Paul Cali is the co-owner of Café Volan in Asbury Park, NJ, a cafe that has made a home in a historic beach town. Paul fills us in on the exciting changes happening in Asbury Park.
510 Bangs Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712
PAUL: In the time that we were building the café the town had this big surge in small businesses opening and I’ve been in this area a long time and to see what it is now compared to what it was a couple years ago it’s worlds apart. It’s such a different place and it’s really working out. We’ve had a great year; our neighbors and the neighborhood have had a great year. We’re all very happy with that. A café like ours, which is a little different that the rest of the cafés in the area, might not have succeeded as well couple years ago than it did right now.
In out little neighborhood literally directly across the street from us there’s a great store called Sweet Joey’s. It’s like a men and women’s vintage store and they do custom denim. Right now I’m wearing a pair of jeans that Vlad made for us and he made us our aprons for the café. That’s a great shop
There’s Wood Shop Skateboard across the street, Blue Hawaii Vintage, ReBearth Art Supplies… And that’s in one little span of a block. They popped up around the same time and have become very good friends of ours. I want to see them do well as much as I want to do well.
We definitely have a lot of our surf buddies coming in after their session. When Doug and I first started we wanted to make sure we incorporate that into everything we do. We definitely have people coming in with their wet suits tracking sand and dripping salt water all over the place. It’s funny that we started with this heavy interest on surfing but our clientele has become so cycling based.
Everybody rides bikes and they’re cyclists so right now our art installation is a rotating series of bicycles from our friend bike shop Second Life Bikes. Surfing’s still a big part of it, we get in the water every chance we get. But if we’re not in the water we’re on bicycles these days. It’s funny the way that happened.
There are so many places for getting a drink and great restaurants. Down the block there’s the Press Room they just opened a month ago. Bruce Springsteen did a surprise appearance there a couple of weeks ago. Watermark is a really nice place right on the waterfront. We really enjoy it there and they’re really good people. We love that. A new restaurant called Porta. They do wood oven pizza. They have a great space.
There are so many so many places. This is just a few. The food in this town is amazing. If you stick around there’s a really nice place for breakfast right around the corner called Colonel’s Kissing Booth. They do a really nice breakfast and lunch and they do a weekend dinner. Their food’s amazing and the family who owns it has become dear friends of ours.
Cafe Volan is 3 blocks from the ocean.We constantly get people from Philly and New York. We’re in a beach town so even in the off season we get people who come in to check out the beach and be tourists so we get people from all over the place.
Asbury Park used to be really dangerous but in the past 10 years those sort of issues have gone down to the point that it’s definitely a very big tourist town. A lot of people from Philadelphia or New York their kids when they come visit they’re like “Asbury Park? Oh…” because they remember it being a ghetto. It’s definitely turned around.
In summer there are a lot of people who have summer homes in town so population definitely grows and then there’s always events going on. People spend a lot more time downtown when the weather is nice. We had a good off-season, a nice comfortable winter. There will be a lot of concerts and festivals going on that’s going to bring a lot of people than normal. One of them is called Bamboozle, the other is All Tomorrow’s Parties.
We didn’t get directly involved. We’re hoping to see how it goes and possibly see what we can contribute next time around. We’re still quite new we’re under a year old so I’d love to see how it goes and how we can grow in order to be able to have something to do with the events.