Brick Plaza patrons will soon have a new eatery to dine in, complete with retro decor, classic cars and a menu that specializes in Buffalo wings.
The Brick Township Planning Board unanimously approved an application to convert the Chevy's Fresh Mex restaurant at 1036 Cedar Bridge Road to a Quaker Steak & Lube establishment at a special hearing Wednesday night.
Once complete, Brick Plaza will be home to the first Quaker Steak & Lube in New Jersey.
A representative of Doherty Enterprises, which operates the existing Chevy's and will manage the Quaker Steak, explained that the restaurant offers casual dining for the whole family. While the menu is American fare, the business' specialty is Buffalo wings, said Timothy Doherty, vice president of development.
The "family-based" chain will feature a 1950s decor that evokes the classic American muscle car era, Doherty said, while incorporating a general motorsports theme. In fact, Quaker Steak will feature a race car on a lift near the front of the restaurant.
"It's very inviting, very welcoming," testified Kathy Diamond, who heads the firm that designed the Quaker Steak chain. "The environment really grabs you in."
Doherty noted the bankruptcy filing of Chevy's parent company in explaining the need to find a better use of the existing restaurant.
"We've been struggling, unfortunately, with the Chevy's in Brick," he said.
However, the Brick Plaza location is ideal. "We'd like to continue to invest in the community," Doherty said.
Robert Freud, the project's planner, said the Quaker Steak will be open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday. The applicant proposes to double the restaurant's workforce to 200 employees, 25 of which will be on shift at one time.
In their application, the project's planner and engineer sought a modest expansion (7,080 square feet to 8,148 square feet) of the existing building alongside aesthetic improvements. Variances were sought in several areas, most notably signage.
"There's minor, minimal site improvements proposed," Freud said.
However, some board members did not think the proposed signage was necessarily minor.
"I have an issue with the number of signs," Chairman Joseph Marra said. "I would like to see (them) reduced."
Five wall signs currently exist at Chevy's; 15 were proposed. Marra noted that most applications that win board approval feature two to three wall placards.
After debate on the necessity of the signs, which Diamond, the designer, said are standard for Quaker Steak, Freud and his fellow representatives agreed to eliminate a sign, enlarge one and relocate another.
Freud's proposal did not initially include bike racks, as he "didn't think it was necessary and appropriate." But the Quaker Steak team agreed to add two racks, at Councilman Dan Toth's suggestion.
"As we're trying to be more green, it would be nice," Toth said. "I think it would fit."
Additionally, the Quaker Steak representatives agreed to work with township Planner Michael Fowler to change a proposed ground sign from one on pylons to a monument sign, after the board expressed its displeasure with pylon signs.
The conversion from Chevy's to Quaker Steak is expected to cost about $1.5 million, Doherty said.