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Steak on the Planning Menu

The owners of Char are looking for variances from the Planning Board to open their new restaurant on Broad Street.

The group looking to bring Char steakhouse to Red Bank is hoping the borough’s Planning Board sees fit to approve its site plan and issue a number of variances for necessary changes currently standing in its way.

Good Forks Properties will appear before the Planning Board tonight with its plan to open a Char steakhouse at 33 Broad Street, the former Broad Street site of Ashes Cigar Club. The combo bar, restaurant and smoking lounge was shut down in 2010 after a tumultuous several years that ultimately ended with the business closing after being stripped of its liquor license.

The site lay dormant for some time with only a sign with the image of a bulldog smoking a cigar serving as a reminder of its past. One weekend , however, the Char logo appeared in all of the storefront’s windows with the slogan reading – appropriately enough – “Up from the Ashes rises Char.”

The longtime vacancy of one of Red Bank’s most centrally-located downtown properties has drawn the ire of some nearby business owners who have been waiting for a new tenant to arrive. The original Char, located on Route 202 in Raritan, is an established restaurant that has been operating in that location for years. Branding for the Red Bank location, thus far, appears to be the same though it’s unknown what menu changes, if any, will be made. According to the Char website, the restaurant offers a New York-style atmosphere and considers itself a “premiere” steakhouse.

Good Forks is looking for a bulk variance to allow window and projecting signs, parking and design waivers, and a permitted change in use from what was primarily a bar with some residential use to, now, a primary food establishment with apartments. The applicant is also looking to make interior and exterior renovations and to add new signs to the building.

The Planning Board meets at at 7 p.m.

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