New Tennessee Ave Pizza Place Gets NJEDA Grant

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A new pizza-and-cocktail-bar project will get state funds to refurbish a storefront on the beach block of Tennessee Avenue, Mayor Frank Gilliam said in a press release. The restaurant, Rhythm & Spirits, will open this summer and sit between Hayday Coffee and MADE chocolate bar and it is the latest project by developer Mark Callazzo.

The funds come from a pot the New Jersey Economic Development Authority set aside for street-level businesses in an eight-block area that includes Tennessee Ave, or along Atlantic and Pacific Aves. The grant program was established under Gov. Christie in 2017, before some of NJEDA’s incentives came under scrutiny from the state comptroller’s office.

MADE chocolate bar, which opened last year, also got a grant for signage, the mayor said. The grants cover up to 50% of project costs, up to a maximum of $20,000. Separate grants are available to assist businesses that lease space in the area.

Rhythm & Spirits will be “a cocktail and pizza bar that focuses on using fresh sustainable ingredients inspired by adventure, culture and season,” a spokeswoman said. “The space evolves as the day progresses with themed nights, drag shows, DJ’s and live entertainment from local and national touring acts.” The owner and operator will be Lee Sanchez, a food and beverage professional from Atlantic City. A Facebook page for the bar shows the logo and some photos.

The NJEDA grants could also help another developer on New York Ave (two blocks from Tennessee Ave) who is building a hotel and retail and entertainment space. The Tennessee and New York Ave businesses are being marketed jointly as the “Orange Loop”, a reference to the color of the Monopoly cards for the streets. More businesses are planned for the area. A recent public discussion of what people would like to see in the area posited everything from salad bars to dance studios.

An earlier version of this article misstated the developers involved in the project.

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