Home Seaside Heights & Seaside Park Seaside Park Planning Board Split on ‘Nano Brewery’ Plan

Seaside Park Planning Board Split on ‘Nano Brewery’ Plan

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A member of the public questions the applicant behind a "nano brewery" proposed in Seaside Park. (Photo: Daniel Nee)
A member of the public questions the applicant behind a “nano brewery” proposed in Seaside Park. (Photo: Daniel Nee)

The proposal by a 29-year-old schoolteacher to open a small brewery in a Seaside Park storefront elicited strong opinions from residents and officials at a meeting of the borough’s planning board Tuesday night.

Jeffrey Greco, a U.S. Coast Guard veteran who said his “passion” is brewing beer at home, wants to expand his hobby to a business at 1409 W. Central Avenue, near the corner of O Street. The 640 sq. ft. – 20-foot by 32-foot – area of the existing commercial building could accommodate about 30 to 40 people, would not host live entertainment and would not serve food. Patrons would be given a tour of the small brewing setup, offered a 4-ounce glass of beer, then be able to buy beer by the glass or fill up a growler to take home.

Despite Greco’s plans to keep the operation small, some were vehemently against the idea. Planning Board member Jack Moyse said when the borough bought back a liquor license some years ago, it was a decision that no more establishments should serve alcohol in town. A brewery does not require a municipal liquor license – small breweries operate under state licenses that allow them to serve only the beer they brew on-site.

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“Why we’re going to grant variances and bend over backwards for a barroom at O Street is beyond the pale,” said Moyse, who occasionally expressed his contempt for the proposal throughout the meeting. “I don’t think this should be approved in any way, shape or form. We don’t need a bar up on O Street. Microbreweries are a great thing, but put it where it belongs – not in a residential area and not in the borough of Seaside Park.”

Greco said his small brewery would be far different from a traditional bar. There is, by law, an educational component, there is no entertainment or televisions, and breweries usually attract a more serene crowd that spends a small amount of time on-site, he said.

“Customers only typically stay for about a half hour,” said Greco, adding that the site, as proposed, has not seating. “We don’t want someone to come in and stay the entire day and make it anything more than it should be.”

The ingredients for the beer Greco would make would be locally-sourced, he said, and each variety would be named after local shipwrecks and Coast Guard references, a nod to his military service.

“As a teacher, I really want to focus on the history of Seaside Park and the island itself,” said Greco.

Among his detractors was borough councilman Michael Tierney, who said he lives near the proposed storefront.

“You could be the biggest attraction ever to come down to Seaside, and that would be bad for us,” said Tierney. “I also don’t see how the liquor would be regulated.”

Greco said his staff, mainly family members, would be trained to check IDs and serve responsibly.

Sherry Villano, owner of Villano Realtors, said she worried about property values around the proposed brewery and whether the brewing process would produce any odor. Greco said the equipment used for brewing is essentially a home brewing kit, and any aroma produced by the process could be contained inside the store space or filtered before moving through a vent. The brewing process does not produce noise, he said.

Villano characterized the brewery as a beer “manufacturing” site based on one planning document and spoke out against it, worrying that the vacant space Greco is considering renting is not in the best condition to support such a business.

Greco also had supporters on the board.

“As far as calling it a bar, it’s not,” said board member Dominick Bucci. “You’re very limited as to what you can do there. I know people who brew beer right in their homes here in Seaside, and nobody even knows about it. I think it would be something good for this town. I’ve been to a lot of breweries around this country, and I’ve never seen a problem. Maybe he doesn’t have a full business plan, but he has a vision, and with a lot of hard work he can make it work.”

Greco said his business would add to the Seaside Park community. It would be open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 noon to 8 p.m. during the summer season, and Friday and Saturday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter. On Sundays, it would be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. year round. Greco would brew beer about two days a week, a process that he said would take a few hours and produce about 31 gallons of beer. He said his operation would be the smallest brewery in New Jersey; the state’s microbrewery permitting law allows small brewers to make 15,000 gallons of beer per year.

“I don’t want to be Kane Brewing, I don’t want to be Budweiser,” Greco said. “This was a vacant spot and this is my passion. I’m a full-time teacher, a football and volleyball coach. I’m looking for something to be added to my life.”

Moyse made a motion to deny the application outright, but ultimately the board decided to provide Greco another chance to make his case and address issues of parking and other concerns brought up by board members.

The hearing will resume at the board’s March 28 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the municipal court room.

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  • Greg Paszko

    How did an illiterate like Moyse ever get elected?

  • Jeff Greco

    The hours posted in the article are incorrect. We proposed 5pm-8pm Fridays and Saturdays and 11am-2pm on Sunday’s. A total of 9 hours open to the public during the offseason. Local bars and restaurants that serve beer are open 77 hours per week year round.

    • Erica Triola

      That would be literally across the street from my beach house. I see nothing wrong with it!

    • jasman

      Jeff come to the Heights we can find you a space.
      My wife’s cousin opened one in Croydon Pa a few years ago.

      • Jeff Greco

        Thanks. It’s definitely being considered. Not sure of zoning in the town.

        • Jason R Carty

          Jeff,
          Shoot me an email. I would like to discuss how we can help.
          jcarty@njbeer.org

    • Coast Watcher

      The town shouldn’t be pushing back on small business that want to start in seaside park. Its still a family resort town correct? How does this hamper, the air and noise quality for the residential area? Their used to be a bait shop and small café there for many years. I’m guessing a vacant building adds to property value versus this. Good luck and Semper Paratus!

    • Derek Mashtun

      Hey Jeff,
      My in-laws live in SSP and I’m working on a micro in Clinton, NJ. I’d love to connect to see what I can do to support. Derek Mashtun on FB.

  • pqjulie

    Many cities and small towns throughout the U.S. have found positive effects (on economic and community development) of bringing in breweries. They do not generate crime problems like typical bars.

  • George

    Mr. Greco,

    Thank you for your service to our country. I wish you good luck on your application. I advise all the so called intellectuals on the Planning Board to approve your application. Lower real estate values? Come on, having the ability to walk to a nano brewery would increase property values. I suppose the empty stores that are at the location now are increasing property values. If the “in bed at 8pm” crowd rejects your application see if you can find a location in South Seaside Park. We have Ebby’s and Bum Rodgers and no cry babies PS How come the Planning Board has no problems with the ever expanding Sawmill establishment…hmmm

    • Jeff Greco

      Thank you for the kind comment and support

    • Coast Watcher

      I completely agree!

  • Donna M Davis Scalero

    That building has been empty for years; putting something like that in it would only make the Community better. I hope it passes. I have a beach house right up the block and would love to walk there. Right now that whole area is an eyesore because of that empty space.

  • Michelle Volpe

    Jeff, How can I contact you? I have another great possible option for you if SSP does not want you!! Thanks, Michelle Volpe

  • Coast Watcher

    IF you support it then a presence needs to be made at these council meetings.