RED BANK — The borough's downtown now has a European vibe after officials transformed Broad Street into a pedestrian mall they're calling Broadwalk Plaza.

Red Bank River Center worked with the borough to coordinate the reopening of commerce, which began with outdoor dining on sidewalks last month.

Executive Director Laura Kirkpatrick said the plaza brings to mind the San Gennaro Festival in New York with its lights stringed across the street, roped-off seating and a sea of chic umbrellas.

"It's been really positive — a lot of great experiences for people just coming into Red Bank and reacquainting themselves with our great downtown," Kirkpatrick said.

Parts of Broad Street are closed from 4 p.m. Thursday to 10 p.m. Sunday, perhaps through the fall.

Kirkpatrick said the goal is to get the restaurants and retailers back at 100% capacity, get people shopping local and keep Red Bank a viable part of the economic engine in Monmouth County and New Jersey.

There are signs all through the plaza reminding people to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Restaurants have created borough-approved seating plans and have conformed to all state safety and precautionary measures.

Tables are 6 feet apart, limiting eight customers to a table and employees must wear face coverings and gloves. Many restaurants are requiring reservations and offering touchless menus.

Broadwalk Plaza
Photo Credit: Red Bank River Center

Retailers are greeting people at their doors, reminding them of the rules.

Stores can only be filled at 50% capacity and customers who can't get inside are lining up outside on the sidewalk, standing 6 feet apart. Some shops have set up merchandise in front of their stores so customers can browse before and after dining.

People can enjoy music and street performers on Saturdays through September as part of Red Bank's StreetLife event series.

Beacause Broad Street is closed between Thursday and Sunday, people can park on other streets or in one of the four public lots. Kirkpatrick suggested parking in the East Side parking lots on the hospital side of town.

Restaurants outside the Broadwalk Plaza area are also open for business.

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