Since it closed its doors for the last time, broken, finally, by the most severe penalty it had faced after years of threats and warnings, losing its liquor license, the site of an Ashes Cigar Club on Broad Street has been a black mark on Red Bank’s carefully manicured downtown.
The opening of Char Steakhouse in as little as a few months could turn the embattled location into one of the borough’s brightest spots. An established brand with a track record of success at its Raritan location, Char is promising to bring with it not only the food its known for, but a unique and modern style designed to compliment, not clash, with the historic brick aesthetic of the downtown.
For Red Bank RiverCenter, the organization whose purpose it is to promote the downtown businesses and borough’s Main Street-style, Char is everything it could hope for in a new business.
“We at RiverCenter have been trying to do everything we can to get them in here, to get them open,” RiverCenter Executive Director Nancy Adams said. “We love their design, we love the plans we’ve seen for the restaurant, and we’re excited to see them here in Red Bank.”
Char won site plan approval from the borough’s and was granted several variances, most of them having to do with the proposed design of the restaurant, which will include greater signage and a new and vibrant awning on the exterior.
Owners of the restaurant say they want to open this year, even as early as in just a few months in the spring. Work is and has been underway at the site for several months since Char first took over the building. An indication that Char was locating in Red Bank first came in August when signs appeared in the darkened windows of Ashes advertising the restaurant’s imminent opening with the Char logo and the slogan: “.”
The building, at 33 Broad Street, is one of the downtown’s most visible properties. Though lively as it was reported being, Ashes was plagued by issues over the years, many of them the result of code violations. When Ashes lost its liquor license in 2010, the restaurant, bar, cigar hangout closed its doors. The building being empty for more than a year even rankled some local business owners like George Lyristis, who along with his brothers owns the , , and Zoe’s in Little Silver. Lyristis said he even engaged in preliminary discussions to open a restaurant at the site, though those plans never came to fruition.
“It’s really had an adverse impact on retail shopping in that area; on the restaurants, too,” Adams said. “It’s really been Red Bank’s dark corner.”
But with the black mark being replaced by grill marks, a void in downtown Red Bank , it seems, is finally being filled.