Asbury Park

Social media smear of Toast’s Amy Russo of Asbury Park

Social media smear of Toast’s Amy Russo of Asbury Park

The following is my post on the Red Bank Green website in regard to the social media smear of Amy Russo, who owns Toast in Asbury Park. Amy is getting unfairly tagged with the abrupt dismissal of the workers at the Broadway Diner in Red Bank without notice, a decision that was not hers. Even worse, she can’t even speak up to defend herself, as I explain below. She is set to buy the diner, and open Toast Red Bank there. That transaction takes place July 31. Amy has no idea I’m posting this, and would probably tell me not to do so. Too bad. I say whatever the hell I think, and call it like I see it. I can’t help it. Here’s my comment on Redbankgreen.com’s facebook page:

I can’t resist commenting.

Unfortunately, Amy Russo just got screwed by a bad situation she didn’t create. Nice of everyone to jump to the conclusion that a successful businesswoman — who has loyal and happy employees in two other successful establishments — is dumb enough to walk into town and fire 40 long-time employees without notice.

That fact is that she doesn’t fully own the place yet, nor does she have managerial control. She did not make that decision. It was up to the existing management to decide how to treat their long-time employees and customers before the place closed. That closure has to be done before full ownership can be transferred to Amy, who wants to open a different business there after closing for two months to do interior renovations.

My friend John Ward used our story on Asburyparksun.com for his Red Bank Green report. Go back and read the Sun story. John provided the link. Amy is buying out her late father’s partner who’s run the Broadway Diner for years, as her Dad passed away a few months ago. She will obtain ownership and full control on July 31, if all goes according to plan. Everyone around — particularly the hard-working small business owners and their employees on Monmouth Street — should pray it does. Toast has been fantastic for downtown Asbury Park. A failed business at that location is not something you want on Monmouth Street.

So what is Amy Russo supposed to do now? The deal is not yet done for her to take over. Is she supposed to publicly condemn her late father’s partner before she buys him out on July 31? Throw him under the bus publicly, even if he deserves it, by stating it was his decision to dismiss the employees without notice? That would be stupid. It’s more important that she gain control of the location to open something with a great chance of success, which benefits everyone around there — including those who will work there, some of whom may be former Broadway Diner employees. She’s right to keep her mouth shut until this transaction is complete.

My guess is that the long-time partner of her late father isn’t selling because he’s making a killing and cashing out. Whether you like it or not, the 24 hour diner model in Red Bank sure doesn’t seem viable to me. And if you don’t agree, go open one yourself and see how easy it is. Have a ball. I’ll be happy to come and try it once to give it a shot. There’s a reason you don’t see them around anymore.

Personally, I think the Broadway Diner sucked. It was dirty and the food mediocre. Hey, that’s my opinion. And I think it was eventually going down. It was not like it used to be years ago. No way was that place lasting, and that was a management failure. The only thing good about the Broadway Diner was the employees, very down to earth and regular people. Doing their best to make a living and working very hard. Obviously, they’re upset. Of course, everyone feels for them. It’s horrible. But shouldn’t they contact Amy and ask if they can work at the new place? She didn’t let them go without notice.

Oh well. I’m writing about Toast coming to Red Bank in the triCityNews on Thursday and ignoring this smear of Amy because I don’t want to repeat it and give it more legs. What I’m writing about is how great she was for downtown Asbury, and that she will be the same for Monmouth Street. We’ve all seen it first hand in Asbury Park. She runs the equivalent of the local luncheonette that all towns used to have, and a wide cross section of all types of people go to her place in Asbury. It is not an elitist place in the least.

Of course, if you want the full traditional diner experience now that the Broadway Diner is closed, by all means go to the Americana in Shrewsbury, as some commentators have stated. It’s excellent. Great food. Great place.

But Amy Russo knows how to run Toast. That’s what she does well, and that’s what’s been of tremendous benefit to downtown Asbury and Montclair, as it will be for Monmouth Street. There’s a reason her businesses are so popular.

Dan Jacobson

TriCityNews

Asbury Council: Demand renegotiation of iStar infrastructure giveaway

Asbury Council: Demand renegotiation of iStar infrastructure giveaway

The following column by triCityNews Publisher Dan Jacobson appeared in the Feb. 6 issue of the paper. We rarely publish the paper’s content on line. We’re not fools. That’s how a newspaper destroys itself. But we will make an occasional exception here on our Asbury Overheard blog when an important public interest is at stake . [Our asburyparksun.com site remains committed to objective, unbiased journalism.] Here’s Jacobson’s triCity column on what he calls the “infrastructure giveaway” to waterfront redeveloper iStar Financial: 

This is why we started the triCity-affilliated asburyparksun.com website almost two years ago.

It’s to objectively and fairly report the news of Asbury and surrounding areas so all of us — this publisher included — can know what the hell is going on. And make our own decisions about it.

After all, no one else is going to do that. Certainly not the Asbury Park Press.

And last week the Sun’s Jill Bartlett reported a doozy — downtown developer Carter Sackman was never billed for his in-lieu tax payments for the past five years on either his Steinbachs building or his newer 550 Building across the street.

That’s an estimated $700,000 that was never collected for the city. Doesn’t sound like Sackman’s fault either. He deposited the monies into an escrow account with a bank. All the city had to do was send the bills as the payments came due, and the money would be withdrawn. Sackman said he was unaware of any of this until new Councilman John Moor started asking questions about it. Sackman says he wants the payments made. Obviously, he needs a bill!

What an embarrassment. Yet another reason to have a complete lack of confidence in what went on under the last city council, which left office last year.

Which brings us to the big enchilada that now must be questioned — the rushed agreement that pays for the infrastructure for waterfront redeveloper iStar to build more condos on the waterfront. Since that agreement was inked last year, iStar now wants to bring in national homebuilder K. Hovnanian to build “luxury townhouses” on a relatively small lot for that company in the waterfront zone.

It’s time for Councilman Moor and the other two new council members — Amy Quinn and Myra Campbell — to demand that this infrastructure agreement be renegotiated. For it literally cuts the city schools out of new tax revenues from iStar’s future development on the waterfront…for 30 years! That’s what’s being used to pay for the infrastructure that they need for their condos. [I'm not even going to get into how the city's taxpayers were shortchanged in the deal.]

Yup, the last city council screwed our city’s schools and kids, so iStar can now move forward to bring in the Hovnanians of the world — a completely inappropriate fit for Asbury Park.

This is where I puke.

This Publisher and a ton of other people in the city — most likely a majority as shown by the last election results — question the competency of the last council. And with good reason. The failure to bill the largest downtown developer $700,000 for his in-lieu tax payments for five years only reinforces that conviction.

There’s a simple reason that you can’t trust that waterfront infrastructure agreement — it was rushed through before a new council took office. And anytime something is rushed like that, it can’t be trusted.

In fact, the last city council put on hold a massive project to update the whole waterfront redevelopment plan to conform with present-day realities — all so this infrastructure agreement could be pushed through. Shouldn’t the waterfront plan have been updated first? Of course not. Then iStar would have to face a Council that wasn’t comprised of dumb sheep, and they likely wouldn’t have gotten this infrastructure deal. The waterfront plan has still not been updated.

I’m not saying that last council were stupid people outside of their work as elected official. But in their elected capacity they were dumb as stones — and, even worse, they did not know how to look to anyone else to get advice or information. It was absurd.

And they bound the city for 30 years to a massive agreement to pay for iStar’s infrastructure — all on the backs of our city’s kids. In addition, the city’s taxpayers themselves should have gotten much more than was negotiated. I don’t see where iStar had to pay a penny for this.

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Sorensen’s miraculous guitar makes triumphant return to Asbury boardwalk

Sorensen’s miraculous guitar makes triumphant return to Asbury boardwalk

Stringbean’s magical 1958 Gretsch hollow body guitar made its triumphant return to the Asbury Park boardwalk tonight.

Kenny “Stringbean” Sorensen and his band the Stalkers had their usual Monday night appearance outside Langosta Lounge, a gig they’ve played for the past five summers. Read More

Report: Stringbean’s vintage guitar and amp recovered

The Asbury Park Sun website, a sister site of Asbury Overheard, reported today that the vintage guitar and amplifier stolen in Asbury Park from area musician Kenny “Stringbean” Sorensen has been recovered in Ocean Township.

Still missing is Sorensen’s van which was also stolen and contained the equipment. Also not recovered are harmonicas and various cords. Read More

The Bastardization of Tillie

The Bastardization of Tillie

Sometimes I feel like Asbury Park has become one big Bruce gift shop — but Bruce-mania is upstaged by another Asbury celeb.

Tillie has managed to put his face on literally EVERYTHING. Some things are expected, like postcards or framed photos of the Wonderbar, but there is plenty of evidence supporting my theory that too many people are trying to get a piece of the Tillie-pie.

Here are some of my favorites:

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Another Asbury summer with Kenny ‘Stringbean’ Sorensen

Another Asbury summer with Kenny ‘Stringbean’ Sorensen

It’s the fifth summer for the weekly Monday night boardwalk appearances of bluesman Kenny Sorensen and his Stringbean and the Stalkers.

From their perch outside of Marilyn Schlossbach’s Langosta Lounge and her new Libby’s Beach Shack, the band reels off the fast and the slow — all while looking out on the Atlantic Ocean. Read More

Tour buses and trailers invade waterfront for day

Tour buses and trailers invade waterfront for day

Wondering what’s the deal with all of those trailers and tour buses parked around the Berkeley Hotel on Monday?

Production and crew members of the Vans Warped Tour have booked a block of rooms for the day to take advantage of hot showers and an even hotter day in Asbury Park. The tour played PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel last night and is headed out to Virginia Beach, VA tonight for tomorrow’s show. Read More