With so many empty retail properties for sale or lease in Brigantine, one would think the City Council would bend over backwards for entrepreneurs to set up shop on the island…. but no. Good thing the Planning Board of Brigantine is run by a different set of decision makers……forward thinking, independent minded, civic leaders that really shined on Wednesday night.
At the June 22 Brigantine Planning Board meeting, Attorney Paul Busco represented Soul Berri very well. This guy shined.
The innovative new health food eatery, smoothie and coffee shop finally won unanimous approval to open and offer a simple and fresh menu of 12 items. Soul Berri was up against a mountain of false rumors and innuendo about their business. Opposition spent considerable time circulating false claims with no basis in fact. Note: The local newspapers did not cover this very important story. (no surprise there)
Soul Berri is fronted by Brigantine resident and TV Food Star; Nicole Gaffney, her husband and a close friend.
A small, but fun little smoothie shack on the island. Offering a number of unique and healthy food options, in addition to locally brewed coffee, in a really cool setting. At the last planning board hearing in May, several neighbors and business owners came out and vehemently opposed this project. They were not prepared to face such extreme disapproval for something that no doubt could have a positive effect on a Jersey shore island in desperate need for retail and attractions.
Some old school Brigantine neighbors, competitors and current & past politicians didn’t want them to open. Too bad. The court of public opinion was on Soul Berri’s side. Weak business operators, crabby neighbors, and short-sighted politicians were no match for Soul Berri supporters….and more importantly….a new way of improving Brigantine’s economic outlook.
The foolish fear of competition…. is the culprit here. Short sighted….and a guaranteed economy killer.
Which business operators publicly opposed Soul Berri?
> Crab Shack. Owner Pete Caprio promised to invest in Soul-Berri if they opened up somewhere else on the island….like the higher-risk location at the ACME PLAZA. Mr. Caprio is blind to benefits of complementary / non-competitive business right next door?
> Yianni’s. Was vocal opponent at both, recent meetings. Even had attorney try to use flooding issues as reason for squashing Soul-Berri. Yianni’s rationale for opposing Soul-Berri was confusing at best.
> Hooper’s Seafood Market. Owned by Former Brigantine Chief of Police Wilkins. Proclaims that he is special. His 45 years on the island, complete with a public employee pension, is reason enough to kill Soul-Berri.
> Former Brigantine councilman Sam Storino; representing financial interests of both Aunt Bea’s Ice Cream & Ernest & Sons Market. Note: Storino is well-known for his alleged harassment & successful eradication of the once popular ‘Sac o Subs’ on Brigantine Ave. As a Brigantine councilman, Lil’ Sammy had the power to destroy any potential competition to his politically connected butcher shop. Today, the Florida-based Storino has been politically and socially neutered. Finally.
Interesting: Those that provided testimony had to raise their right hand inside the Brigantine Council Chambers. They had to swear that they would tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth….so help them God. ( We wish Brigantine City Council & City Manager Stinson had to do this too… )
Team Soul Berri considered using the old library/beach tag structure, next to La Sammana. Awesome location and space. Too bad the City decided to knock it down to make way for a dirt lot that pays no taxes.
The Soul Berri team considered using the old Burger King that’s been sitting there for YEARS. Issues like this are a big problem for Brigantine. Especially around the Burger King / TD BANK and ACME plaza. Lack of street signage plays a major role in keeping this area in the dark, economically.
A business without a sign….is a sign of no business.
A portion of the argument revolved around adherence and/or recognition of current regulations, codes, and ordinances on the books….that other businesses did…or did not….have to strictly adhere to.
8 year lease. Initial 5 yrs with 3 additional years option.
Opposition kept pointing to SAFETY & PARKING issues. Some claim that Soul Berri would be problematic.
- Yiannis: 72 seats, 36 are outside… just 10 ft to curb. Is this un-safe? Yianni’s has no parking.
- Joe’s Seaside: Picnic tables, no substantial safety barriers
- Rita’s has long line to curb…..making it ‘unsafe’?…They are not held accountable for this potential safety hazard. Rita’s has no parking.
- Soul Berri’s closest table is 70 ft to curb
OPRA Request to squash safety concern: nobody was hit by a car…over past 10 years…….near Rita’s, Richmans, Aunt Bea’s.
What does Brigantine elected leadership think about boosting business? WATCH VIDEO >
False claim? Soul Berri is setting bad precedent for invasion of food trucks or sheds?
- Fish-finder party boat & marina operates out of 3 sheds.
- Mad-Dog Morgan often places their food trailer in front of North School
Circumvent taxes? False propaganda spread by those opposing this concept.
Brigantine allows ‘Water-Weenie‘ food pontoon boat to operate at COVE beach area without paying taxes or following stringent rules. Water-Weenie has been owned- & operated by Mad Dog Morgan, Ernie Purdy in the past. Both are former Brigantine City employees. Today it has a new owner-operator.