Finishing Up Fair Haven Streetscape

By Elaine Van Develde

The uncharacteristic March cold staved off progress for a bit, but with the spring warmth come the finishing touches of the Fair Haven Streetscape project.

And with the final phase of work, that will continue for about another three weeks, comes a minor traffic delay, with one lane closed, during daylight hours on River Road.

“We’re executing the rest of the Streetscape East program,” Mayor Ben Lucarelli said. “We started last fall at around Buena Vista Avenue on the north side, just to get that last part of the project started, then winter kicked in.”

As with the rest of the Streetscape project that spans from the business section by the Acme and now through to the Rumson border, sidewalks are being replaced on both sides of River Road and the consistent historic-looking lighting is being installed.

The last part of the east portion of the project is under construction on the south side of River Road, from Buena Vista to Oak Place, or roughly 911 River Road where the Shrewsbury Yacht Club sits, Lucarelli said.

Next, the project will be competed on the north side of River Road in the same area.

Don’t Forget: Dog Days at Church

It’s that time again — time for church at St. George’s-by-the-River to go to the dogs … and all other four-legged critters.

Today, Saturday, will be the second Bring You Pet to Church service at 5 p.m. at the Rumson Episcopal house of worship.

The pet-friendly services are being held once a month, on the second Saturday.

Check out our slideshow of the first event by clicking here. Oh, and don’t forget to click on the icon in the lower right corner to enlarge.

Retro RFH Girls: Play Ball!

RFH girls of softball with Amy Connor pitching Photo/George Day
RFH girls of softball with Amy Connor pitching
Photo/George Day

Baseball season is upon us. So is softball season, for that matter.

So, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day takes us back to old time 1970s days of softball at RFH.

Looks like Amy Connor pitching.

But, who’s on the bench? Can you name them?

Thanks, once again, to the fabulous George Day for yet another classic pic!

Police: $1.2K Worth of Merchandise Stolen & More

The following recent criminal incidents and arrest were reported by the Shrewsbury police:


• A shoplifting of $1,176 worth of merchandise from Anthropologie on Broad Street was reported on March 29.

Patrolman Tracy Polk is investigating.

• A shoplifting of $439. 80 worth of merchandise from Staples on Broad Street was reported on March 31.

Patrolman Ralph Latham is investigating.


• Jay D. Patten, 35. of Red Bank, was arrested on April 2 in the area of Sycamore Avenue and charged with theft, possession of a controlled dangerous substance, paraphernalia and a hypodermic needle by Patrolman Tracy Polk.

Retro RFH Skateboarding


Mike Grady and A.J. Bruder skateboarding into spring circa 1970s Photo/George Day
Mike Grady and A.J. Bruder skateboarding into spring circa 1970s
Photo/George Day

Yes, the weather is getting less frightful.

While the sun has been hidden beneath the rain clouds for the past few days, we’re turning to some warm memories of, once again, carefree moments with a couple of RFH guys.

So, the Retro Pic of the (George) Day today honors the memory of RFH Class of 1978 grad A.J. Bruder, who passed away around this time in 1996. Bruder was a fun-loving guy who was known to love life and it shows in this pic.

Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect will feature a memorial tribute to Bruder on the April 15 anniversary of his untimely death at 36.

The other RFHer is a familiar face to this day in the area — Mike Grady.

What can we say? This duo represents what spring fever is all about — even though this photo was likely taken in the fall.

Can you caption this one?

Many thanks, again, to the fabulous George Day for this gem of a photo!


Rumson, Fair Haven Business Buzz

All it takes is a drive around the Rumson-Fair Haven area to see that there’s a lot of business news around the towns.

Some retail spaces have been cloaked in brown packing paper with and/or without some sort of literal sign of change. Others have interesting temporary venues and yet others are just starting out and telling their story via social media.

Here’s the business buzz in the Rumson-Fair Haven area:

Fair Havenite, Handmade Haven and Your Karma is Rockin’ owner Melanie Stewart 

The jeweler/crafter is selling her wares right now out of the Oceanic Library in Rumson.

After leaving the short-lived brick-and-mortar location on River Road in Fair Haven, Stewart and her husband David have been crafting and selling wherever the opportunity presents itself.

They told Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect back in October that it’s proven more cost-effective to have a traveling venue.

So, when there was an opening at the library in Rumson, Melanie, according to a Facebook post, created like crazy and set up shop.

Her creations will be there through the end of the month.

From Melanie Stewart:

“Please shop at the Oceanic (Rumson) Library the month of April. They are featuring my jewelry and wreaths and will receive a donation for each purchase you make!

Anyone from the public is welcomed to visit and shop! 109 Avenue Of Two Rivers Rumson, 07760 732-842-2692 for hours ~ Photos of creations that are featured with price list. Thank you!”

Cravin Haven, Fair Haven

Carolyn Beamish Furguson, of the Fair Haven Business Association, tells Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect that the popular Avon-based vegan restaurant, Seed to Sprout, will replace Cravin Haven.

Cravin Haven, the short-lived, super-sized deep fryer-meets-barbecue sandwich spot in the Acme shopping center is now completely shut down.

The eatery, for which owners gave all indications that there would be a remodeling with possible reconfiguration in business in February, not so long ago sported a sign that said the business was for sale. The 1,200-square-foot space was listed for lease at $1,500 per month as a turn-key restaurant with equipment.

Now the windows are covered with brown packing paper. The inside is not empty and the sign remains, but it is still listed as one of two in the plaza for lease on

Cravin Haven’s website, though, gives no indication that the business has folded. It still says that it is only closed for renovations. There is information about off-site catering. Click here for more information.

Empty storefront Acme plaza

The other unit for lease, the 900-square-foot 560 K, is next to the laundromat Wash House, a few doors down. It is empty and windows are not covered.

The information on loop says now that rental rates for both are negotiable.

Replacement for Doc Shoppe?

The spot where the Doc Shoppe sat for years, in the other section of the Acme plaza fronting River Road in Fair Haven, is also for lease.

The Doc Shoppe relocated to a larger store in Red Bank last year.

The roughly 900-square-foot store is for lease through Metro Commercial Real Estate at 856-866-1900.

Fair Haven River Road business district

And in the Fair Haven business district east of Fair Haven Road, there’s been an announcement by Lisa Tave Taffin on social media that physhions, a “fashion-forward fitness apparel and accessories boutique” is opening in May at 813 River Road.

A Rumson Locals resurrection or closure?

Seemingly since the dawn of time, or roughly four decades at least, the spot at 91 East River Road in Rumson was Butler’s Deli. It was a frozen-in-time stop for anyone from old-timer townies to teens to grab those classic breakfast and lunch sandwiches and sides.

Butler’s closed in 2013 when then owner Paul Stout retired. Then well-known Rumsonite Dave Ciambrone opened Locals in the same spot in January of 2013.

Ciambrone is no stranger to Rumson business, having owned Murphy’s Tavern at one point and part of the family that owned Val’s Tavern for most of its existence.

There was a rumor that Butler’s was coming back. The sign on the door has said “Sorry, We’re Closed.”

Who knows? Mayor John Ekdahl said he isn’t certain, but did hear the rumor. The eatery, he said, has been closed since the beginning of the year.

And, it looks like the day after the photo was taken of Locals cloaked in brown packing paper with a “Sorry, We’re Closed” sign on the door, it was revealed that former owner Paul Stout is coming out of retirement to reopen as Butler’s Market. Soon. Stay tuned.

Across East River Road in Rumson at gourmet food stop, et al …

A sign on the window at 114 East River Road says, “For Rent.”

No further information was available at the site that was formerly Le Bon Panier.

The et al eatery now has a location in Highlands. There was a plan for et al to have two locations, in Rumson and Highlands, after renovations. But the sign indicates otherwise.

Time will tell.

What would you like to see at one or any of these business locations?

Fair Haven Police: Borough Business Burglar Nabbed, Connected to String of 30

A Freehold Borough man linked to a Fair Haven business burglary/theft has been linked to a string of more than 30 similar cases spanning Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties and is being held at Monmouth County Correctional Institution on $113,000 bail.

Isiah Casrell, 28,  was arrested along with an alleged co-conspirator, Rachael Lovely, 33, of Newark, at 1:30 a.m. on April 5 in Holmdel, police said. The two were allegedly leaving the scene of a commercial burglary there when they “were spotted and stopped on State Route 34 in the area of the border of Aberdeen Township and Marlboro Township by Marlboro Township Police Officer Johnathan Gramcko,” a release said.

The Holmdel burglary was found, by a multi-jurisdictional police task force, to allegedly be one of more than 30 that occurred in the three-county span in the past few months.

Fair Haven Police Detective Stephen Schneider, a member of the task force, said he signed specific complaints against Casrell in connection with the March 19 burglary of Distinctive Toys, 595 River Road.

As a result, Casrell was charged by Fair Haven police alone with: criminal mischief, burglary and theft of movable property. His bail on the Fair Haven charges alone was set at $30,000 with no 10 percent option, set by Judge James M. Newman, according to police.

In addition to the Fair Haven burglary/theft, Casrell, Schneider said in a release, “was responsible for committing numerous commercial burglaries in the following jurisdictions: Marlboro, Howell, Aberdeen, Colts Neck, Holmdel, Ocean Township, Plumsted Township, Old Bridge, Berkeley, Upper Freehold Township, Manalapan and Shrewsbury Borough.”

Concerning the alleged burglaries throughout the three counties committed by Casrell and Lovely, detectives from Monmouth County’s Marlboro, Howell and Holmdel Township police departments charged the two with possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of burglary tools, theft, burglary, conspiracy to commit burglary and criminal mischief.


Arresting News Nearby: Contempt

The following arrests were recently made by Middletown police on contempt of court charges and violations of court orders: 

• Peter Dickson, 20, of Hartshorne Road in the Locust section of Middletown, was arrested on March 24 by Patrolman Adam Vendetti on contempt of court warrants issued by the Middletown and Holmdel municipal courts.

He was released after posting $1,500 bail.

• Darren Mensch, 38, of Schelly Drive in Middletown, was arrested on March 24 by Detective Daniel Sullivan for shoplifting and on a contempt of court warrant issued by the Middletown Municipal Court.

He was held on $5,500 bail, set by Judge Richard Thompson.

Continue reading Arresting News Nearby: Contempt

Retro Dance with George Giffin

The time is drawing near for all Rumson-Fair Haven area people to remember, honor and dance in the name of RFH’s ever-famous George Giffin, science and dance teacher extraordinaire who died last year.

The George Giffin Memorial Dance-a-thon is set for next week — Saturday, April 18 from 5 to 10 p.m. in the RFH gym.

With proceeds benefitting the Monmouth Day Care Center, people, in the name of Mr. Giffin, are invited to dance or just be a spectator at the event, which is being sponsored by the RFH Dance Troupe.

So, in preparation of the event and to remember the magic that was George Giffin, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day gives a glimpse into the last day this editor saw Mr. Giffin dance.

It was 2012 and he was at Fairwinds Deli in Fair Haven. It didn’t take much for Mr. Giffin, or Giff, as he was called, to launch into a routine no matter where it was.

He talked about how he loved to still show up at RFH grads’ weddings and teach them a few steps. He also said he was not too fond of the way in which the English language has been slaughtered “these days.” We agree.

Brown paper sandwich bag in hand, Giff then rhythmically chanted, “When you get that beat, you’ve got to move your feet!” as he did his own little dance right in the deli line.

What a treat.

There were popular teachers at RFH, all cherished, but George Giffin just had what theater professionals call “it” — personality, stage presence, that special something that makes people’s eyes twinkle when they’re around.

Always equipped with a passel of jokes, a smile and a “five, six, five six, seven, eight and one, two, cha, cha, cha” it’s a sure bet that he’d love to marathon dance at this event.

Though we’re not sure if he would be out teaching some classic ballroom dance moves, try a few of the newer moves or both, but we know he’d at least give it a “cha, cha, cha, dip, twirl” and maybe a cartwheel … just to throw people off — or not.

Dancers for the event must be 12 and up. Cost to dance is $50, while admission is $10 for spectators, and $5 for spectators age 12 and under.

Click here for more information. 

What was your favorite George Giffin dance?

Caution: Lights Out in Fair Haven

Fair Haven firemen and fire police stationed at Smith Street and River Road man and block off the street Wednesday night. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Fair Haven firemen and fire police stationed at Smith Street and River Road man and block off the street Wednesday night.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

If you live in the area of River Road, between Hance and Smith Street, in Fair Haven you may have heard a boom and been without electricity for a short period of time or longer around 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

While Fair Haven Fire Police were too busy redirecting traffic to provide an answer, a drive to the area would show that that block-long stretch of River Road was cordoned off, fire trucks, an ambulance and utility trucks were out.

No one has confirmed exactly what the issue was, but, with the presence of utility trucks and the outage, it seemed to be a power issue that was being tended to.

As of 7:45 p.m., the road was still blocked.

This post will be updated when more information becomes available.

Attorney General: Rumson Printer Banned as Vendor of Prescription Blanks

The following is a press release from the NJ Office of the Attorney General:

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs has terminated Rumson-based Nelson Press printing company’s authorization to act as a printer/vendor of prescription blanks.

The Division found the company’s failure to follow security requirements enabled a suspended doctor to allegedly obtain and write unauthorized prescriptions in another physician’s name for oxycodone and other potentially addictive painkillers.

The suspended doctor, Kenneth Lewandowski, of Middletown, was arrested in December 2014 by detectives from the Middletown Township Police Department working with investigators from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office and the Division of Consumer Affairs. Lewandowski was charged with multiple counts of conspiracy, forgery, and unlawful practice of medicine, for his alleged role in running a prescription drug ring.

Continue reading Attorney General: Rumson Printer Banned as Vendor of Prescription Blanks