RUMSON — Mayor John Ekdahl joined the borough’s restaurateurs at Salt Creek Grille last Tuesday to celebrate the kickoff of the fourth annual Rumson Restaurant Month.
The event, which is sponsored by the borough’s restaurant owners and the Rumson Endowment Fund, is designed to encourage two river residents to sample the dining delights of Rumson’s eight restaurants.
All of the participating restaurants are offering special dining deals that include prix fixe menus, nightly specials, competitively priced entrees, drink specials and fun events for St. Patrick’s Day.
“The theory is by bringing people in we’ll raise all of your businesses,” Ekdahl told the restaurateurs on Tuesday.
This year’s event is probably more significant, given that the borough’s restaurants, and other local businesses have had to endure the closing of the Oceanic Bridge, a heavily traveled connection between the Rumson peninsula and the Middletown side of the Navesink River.
Business owners have been bemoaning what the bridge’s closure has meant to their cash registers as they hear from customers that it’s just too much trouble to seek alternate routes.
On average, Rumson restaurants have seen a five to ten percent decrease in business as a result of the bridge closing, Ekdahl said later on Tuesday at a borough council meeting.
“Which isn’t good news,” Ekdahl said. “But they thought it would be worse.”
Joining such venerable institutions as Val’s Tavern, What’s Your Beef and Barnacle Bill’s are some of the borough’s newer restaurants such as Ristorante Giorgia, 102 Avenue of Two Rivers, which owner/chef Francesco Panucci named after his mother.
And this week, Murray MacGregor’s Publick House will reopen under new ownership and a new name. The restaurant and bar, 132 East Road (originally Briody’s), will become Molly Maguire’s Blackpoint Inn and again feature traditional pub food.
The owner, Mike Maguire, who is the father of five, said that with the opening of Molly’s, “We now have our sixth child.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to make it fun,” Maguire said.
“I think it’s great to see the camaraderie,” Ekdahl observed.
“It’s a neat event,” Ekdahl told the borough council members, and one that can give the businesses a boost during March, which he said is “typically a very slow month.”