Fire at The Dunes - Ocean Grove

Just happened upon a news report of that fire. 

Very sad to lose the old building. Always a very quiet spot.

So sad. They had finally rebuilt this popular complex (and the adjacent boardwalk) and gotten it running. I wonder if any of the stores survived or if the entire complex will now have to be rebuilt again. I wonder how it started in the off season.

I was in Asbury Park all day yesterday. There was a thick cloud of smoke that permeated the air pretty much everywhere you went - I came home and the smoke odor was on my clothes. Some people were walking in town with scarves over their noses - the air quality was so bad. The fire was still going late into the night. 

So sad.  I liked that place and went there whenever I went to the beach at Asbury. 

We drove down to Asbury Park yesterday to attend a fundraiser at the Wonder Bar but immediately abandoned those plans when we arrived and were gasping for air from all the smoke.  Ended up strolling around Red Bank instead, which was ok but not the beachy day desired. 

Real shame, they rebuilt it up after Sandy ravaged it and now it catches fire.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Owners ‘devastated’ by loss of Shore landmark

Alex Napoliello, Rebecca Everett and Steve Strunsky For The Star-Ledger As business owners grapple with the loss of an eatery that was just starting to gain traction on the Ocean Grove boardwalk, investigators on Monday combed through the wreckage two days after the establishment was destroyed by a stubborn blaze.

"The investigation is active and ongoin! g," said Charles Webster, a spokesman for the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, the agency leading the investigation.

Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden previously told NJ Advance Media that it appeared the fire started from underneath the structure of the Dunes Cafe. That’s in a stretch of boardwalk "where homeless have resided in the past," the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Asked to elaborate, spokesman Christopher Swendeman said, "That’s not a comment  of implication by any means. That’s just a notation of fact that we’ve been looking into as part of the investigation."

Neptune Township police Capt. Michael McGhee said, "We’ve definitely had activity of kids hanging out under the boardwalk. There has been vagrancy in all areas of beachfront, including in that area.

"It’s been a! n ongoing issue," he said, adding that it’s a problem many beach towns face.





A silver lining for David Fernicola and Thomas Wilson, owners of Day’s Ice Cream, is that firefighters were able to pull from the wreckage a partially destroyed cow bench. A trip to Just Another Day’s Ice Cream in the Dunes, the shop’s second location in Ocean Grove, was not complete without a group photo sitting on DayZ, the bench shaped like a cow.

"It was sad. It’s out of your control and you just sit there and watch it," Fernicola said. "Everyone’s been very supportive. We have another store to fall back on, thank God.

"It was just kind of starting to catch on, to have its own identity," he said of the Dunes Cafe, a former fine-dining restaurant started 100 years ago.

Ian Zucker, owner of the Crooked Snook restaurant, said he hasn’t really thought about the future yet as he’s still processing what happened.

He was preparing for the restaurant’s second season in the spot. The Crooked Snook, which is housed in the same structure as the Dunes Cafe but not inside the cafe itself, had a raw bar and was the only eatery there with an outdoor seating area. "Twenty tables right on the ocean," Zucker said. It employed about 20 people for each shift, he said, and many were planning to come back for the 2019 season.

Zucker said he’s been in the restaurant business for a while and has never seen a setup like the Dunes.!

"It will be ! missed," he said.

Playa Bowls owner Michele Gannon said, "Dunes Boardwalk Cafe is a community that has grown over the past four years. It was a place for our beach community, that was built for families. We are devastated at the complete loss of the livelihood for hundreds of people. We are thankful for all those who worked for hours to keep our community safe. Thank you for your continued love and prayers."

Neptune Township Business Administrator Vito Gadaleta said it would be up to the building’s owners to remove the rubble and clean up the si! te.

"I think the public is still going to come to Ocean Grove and come to the oceanfront, but certainly the loss of the Dunes and the other businesses is going to have an impact on commerce and employment and the ability of people to shop and get a few things in the area," he said.

Asbury Park Fire Chief Kevin Keddy said the boardwalk in Asbury Park is still intact, despite flying embers from the Dunes building. He said there was a small fire on the upstairs deck of the Waterfront, a popular nightclub on the Asbury Park boardwalk, but that it was nothing serious. He said Asbury Park would cooperate with whatever Ocean Grove decides as far as closing the boardwalk in that area.

Amy Quinn, the deputy ! mayor of Asbury Park, said the fire could have a small impact on summer tourism, but she doesn’t believe it will keep people away. She said the city will do whatever it can to support the businesses that were lost in the fire, a couple of which have other locations in the city.

Ocean Grove, the historic Victorian community that is part of Neptune Township, has had five major fires since 2010. That year, the Manchester bed-and-breakfast burned down, taking with it several neighboring residences. A year later and two blocks north, a soon-to-be apartment complex on Surf Avenue went up in flames.

In February 2015, a fire on Main Avenue damaged several shops and restaurants.

"Fires in the residential area are a major concern," said Neptune Councilman Michael Brantley. "The structures are mostly wood, and they’re close together. The community  is very concerned about it and the Council and Planning Board are very concerned about the products being used (to build the houses). But there’s very little we can do because Ocean Grove is a historic community."

On Monday, Laura Lundy, 48, of Ramsey, stood with her husband on the boardwalk behind yellow police tape, looking at two piles of rubble that were once the pavilion where she and her husband spent time while dating in the 1990s.

Lundy said the two would eat at what was then the Perkins restaurant, which became the site of the Dunes Cafe. "It was there forever," said Lundy, a teacher’s ! assistant.

"I feel sad! , I really enjoyed Perkins when it was there and and the little surf shop that was there," she recalled. "They had flip-flops, clothing, everything. Our kids really enjoyed that."

Alex Napoliello, NJ Advance Media,


I was down there over the weekend- here’s what remains.

I suspect the lease for the land will be assigned to the developer who will be building where the North End Hotel used to be. Maybe the walkway over the Boardwalk will return.

I was down there, too. Saddest thing to see. Never did hear for sure what caused it. Have you?

They've finally started clearing the area. No word yet on future plans.

as of this morning most of the debris is gone. It's sad to think about a summer season without all the shops and food stands. 

as of today the site is almost cleared. Let's hope there's a replacement built on the site by this time next year. 

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