KEYPORT — Shop owners in the bayfront business district have been pouring cash into their establishments this summer.
Renovations were completed at McDonagh’s Pub as well as at Calabrese’s Barber Shop. The pub’s owner Ken Lawler has also recently added Chris Sanborn as a business partner. Meanwhile work is getting underway at Espresso Joe’s, which is under new ownership.
This boom has been a long time coming, said Stuart Koperweis, the executive director of the Keyport Bayfront Business Cooperative.
“Over the last three years, there has been a new sense of opportunity for business owners in town,” he said. “There have been all sorts of programs as a result of the partnership between the borough and the business cooperative. These are the fruits of that labor.”
McDonagh’s Pub owners had the lighting and sound system updated. The soffits above the bar were removed. And a fresh coat of paint has been applied to the outside.
“It has been about 10 years since any major work was done,” said Lawler. “With our recent 10th anniversary and our new partnership it was time to refresh.”
The pub owners aren’t stopping there. They’re planning to expand the pub’s outdoor seating area to create a beer garden.
At Calabrese’s Barber Shop, owner Chris Calabrese added a vintage chair to allow three barbers work at once. Business is doing so well that he plans to keep the shop open seven days a week, up from six.
“We got two new ‘old’ chairs,” he said. “We also got this whole wall done, this whole sideboard built with old lumber by the guys at Trick of the Trade in town.”
Down the street, work is just getting started at the borough’s signature coffee shop.
No major renovations have ever been done to the 11-year-old Espresso Joe’s, owners, Nichole and Cynthia Schumann, said. The mother-daughter duo, who recently bought the cafe are replacing the old carpet with a hardwood floor. They plan to paint the interior too.
Koperweis sees that there has been an uptick in investments recently and doesn’t foresee and end to the work.
“There has been the work on the Better Homes building, the new barber shop in the JCP&L building and other work in commercial and retail spaces downtown,” Koperweis said. “I absolutely see this as a trend and expect more of it in the next year.”