The Charm of Downtown Red Bank
By Bob Zuckerman
Executive Director, Red Bank River Center
June 21, 2023
Nestled along the picturesque banks of the Navesink River, downtown Red Bank, New Jersey, stands as a vibrant and enchanting hub of cultural, culinary, and commercial activity. At the heart of this dynamic community lies the Red Bank RiverCenter, an organization that has been working for over 30 years to revitalize the downtown, preserve its unique character and foster its ongoing prosperity. With its rich history, eclectic charm, and unwavering commitment to the arts and local businesses, Red Bank embodies the very essence of an idyllic American town.
Downtown Red Bank is a testament to the town’s rich history and architectural heritage. Stepping onto its charming streets often feels like taking a journey back in time. The area is replete with beautifully preserved buildings, many built in the 1800s, each with its own story to tell. From the majestic Count Basie Center for the Arts, a venue that has hosted legendary performers, to the quaint Victorian-style homes and historic structures, Red Bank’s downtown exudes a palpable sense of nostalgia, inviting visitors and area residents alike to explore its storied past.
Red Bank’s downtown embodies a thriving cultural and artistic hub that offers a wealth of experiences to enrich the lives of everyone who visits. The Red Bank RiverCenter has played a pivotal role in nurturing the town’s vibrant arts scene. Through various initiatives, including festivals, live performances, and our now-famous Broadwalk (that’s not a typo), the RiverCenter has fostered an environment that embraces creativity, encourages artistic expression, and celebrates local talent. Of course, Red Bank wouldn’t be Red Bank without the incredible Count Basie Center for the Arts, named for the legendary jazz pianist who grew up in town, as they produce 250 stellar events per year on two separate stages. The Center includes not only the Hackensack Meridian Health Theater and Base Center Cinemas, but The Vogel – host of the 2023 NJ Downtown Conference in October (Save the Date!). Red Bank is also home to the Two River Theater, a beautiful modern structure that houses some of the best theatrical performances in the entire region.
The annual Red Bank StreetLife program, which features three different musical acts performing around the downtown every summer Saturday evening, is a prime example of the type of event that brings the community together, showcases diverse artistic disciplines, and creates unforgettable memories. The Broadwalk comprises an entire block of Broad Street, the downtown’s main thoroughfare, which becomes a car-free pedestrian plaza every summer. Born out of the COVID pandemic, the Broadwalk has become a beloved happening for locals and visitors from throughout the region.
Food enthusiasts will find themselves in a gastronomic paradise within the charming streets of downtown Red Bank. The area is home to an impressive array of dining establishments, ranging from cozy cafes and trendy bistros such as the Robinson Ale House and Birravino to upscale restaurants helmed by award-winning chefs such as Teak and Centrada. With an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and innovative culinary techniques, Red Bank’s culinary scene is a testament to the town’s commitment to exceptional quality and unforgettable flavors. The RiverCenter has been instrumental in promoting these culinary gems, enticing both locals and visitors to indulge in an extraordinary dining experience. Additionally, craft beer enthusiasts will be in heaven once they taste the fabulous flavors from Triumph Brewing Company and our hometown brewery, Red Tank. In fact, the River Center will be hosting its first-ever Monmouth County craft brew festival on September 24.
Downtown Red Bank is also a shopper’s delight, offering a delightful mix of independently owned boutiques, specialty shops, and artisanal markets. Strolling along the streets, visitors are treated to an eclectic assortment of fashion, jewelry, home decor, and unique treasures waiting to be discovered. The Red Bank RiverCenter has actively supported the growth of local businesses by organizing events like the Sweet Stroll during Valentine’s Day, Moms the Word for Mother’s Day, and past events like the Wedding Walk, all of which showcase the diversity and vitality of the town’s entrepreneurial spirit.
The RiverCenter serves as a driving force behind the community’s engagement and vitality. Our newest initiative is beautifying our streetscape, and if you walk on Broad Street, you’ll see an incredible arrangement of flower gardens that make our downtown colorful, cheery, and bright. The RiverCenter has also invested hundreds of thousands of dollars over the year in improving the streetscape by adding beautiful brick sidewalks and parklets. The RiverCenter’s commitment to enhancing the overall quality of life in Red Bank is clearly exemplified by both its numerous capital projects and an inclusive approach to community engagement.
Downtown Red Bank is an enchanting haven that effortlessly blends history, culture, culinary delights, and community engagement. The Red Bank RiverCenter, with its unwavering dedication to preserving the town’s unique character and fostering its prosperity, plays a vital role in creating an atmosphere that is both welcoming and inspiring. As you wander through its historic streets, indulge in delectable cuisine, immerse yourself in the arts, and support local businesses, it becomes abundantly clear that downtown Red Bank and the Red Bank RiverCenter embody the true essence of a vibrant and thriving community.
Bob Zuckerman is currently the Executive Director of the Red Bank RiverCenter, a position which he has served in since June 2022. From 2020 through 2022, Bob was the Executive Director of the Downtown Westfield Corporation and prior to that he served as E.D. of the South Orange Village Center Alliance (“SOVCA”) from 2013-2019. Bob was also a member of the South Orange Board of Trustees, having been elected in May of 2019 and serving through September 2022. Bob is serving his fourth year as President of Downtown New Jersey.