There will be food and drink and dancing, of course, but this weekend when Sea Bright Rising holds its sold-out Beach Bash fundraiser at Ocean Place Resort and Spa, the main item on the menu will be a break from Sandy's wrath.
"I think people are just looking for an escape, especially down there in Sea Bright, and I think that's why we sold out so quickly," said restaurateur George Lyristis. "People just want a little bit of normalcy, and we're going to give it to them and raise a little bit of money in the process."
The Sea Bright Rising event is backed by Red Bank Flavour, a culinary alliance that spotlights Red Bank restaurant, bars, lounges and eateries. All are donating their food and staff, away from their businesses on what is usually the most profitable restaurant night of the week.
Lyristis, who owns and operates Teak and The Bistro in Red Bank and Zoe's in Little Silver, said pairing up with the charity for the event was just an extension of the work he has been doing since after the storm.
"The day after the storm I donated 10 trays of food to Sea Bright and didn't stop for two weeks. These people are my neighbors, my friends, my family. You can't turn your back on people when they are down," he said.
One of those affected is Kelly Ryan of The Boondocks Fishery in Red Bank and Donovan's Reef, where she has run the concessions for 12 years. It was Ryan who tapped her fellow Flavour members, even as her own kitchens were swept away in Sea Bright and Red Bank.
It took one phone call to Lyristis to motivate the alliance, she said. "'Whatever you need' he told me, and it was bing, bang, 'we're in', 'we're in' she said about the Red Bank restaurant community, where "everybody's got your back."
"I haven't even thought about my place," she said. "I have all winter to rebuild."
Choking back a tear, she said, "It'll all work out. Come summer time we'll all be sitting outside together."
Saturday's event in Long Branch will feature 22 food and drink vendors, 14 from Red Bank. All proceeds from this event will benefit the residents and business owners of Sea Bright in their recovery and rebuilding efforts.
Participating businesses include:
- Sugarush a Sweet Experience
- The Melting Pot
- The Bistro at Red Bank
- Red Bank Chocolate Shoppe
- Danny’s Grill and Wine Bar
- The Cheese Cave
- Cupcake Magician.
- McLoone’s Restaurants
- Woody’s of Sea Bright
- Rumson’s Molly Maguire’s
- The Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands
- The Lusty Lobster in Highlands
- Mix Lounge and Food Bar in Long Branch
- Grape Beginnings
- Little Silver Bottle Shop
Tickets to the sold-out event cost $75. According to organizers, sponsorship opportunities ranging from $500-$10,000 remain. In addition to food donations, Ocean Place Resort and Spa has donated the venue, tables, linens and staff for the fundraising event.
For more information, or to purchase learn about sponsorships, contact Sea Bright Rising, seabrightrising.org.