According to Red Bank Green, zoning board approval was enthusiastically given to a 21 Broad Street location for a market and “Jazz Bar”. The building, which has sat vacant for the last seven years, has a large first floor which could accommodate numerous food vendors in the vain of Eataly or Chelsea Market. Meanwhile, the large basement will get treatment as a speakeasy-style underground jazz club. In fact, the first plans for this business referred to it as just that: a “speakeasy”. However, at the last zoning board meeting, the owner Jack Manousos was hesitant to use the word, instead saying that he only recently learned what the term meant (a prohibition-era phrase for a hidden and very much illegal place to imbibe liquor) and adding, “We’re not going to be doing anything illegal here”, and that a more accurate description was a “retro-style bar.”
Personally, I think he can relax on the term “speakeasy”. Not only is it harmless now, but several places (namely Murphy’s in Rumson) use that moniker and are highly successful. I don’t think there is anyone on the planet anymore who would get illegal connotations from hearing the word. In fact, given the popularity of all things old with the hipster population, it would probably do nothing but help his business.
As the article states, there is not much more additional information known at this time. The only item we can speculate on is the status of whether or not this bar will serve alcohol, because currently, there is no liquor license. If one cannot be obtained, Manousos said they will operate as a BYOB. As a cocktail enthusiast who lectures on prohibition and bootlegging on the Jersey Shore, this makes me excited. Should a license be obtained, they would have the chance to really do something special here: offer prohibition-era cocktails (and others, of course) to the sound of jazz music. The setting would certainly be right. Anyway, that is just me opining my own thoughts. With no license, I am sure customers would not mind bringing their own bottle of wine (or whiskey?) to listen to whatever musicians they have slated. It is a win-win situation.
On to the market aspect, I am hoping for the best. Red Bank could use a concept like this—a chance to grab something light or pick on a variety of foods without having to sit down for lunch or dinner. However, the dining scene in this town and pretentiousness can go hand-in-hand. I hope they can manage to avoid this. Best of luck to the owners, and if you manage to read this please shoot me an email with more information!
This sounds really cool on paper, but as I grew up in Red Bank (while getting into food) I totally agree that it might miss the mark. Hopefully not though – it sounds like a great addition to a town with musical history