Anthony Cafaro comes from a New York family of Italian restauranteurs. But when this Rumson resident decided to leave Wall Street behind, it wasn't going to be so he could open a parm house.
"This area doesn't need an Italian restaurant," Cafaro told Patch last week, outside an empty storefront on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright where the windows are papered with the smiley faced logo of his new venture, Kind Burgers. He pointed out Anjelica's next door, where he just celebrated his son's christening and called the upscale "fantastic." But, he said, "the working man needs a place to come and eat."
On cue, two working men, one after another, walked past the storefront, and asked, "Hey man, when are you opening?"
He told them, "This summer," but what he might be thinking, is not soon enough. He's been paying rent on the site since January and right now Cafaro's future restaurant exists only in the plans he has taped to the exposed brick wall inside the former site of , next to .
The restaurant just received approval from the Sea Bright Planning Board and Cafaro is now waiting for permits to begin the work to transform the empty space into a ranch-inspired burger joint with counter service and a few tables. Slide-back storefront windows will be installed to let the aroma of beef cooking (on the eco-friendly chrome griddle) waft over Ocean Avenue and onto Sea Bright beach.
Kind Burgers will serve burgers of all kinds: angus, byson, turkey, lamb and vegetarian, all with fresh ingredients (Cafaro didn't even buy a freezer) made with no hormones or antibiotics.
Cafaro's partner in the business is his wife Yvette, who has a master's degree in restaurant and hotel management. What the pair are counting on to set them apart is the gluten-free angle.
Gluten-free wasn't even on their radar until recently when it became an issue for one of their children, and by association, the whole family. Where do you go to eat family friendly food when one of the kids (or the grown-ups) has a gluten allergy? "It's very difficult for those families," said the father of three, whose children attend .
To accommodate those burger lovers allergic to the gluten that lurks in the traditional bun, Kind Burgers will have a menu that features gluten and caesin free family favorites, like burgers (with roll!), and New York City dirty water dogs, white crinkle fries, sweet potato fries and grilled cheese. The restaurant will also serve Kind Burgers branded fountain soda.
"It's a place kids can come and not feel excluded," Cafaro said.
Cafaro said he and Yvette are deliberately keeping their menu simple and their focus clear. As he says, "Small. Simple. Fundamental. Burger, local greens, Roma tomato, american cheese, raw onion. Plain and simple."
"This area has a lot of four and five star restaurants, " Cafaro said. "But where do you go for lunch?"
If the permits he is hoping for come through soon, beach goers will be lunching at Kind Burgers by mid-July. Just in time to watch the Olympics on their 50-inch flat screen TV.