While it will forever be known as the location occupied by Park East, a lively bar and grill overshadowed by rowdy crowds and numerous police incidents, Hazlet has seen a slew of restaurants come and go at the intersection of Keyport-Holmdel Road and Route 35. Having lived literally up the street for 23 years, I can attest to the turbulence: it was first the Old Dutch Tavern before becoming the more well-known Shore Point Inn (when the small motel was added). This was way before my time, and it had changed to The Cove when I was a small child. I remember eating there several times with my family. As listed in this article, after that came the Sea Gull’s Nest, Steak Exchange, and Legends (which I do not even remember), prior to Park East and eventually The Park Tap and Grill.
It was almost hard to believe when Park East mailed it in a couple of years ago. They seemed to have found the secret recipe that all the other businesses lacked. I witnessed a solid two or three years of absolutely packed parking lots. People were parking in the Goddard School lot on football Sundays. For some reason, it drew an odd mix of locals, BENNY’s, and Staten Islanders…and quite a bit of rabble rousing from what I hear. My dad’s coworker witnessed a stabbing in the parking lot one night. Cops practically lived in the Exxon across the street. Watching. Waiting. Their run dwindled and it became The Park Tap and Grill. The crowds were never the same. Restaurants at that location have been killed and resurrected more times than Dracula in recent years.
The latest incarnation was going to be the Blue Moon Mexican Cantina, but those plans fell through. For anyone wondering what may be coming next, the article linked above mentioned a “catastrophic” pipe burst in an upstairs floor during the recent cold spell that caused extensive damage. However, it seems the next place slated to give it a shot was going to be called “Slab Bar and Grill”. No further information is known, but I cite this quote which I could not agree with more:
Mariolis has watched restaurateurs come and go, expecting to “hit the jackpot” at the old Shore Point Inn. He has opinions about the follies of focusing too much on cocktails instead of good meals.
In this area of the Jersey Shore, it is absolutely true that most places try too hard to become trendy “scenes” with craft cocktails. Food, while usually passable, is always shoved to the background. We see restaurants come and go, sometimes not even lasting a year. It does not seem anyone ever learns from the mistakes of others, and this recent example helps prove it. And if I may add in a totally unbiased opinion, a restaurant named “Slab” just doesn’t do it for me.
The owner of the property claims to hear offers almost daily from prospective buyers wanting to purchase the restaurant, knock it down, and build a strip mall. While it would be a shame to lose another storied location (and we have more than enough stores), that may be the best route if the next people cannot figure it out.