SEA BRIGHT: BOUNCER NOW OWNS THE JOINT

chris-woodWith a partner, Chris Wood has taken over Ichabod’s and is revamping the space as Woody’s Ocean Grille. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

It was hard for Chris Wood to imagine, some 25 years ago as a door man at Ichabod’s, that he’d return to the Sea Bright “institution,” as he calls it, for anything more than a beer and a burger.

“Absolutely not,” said 50-year-old Wood. “I always loved the building, always loved the spot. Never did I think I was going to own the place.”

Wood, who left his post at Ichabod’s door in the mid-80s to become a bond broker on Wall Street, is making an unlikely — and “super, super exciting” — return to his roots on East Church Street, taking over Ichabod’s and rebranding it Woody’s Ocean Grille.

Read More »

FROM THE FRUIT STAND, A LESSON IN DETAILS

capello-1Tom Cappello outside his Wallace Street restaurant. Below, a tray of gnocchi destined for local stores. (Click to enlarge)

gnocchi

In the competitive arena of Red Bank restaurants, one owner takes his work down to the molecular level.

Tom Cappello, who launched Gaetano’s on Wallace Street in 2000, has since more than doubled the size of the eatery. He’s introduced Gaetano’s brand sauces and pastas for sale in local food stores, including FoodTown and Sickles Market. He’s turned his trattoria into a classroom, offering cooking lessons for adults and children. He “merchandises the hell out of” his business, doing coupon tie-ins like the one that linked his weekly ladies’ night with the recent appearance by reality TV celeb Bethenny Frankel at the Count Basie Theatre.

And as visitors to his claustrophobia-inducing basement office sometimes come to know, it all stems from lessons Cappello learned working at a fruit stand in Brooklyn.

Read More »

TIMES CHIMES IN ON DISH

_DSC0003The reviewer from the Times says a visit to the White Street restaurant is “worth it.” (Photo by Peter Lindner; click to enlarge)

Dish, a restaurant on White Street in Red Bank, scored a positive review in the Metropolitan section of the New York Times Sunday.

Food critic Karla Cook, however, had some issues with the ventilation system and a door chime.

Read More »

RISING FROM THE ASHES? WATCH THIS SPACE

jack-anderson-072110Landlord Jack Anderson says he’s gotten a number of proposals for the former Ashes space. (Click to enlarge)

A collective groan was heard through downtown Red Bank earlier this month went a court-appointed official abruptly shut down Ashes Cigar Bar, a high-profile if controversial eatery and bar that served as a nightlife anchor for more than a decade.

Just what we need when the retail and restaurant sectors are struggling to claw back to profitability, store owners said: a honking big vacancy in a town with plenty of small and medium-sized ones. How will the building’s owner find a tenant to replace Ashes in this economy?

Well, landlord Jack Anderson doesn’t think the outlook is dire. He says he’s already got offers for the three-story building on his desk across the street at Jack’s Music Shoppe, and he’s “motivated” to get a deal done ASAP.

Read More »

NEARLY EMPTY COMPLEX MAY GET RESTAURANT

rb-corp-plaza Except for limited office use, Red Bank Corporate Plaza has been empty since completion two years ago.

By Dustin Racioppi

Red Bank’s comeback from the depths of the economic downturn may turn out to be based on an unexpected foundation: pizza.

In recent months, one large pizza restaurant has opened, a second one  has committed to the downtown, and a third, smaller one is rumored to be coming.

Now, a fourth pizzeria appears about to take over a huge retail space in a white-elephant office, retail and parking complex on West Front Street. And this one could have a coveted liquor license.

Leonardo DiMaria, a co-owner a place to be called Pazzo’s Coal Fired Oven Restaurant, tells redbankgreen a sublease on some 4,900 square feet of space at Red Bank Corporate Plaza is “pretty much done. We should be signing the lease Tuesday or Wednesday.”

Read More »