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Red Bank’s new kind of normal: How one business is affected

The occasional sound of cars passing by is probably one of the few things you hear in downtown Red Bank. Looking around, there’s no denying the stark change. Few people, if any at all, are seen walking down its streets — nor is there the sound of laughter or conversation that typically clouds the air. On most Friday nights, Red Bank is buzzing with life, but this is something totally different.

Adjusting to the changes

In just a short span of a week, the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically changed the way we all live our lives. One look at downtown Red Bank is enough evidence of that reality, as very few people are seen when the sun goes down.

Red Bank’s downtown district is empty due to the local state of emergency in place with the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

Businesses in general are being adversely impacted by this, with many non-essential businesses forced to close up in an effort to reduce the spread. Many of the restaurants and eateries in town have converted over to a takeout only offering, so we paid a visit to one of them — a place that’s been a staple of the downtown scene since 1985.

A downtown favorite making changes

We sat down and spoke with Valerie Aufiero, owner of Front Street Trattoria, who goes by the name Val to patrons and workers at the restaurant. She expressed the gravity of the situation at hand. “Here, today, now? I’m not quite sure where we’re going to go from here,” said Aufiero, who has weathered through major events like 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, and superstorm Sandy.

It’s a big hit to not just the restaurants, but it’s a big hit to all the people that supply the restaurants.

-Valerie Aufiero, Front Street Trattoria

Local restaurants have thinner margins that your traditional chains, especially when it’s a domino effect to other parties and businesses. “It’s a big hit to not just the restaurants, but it’s a big hit to all the people that supply the restaurants. It’s the farmers, it’s the linen companies, it’s the florists who bring arrangements to the bigger restaurants.” There’s also that fear of uncertainty, just because of the unpredictable nature of the outbreak. “And it’s so many people out of work for now, so it’s a bit scary because we don’t know how long it’s going to take.”

Families growing closer

For the moment, Front Street Trattoria has implemented the same takeout only strategy that other restaurants have adopted, but with limited availability. Despite the negative impact to our local communities, Aufiero points out the good in what’s going on. “I think the one good thing, if you can say good thing, about this situation is that families have gotten closer together.” It’s a valid point, even more when you probably check out your social media feeds and see people posting all of life’s candid moments indoors.

I think the one good thing, if you can say good thing, about this situation is that families have gotten closer together.

-Valerie Aufiero, Front Street Trattoria

Aufiero goes on to say, “i think people have gotten very creative being home with their children, and how they can keep themselves occupied. There’s always good and bad.” Those fortunate enough to be able to work from home don’t have to be burden by the missed time they would normally have if they were commuting. In a way, it’s wonderful that in a time of crisis like this, it’s bringing families closer to one another.

We’re all forced to accept this new kind of normal, one that reminds us abide the rules of social distancing . Red Bank’s streets may be empty, but that doesn’t stop people from being creative when it comes to living on.

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