Category Archives: Windows on Red Bank

Windows on Red Bankby Daniel Murphy

Fifteen Dollars an Hour

danny murphy 120The minimum wage has always been the pay for entry level jobs to the job market.  It  serves the urban areas and young people  going into the job market for the first time. When I was 14 I worked at Foodtown in Red Bank for $1 and hour too many years ago.  Many summer jobs allow high school and college students the ability to earn income while in school. It is of course not a living wage.

I have always been aware that trying to live on minimum wage would be impossible. So the advent of $15 dollars an hour could help low income workers in various industries.    However it must be subject to where and how it is implemented, especially in the food service industry.  

Both men and women, bartenders and wait staff, can earn $150 to $200 night and more on weekends on tips and salary. If the $15 an hour is a blanket pay for them, 7 hours with no tips would be $105 before taxes. Big drops for working adults who are professional wait staff especially those that work part time to add additional income. Many would leave the restaurant hospitality  industry.  

Many fast food companies are already automating to limit the number of workers they need to hire. They will also be able to hire out of work new college graduates and professionals for those jobs now held by our urban area work including summer jobs for HS students, pushing them out of the work force.

With no tipping allowed the restaurants owners are asked to put a 20% service charge on all bills whether the service is good or not. We are asked to take this 20% as income to the business and pay taxes on that sum and use that money left to pay everyone working on the premises $15 an hour. Our margins are so thin today it will put many private sector restaurants out of business.  

Daniel Murphy
11 Bridge Ave
Red Bank NJ 07701
[email protected]
732 741 6900
732 241 1401


Invisible Parking Garage(s)

danny murphy 120When I refer to the invisible parking garages I am referring first to the White Street Parking Garage that has never been built.  As explained in stories written below in 2001, 2005 and 2006 this garage should have been built years ago…one vote I believe stopped the passing of the garage over years. A free garage was offered to be built by a major NJ developer and donated to Red Bank. The offer was never addressed and eventually withdrawn about four or five years ago.

We have three other sort of “invisible” garages in Red Bank.  The Globe Court Garage is thought to be used for hospital use only.  That is not the case and it open to the public.  Signage needs to direct people to this garage and the lots on the east side of town.  There are no signs and have not been for as long as I can remember.

There is a Parking Garage on West Front Street in the Pazzo and office complex that is also free.  Most people are not aware that it is open to the public and not just the restaurant and office complex.  Once again “invisible” with no promotions and no signage is in place.

Third there is a four story Parking Garage behind Danny’s and the West Side Lofts also open to the public.  Built to accommodate the residents of the West Side Lofts the top floor 91 spaces were designated for the 91 apartments.  However most residents with 1 or 2 cars do not park on the roof, living on the 1st, 2nd or 3rd floor they park on those floors.  The 91 spaces on the roof lot rarely hold more the 3 cars.   Heat, cold, rain, snow, connivance are all reasons not to use those gated spaces. The garage is “invisible“due to lack of signage and promotions.   

Written 2005: As a resident and businessman in Red Bank for over thirty-five years I have always felt that well planned development was necessary for healthy economic growth.  I was greatly in favor of the White Street Parking Garage to alleviate the downtown parking problem.  On March 8 of 2001 I wrote the following:

“Listen, my fellow residents and retailers, without the Parking Garage the retail district property values will stall. The cost of doing business always goes up and we will bear the burden of those costs in taxes. If you believe that Stan Sickles, all the town planners and accountants, and 67 years of parking studies, are even half correct in their surplus projections, then the White Street Parking Garage is a slam dunk. Without it you might as well park our economy. Oh yeah, and it also goes a long way in solving the Parking problem Red Bank has been working on for sixty-eight years. I guess “build or get off the lot” is a fitting statement at this time.”

Most of us knew the garage was a political football between the Democrats and Republicans and the garage itself was not really the issue.  It could have and should have been built by know.  Hopefully it can still be brought back as the lack of it is hurting the downtown retailers in major ways, ask any of them.

Written 2006:  I am not talking about spending money on another study.  It is time to re-open the parking garage on White Street issue.  Contacting NJ Transit and working on one or two parking garages in this end of town could be very beneficial to both NJ Transit and the Arts and Antique District.  Another part of the equation would be the businessmen and theater people getting their heads together and finding available space now not being used and working together with valet service on nights that we know are going to need a ton of parking spots.  It worked very well during the Gala opening of the Two River Theater and could be short time fix until additional parking can be provided.

Today, 2016, the above written in 2006 is being spearheaded by the Red Bank Business Alliance along with the Count Basie Theater.  Committees have been formed to try and tackle these now very complicated issues as years of layered policies have been heaped on The Parking Issues of Red Bank.


danny murphy 120On my way to Tiffany’s for a catering event I turned off of Broad St onto Harding Road. As I was turning left onto Clay Street which goes behind Garmony and Tiffany’s I was stunned by a large mural being painted on a large white building. Coming out of the roof was the amazing sculptor of the “Men on the Beam ”   from picture from a picture in 1932.   Passing the front door, the architecture was not only beautifully well done but left no doubt that something big was happening in Red Bank.

Stopping and entering the front door I was introduced to “ Detour Art Gallery” the brain child of Ken Swartz. The building had been there for years and been last used by Surry Luggage to store, print and send out their luxury suitcases, office items and briefcases. Ken Swartz saw the building, being an art collector, saw the potential of creating an international art studio. That was the beginning and over the last two years the three story steel girder and cinder block building has been transformed into an astonishing gallery that will put Red Bank on the international map for artists and art collectors around the world.

If that sounds a stretch you only have to enter the building and see what Detour has created. From what I saw it will rival most galleries in the U.S.   Starting on the first and second floors there are pure enormous white wall space that encompasses the entire inside of the building, perfect for hanging paintings of just about any size.   These run throughout three large rooms. Both upstairs and down large sliding steel and wire walls stand in their own sections able to hold hundreds of art works. It is hard to capture in words what has been created.  

Major roles for its creation are Ken Swartz, art collector and financial coordinator. Tara Amelchnoko, designer, curator, organizer and architectural director (just about everything). Rune Egenes, Tara’s partner in crime in creating Detour and Shannon Bonifas, artist, designer and PR energizer bunny.

More stories to follow as I work and learn more about Detour that will also put Red Bank on the International art world map.  


Cruising Marine Park

danny murphy 120It was 1960 and Red Bank unknowingly was competing with the rest of the country to be the model for cruising the town as depicted in the movie “American Graffiti.” It did not matter if you were cruising the downtown of somewhere in the Mid West, under the “L” on 86th street in Brooklyn, or the square blocks along the board walk in Asbury Park, cruising was a way of life.  

I was 17 and drove 1949 Mercury, flat head V8 with three speed shift off the column.   Purchase price was $500 from Maurice Swartz at SwartzChrysler Dealership on West Front and Pearl. This car was followed by a 1960 Ford Falcon when the Mercury died. Both cars belonged to my Mother but I drove them to school during the day while she slept and at night while she worked.   Most cars on the strip belonged to the parents of the cruising crew. In those days most homes had one car and one television.  

We cruised in and endless circles starting on Broad Street, down and around the circle in Marine Park and back to our starting point on Broad. Many would stop in Marine Park, radios blasting and scouting out girls as they cruised by.   Fords, Chevy Impalas, Bonneville’s and Stingrays were in abundance ranging from 1954 to 1960 models.   An occasional Triumph or Volkswagen made an appearance as there were very few imported cars in those days, American cars ruled the world, gas was cheap; two dollars gave you almost 8 gallons of gas, enough to cruise for hours.  

Today two dollars gives you less then ½ a gallon of gas. At today’s gas prices cruising would never have existed. While my car was being service this past week I was driving a loaner car from Circle BMW. It was a 2008 Z4 3.0 liter 2 seat convertible, black with tan interior.   It was just begging to cruise Red Bank as I left the Rivercenter Tiki party. Following our old route around town nostalgia kicked in as I started at Foodtown and drove downtown.  

Steinback’s is now Garmany’s, the post office is now Tiffany’s, Meryl Lynch is home to where Lerner Shops use to be and many stores have now be converted to restaurants which line our town. There use to be 17 restaurants in town…today over 100.   Down the hill to Marine Park, past Irwin’s boat yard, around the “circle” and back up the hill. The Union House is gone, replaced by Union House Village and of course Kislin’s department store is now apartments.   However the feel was the same, it was the same town I grew up in..the small town with the big city flavor, the one we live work and play in. Thank God some things never change.

On Golden Pond

danny murphy 120It is time for me to start writing again; the best way to start would be about the Red Bank area where I have lived almost all of my life. Years ago while working and promoting our town I coined the phrase that Red Bank was a great place to live work and play. It has stood that test of time for me for 72 years. “To live’ is the word I am keying on as our area is surrounded by the ocean, the Bay, the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers. I have grown up on the water and in the water and sailed our area for years.

Until the last ten years I thought of Shadow Lake as a small lake in Middletown. It wasn’t until I started catering on homes along the shore line of Shadow Lake that I became aware of the size and beauty of this large lake. It is surrounded by some of the most beautiful homes in Monmouth County. Every home I have worked in has an uncanny beautiful view of the lake in a setting I have always tried to describe. It was not until I spoke with one of my customers, Marilyn Michaels, about her home on Shadow Lake. She used the phrase to describe it was, “On Golden Pond” that I found the description. She said she and her husband are selling their home on Shadow Lake to move on with their lives. She was a bit misty telling me this and I asked her to tell me about her living there. She wrote me the following:

It was at a time when my husband and I began to think of retirement. I said, in my best grandmotherly way, “I would love to retire to a place on water”—what I really dreamed about was the house from the movie, “On Golden Pond”.   My dear husband, always willing to please me, agreed. We looked for 1 ½ years and finally found the perfect place on Shadow Lake.   We bought it on the spot and 2 days later, Debbie, the then current owner, and I stood on the deck looking at the lake, crying in each other’s arms—I, crying because I had found On Golden Pond, and she, crying because she was losing it.

I am sure she will be in the arms of a new owner with tears in their eyes as they both move on into the next phase of their lives. I know I would be.


Hometown Benefits

HOME TOWN BENEFITS…by Daniel Murphy Jr.  

danny murphy 120There are times when I sit back and realize how fortunate I am to have lived most of my seventy one years in this town. One of those times was this past month while attending a catered event at the Molly Pitcher Hotel. The day was priceless with the setting that our town and the Molly present. The view down the river was breathtaking as well as the hotel itself. The staff could not have done a better job and the food was excellent. I don’t say that about many catering facilities.

As I walked around the terrace of the Molly the panoramic view of the town and the River I grew up on filled my mind with memories past. They took me from crabbing to crude built ice boats and Red Bank Little League as kids. There were dances at the YMCA in the late 1950’s your first dance your first kiss. There are pictures of the river in our RBHS year book from 1962, the same area I learned to sail a  Hobie cat  and how to handle power boats as I grew older. There were years spent in rotary sitting in the same ballroom that I had watched my son was married in.  I was surrounded by family, loved ones and friends for my second marriage in that same room. Watching my grand daughter race hand in hand with my best friend’s daughter I could not have been more grateful for my life and for being in this town.

From the stories I have written over the past fifteen years I have received hundreds of emails from people who lived here and moved away. They all still feel a closeness to Red Bank that never seems to leave them. One of those times I got the following email:

Dear Dan, My name is Ken Fischer and I saw your web site via a Goggle search. When I was a kid my dad used to take my older brother and I to Red Bank to go crabbing; that was over 50 years ago. I hold fond memories of the times back then. My dad passed away a number of years ago this April, and I would like to visit red Bank again to reflect on those times. Can you still rent a crabbing boat down there? If so, can you point me in the right direction? I appreciate any help you can give me. Thank You, Ken Fischer

The Sea Land Marina is still at the base of West Front Street by the train trestle, still renting crabbing boats as it did when I was a kid. The best crabbing then was behind the Red Bank Library. A little bit of a row but hell when you are ten years old you have all day. There are so many benefits to living in this town. I have said for years this is a great place to live work and play. It will always be a great town as long as we strike a balance by removing what is too old to save and rehabbing that which is priceless. The renovation of the Count Basie is the best example I can think of.

Red Bank is a Foodie Destination

danny murphy 120The restaurants in Red Bank in 1969 when I opened Danny’s were  Sal’s Italian Restaurant,  Peterson’s on Bridge Ave, which became Basil T’s, now Beira Vino, The Molly Pitcher, The Union House, The Palace Diner, Tangs, The Lil Krut and Ludwig’s Deli.  Many have come and gone over the years.  When I opened I was one of the youngest Restaurateurs in NJ…now I am one of the oldest privately owned for 46 years and I have seen many changes. 

 Red Bank has always been a destination for the surrounding towns but now we are on the precipice of becoming a dining destination for North and Central Jersey, Staten Island and Manhattan tourism.  There are number of reasons that are contributing to this. 

The renovation and acceleration of the number of great shows at the Count Basie Theater along with the Two River Theaters debut 8 years ago in the Arts and Antique District.  The soon to be completed West Side Lofts, The Apartment Complex on Monmouth Street, Adam Rechnitz’s Triumph Brew Pub, antique stores, arts galleries and two great hotels on the Navesink add to the lure of Red Bank as a destination.   

Over the past 15 years a great number of restaurants have opened in Red Bank that are contributing to our being a dining destination.  Char, Patricio’s, Buna Sera, Via 45, the coming Triumph Brew Pub, and the revamped Beira Vino just to name a few.  On Bridge Ave the Galleria is its own intertie with restaurants spas, art galleries and a world class Farmer’s Market on Sundays and Danny’s right in the middle of all of it. 

When the West Side Lofts and the Brew Pub are completed there will be two distinct districts, Downtown and the Arts and Antique district, still we are only one town.  We need to get ready for them; Red Bank has over 3000 parking places.  The Mayor and Red Bank Borough Counsel, Rivercenter and the business community are developed maps, aps, signage & directions to parking for the entire town.    

I am a foodie, meaning as many, I enjoy great food, dining out, atmosphere and service that enhances the dining experience.  I want to shop locally and explore art galleries, go to the theater and go to the farmers market on Sundays. I do all of the above here in Red Bank, As I have said for years:  Red Bank is a great place to live, work, play and dine.     

An Untold Story – Part 1

danny murphy 120This is a subject that I have not written or talked about before.  Some people, I am sure, will be looking at me as if I have finally lost a bit of gray matter.  Others will agreed and smile knowing that what I experienced has touched their lives as well.  The rest of the populace will have to judge for themselves.

Some years ago I attended a seminar in Buffalo, NY for a marketing company I was involved in.  The ride out on the NY Thruway was a bad one with rain, wind, hail, big trucks and a nerve racking ride. The two day seminar itself was wonderful and inspiring opening my mind to a new way of approaching my life and work.  I left Buffalo at 10 AM on Sunday morning to drive home.  The weather had come 360 degrees with temperatures in the 70’s with bright sunshine.  I had the top down on the car and was in mountainous sections of the NY Thruway.  It was a beautiful day, my spirits were high, and I was on my way home to take care of my family and business. 

On a whim I picked up the cell phone and dialed my Mother’s number at her thrift shop on Monmouth Street.  I had not called her in quite a while.  The phone rang three times and she picked up the phone.  “Hi Mom,” I replied, “well, it’s about time you called,” she answered with a bit of a tone in her voice.  “I’m Sorry…I have been involved with a new business and running the restaurant.  I haven’t had much time to spare but I should have called.”  “I heard,” she replied, “how is it going?”  “It’s going great, this business is opening my eyes to doing business in a whole new way it should help me in all aspects of my life including the restaurant. How have you been feeling?”  “I feel fine,” she said, “I have been meeting a lot of new people and have been keeping track of the kids since you have been so busy.”  “I am sure you have, but I should be able to schedule more time for them.”  “All right,” she answered, “don’t take so long to call me.  I have to get going.  I will talk to you soon,” she hung up. 

There was something else I wanted to tell her so I hit redial on the phone.  It rang two times and an operator came on the line told me that the number 732 741 9692 had been disconnected. I knew it had.  It was 1999 and my Mother has passed away on September 22, 1992.  I pulled off to the side of the road trying to decide how much of what had just happened was real or in my imagination.  I came to no conclusion other than my desire to touch base with her again.  I drove on in a different mood than I had had earlier.  It was still one of the best days of my life.

Something happened to me just recently that triggered my memory of that day and caused me to write this story.  I will try to convey what happened in the next part of this.

Washing Fruit

daniel murphyAlmost without exception all Moms, Dads and all good restaurants wash all produce and fruits before consumption.  Why is this and how did it start?  It has been a practice for hundreds of years if not thousands but the most poignant lesson of this practice came in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. 

Large portions of Monmouth County were Quaker Farms growing produce, fruits, tomatoes, corn etc.  The farmers would bring their produce loaded in wicker baskets to the Union House market on the river in Red Bank to be taken the New York Market by flat bottom sail boats. 

At the Red Bank market were “River Women” who would set the prices the farmers wanted, travel on the sail boats to the New York market place and sell the produce there out of the wicker baskets.  At this point the baskets were filled with horse manure collected from the streets of New York at that time and brought back to the Red Bank area farmers.

The River Women brought back news and gossip from New York, and would pay the farmers, the farmers would take the wicker baskets full of manure back to be used as fertilizer and refill the baskets with produce.  It was common knowledge to everyone that the baskets were never washed.  It was of course necessary to wash every piece of produce purchased anywhere in the New York area and thus started the tradition of washing produce at least in greater NY area from the late 1890’s on. 

The US has some very high standards in the harvesting and shipping of foods and produce.  During the winter with many items coming from outside of our country where we have no controls, we still have to keep the memory of those “baskets” in mind.

Health: At Any Age

daniel murphyThere is one thing that all of us cannot live without or not live well and that is our health.  It does not matter what age you are.  It does not matter whether you live a very healthy live style, be a gym rat, runner, workout fanatic watch your diet and live without stress.  Or you smoke, don’t exercise and eat anything in front of you and deal with a lot of stress.  Of course the ladder is harmful BUT no one is free from risk of disease. 

I am of the first order, the gym rat, an ex-racquetball player for 30 years and I eat in a very healthy manner. As to stress, well I am in the restaurant business…that’s another story.  I have been very lucky; I have had cancer, radiation, chemo theory, a heart attack, two major heart surgeries and many orthopaedic surgeries for athletic injuries.  LUCKY, you call that lucky?  Yes, because I am still here and lucky because the heart attack and the cancer were caught very early in their development but not because I was diligent in having regular health check ups. 

I don’t tell people I am a cancer survivor.  I tell them I am a cancer treatment survivor.  We caught it very early, only a few cancer cells at the base of the voice box.  I was told I was strong and healthy and would breeze through the radiation and chemo.  It was the most painful and hardest experience of my life, I came close to dying. 

I thought I had indigestion for two days and found out a month later it was a heart attack with 99% blockage.  Five stints later at Jersey Shore and I was back to work, gently, two days later.  A year later I had a heart valve repaired at NYC and was waking the next day.  It was called non-invasive.  Non-invasive my @#%,  I felt like I was hit by a truck.  I was up and walking the next day. All the above was luckily caught early.  I am sure my spirituality played a major role here.  I have always helped anyone that came my way and God sent plenty of them.  In return I believe you get back what you give.

The message here is for all of us, regardless of age, to take control of monitoring your health.  You should have regular health check ups every six months.  Once a year you should have a complete physical with MRI’s, PET scans, stress tests and one colonoscopy every five years.  Don’t smoke, eat wisely and exercise on a regular basis.  With regular checkups the coming years will be the best of your life.