Have you been to Downtown Toms River lately? The addition of new restaurants and businesses is attracting lots of foot traffic, according to Bill Golkiewicz, Executive Director of the Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District (BID)

Shawn Michaels, Townsquare Media
Shawn Michaels, Townsquare Media

Mean Bean, a Mexican restaurant, moved in last month in the former Java Joint location at the corner of Washington and Main Streets, and across the way on Washington Street is Daddio's Grille, which has been there for about a year now, according to Golkiewicz. He said Washington Street mainstays Capone's Gourmet Pizza and Pasta and Brooklyn Bistro also continue to come up with new ways to draw customers back to the Downtown area.

"Along with the restaurants we have some new businesses, traffic builders, that have come in on Main Street," said Golkiewicz, adding Ocean Mortgage is one of them. In addition, the BID has purchased the former Tommy's Restaurant at 53 Main Street.

"What we're going to do there is, on the first floor, we're going to put in a business incubator. It's going to be eight retail shops. It's going to be for new entrepreneurs or other businesses that may want to have a satellite business Downtown," Golkiewicz said.

"The Shops at 53 Main," are expected to open sometime in mid-June. Golkiewicz said the BID has signed some contracts and has potential clients.

"We put the appeal out that any new entrepreneur that would like to come to Downtown Toms River and start a business at low rent with mentoring, would then hopefully in one or two years, be able to move out to a store front in the Downtown area," he added.

The owners of a corner property at Washington and Robbins Streets are in the process of submitting plans to the Township to rebuild, after a fire destroyed a building housing several businesses, nearly a year ago, according to Golkiewicz.

Fire in downtown Toms River
Fire in downtown Toms River (Marianne Levy, Townsquare Media NJ)

"In the meantime, they have agreed to allow us, the Business Improvement District, to step in, and we're actually going to turn that into a small park. We're going to take the fence down and we're going to put some trees and shrubbery, some nice grass. It's going to be a temporary, small park, up until the time the property owners get their approvals through the town to put their new building up," said Golkiewicz. He anticipates that process to take at least two years.

The BID also will be holding its annual events, including the Chile & Salsa Cookoff on May 16 and the weekly Farmers Market on Wednesdays, which kicks off May 20 and runs through November 23rd.

Golkiewicz said the New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival will be called "Summer in the Street," this year. It will be held July 18, from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. with possibly some named music bands, to create a new style event.  The "Cruising" event featuring classic cars will be held later in the season, from June through September.

Golkiewicz added the Toms River Parking Authority also has been working over the past several months to get business owners and their employees to buy decals for designated parking lots throughout the Downtown to free up metered spaces for customers.