally about to open.

Really, definitely this time, says owner Marita Lynn.

The Monmouth Street eatery, which has been “coming soon” for two years, is set to soft-open by August 30, Lynn told redbankgreen Thursday, shortly after clearing one of her final inspections by the borough.

What took so long?

“I had the wrong perception of what it takes to open a restaurant,” Lynn said, standing in the brightly painted, 44-seat BYOB-er. She calls the interim “a great learning experience and a personal journey.”

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RED BANK: SHOE NO LONGER FITS DOWNTOWN

shoe fits 081414With the demise of If the Shoe Fits, Red Bank is losing a business with deep history. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This time next week, one of the longest-running businesses in downtown will turn off the lights one last time.

Footwear retailer If the Shoe Fits is going out of business, ending a run that began in 1846, its owner tells Retail Churn.

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RED BANK: HERITAGE LIQUORS CLEARS OUT

1 broad 081414 1Building owner Eric Eremita in the doorway of the recently vacated bottle shop at 1 Broad Street. (Photos by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508The ever-fluid mix of stores in downtown Red Bank continues to churn with the disappearance in recent days of Heritage Liquors from the corner of Broad and East Front Streets.

Eric Eremita, a television personality who bought the building from store owner Ktae Sun Pae last November for $700,000, says Pae “left very abruptly” about 10 days ago, taking her inventory of wine, beer and spirits with her.

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SEA BRIGHT: ROONEY BUILDING APPROVED

sb mrs rooney 040314The Ocean Avenue lot where Frances Rooney, seen above in April, has sold hot dogs from a cart since 1977 will become Rooney Plaza, below.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

rooney plaza 081214Mrs. Rooney selling hot dogs indoors?

To Sea Brighters and other passersby, the idea that Frances Rooney, the hardy weiner merchant who sometimes defies the pleas of her children not to go out in arctic weather, would no longer ply her trade in the elements might seem unnatural.

But with the planning board’s approval Tuesday night of a four-story, mixed-used structure on her gravel lot at Ocean Avenue and Surf Street, it may happen, she told redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: SIENA SPACE TO REOPEN AS BLU

141 shrewsbury 080714 2Work is about to begin at the former Siena Grille space on Shrewsbury Avenue, according to documents filed with the borough planning office. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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A vacant Red Bank building that’s been home to several well-regarded restaurants is about to get a new one – and a self-styled consultant hopes it will help him move beyond his recent infamy as a convicted felon, redbankgreen has learned.

Documents filed at borough hall identify the former Siena Grille space at 141 Shrewsbury Avenue as the future home of Blu Bistro + Bar.

Involved in the project is Russell D’Anton, who was sentenced to two years in federal prison in 2010 for kickback scheme he ran as the top executive at the Charlie Brown’s chain.

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RED BANK: ‘KITCH ORGANIC’ EYES LEIGHTON

best-groceryVacant for four years, the shop would get an interior and exterior sprucing up, with a raised-bed vegetable and herb garden out back. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

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A former West Side building at the center of a long-running controversy involving booze, noise and angry neighbors could become the home of Red Bank’s first take-out-only organic restaurant.

Plans on file with the borough planning office call for a business called Kitch Organic to take over the former home of Best Liquors, at 75 Leighton Avenue – and bring a clean-slate approach to an eyesore building with some bad karma.

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RED BANK: COCKTAIL WEEK? IF YOU INSIST…

dee downtown 072514 2Downtown bartender Dee with some of his output, including a blackbery cosmo, below.  (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

downtown cocktail 072514 2To watch the one-named bartender Dee when the drink orders are coming in at Red Bank’s Downtown is to a witness unflappability amid a blur of glasses, garnishes, bottles and stainless-steel shakers.

“I have to be very quick,” Dee tells PieHole while rapidly muddling ingredients for a cucumber vodka mojito. Over 10 years of mixing and pouring, “I’ve developed speed,” says Dee. “Not every bartender likes to muddle, but I love the labor of this job.”

Starting August 10, the restaurant promotion group Red Bank Flavour plans to spotlight the town’s watering holes and the bartenders who keep their libations flowing with the first-ever Red Bank Cocktail Week.

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SEA BRIGHT: A MARTINI RIPE WITH SUMMER

beau keegan 072214Ama mixologist Beau Keegan adds a dash of grenadine to give his white peach martini the look of a peach. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

ama peach martini 072214Kitchens and dining rooms aren’t the only areas of restaurants caught up in the growing interest in locally sourced artisanal food products.

At Ama Ristorante in Sea Bright, the bar has become a place of labor-intensive cocktails prepared with carefully chosen fruits and flavorings, says Beau Keegan, who runs the beverage operation.

“A generation ago, it was all about liqueurs, but there’s been a revolution in the last 10 or 15 years of people making their own purees, syrups, bitters,” he says. Driven by customer interest, “everybody’s kind of pushing each other” to find new, and fresher, ingredients, he says.
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FAIR HAVEN: NEW CHEF, NEW MENU AT RAVEN

062714 raven peach shrimpNew on the menu at the Raven and the Peach, Coconut Shrimp. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

062714 raven peach chef darrylThe elegant Raven and the Peach, a showplace on River Road in Fair Haven, has brought in chef Darryl Harmon to revamp its menu.

Harmon is a busy, ambitious man, splitting his time between this restaurant and several others. Chef/owner of On the Edge Events, a catering company, he’s also the executive chef at Mana Bistro in Jersey City and a “brand ambassador” for Certified Angus Beef.  The American Culinary Federation has named him chef of the year, making him an award-winner, as well.

Taking a few minutes out of his busy schedule, Harmon sat down with PieHole in the upstairs Casablanca Ballroom to discuss his vision for the Raven and the Peach.

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RED BANK: BOONDOCKS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

071014 boondocks news2Eyewitness News anchor Lauren Glassberg interviews Boondocks diners  – including Sugarush owner Chris Paseka, at right.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumBack from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, Red Bank’s five-year-old Boondocks Fishery is about to get a bit of metro-area exposure.

An ABC Eyewitness News crew led by anchor Lauren Glassberg paid a visit Thursday for a segment on a Boondocks perennial favorite: Spicy Seafood Gumbo..

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SEA BRIGHT: DIVE RESURFACES

christine diiorio 070114Christina Di Iorio outside her Ocean Avenue bar and restaurant, which reopens Wednesday afternoon. Below, her husband, Steven Graniero. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

steven graniero 070114To be honest, Christina Di Iorio says, she got to the point where she didn’t want to reopen Dive, the Sea Bright restaurant and bar that she and then-fiancé Steven Graniero saw nearly wiped out by Hurricane Sandy.

Their insurance company hadn’t lived up to its obligations, she said. A vendor was suing them, and they weren’t able to get any traction with the government or private lenders to restart the Ocean Avenue business. And then there’s the hard reality of two bodies of water – the Atlantic Ocean and the Shrewsbury River – just yards away, all too ready to combine forces to once again smash the town as they did on October 29, 2012.

And yet there Di Iorio was on Tuesday, putting the final touches on a completely revamped Dive for a low-key opening at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“I agree with you: I think we’re nuts,” she told redbankgreen. “But our clients, our families, our fan base – they all embraced us. I’m doing it for them.”

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RED BANK: RUNA EYES SUMMER OPENING

runa 061914morsels mediumRuna, a proposed Peruvian restaurant on Monmouth Street in Red Bank that’s been “coming soon” for two years, will open this summer, owner-chef Marita Lynn writes in a new blog post.

“I got paralyzed by fear” after realizing that “cooking is not the same as running a business, and I didn’t have the full knowledge of opening and running a business,” Lynn writes at a site called called PlanDay, but the restaurant “is going to open this summer,” she says.

As reported by PieHole in May, Runa is the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. (Click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

RED BANK: TAXMAN SEIZES THAI RESTAURANT

Muang Thai 3Muang Thai owner Jack Pongnoo, seated, with Muang Thai staffers last August. Below, the sticker slapped on the restaurant door by state tax officials Thursday. (Photo above by Robert Kern, below by Boris Kofman. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Fans of Red Bank’s well-regarded Muang Thai appear to have lost a dining option.

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RED BANK: BON JOVI TALKS UP SOUL KITCHEN

bon jovi 101911Middletown resident Jon Bon Jovi, seen here at the opening of the pay-what-you-can-or-earn-your-meal JBJ Soul Kitchen in 2011, tells USA Today in an interview at the Red Bank eatery he helped create why he doesn’t wash dishes there anymore.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

 

RED BANK: KICKSTARTING PERUVIAN EATERY

marita lynn 062912Marita Lynn of Red Bank’s Runa is hoping a bit of help will finally get the doors to her Peruvian restaurant opened. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

morsels mediumWe’ve been taunted by the tantalizing prospect of a Peruvian restaurant on Red Bank’s Monmouth Street for almost two years now.  Now, Runa owner Marita Lynn has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help her raise the money she needs to get over the last barriers to opening the doors.

In an Andean language of Peru, runa means “people.” Lynn tells PieHole that when she was in culinary school she dreamed of calling her restaurant Runa, because she enjoyed being around and cooking for people.

Now she’s depending on those people to help her get her doors opened. Lynn tells PieHole that she has simply run out of money.

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CHURN: YOGA WEAR, BEACH TOUCHES, HAIR

bebarow 052314 1Phil Barow, owner of Be Barow, with creative designer Bianca Freda. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This edition of Retail Churn trumpets these new arrivals to downtown Red Bank: a beach-themed home accessories boutique, a women’s workout wear shop, a hair salon and a restaurant.

Opened last month, Candy’s Cottage Coastal Living has settled on Monmouth Street after stays at two locations in Asbury Park and an extended tenancy at Pier Village in Long Branch – two cities that of course compete with Red Bank for foot traffic and consumer spending.

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RED BANK: THE HEAT IS ON AT TEMPLE

temple spring roll1Hot, crunchy, spring rolls at Temple Gourmet. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels smallSerious crunch found at dinner this week.

Temple Gourmet Chinese in Red Bank makes terrific spring rolls that are vegetarian friendly.

Dragging the spring roll through a bit of duck sauce and then dipping it into the mustard sauce, my daughter (a vegetarian) and I were surprised by the flavorful but strong mustard.

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RED BANK: NEW NAME POPS UP DOWNTOWN

joann clark 042414•The former Fameabilia space, now approved for a restaurant, is among the Red Bank properties marketed by Joann Clark’s new brokerage. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508For reasons that may be clear only to her, JoAnn Clark decided to name her new commercial real estate brokerage after Bluewin, a Swiss email service.

Which is why visitors to downtown Red Bank are suddenly seeing signs touting the availability of retail spaces through Blue Winn Commerial.

“I liked the sound of it,” Clark tells redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn, laughing. “I went with that.”

The garrulous and nearly-always-laughing Red Bank resident’s half of just about any conversation is likely to contain numerous such head-scratchers. In fact, Clark is quick to admit that her stream-of-conscious repartee and sense of humor can be baffling. But she adds that what’s enabled to survive more than two decades of market ups and downs isn’t what she says, but understanding what her clients say.

“As much as I talk, I listen, and try and get a feel for what they need,” she said.

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SEA BRIGHT: BOONDOCKS MAY DOCK HERE

sb station 012513Kelly McRyan, below, hopes to convert the former auto repair garage above into a takeout seafood restaurant.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

kelly boondocks 042813Red Bank’s Boondocks Fishery may soon have a sibling operation in Sea Bright.

Owner Kelly McRyan is eyeing the former site of Sea Bright Service Station at the foot of the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge as a second location for her popular riverfront eatery, she tells redbankgreen.

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RED BANK: McLOONE GRABS DOWNTOWN SPOT

26 Broad 030212Tim McLoone, below, plans to open a yet-to-be-named burger restaurant in the former Murphy Style Grille on Broad Street, above. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

timmclooneBy his own admission, and as his wife gently reminds him, Tim McCloone did not give it a lot of thought six weeks ago when he embarked on a plan to open a restaurant in downtown Red Bank.

Among other locations, he’s already got eateries on the boardwalks in Long Branch and Asbury Park; recently took over CJ Montana’s in Tinton Falls, rebranding it as CJ McLoone’s; and is readying new places in Hoboken and Hillsborough.

Oh, and last week, he landed approvals to rebuild McLoone’s Rum Runner, his flagship Sea Bright restaurant, which was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

So where does his plan to open a restaurant in the Broad Street space long held by Murphy Style Grille fit in strategically?

“I’m not thinking strategically, or I would not do this,” McLoone told redbankgreen with a laugh Tuesday, one day after he signed a lease for the space. “I’m devoid of strategy.”

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CHURN: CIAO, BIAGIO, CESAR & WOULD-BE BBQ

rb 12 broad 032514Biagio Wood-Fired Pizza has departed 12 Broad Street after less than a year and a half in town. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This edition of Retail Churn reports on the departures from downtown Red Bank of two businesses and the cold feet of one that never opened: a pizzeria, a jewelry store and a barbecue joint, respectively.

Gone, quite abruptly, is Biagio Wood-Fired Pizza. Going, once its home of 21 years is sold, is Cesar’s Creations Jewelry. And never seen was the highly-lauded Local Smoke BBQ, which bailed over the expected costs and delays of setting up downtown.

All three involve Broad Street addresses. We’ve also got news about new boutique coming to Monmouth Street.

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RETAIL CHURN: BOOTS, FOOD AND FIT KIDS

•dean ross 030714After 14 years in Fair Haven, Dean Ross is ready to take on double the rent to sell shoes in Red Bank. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This edition of Retail Churn reports on these developments:

• A Fair Haven shoe store specializing in Dr. Martens boots hopes to kick some butt in downtown Red Bank – and keep the lights on after other stores close.

• Two high-profile Broad Street restaurants have quietly gone idle.

• A fitness center for kids plans to open next month on Wallace Street.

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CHURN: POOL CUES, THRIFT & CRAFTS EXIT

lucky break 021214•Tuns out Lucky Break could not survive its lengthy shutdown over BYOB issues, its owner says. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508This edition of Retail Churn reports on the departures from downtown Red Bank of three high-profile businesses:

• Lucky Break Billiards, which was the subject of a bring-your-own-booze enforcement crackdown last year.

• The ARC of Monmouth Thrift Shop, a fixture on Monmouth Street for some three decades.

• Ten Thousand Villages, a Broad Street retailer of fair trade crafts.

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