CHURN: THE SPOT, SORELLA BELLA & SCAFFOLD

cassie fishkin 102015Cassie Fishkin has purchased both Mac Attack restaurants, including the one on Broad Street, and rebranded them as the Spot. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallIn this edition of Retail Churn:

• A 28-year-old woman who’s already had a brief career as a lawyer has acquired both Mac Attack Cheesery restaurants — one in Red Bank and the other in Montclair — and is giving the menu a complete makeover in keeping with a dream she’s fostered since she was 16.

• Three Ocean County sisters have opened a women’s clothing store on Monmouth Street.

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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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RED BANK: PIZZA ALL FIRED UP AT BIAGIO

biagio 2Anthony “Tito” Vega stokes the fire at Biagio Wood Fired Pizza. (Photo by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

By JIM WILLIS

With at least a half-dozen places to grab a pizza in downtown Red Bank, a pizzeria has to differentiate itself if it’s going to stand out.

Step inside Biagio Wood Fired Pizza on Broad Street and you get a sense right away that there’s something different going on. An enormous red oven stands in the center, glowing with flaming logs.

Biagio initially stoked our interest with its arugula-topped pizza, which helped redefine for us the universe of appropriate pizza toppings. To get the lowdown on the fire-breathing oven, Piehole caught up with Biagio pizzaiolo, Alberto “Tito” Vega.

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FOR CONTRACTORS, AN OPEN-DOOR POLICY

Rcsm2_010508On a stroll through downtown Red Bank Thursday, redbankgreen found an unusual amount of renovation work underway.

Some of it, like the conversion of the former Ashes Cigar Bar at 33 Broad Street to a Char Steakhouse, above, has been proceeding for months. But other sites that have long appeared dormant now seem to have stirred back to life.

Click the Read More to take the photo tour yourself. Have we missed any? And do you see a common thread? (Click to enlarge)

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ZEBU OUT, WOOD-FIRED PIZZA IN

Zebu will close next week and a new restaurant will take over its space at 12 Broad Street. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Just five months after a high-profile relocation up Broad Street, Red Bank’s Zebu Forno plans to close next week to make way for a new wood-fired pizza restaurant.

Zebu owner Andrew Gennusa tells redbankgreen he’s partnered with borough resident Biagio Schiano, owner of Mossuto’s Market in Wall Township, to create a new pizzeria at 12 Broad that that they plan to franchise as Biagio Wood-Fired Pizza.

Meantime, Gennusa said he’s hopeful that Zebu itself will reopen elsewhere in town under new ownership, though no buyer has yet been found.

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BETWEEN THESE WALLS: ‘VITAL FORCE’ ENERGY

Retail space tucked inside 12 Broad has been leased by a store specializing in jewelry infused with “vital force.”  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508Downtown Red Bank’s comeback is about to get a jolt of extra energy.

Alex and Ani, a designer and retailer of wrist bangles and necklaces infused “with the positive energy that ancients refer to as vital force,” has signed to take over retail space at 12 Broad Street, next door to the newly relocated coffeehouse Zebu Forno.

Even the walls are expected to hum with good vibes.

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ZEBU EYES FEBRUARY REOPENING

Andrew Gennusa in the new Zebu Forno space at 12 Broad Street, with one of Gregg Hinlicky’s murals from the last one. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

It’s not without its terrors, shutting down a business in order to move it, Andrew Gennusa will tell you.

And when the reopening takes months longer than expected, as has been the case with Gennusa’s Zebu Forno coffee house in downtown Red Bank, life can get truly white-knuckle.

But one thing that Gennusa says has kept up his spirits is his occasional visit to the Starbucks just down Broad Street. It’s there that, along with a cup of joe he happens to like, he’s sure to get a dose of love from his own customers, who tell him they can’t wait for his restaurant to reopen.

“That’s been the most encouraging thing,” he tells redbankgreen. “You and I can go in there right now, and no less than two people will ask me when I’m reopening. I have strangers stopping me on the street to ask.”

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SIZZLE & STYLE COMING TO BROAD

The former home of Zebu Forno at 20 Broad will be split into two stores: a burger place and a women’s boutique. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

Rcsm2_010508

A key vacancy in downtown Red Bank appears to have been filled.

Two businesses are slated to take over the former home of Zebu Forno: Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries and a young women’s apparel retailer that the owner hasn’t yet decided on a name for.

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RENT SPAT FORCES ZEBU MOVE

zebu-091311The popular coffee house closed its doors Sunday night, and plans to move three doors north, to 12 Broad Street, below. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

12-broad-091311Zebu Forno, one of Red Bank’s most prominent see-and-be-seen eateries, locked its doors and papered over its windows this week after a long-running rent dispute.

But the coffee urns and pizza ovens won’t stay cold permanently. Owner Andrew Gennusa tells redbankgreen he’s signed to take over storefront space just three doors away, in the former Broad National Bank building at 12 Broad Street.

Pending approval of a variance for a conversion to a food use, Gennusa said the new shop could be ready in six to eight weeks.

“We’re coming back,” said a smiling Gennusa, as he and operations manager Ryan Timmons were busy breaking down equipment in the darkened space at 20 Broad. “It’s an opportunity to rebirth the business.”

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ART SHOW DISPLAYS FOR THE SNOW DAYS

zebu-artGroveland-based artist Ryan Southerland at Zebu Forno’s first art show Saturday. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The iceberg-sized snowmounds are still here. The temps are near arctic. It’s the winter blahs, perhaps the slowest time of year for action, especially in the arts world. And in the Red Bank sector, not much is doing now.

Or at all, really, in the way of grassroots endeavors to showcase local talent, says Mellisa Pickering, one of the town’s more recognizable faces — and voices, with her Irish brogue — on the coffee scene.

Take those elements and it’s precisely the right time to get something going, said Pickering, who has a graphic design background and a passion for art.

“Red Bank is so quiet right now. I’m sick of waiting for something to happen,” she said. “So we decided to make something happen ourselves.”

The result is a winterlong, and perhaps yearlong, biweekly arts show at Broad Street’s Zebu Forno, where Pickering works. The show kicked off Saturday and continued Sunday.

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BALLEW JEWELERS TO END 124-YEAR RUN

ballew-111610The ‘lollipop’ clock outside Ballew Jewelers has been a Broad Street fixture since 1902, when the store was known as Reussille Jewelers. (Click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Ballew Jewelers, a Red Bank staple since 1886, when it began as Reussille Jewelers, is pulling out of town, leaving a gaping hole, both symbolic and tangible, in a downtown struggling to tread water in a difficult economy.

News of the closing hit some of the nearby merchants like a sucker punch.

“It’s horrible. Horrible,” said Zebu Forno owner Andrew Gennusa. “For a business that’s more than a hundred years old to close here, it’s like a death.”

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ZEBU’S ON THE MOVE… OUT BACK

zebu-backZebu Forno is expanding into this space formerly occupied by Red Bank Red Hot. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Freehold, Hoboken, Holmdel and Morristown have all been targets of expansion by Zebu Forno owner Andrew Gennusa.

The dour economy, however, stunted that growth. The baking racks and coffee urns of the latter three shops were boxed up and moved out in 2009, an admittedly painful year for Gennusa.

But he’s trying to “turn that negative into something positive,” he said, and is again ready to expand, this time to a much safer, and familiar, location: a 600-square-foot shoebox of a space that’s conveniently attached to his Red Bank store on the English Plaza side.

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ITALIAN EATERY TO SET UP AT GATEWAY SITE

myitalian032410A take-out and sit down restaurant called My Italian Kitchen will set up shop in the former Key Motors garage at Broad Street and Maple Avenue.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Looks like a new restaurant is coming to Red Bank. And, no, it’s not a pizza place.

Still, by this time next year, foodies should be able to add My Italian Kitchen to the list of Italian joints saturating Red Bank.

To members of the planning board, which gladly approved the restaurant’s application Monday night, the transformation of one of the most prominent pieces of real estate in town — at its southern gateway, at the corner of Broad Street and Maple Avenue — is a positive move.

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