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SEA BRIGHT RISING SAYS ‘MISSION COMPLETE’

Ilene Winters and Chris Wood reviewing requests for  from Sea Bright Rising in January, 2013, three months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the town. On Friday, Winters and Woods announced that the nonprofit organization was dissolved, having completed its mission after giving out $1.6 million in donated funds to 300 families, 20 businesses and the borough itself.

From the announcement: More →

GREEN ON GREEN

From oceanfront Sea Bright to suburban Rumson to the bustling hub of downtown Red Bank, everyone seemed to be feeling Irish Sunday – Saint Patrick’s Day.

Guinness, Bailey’s and Jameson lined bar tops. Murphy’s Tavern in Rumson served fresh Irish soda bread as munchies. Medicated Pete McHeffey, dressed in full leprechaun regalia, kept the tentful of revelers at the Dublin House in Red Bank laughing. And one old soul at Woody’s Ocean Grille in Sea Bright claimed that though he wasn’t from Ireland, he’d lived his entire life as though he were.

It was a great day to be Irish – or to live for a few hours as though you were.

(Photos by Wil Fulton. Click the embiggen symbol to enlarge.)

CHAR DESIGNER HEATS UP THE DINING SCENE

Restaurant designer Jeff Cahill at the new Char Steakhouse, below, which opened on Broad Street Wednesday night. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Now rising from the ashes in Red Bank: Char Steakhouse, the most widely anticipated business to debut downtown since Blue Water Seafood landed one block north on Broad Street in June, 2011.

Will it generate the economic oomph to match the dollars – not to mention the expectations of nearby merchants – that have been poured into it? Restaurateur Matteo Ingrao is betting on it: he’s rumored to have dropped $2 million on renovations to the former Ashes Cigar Bar space with hopes of creating a dining mecca.

But also clutching his Sharpie on the sidelines is Jeff Cahill, a soft-spoken, self-taught interior designer who’s gradually transforming the look and feel of dining out on the Green, one dazzling location at a time.

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SEA BRIGHT RISING, ONE GIFT CARD AT A TIME

Ilene Winters and Chris Wood reviewing requests for help from Sea Bright Rising in Wood’s office Thursday. Below, a mudline shows the height of the water that inundated homes and businesses in town during Hurricane Sandy. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

Nearly 70 days after Hurricane Sandy washed the Atlantic Ocean into his Sea Bright restaurant, Woody’s Ocean Grille owner Chris Wood hunkered down with Ilene Winters in his loft office, sifting through aid requests from residents whose homes were flooded or destroyed in the storm.

The two executives of Sea Bright Rising were prioritizing applications for help with repair and replacement expenses from their neighbors as part of an effort to dole out nearly $500,000 in donations collected in the aftermath of the October 29 storm.

“We need two things from those reaching out to us: specificity and priority,” Wood said. “We don’t give out direct personal checks, cash or Visa cards, but we are more than happy to write checks to contractors, landlords or electricians for a portion –usually around 25 percent, of their bill, for example. We can’t write a check for ‘help’.”

Among the charitable organizations that arose in the wake of Sandy, the one Sea Bright residents have been able to lean on perhaps more than any other is a home-grown effort dedicated to the town’s return from the wreckage.

In terms of community outreach, involvement, and most importantly, results, it’s doing the job, its founders say. And in a period in which many Sandy-related charities are losing steam, Wood and Winters insist theirs is just getting started.

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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.

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