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