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Asbury Park’s restaurant scene changing

Changes are underway in Asbury Park’s restaurant scene. The closures of Bistro Ole’, Synaxis, The Kissing Booth, and Ivan and Andy’s in recent months are putting out the welcome mat for new dining establishments.

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Asbury Park
(Joe Votruba/Townsquare Media NJ)

The quick turnover of establishments doesn’t have Tom Gilmour, the city’s director of economic development, worried.

“People have come right in and taken over the space almost immediately,” Gilmour said.

The restaurants closed for various reasons, according to Gilmour.

“I’m sad to see a number of them go for sure, but it’s pretty exciting that there’s somebody just waiting in the wings to come in and take over,” he said, adding that Asbury has established itself as a regional destination for dining, “We have a very strong following, not only in the immediate area, but outside of the area and in the region.”

Gilmour said in the case of Bistro Ole’, they lost their lease.

“They weren’t really planning on closing the restaurant, but they were not able to renegotiate the lease on the space that they were in,” he said. “Synaxis had closed for quite a while. I can’t comment because I don’t know the personal situation with what was going on there, but by Synaxis closing it opened up an opportunity for Taka to expand their restaurant. I think that’s a good thing.”

Gilmour touted some of the new restaurants, as well as some existing eateries that have moved to different locations.

“We have a great, new French restaurant Pascal & Sabine on 601 Bangs Ave. in the area that Munch was in. Mogo, which was our Korean Taco restaurant that was on the boardwalk, decided to get some permanent space downtown,” Gilmour said. “I’m not sure who is actually taking over (Old Man) Rafferty’s right now, but there is somebody who is, and Ivan and Andy’s has been sold and will be opening probably sometime in the late fall.”

Gilmour said Asbury is having an amazing tourism season this year, pointing out beach badges have been up 45 percent, which he said is incredible.

“A lot of that has to do with the fact that we’ve had beautiful weekends, starting the weekend before Memorial Day. June is always a difficult month for us weather-wise, but this year it was just perfect, so we are out to a great start and it’s being reflected in our business community at the same time,” he said.

Gilmour also said the city benefited last year at the expense of a number of other beaches that weren’t open.

“So people were coming to Asbury Park as we were one of the few beaches that opened very quickly and were totally operational,” he said. “So we have a lot of new people who came to Asbury Park last year and had a great experience and they’re coming back.”

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