RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK BILLIARDS TO REOPEN

lucky break 102113Lucky Break was closed for more than two months as the owner struggled to find a way out of red tape over BYOB rules.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Lucky Break Billiards, the Red Bank pool hall that shut itself down after becoming entangled in bureaucratic red tape over beer and wine consumption, will reopen Thursday.

Hall owner James Hertler tells redbankgreen he got the green light to reopen Wednesday from Mayor Pasquale Menna.

“The gist of it was that there was no complaint” by anyone that Hertler could challenge in court, Hertler said Menna told him. “My takeaway was that we’re good to go.”

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RED BANK: LUCKY BREAK’S SHATTERED DREAM

lucky break 102913James Hertler, below, shut down Lucky Break Billiards in September, a month after police cracked down over BYOB issues. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

james hertler 101813How’s this for an auspicious start for a business?

• In early 2011, in an effort to spice up nightlife, Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna spearheads a zoning law change to allow billiards parlors and other entertainment-based businesses to operate downtown.

• Several months later, former Mayor Ed McKenna, as lawyer on a lease for a planned billiards parlor, calls now-deceased police Chief Steve McCarthy to confirm that it could operate as a bring-your-own-beer and wine establishment. McKenna gets an OK, he tells his client, James Hertler, who was in McKenna’s office during the call.

• That October, Hertler goes before the zoning board and wins quick, unanimous approval of his plan for Lucky Break Billiards. Throughout its lengthy resolution of approval, the board notes that Lucky Break will be a BYOB that serves coffee and microwavable snacks and will allow its customers to bring in food from nearby restaurants.

• The following March, Hertler and partner Jeff Regen open Lucky Break at 14 West Front Street, in a space that had been vacant for four years.

• Lucky Break toughs it out for the next 18 months, building a repeat clientele largely based on private parties and edging toward profitability.

• Though it’s located amid a busy cluster of bars, there’s not a single incident requiring a police response at Lucky Break. “We worked hard to be a good neighbor,” said Hertler, a borough resident.

Yet without any change in the pattern described above, guess who abruptly finds himself accused of violating liquor laws – and out of business?

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ARCADE FIRED UP FOR RBFD FIRE CADETS

While the masterful manipulation of pinball flippers and the deft blasting of pixelated perils aren’t generally listed as required skills for firefighter applicants, they may come in handy during a December 6 event hosted by the Red Bank Volunteer Fire Department and its Fire Cadet program.

Presented at YESTERcades Classic Video Game Arcade, the all-night Friday fundraiser (6 pm to 2 am) invites all ages to play the Broad Street game room’s collection of  fully functional vintage amusements from the 1970s, 80s and 90s — with proceeds dedicated to supporting the training of the RBFD Cadets.

According to the borough website, the RBFD Fire Cadet program functions under the oversight of the Executive Fire Council in coordination with the Explorer program of the Boy Scouts of America. The program is designed to teach young teenagers, between the ages of 14 to 21, the skills of firefighting. A cadet explorer acquires the basic skills required for firefighting. The program is designed to teach safety and to provide confidence in the use of firematic equipment and techniques. Once a cadet becomes 18 years of age, he or she may join one of the firefighting units of the Fire Department.

Experienced firefighters of the department serve as sponsors for the enlisted cadets and are responsible for their training and education. The sponsors coordinate formal classroom training and practical hands-on exercises. Formal training takes place at nearby fire academies and are further supplemented during monthly fire drills conducted by the Red Bank fire companies.

Once a cadet achieves advanced stages of training, he or she is allowed to respond to fire calls with Department’s firefighting units. While the cadets are restricted from entering any structure involved in fire or smoke and are also restricted from engaging in life threatening activities, they do fully participate in many other duties required on the fire ground. For example, cadets may assist with streching hose lines, supply the necessary equipment to firefighters, assist with hydrant operations and with many other essential functions; all of which are performed from outside the structure. For their safety, all fire ground activities are supervised by the sponsors and the Fire Chief.

Residents of the Borough of Red Bank or residents of Monmouth County residing within five miles from the Borough of Red Bank, between the ages of 14 and 17 may join the fire cadet program. For more information or to join, contact the RBFD Chief at (732) 530-2797.

WHERE HAVE I SEEN THIS?

Last week we got a little trippy with Where Have I Seen This. Couldn’t help ourselves.

We noticed, while seated on a bench across Broad Street in Red Bank from Yestercades one recent evening, that the sunlight on the red brick building on the east side of the street – home to a Merrill Lynch office – is reflected in great detail in the Yestercades window, and that a painting of a woman’s head on that window appears to float over the reflection.

No, we weren’t hallucinating. Click on the original photo above right to see for yourself.

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SMASHING INTO TREES BUT KEEPING COOL


12:24 p.m.
Molly Fallon of Middletown might have be doing little more than crashing into virtual trees in a racing game at Yestercades, but she’s just happy to be keeping cool indoors as the temperature outside pushes past 90 degrees. The retro gaming arcade on Broad Street in Red Bank was the first place Molly’s dad, Vinny, thought to bring her for heatstroke-free entertainment.

“Today, we decided to do something to get out without actually being out,” he said, while trying his own hand at a game of pinball. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

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BACK TO THE ARCHIVE

Stumbling on this scene in downtown Red Bank Monday night was like a trip back into the not-too-distant reaches of the redbankgreen archive, as Chris LoBue of CLB Photography shot photos of Jim Caroll’s Back to the Future car for an ad for Ken Kalada’s Yestercades – three businesses that have been featured in these pixelated pages in recent months. (Click to enlarge)

TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOYSTICKS

Here’s a video that tracks a couple of Red Bank kids as they explore Yestercades, the retro gaming emporium that’s been the buzz of Broad Street since even before it opened in October.

Niko Porter, a fourth-grader at the Red Bank Middle School, and Patricio Vera, a senior at Red Bank Regional, took a whirlwind tour of the arcade, which features such classics as Pac Man, Frogger, Space Invaders and Tetris.

Niko, by the way, no longer sports that awesome mop of hair. He recently donated it to be made into a wig for a cancer patient.

redbankgreen‘s picture person Trish Russoniello did the edit.

BEEP! RETRO ARCADE OPENS

yestercadesretail churn smallYestercades, a 2,800-square-foot gaming emporium dedicated to classic video games of the 1970s and ’80s, opened with little fanfare Friday night and did a clanging, beeping business over the weekend, owner Ken Kalada tells redbankgreen. The pay-by-the-hour arcade is at 80 Broad Street in Red Bank, near the corner of Monmouth Street. (Click to enlarge)

IN CHURN: ART, PACMAN & WAFFLES

banegasBanegas Fine Art Gallery plans to take over the Broad Street storefront last inhabited by Bella Mystique. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallThe work of a single artist will constitute the merchandise at an art gallery that plans to open in Red Bank later this month.

David Banegas, a Bolivian native who splits his time between Long Branch and Delray Beach, Florida – where he opened his first gallery three months ago – will move his paintings in next door to Backward Glances and Via 45, says P.J. Schrantz, his partner and agent.

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RACK ‘EM UP: BILLIARDS MAY RETURN TO RB

14-w-frontIf approved by the zoning board, a billiards hall called Lucky Break will move into the long-vacant storefront at 14 West Front. (Click to enlarge)

[This article was updated with new info at 12:25 p.m. Thursday, September 21.]

By JOHN T. WARD

Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna’s push for more after-hours activities downtown appears to be gaining momentum.

The prospective tenant of a West Front Street storefront that’s been vacant for more than three years is proposing to create a pool hall there, redbankgreen has learned.

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ARCADE (BEEP!) RUNS THE BOARD (BWOOP!)

yestercades003An artist’s rendering of the ’boutique’ video game arcade planned for 80 Broad Street. Below right, owner Ken Kalada shares a laugh with zoning board member Tom Williams after the board’s unanimous approval. (Click to enlarge)

ken-kaladaAs a Pac-Man-loving preteen in Lincroft, Ken Kalada used to weep, he said, because his father wouldn’t allow him to visit a video game arcade in Eatontown because it was too seedy.

By the time he was 12, though, Kalada was collecting video games and pinball machines of his own, acquiring them via Usenet groups before eBay was a gleam in anyone’s eye. He was also spending time soaking up the atmosphere at a a retro pool hall that opened in the Galleria at Red Bank in the ’90s.

Neither experience, he said, wrecked his morals. In fact, people of his cohort – he’s 29 – and up to their late 40s are deeply nostalgic for the Mario Brothers and other electronic games of their youth, he said.

To answer that need, Kalada intends to transform a 2,800-square-foot former clothing store on Broad Street in Red Bank into a “boutique” video game lounge, one that’s open as late as 2 a.m. to satisfy the joystick cravings of eternal adolescence.

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