Down The Shore at Asbury Park, NJ
Michael Washburn wrote an article this summer called “A Jersey Shore Rebound" in the New York Times. His article focuses on the new developments popping up along Bangs Avenue in Asbury Park, which include Cafe Volan, Sweet Joey’s, Colonel’s Kissing Booth and The Press Room.
Asbury Park may be a new destination on weekending New Yorkers’ radar screens lately, but the city has a long, rich history dating back to the late 1800’s when it was constructed as a residential resort town by the wealthy Manhattan real estate developer James A. Bradley.
During the 1890’s the city attracted and more than 600,000 visitors a year who traveled via railroad from nearby New York City and Philadelphia to spend their summer vacations enjoying boardwalk amusements along the waterfront.
The city continued to expand during The Roaring Twenties with the construction of the Carousel House, Casino Arena, Paramount Theater and Convention Hall. The theater and the hall were designed by eminent architect Whitney Warren, who was also responsible for the design of Grand Central Terminal in New York City.
During the 1970’s, the historic music venue, The Stone Pony, became a launch pad for many major rock and roll artists including the world famous Jersey boys Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, as well as Patti Smith and Count Basie. Springsteen’s first studio album, released in 1973, was entitled Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.
As the rock scene was heating up in Asbury Park, so were racial tensions. On July 4, 1970 a riot broke out that garnered national media attention and led to the destruction of buildings throughout the city, many of which still lay derelict today.
From that point forward, Asbury Park was no longer seen as the beacon of seaside entertainment, and tourism quickly declined.
Fast forward three decades, and Asbury Park still claimed a stable music scene but was still largely devoid of any new development.
Then, in 2003, Bistro Ole opened (and subsequently went downhill in my opinioin). In 2006, Market in the Middle opened on Cookman Avenue and became my favorite restaurant in town. Soon after The Brick Yard bar opened, which was the hot new place for a dance party. After that, a few more bars and restaurants began to spring up, and Asbury Park showed strong signs that it was on the road to revival.
Today, Asbury Park is thriving with successful restaurants, cafes, bars, music venues, music festivals, art galleries, clothing boutiques, a bowling alley, an antique arcade and new housing developments.
Watts Architects is behind some of my favorite spots in the neighborhood including Porta National Park and Brickwall Tavern, both are excellent for dining and imbibing.
Porta National Park
Market in the Middle’s Marilyn Schlossbach closed her first restaurant and opened the uber popular Langosta Lounge on Ocean Ave. Cuban inspired restaurant, Cubacan, hosts a live Latin band weekly great for salsa dancing, and Fish restaurant is great for seafood and happy hour.
The Annex and Johnny Macs are popular bars, while alternative entertainment is available at TheShowroom with an Improv Jam Comedy Lab happening once a month, edgy bingo nights at Asbury Lanes, and Silver Ball Museum which features antique arcade games great for adults and kids alike.
Whatever your preference is (sexual or otherwise, we’re looking at you Paradise Bar) there is something for everyone down the shore at Asbury Park.