BELMAR, NJ — Beach Haus Brewery is looking to offer a full dining experience at its landmark location in downtown Belmar.
Efforts are under way to open the second-floor restaurant that currently sits vacant adjacent to the craft brewery at 801 Main Street. And to make that happen, the project revolves around another iconic establishment in this seashore town — Jack’s Tavern, which has operated for 85 years at 703 10th Avenue.
MB1 Capital Partners, which owns the brewery building, is under contract to purchase Jack’s for an undisclosed price. The sale includes the building, business and, mostly importantly, the liquor license which would be moved to the restaurant at 801 Main Street.
And with a liquor license in hand, the brewery itself would then be able to operate as a “brewpub” under a restrictive brewery license — freeing it from the voluminous rules and regulations that must be followed under its current limited brewery license.
“The whole concept is to remain a brewery, but to also give our customers what they’re looking for,” said MB1 co-founder and managing partner Joel Brudner. “We’ve had to turn people away because the regulations have limited what we can do.”
For example, Beach Haus is prohibited from serving food, which must be brought in as take-out. It is also limited to hosting a total of 78 special and private events per year in its 4,000-square-foot taproom — whether it’s an open mic night, community fundraiser, wedding reception and just a small gathering of patrons watching a sporting event.
“We had 35,000 people come through our doors last year, and we’ve been listening to what they want,” said Christopher McCallion, MB1 co-founder and Beach Haus owner.
And that includes on-site dining, more beverage options — in addition to the 20 beers it has on tap every day — and expanded availability of the brewery’s taproom for events.
Rumors that the liquor license transfer would lead to the Beach Haus becoming a “night club” were dispelled by both Brudner and McCallion.
“That’s not what we’re trying to do or what our vision has been for the Beach Haus,” said Brudner, who took on with his partner the daunting task of transforming the Freedman’s Bakery facility into the 30-barrel brew house five years ago. “Our focal point is the brewery. And if the brewery wasn’t here, we wouldn’t need the liquor license.”
McCallion pointed out that in its more than five years of operation, there has not been an incident requiring the police at the Beach Haus. “It’s a record we’re proud of, keeping in mind that we bring in (an average of) 30,000 people every year.”
The application for the liquor license transfer has been filed — the first step in the acquisition process —with the Belmar Police Department currently conducting a background investigation of the applicant, as required by the N.J. Division of Alcohol Beverage Control.
If the due diligence phase is completed with no issues found, the liquor license transfer application would be presented to the Belmar Council for a public hearing and vote.
Approval of the liquor license would pave the way for MB1 to purchase Jack’s Tavern and then begin working on plans to put the 3,700-square-foot restaurant back into operation. Several months after Beach Haus Brewery opened in the spring of 2015, Benny’s Fattoria occupied the restaurant space before it closed several years ago.
Plans for the building that now houses Jack’s Tavern have not been finalized, Brudner said. Although Jack’s owner Michael Terranova could not be reached for comment on the tentative purchase agreement, it is expected to remain open during the application process.
A family owned and operated establishment since opening in 1934, Jack’s is a popular watering hole in this community, particularly among the locals.
While plans for the Beach Haus eatery are in the conceptual stage, it will complement the communal aspects of the brewery, where it produces every drop of beer served in its upstairs taproom. With ceiling-to-floor windows, the spacious area offers panoramic views of downtown Belmar from the corner of Main Street and Eighth Avenue.