By Torri Singer
SEA BRIGHT – After taking a break from the restaurant business, Sea Bright resident Alice Gaffney decided it was time to try her hand at it again.
The result is the newest addition to the beach town’s recovering culinary scene, Alice’s Kitchen at 1108 Ocean Ave., which recently had its grand opening.
Gaffney, who previously owned the original Claddagh Irish Pub in Highlands for nearly a decade, was running the cafeteria at the Red Bank Charter School after Super Storm Sandy. But, with her beloved hometown in ruins, Gaffney jumped into action and decided to accomplish a longtime goal.
“To have my own café had always been my dream,” Gaffney said.
A native of Ireland, she moved to the United States in 1986 and, after a visit to her Nana in Sea Bright that year, she fell in love and decided to stay.
“It’s a wonderful town and community … It’s very neighborly, and being from Ireland that’s very important to me,” Gaffney said.
Last October, she and her family braved the storm from home and were trapped in Sea Bright for two days. A floor of the home was severely damaged.
Gaffney attributes her ability to juggle rebuilding her home with simultaneously opening a new business – and a restaurant at that – to her support system.
“I have very good family and friends … and I work better under pressure. I know that sounds crazy!”
The cuisine is described as “American with an Irish twist” and the restaurant features many elements from Gaffney’s roots. Alice’s Kitchen features menu items like classic Irish breakfast complete with black-and-white pudding, There’s also a cast iron fireplace shipped straight from Gaffney’s parents’ home in Ireland.
With many of the ingredients imported from Ireland and fresh soda bread and other staples being churned out of the kitchen daily, Gaffney says borough residents have been very responsive and are “intrigued” by the idea of trying something that may be new to them.
“Everybody on Church Street all came in and introduced themselves. The locals have been happy, and we’ve been very busy,” Gaffney said.
Right now diners can stop in for breakfast and lunch, but Gaffney is open to the possibility of expanding to dinner service once she gets more settled in at the restaurant.
While Gaffney recognizes that the “new” post-super storm Sea Bright will be different, she is hopeful for a bright future for the town come the 2014 summer season.
“I hope it will be bigger and better than ever before, with 100 percent of the businesses open,” Gaffney said.
Alice’s Kitchen is located in the former home of Steve’s Breakfast & Lunch, which was devastated by Super Storm Sandy.