SALON PLANNED AT FORMER EATERY

img_5928Kim Johnson plans to set up a hair styling business in the former Itri’s Luncheonette space.

Looks like the griddle at the long-dormant Itri’s Luncheonette won’t be getting fired up again after all.

Guy Johnson’s dream of reviving the tiny, beloved hash house died late last week when he won approval from the Red Bank zoning board to convert the West Front Street space to retail.

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RUG MAN: HE’S LEAVING, BUT ALSO STAYING

12-broad4Get the message? But while the rug store is closing, its owner is putting down roots: he bought the building.

By WID CONROY

When a request by Nazmiyal Rug Decor for an extension on its going-out-of-business sale came up at last Monday night’s Red Bank Council meeting, the answer was unequivocal: No.

There was not one second’s worth of public discussion about the request, which would have permitted Nazmiyal to continue displaying its oversized signs in the window of its Broad Street store for another 90 days. But the message was clear. “You’re leaving? Go, already.”

“They got what they’re entitled to,” Mayor Pasquale Menna told redbankgreen afterward. He said other merchants had complained about the “subliminal message” of failure being trumpeted by the bold red-and-white signs.

“Most of our retailers are doing a very difficult job in a very difficult environment,” Menna said. “They don’t need that.”

So it may seem ironic that the store’s owner, while he’s throwing in the towel on his own business, is still a true believer in the downtown’s potential.

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RED BANK TO BIZ OWNERS: STAY OPEN LATER

biz-closed11

Some merchants think too many downtown stores are closed at night. This photo was taken late Tuesday morning. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna has ramped up his campaign get downtown business owners to stay open later.

He says the effort did not begin with last week’s Broad Street debut of Urban Outfitters — a clothing and housewares store that’s open from 11a to 9p Monday through Saturday and 11a to 8p on Sundays. But Urban is doing business the right way, Menna says, and he’d like to see more merchants follow suit.

“Retailing has changed, our society has changed and Red Bank is changing,” he said.

Given Red Bank’s amenities, with its bevy of late-night hot spots like bars and entertainment venues, it has always made more sense that many businesses, especially retailers, keep the lights on and the doors open after dark and on Sundays, Menna says.

But examples of missed opportunities to hook visitors are plentiful, he says citing two from last summer, when the Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival, and later the Taste of Red Bank, drew thousands of visitors who found limited shopping options because stores weren’t open later or on Sunday.

“The businesses that succeed are the ones who are available when people are on the street,” Menna said. “We don’t have the luxury of shoppers out at nine in the morning. It’s a change in our society and sometimes we have to change our business model to keep our competitive edge.”

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SHOPPERS SAY URBAN’S GOOD FOR RED BANK

urban-shoppers

A trio of Urban Outfitters fans, led by Middletown resident Amie Falk, walk out of the store happy on its opening day Thursday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

They  pulled the hulking glass door and trickled into Red Bank’s most anticipated business. They were greeted by a cadre of upbeat employees and set loose into a few thousand square-feet of the area’s newest hip retail wonderland.

And for those customers who hit Urban Outfitters in its first couple hours on Thursday, the experience didn’t disappoint.

“It was great,” said Amie Falk, of Middletown, summing up her shopping experience.

Falk arranged to meet with friends at the store for a morning of shopping, and by the time the group was finished, they came to a conclusion that will sound like music to local merchants.

“This store will definitely bring me to Red Bank more often,” said Darlene Weltman, of Atlantic Highlands.

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URBAN SPARKS HOPE AMONG STORE OWNERS

urban-watchers2An unidentified Urban Outfitters employee checks out a window display as a pair of passersby does the same Tuesday night.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Two young women rounded the corner of Broad Street Monday night and headed left on West Front Street, their eyes fixed on a retail medley going on behind the tall glass windows.

The twentysomethings behind the glass were putting the finishing touches on display racks and examining the trendy looks of mannequins that just days ago lined the store’s inner perimeter as nothing more than nondescript plastic molds.

“I’m so excited for you, Urban Outfitters,” said one of the women as she looked into the window before disappearing from West Front’s sidewalk.

Given the Philadelphia-based giant’s international success, it’s no surprise there might be consumers chomping at the bit for Urban to open it’s doors to the public on Thursday. But on the periphery of Urban Outfitters’ enchanting mass of real estate at 2-10 Broad Street, there’s a contingent that can match the public’s excitement and trump it with hope — Red Bank’s small business owners.

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URBAN OUTFITTERS SHOPPING FOR MANAGER

2-10 BroadCan you manage it? The clothing and household-goods merchant is looking someone to run its Red Bank store when the wraps come off at 2 Broad.

Retailer Urban Outfitters, which has been mum on its plans to open a store in Red Bank, has finally acknowledged the move.

It comes in the form of a job posting for store manager at the emporium planned for 2 Broad Street, at the corner of West Front.

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CAN DOCTORS SAVE THIS BUILDING?

UnionhousevillageComing soon, maybe, to the still-vacant Union Street Village: plastic surgeons.

Unable to get even a nibble for its retail space, the owner of Union Street Village last night sought, and obtained, a change allowing medical offices on the ground floor.

The Red Bank Planning Board approved a site plan change clearing professional or medical use of the  space, at the corner of Union Street and Wharf Avenue, provided the bank that owns the building kick $12,500 into the borough parking fund to offset a five-space deficiency.

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THIRD TIME’S A CHARM ON MONMOUTH STREET

siros-monmouthStreet-level stores with 12 apartments above and parking underground will replace a longtime service station at Monmouth and Pearl streets.

After repeated tries, a scaled-back plan to replace a former auto service center at the corner of Monmouth and Pearl streets has cleared a major hurdle.

The Red Bank zoning board last night unanimously approved a pair of variances that could lead to the construction of a multi-use retail and residential structure on the site, most recently the home of Circles Skate Shop.

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REALTOR PLANS RETAIL SHOWCASE

corinthian-cove-from-dock-6Corinthian Cove’s one unsold unit will display merchandise from Red Bank retailers for two months. (Photo courtesy of Susan McLaughlin)

She’s got a big, empty house on the Navesink she’d like to sell.

They’ve got everything from bars of soap to dining room furniture that they’d like to move — not to mention an image of being part of an overpriced downtown they’d like to water down.

Seeing an opportunity, a local real estate agent is pairing her needs with those of Red Bank retailers in the hope that good things happen for all.

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