Final act for Jersey Shore’s Circus Drive In could come soon
WALL — The Circus Drive-In may be facing its final act as a sale appears imminent for the iconic Jersey Shore restaurant.
Harold Wien Real Estate senior vice president Gerald Norkus told New Jersey 101.5 that a redevelopment deal is in progress for the the 1.6 acre property on Route 35. The sale would not include the 62-year-old restaurant.
"Economically it's not feasible. Factor in the value of the property and then you look at running a seasonal restaurant, the numbers just don't work," Norkus said.
If sentiment could be factored in that, however, that would change things as an outpouring of support came out after a "for sale" sign was spotted out front in late November. Memories of summer visits to the Shore with a stop for burgers and fried clams filled Facebook with the hope that someone would buy the restaurant.
PETA had proposed buying the property at a discount and proposed building an “empathy museum focusing on animals who suffer when exploited for entertainment in circuses.”
Samantha Josephine, who describes herself as a former assistant manager for the Circus on her Facebook page, wrote that she hoped someone will continue to operate the restaurant. “‘Heartbroken’ doesn’t even begin to describe what I feel. This place is my home. The Circus crew is my family,” she wrote.
"You know it was summer when the Circus Drive In opened. It will be deeply missed. We had a lot of political affairs there. It was a place everyone went to gather and exchange memories," Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno told New Jersey 101.5.
The property is listed at 1.64 acres and can be leased for $200,000 per year.
An online petition popped up Thursday urging the Wall Township Council to designate the 62-year-old restaurant a historic site. But Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand said the designation of historical sites is done by the state Historical Preservation Office.
"We're watching the situation and we certainly aren't happy to see a long standing business in Wall Township close down ... we're just not the entity that names things historic," Bertrand said.
"The next question becomes, from an economic development standpoint, what happens if you do name it a historic site," especially after a sale goes through, Bertrand asked.
Preservation Office spokesman Larry Hajna said anyone can nominate a property for designation for listing on the state or federal historic registries. "The problem is, it doesn't really protect it unless there's state funds involved in a project that's proposed. There's nothing really in the law that precludes the owner from doing what he wishes with the property that he owns.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.