opinion

Red Bank’s identity could change with outdoor drinking

Today’s officially summer! After a challenging winter and spring, where the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected our local communities, many towns are gearing up for a comeback this summer — Red Bank included! The first wave of businesses were given the green light to open back on June 15th, but the more ambitious plans went into effect later on Thursday, June 18th. That’s when a portion of Broad Street and some adjacent streets were closed down to vehicle traffic — opening it up to outdoor dining, pedestrian traffic, and entertainment for all.

Residents, diners, and visitors flocked to the quickly organized pedestrian zones in just the two days since it opened up. It has definitely redefined downtown Red Bank’s identity. A look elsewhere, Atlantic City to be specific, a recent executive order signed by they city’s mayor, Marty Small Jr., approved public consumption of alcohol at its boardwalk. Based on the testimonies so far, it’s been greeted with open arms. Knowing that, could something similar come to Red Bank?

Outdoor dining spaces have been extended into streets with Red Bank’s pedestrian plazas.

While restaurants and bars situated in Red Bank’s new pedestrian malls can provide guests with alcoholic beverages, there isn’t a similar order like in Atlantic City that would allow for outdoor consumption of alcohol in other public spaces — nor is it allowed for people to freely consume drinks in public either. Also, if you’re to look into the guidelines that the Borough of Red Bank put together with Red Bank RiverCenter and Red Bank Business Alliance, it explicitly states that patrons may not remove alcohol from those premises.

  • Alcohol. Only a properly permitted business, which holds a valid alcohol license for consumption on the premises, or with an extension of premises license, from the NJ Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, may serve alcohol to customers in the outdoor premises, subject to the following restrictions:
    • Alcohol may only be served in the outdoor premises during the hours allowed under the Borough’s ordinance for service.
    • Patrons may not be in possession of more than one alcoholic beverage.
    • Patrons may not remove alcohol from the premises. The area enclosed for the outdoor premises shall be considered part of the premises for the purposes of consumption of alcoholic beverages.

The pandemic, of course, forced people to think about other ways to stay active and entertained. Walking outdoors soon became a favorite activity for many, along with outdoor drinking. That brings us to the question whether outdoor drinking in places like these newly opened pedestrian plazas can be approved. Yes, you can enjoy refreshments from local restaurants, eateries, and bars, but they can only be consumed on their respective premises. There’s definitely a lot to consider if it were to be expanded. Although, a bill being introduced to law makers may change that.

Regardless, Red Bank is changing and these pedestrian plazas are the first step in continuing the town’s growth in being a major destination among the other many towns around the greater Jersey Shore area.

1 comment

  1. I love seeing my town have this pedestrian mall. I hope it continues even after the pandemic.
    But I’d feel better using it And frequenting my favorite places if the mask mandate was enforced.
    It’s very uncomfortable walking in my town…no one is distancing and few have masks. It’s too close for that.
    This needs to be dealt with for us to bring back our businesses and keep the Covid cases down.
    Let’s do it right!

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