Plans for a bayfront bar and restaurant at Traders Cove Marina are undergoing a “reboot,” Township Administrator Joanne Bergin said, with the municipal government looking to scale down a proposal that faced criticism from some local environmentalists, as well as the county and some residents.
Bergin said the state Department of Environmental Protection had, in the past, approved a CAFRA (Coastal Areas Facilities Review Act) permit for a restaurant on the site in a specific footprint that was smaller than the one which would have been occupied by the bar and restaurant proposed by Chef’s International under an agreement with the township that never came to fruition. The township is now working to develop plans to build something within that original permitted area, which is located in a smaller footprint on the same site as the Chef’s International proposal. Officials have approached the DEP about the plan.
“We said, ‘if this is the footprint was approved by CAFRA, would there be an objection to it?’” explained Bergin. “They were certainly more amenable by looking at that footprint rather than the larger one.”
The size of the facility would be “downsized significantly” from the Chef’s International restaurant, which drew questions from state regulators as to its financial structuring – mainly, a leasing agreement between the company and the township.
The good news for those hoping for a new bayfront establishment is that there is now a history of state park facilities hosting bars and restaurants. The township has requested and received copies of the request for proposal sent out by the state before a bar was built at Island Beach State Park, as well as the financial agreement between the restaurant’s operator and the DEP.
“We’re going to look at those, combined, and see what we can come up with,” said Bergin.
The area where the Chef’s International restaurant was proposed is currently a grassy area north of the floating docks and east of the playground area.
Bergin said the township’s RFP process will determine what restaurant operator will open an establishment at Traders Cove.
“Maybe it will be Chef’s International, but we don’t really know,” she said. “That’s the process we’re going to go through.”