The Belmar Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved an application from Chefs International, Inc., to build a miniature golf course and outdoor bar and restaurant on the Ninth Avenue Pier at the Marina, officials said.
The Point Pleasant Beach-based company, which owns Jack Baker's Wharfside and Lobster Shanty, stepped in last month after plans between the borough and another developer for a $10 million project fell through.
Robert Cooper, president and CEO of Chefs International, has said the proposed restaurant, being called "9th Ave. Pier," would be similar to the Patio Bar in Point Pleasant Beach, which the company also owns, offering "festival style" food, brick oven pizza, and a raw bar. Cooper, who pitched the project at a Borough Council meeting last month, said he estimates the project will cost $3.5 million.
Borough officials have said they could not reach an agreement after months of negotiations with international redeveloping company Hibernian on a plan to build the miniature golf course, outdoor tiki bar and two-story commercial building at the marina.
The borough, for now, will hold off on redeveloping the main marina building (Fisherman's Den) — part of the Hibernian plan — until it's clear how well the golf course and restaurant/bar are absorbed into the town, Mayor Matt Doherty has said.
According to the proposed lease agreement, Chefs International would pay Belmar $95,000 per year, compounded by 3 percent each year for 25 years, Doherty said. The borough stands to make $3.4 million in rent from the company over those 25 years.
The proposed agreement with Hibernian for the golf course and outdoor bar would have been for $85,000 per year, compounded by 3 percent each year for 30 years.
Cooper said the bar would operate between April and October and open daily at 11:30 a.m., weather permitting.
To alleviate concerns from residents regarding noise, Doherty has said music at the bar would end at 11 p.m. Also, alcohol would stop being served at midnight from Sunday to Thursday and 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Cooper has said the new business would employ at least 60 people.
The proposed agreement is expected to go before the Borough Council for approval at its next meeting.
Doherty said Wednesday that the company believes it can have the outdoor bar and restaurant up and running by mid-June, with the mini-golf course to follow sometime in July.