By John Burton |
LITTLE SILVER — “The town said we want it, so here it comes,” said Mayor Robert C. Neff Jr., about the Borough Council’s action to accept a bidder for the community’s first and only retail consumption liquor license.
Borough officials at its last Dec. 19 meeting accepted the one qualified submitted bid for the liquor license, awarding it to Brick Wall at Little Silver, LLC. The limited liability company paid $350,000 for the license, according to Kimberly Jungfer, borough administrator.
Brothers Matt and Mike Kelly are two of Brick Wall at Little Silver’s principals. They own and operate Kelly Builders and Developers, Oceanport, a home construction firm.
A number of the other principals are associated with the Brickwall Tavern and Dining Room, Asbury Park, said Neff.
The license application is currently under review by the state Division of Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC), with borough police conducting the associated background check on the principals, according to Jungfer.
Jungfer added the council will have to authorize one final resolution associated with issuing the license and that’ll likely happen in three to four months.
Principals attended a December borough council workshop, where they explained what they hoped to do at their Little Silver restaurant and bar. Neff said they expect to largely recreate what they’re doing at their Asbury Park location, Neff said. “I think they have a good handle on what kind of place we would like to have here,” Neff explained.
Officials have said since the debate began a couple of years ago about possibly issuing its first retail consumption license, they were hoping to see a family-friendly restaurant that has the ability to serve alcohol.
They’re talking a family place; they’re talking good food and nice atmosphere,” Neff recalled the partners saying during their conversations.
“And we’re looking forward to seeing what they present,” Neff added.
Brick Wall at Little Silver has approximately one year to submit its site plan for a proposed restaurant and bar. The plans will have to be evaluated and win approval from the borough Planning Board, “no different than any other plan,” Neff said.
The group’s address for the license is 51 Oceanport Ave., a building in the vicinity of the NJ Transit commuter train station. The location had formerly housed Pix Shoes, a retail store, next to Brave New World surf and snowboard shop.
Borough voters supported a referendum on the November 2015 ballot that allowed for the town’s first retail consumption license. A 1981 referendum for a license had been resoundingly defeated by voters by a 2-to-1 margin and a 1976 effort failed as well. But by 2015, “Little Silver turned around from a town that always said it didn’t want a consumption liquor license to a town that decided to take a shot at it,” Neff observed.
Matt Kelly, a borough resident for about 12 years, spearheaded the movement to get the referendum on the ballot. He collected approximately 500 signatures on a petition that allowed for the referendum. Kelly, who has been active with the borough Parks and Recreation Committee, said at the time he was interested in seeing the sort of place where families could come together following local sporting events or school activities.
Kelly did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
Currently Little Silver has one package goods license for Little Silver Liquors, 497 Prospect Ave. Restaurant patrons can bring their own beer and wine to the spots.
Under state ABC current guidelines, a municipality can issue new consumption licenses based upon one for every 3,000 residents. Little Silver’s current population is approximately 5,950, ensuring it can only have the one license at this point.
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