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Wawa, other stores coming to Route 66

Cracker Barrel shows interest

Written by: David P. Willis | Asbury Park Press Staff Writer NEPTUNE -- Changes are coming to the retail corridor on Route 66, including a Wawa convenience store and gas station. Restaurant Depot, a commercial food, equipment and supplies wholesaler for the food service and restaurant industry, is moving into a 61,190-square-foot building formerly occupied in part by Office Depot, which closed in 2008. It is the company's first location at the Jersey Shore. "There is a lot of exciting things happening right along that corridor," said William Sitar Jr., senior vice president at Sitar Co., a commercial brokerage in Woodbridge. Among the developments: Workers are clearing a property on Route 66 next to the Holiday Inn Express in Neptune, which is slated to become a Wawa. Plans on file in the Neptune municipal building call for a 4,188-square-foot convenience store and six gasoline pumps. Wawa also has locations nearby in Tinton Falls and Wall. A spokeswoman could not be reached for comment. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store filed a concept plan in March for a restaurant on Route 66 in Neptune, on land in front of the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets. The company has not filed any formal plans yet.

Restaurant Depot, which sells only to customers with a business license or taxexempt certificate for a nonprofit organization, is slated to open this fall, Sitar said. "They fill a nice hole in the market," Sitar said. "They like the population, the access to the Shore's restaurants." Green Planet Coffee, which has locations in Manasquan and Point Pleasant Beach, will open around June in the new Ocean Circle Plaza on Route 35 at the Asbury Circle in Ocean Township, said Lynn H. Joseph, executive vice president at Summit Realty Services in Neptune. A nail salon also will be a tenant at the eight-store shopping center, he said. Ocean Circle Plaza is located on the former site of the old Ritz Diner. "That is coming along rather nicely," said Ocean Township Mayor William Larkin. But there are some large vacancies along Route 66. The largest of them is the former Value City department store and Furniture King at the Seaview Square shopping center. Seaview Square has seen an increase in interest in the center, said Lisa Kochan, assistant vice president of management services for Grubb & Ellis, which is marketing, leasing and administrating the center. She was not able to discuss specifics. The firm is pumping money into Seaview Square. For instance, stores such as the Value City building have beenpower-washed, Kochan said. Landscaping, including plantings, has been improved across the 100-acre site. Directional signs were installed. "We definitely have had a tremendous amount of interest in all the spaces," Kochan said.

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