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Balzac brings color, class, creativity and warmth to the OG downtown. Paul Golfinger photographs. 10/10/18 ©

 

Russell Brent, the proprietor of Balzac, chats with Joan Ann, a Grover knitter who couldn’t wait to visit the shop. Looking on is Liz who works there and is a knitter herself.  The enthusiasm is quite palpable in Russell’s “gathering place.”

 

By Eileen Goldfinger and Paul Goldfinger, editors at Blogfinger.net.

Russell Brent is an Ocean Grover who wanted to participate in the community by opening a shop that would be a “welcoming gathering place” for creative folks who were interested in knitting or crocheting.  He is an expert in knitting, and his shop  “Balzac” is now open at #50 Main Avenue in the Grove.

Balzac is a lovely place because of all the colors and textures on display.  In the windows are some beautiful hangings which he knitted himself.  Russell sells natural yarns (“fibers”) made of wool, cashmere, silk, cotton and alpaca.  He also stocks “notions” which refer to the accessories one needs to engage in the knitting/crocheting arts.

Russell says that he “loves” Ocean Grove and was attracted by the welcome which he received when he moved here one year ago.

His shop will be a meeting place where a wide spectrum of knitters/crocheters can come to discuss their “wips”  (works in progress).  There is a large table in the store where customers can bring their projects and work on them there. He wants enthusiasts to stop by, have coffee, and discuss their works.    Lessons will be available for individuals and groups.  Spinning classes will also be held.  Russell says that he will “have something for everyone—a broad range.”

The yarns come in different weights, and he buys from a selected group of independent yarn producers.   For example he carries a wonderful display of fibers from The Neighborhood Fiber Company of Baltimore.

Working with Russell is another knitter Liz Scott who some will recognize from the OG Hardware store.  Both workers are enthused and happy in their endeavor.

Russell is a bit of a philosopher. He named the store after Honoré de Balzac, a 19th century novelist and playwright. “He wrote about people and treated them equally,” said Russell, so his motto for his shop is “we will create together.”

Since the store opened a few days ago, many excited fans have arrived to check it out. A knitting club “Navesink Knitters Guild” already visited, and Eileen’s group “Happy Fingers,” who meet in Bradley Beach, is planning a field trip, and Russell couldn’t be happier. He says, “The response is overwhelming. They are coming out of the woodwork.”

Blogfinger has been looking forward to more shops in the Grove that will promote the arts and be geared towards the residents as well as towards tourists.  Because fine knitting stores are fairly rare, this shop should attract enthusiasts from elsewhere, so it is a win-win situation for the Main Avenue downtown.

And, by the way, the coffee shop “Odyssey” should be opening in November  (next to Comfort Zone’s small store.) We plan to interview the owner. He has placed some fine literature in the window, probably from the 8th century by Homer,  so the cultural indicators seems to be rising in town —a welcome change.

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That’s me taking the photo and waiting for the door to open. 10/10/18

 

Eileen is crocheting a pumpkin. She says it’s orange. This is an unfinished work of art. Her hook is on the left, but she is no hooker.  And please, no knitwit jokes. ©

FRANK SINATRA:  From the movie What Women Want.

 

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By Paul Goldfinger, Editor and Jack Bredin, Reporter/Researcher. Blogfinger.net

On May 15 we posted a report of the May 14 Township Committee meeting where a rushed ordinance was presented for a first reading.  It promoted a pro-business plan to restrict downtown parking to 3 hours per parker.  No study had been done in preparation, and some Committeemen had misgivings, but in the end, all 5 voted for what seemed to us to be a strikingly deficient proposal.

A variety of concerns were expressed including the question of where the residents of that area who parked downtown would go, and that concern also was about those who work in the shops.

We have pointed out that there are often, in season, more cars in town, than there are spaces.  And this is particularly true in the shopping district which is close to the beach.  So was this just a mindless scheme to rearrange the chairs on the Titanic’s deck?

Who stood to benefit from this ordinance which seemed to be propelled  at full speed ahead by some special interest?  The most likely culprit seemed to be the Chamber of Commerce, pushing for an advantage regardless of the effects on the rest of the town’s demographics.

And why would the Mayor offer special attention to them when there already are concerns of favoritism at the Committee?   Are they so blind to the optics of such suspicious behavior?

It is difficult to even track the origins of the plan. Somehow it was placed on the agenda by the Mayor, but why was it rushed through without preliminary study and discussion?   Who was responsible for pushing this idea onto the Committee’s agenda and then trying to ram it through in less than two weeks?  The issue of process is at least as important as the half-baked almost incoherent ordinance itself

To get the background, click on the link below

3 hour parking plan ordinance first reading

At the May 24 meeting, the new ordinance was supposed to have a final vote by the Committee after the public portion when anyone could get up and speak about it. It seemed like the ordinance would pass easily based on the first vote.

Remarkably,  the President of the OG Chamber of Commerce got up and said that her group hadn’t discussed or voted on the issue, and that perhaps half of her organization was opposed to the plan. Some evidently were worried that the ordinance would be a bad public relations move.

But in the Coaster article prior to the first meeting, they reported that the Chamber was encouraging its members to go to the meeting and support the plan.   As for the past history of this idea, this Chamber official revealed that Joyce Klein, of the OGHOA, had come to the Chamber with the idea 2 years ago, but that the Parking Task Force had shot it down.

So who brought it to the Committee now?   The veil of secrecy once again is floating around the facts.

The meeting was sparsely attended.  But when some Committeemen spoke now, it appeared that they were going to do an about-face on their own ordinance that had passed 5-0 on May 14.  Carol Rizzo said, “We’ll do a study.” But she didn’t say who would do the study. Michael Brantley said, “We need a real study to make sure that we are not making things worse.”  So a motion was made to table the ordinance, and that passed, in an almost psychotic reversal, 5-0.

Tabling means that it could re-emerge again, but obviously it’s too late to affect this summer season.  Maybe it will  be buried with permit parking.

What isn’t clear is why the Committee did a total flip-flop now since most of the facts that are now known were available when they voted “Yes” 5-0 on May 14.   Did they come to their senses?  Were they out of their senses for the first vote?  Did the Chamber flip-flop and then strong arm the Mayor?

The public ought to worry about the procedures that are followed in the back rooms of the Neptune Governing Body.

BEVERLY KENNEY:

 

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March 1, 2018. 60 Main Avenue in Ocean Grove. Blogfinger photo ©

 

60 Main Avenue Ocean Grove . March 1, 2018. Blogfinger photo ©

 

By Paul Goldfinger, MD. Editor @Blogfinger.net

Things couldn’t be bleaker—in fact, let’s rename Main Avenue in Ocean Grove  “Bleaker Street”  It’s March one, 2018, and most of the downtown is closed to traffic due to ongoing water-main work.  But that will be temporary, however the continuing downward slide of the Main Avenue businesses continues.

Favorite Things is up for sale.  Recently abandoned businesses at the brick pizza building have “for rent ” signs out including the shops that used to house the Pet Boutique, DJ’s grocery,  and DJ’s Pizza Shoppe.  April Cornell will move to Spring Lake this spring.  Sea View Sweets  at 56 Main Ave. has also  closed.

The word is that significantly higher rents at #60 Main Avenue, in the brick building owned by Asbury Park-NYC Sackman Enterprises, has forced those businesses out. Evidently this elite developer  believes that OG will be the next Asbury Park, and the prices reflect that.  Imagine, it is cheaper to rent a shop in Spring Lake than in OG.

Favorite Things, a fine shop, is still open among a bunch of core successful operations including Sea Grass, Nagles, the Emporium, Comfort Zone, Trading Company, Gifts by Tina, Purple Zebra,  OG Hardware, Cheese on Main, and Gingerbreads.  The OG bakery seems to be doing well and offers a nice selection of coffee drinks. As you all know, we have no actual coffee shop in town—a worrisome situation.

Some businesses are not listed here among the “core successful” retail operations because they are new and unproven and have yet to establish a demonstrable track record. Any business could have success here, but it needs the means to get through the winters and to stay in town for the long term.

The Chamber of Commerce has never spoken of a retail master plan for shops in the Grove, and maybe that would be desirable to help guide investors and produce a theme that would define our commercial district.

As for the realtors in town, we spoke to one prominent realtor who is very optimistic about Ocean Grove’s future and he believes that all those empty stores will be rented. Currently we are in a “down turn” in the down town, but he sees this as a temporary situation,  and he points to the fired-up real estate housing market in OG as indicative of  good things to come.

Osteria at #50 Main Avenue (R) has just opened. Next door is a yoga/meditation/aroma therapy shop. Blogfinger photo.

A new Italian restaurant has recently opened at  #50 Main Avenue  (the new white building—-suite #4).  It is called Osteria Procaccini.

After you look at their website and read the menu, you may jump up and down and yell, “WOW!”   It probably will be a big hit here, but, it  might attract even more tourists  (remember when Moonstruck was on Main Ave?) and, of course, the new building at #50 Main offers ZERO new parking.

Hopefully the Osteria will be a source of added light where more light is needed.  Preliminary reports say that the food there is  good  if not “a bit pricey.”

The downtown needs an injection of life.  It needs quality businesses and it needs to retain stores like April Cornell. Their leaving is a big loss for the downtown in terms of the vision for OG’s shops and for the town in general.

RUBY BRAFF AND DICK HYMAN   “High Society” from their album America the Beautiful.

 

 

 

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Summer Saturday night in the Grove. Paul Goldfinger photograph © c.2015

Summer Saturday night in the Grove—-at Nagle’s.  Paul Goldfinger photograph © c.2015

 

THE DANLEERS   (1958)

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Main Avenue. Starting from far left:  Pet Boutique, April Cornell, DJ’s Market, and  DJ’s Delights  (a restaurant.)  Blogfinger photo. Dec 4, 2017

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

A few weeks ago we heard that the Pet Boutique on Main Avenue would close, but that is all the facts which were then available. But now, some reliable sources have provided more information about three adjacent stores which will close.

The  common thread for all these stores has to do with the landlord who owns #60 Main Avenue, the location of all three businesses: Pet Boutique, April Cornell, and DJ’s Market (groceries.)

Evidently the rents are being raised   “significantly.” In addition, some months ago, there was flooding in the building damaging the ceilings of these shops, resulting in temporary interior  framing being installed to prevent collapse.  And the owner is evidently expecting the tenants to help pay for repairs.

The owner of #60 Main is Sackman Enterprises, aka Linus Holding Co. This is an established real estate company based in NYC and surrounding states including 6 properties in Asbury Park

One year ago we wrote about the owner’s plans for this building. The links are below:

Main Avenue project June 2016

 

58-60 Main Avenue plans 2016 BF post

 

In the case of the Pet Boutique,”there are some other elements including the desire of the shop owner to retire. That store  will close on Dec. 31 and it will be missed by the pet owners in town.

DJ,s will close its grocery store, but the adjacent DJ,s restaurant on the corner  (pizza, sandwiches, etc.) will stay open.

April Cornell, probably the most famous and unique shop in town, is reluctantly planning to leave the Grove and move to larger quarters in Spring Lake. Evidently they were unable to find a suitable replacement location in town.

The manager of April Cornell asked that we make it clear that the business is not closing—-just changing its location, and that won’t happen until April, 2018.

The new white building at #50-54 Main Avenue may not have any store vacancies.   We do know that a high-end pizza business will open there next year, but right now there is a perfume store and a Christmas shop.  And the Comfort Zone has temporary quarters in that  building pending renovation of their space eastward down the block.

The Emporium’s Beach shop is currently closed pending renovations.

There is a for sale sign outside “Favorite Things,” but they are open for business.

We have reported in the past on the theme of the Main Avenue shops:  Are they to be for tourists or for residents?  Some businesses serve both constituencies.  We have already lost a doctor, a pharmacy, a barber shop, a dry cleaners/tailors, a fine grocery store, a news stand, a flower shop, a toy store, a newspaper printing shop, a butcher shop, a popular restaurant (Moonstruck), and a video store.

We have had increased parking and tourist congestion downtown as well as in other parts of the Grove, and that speaks to the fundamental question of what kind of town will we have here?  What is the town’s future and what will happen to its historic theme?

Who will win:  residents who make this their home or the commercial interests?

Here is a link discussing the business community on Main Avenue:

 

BERNADETTE PETERS AND MANDY PATINKIN   from Sunday in the Park with George  by Stephen Sondheim:

“Stop worrying if your vision
Is new
Let others make that decision-
They usually do
You keep moving on…”

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Carol Dunleavy announces her grand opening. She says that her office is “non-neon!”

MEL TILLIS:

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Saturday 8/5/17. 6 pm . In front of DJ’s on Main Avenue. A jazz duo does a nice job with acoustic guitar and bass. Paul Goldfinger photo ©  Click to enlarge.

 

BUCKY PIZZARELLI AND FRANK VIGNOLA  “Prelude to a Kiss.”  A Duke Ellington composition (1938)

 

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Ivory of Ocean Grove is a member of a designer breed “Goldendoodle.”   (Golden Retriever and a Standard Poodle) Paul Goldfinger photo 5/29/17 at the Memorial Day parade heading east on Main.

 

In front of Firemen’s Park. The Memorial Day Parade, consisting of a band, some veterans, and a long procession of official vehicles sufficient for a small invasion, was a fascinating sight for the kids along the way.  Paul Goldfinger  photo 5/29/17 ©

 

Procession of vehicles. Blogfinger photo.

 

Remember this—two years ago. Caylee (L) and Mom Rachel. Firemen’s Park. May 25, 2015. Paul Goldfinger photo. © Click to enlarge

Next year science may deliver a humandoodle. Sort of a combination of a person who is curious, frisky and wants to talk and a poodle which is friendly and likes to smell things and eat doggy treats.

You can train this breed to take its own poop bag to the park where it will use it, tie it, and toss it out.  Since the Goldendoodle is part French, it will enjoy a hamburger served on a brioche washed down with a little red wine and then a Gauloises cigarette on the porch.

THE BLUE VIPERS OF BROOKLYN:

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Auditorium Square Park, one summer night. Ocean Grove. c 2013. Paul Goldfinger photo. Click to enlarge

THE DANLEERS:

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Nagle’s in Ocean Grove. An 80 degree spring day. Chartreuse is the new black. By Jean Bredin. 4/29/17. Blogfinger staff ©

Jean says,

“Happy days are here again,
The skies above are clear again,
Nagle’s’ line is really long again
Happy days are here again.”

GLEE CAST channels Streisand:

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