RED BANK – Look for one of the newest locations for Tim McLoone’s string of restaurants to be on Broad Street in the coming months.
McLoone, restaurateur, musician and founder of Holiday Express charitable organization, said he is taking over the former Murphy Style Grill, 26 Broad St. He will operate the approximately 5,000 square-foot space as a bar and casual dining restaurant following the site’s renovation.
The new spot will be called Robinson Ale House, McLoone said. The name is a tip of the hat to his wife Beth and her family. Beth, he said, is 10th of a family of 11 children, all of whom attended Red Bank Catholic High School. “So they’re all kind of steeped in the Red Bank tradition,” he said.
This fall, the McLoones, who live in Little Silver, will have three children attending Red Bank Regional High School, Little Silver. “We’re all kind of Red Bank ourselves these days,” he quipped.
Red Bank, along with Long Branch and Asbury Park, two of the towns where McLoone has established restaurants, “are iconic towns.”
He welcomes having a presence in these communities. “I have long-term relationships with these towns,” he said.
For many years, he has conducted an annual holiday tree lighting concert with his Holiday Express band on the Friday after Thanksgiving. “It’s kind of fun to be part of it.”
The restaurant will be “a burger place,” he said, with an emphasis on craft beers. The alehouse will offer a variety of different options for burgers, including vegetarian. “We’ll touch all the bases with that” as well as having a full assortment of menu choices, including a raw bar, seafood and salads and full dinners in a casual environment.
He will be looking to carve out a niche in the lunch business, which can be difficult anywhere to make a go of because of the slim profit margin it can often deliver, he said. “But, we’re going to take a swing at it.”
In all of his soon-to-be 11 locations, McLoone said the strategy has been to have selections that have price points “that almost everyone can aspire to,” making sure it’s “not too expensive or not too inexpensive.”
The restaurant marketplace is increasingly competitive, and owners really need a winning plan to secure their place in it, he said. “You can’t just throw a restaurant together these days and hope for the best. There really has to be something of a concept going on that people can understand.”
While Red Bank has no shortages of eateries and is increasingly seen as a dining destination, stepping into that environment will be good for everyone, he predicted.
“I think it’s the proverbial rising tide raises all boats,” McLoone said.
He hopes the entire community rises with the tide. “The more people you can draw here, the better. Life is good,” he said.
The discussion and deal to lease the location moved at a surprisingly quick pace, just a few weeks, he said. Now the heavy lifting begins with plans to “100 percent rehab” the space, McLoone said.
Demolition will likely start next week and, hopefully, the restaurant will be ready by late summer.
By the end of this year McLoone will have 11 restaurants, with plans in the works to open one shortly in Hoboken and one in Hillsborough, along with the Red Bank spot. His Rum Runner on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, which was his first location and was destroyed by Super Storm Sandy, is being rebuilt and will reopen in about a year, he said.
The Broad Street location had been home to Murphy Style Grill for more than 20 years, having been part of the Charlie Brown’s restaurant chain prior to that. Mario Medici, Murphy’s owner, closed his doors in February, selling the spot and liquor license to the property owner, 26 Broad St., LLC., with plans to retire.