Greetings from the new Max Fish (in Asbury Park, N.J.)

By Joe Pompeo

4:09 pm May. 29, 2012

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    Greetings from Asbury Park!

    "Will Max Fish still be Max Fish if it moves? Can the magic be recreated in another space?"

    So asked Helene Stapinski in her January 2011 New York Times encomium for the beloved Ludlow Street bar. Max Fish had just gotten an eleventh-hour lease extension that would have allowed it to stay open for another 12 months, but it ended up getting shut down by the cops last May during a bust over alleged underage drinking

    The former Lower East Side institution has been reincarnated for the summer in Asbury Park, the historic seaside resort about an hour south of Manhattan on the Jersey Shore. (A similar Max Fish outpost was imported to Miami back in late 2009.) Whether it still "is" Max Fish now that it's an open-air concept just steps away from the surf and sand and sun, however, is in the eye of the beholder.

    Click through for a tour and more on the move.

    Joe Pompeo

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    Just to refresh your memory, here's what the old Max Fish looked like

    papermag.com

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    And the inside

    Flickr user yapsnaps, via Creative Commons

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    Now it's in this building.

    The new Max fish is located in the Beach Bar on the southern terrace of Asbury Park Convention Hall. It's a spacious ocean-front venue that never fails to attract a crowd during the summer months. Through October, it has rebranded as "Max Fish at the Beach Bar."

    Joe Pompeo

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    The view from the boardwalk

    Max Fish at the Beach Bar is one of the latest additions to a once-blighted city that has gentrified slowly but steadily since the late '90s, modernizing and upgrading its housing stock and amenities while recapturing much of the quaint boardwalk charm that made Asbury a famous weekend getaway in the first half of the 20th Century.

    Joe Pompeo

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    As seen from the beach

    Joe Pompeo

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    You can take a break from sunbathing and just head right up these stairs for a cocktail.

    Joe Pompeo

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    You can even keep an eye on your stuff while there.

    Joe Pompeo

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    Signage near the boardwalk entrance.

    This all suggests that Asbury Park's efforts to recruit New York City beachgoers is having some success. They've been lured recently by promotional junkets and hip music festivals like All Tomorrow's Parties, which will host its second annual Asbury installment September 21-23 just a stone's throw from Max Fish at the Beach Bar.

    Joe Pompeo

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    Here's the south-facing terrace. My are those chairs bright!

    Joe Pompeo

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    So relaxing, right?

    Max Fish owner Uli Rimkus told Paper, which broke the news about her bar's Asbury outpost earlier this month, that she hopes to provide party-bus style round-trip shuttles once a month.

    "I've been coming here for years with my daughter and it's beautiful," she told the magazine. "It's really easy to get here -- you can take New Jersey Transit or drive. I'm hoping my friends will come out because it's going to be really, really great."

    Joe Pompeo

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    What to drink?

    Joe Pompeo

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    Here's what the inside bar looks like.

    Joe Pompeo

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    I was digging the light-house and ship-wreck decor.

    I've spent a fair amount of time over the years at the Beach Bar (far more time than I ever spent in the former Max Fish), so when I was down there this past weekend, it didn't feel all that different to me. But it seemed an improvement over the venue's usual vibe, which had started to get a little clubby. Rimkus' aesthetic, on the other hand, is a better fit for Asbury's motley assortment of tattooed punk and rock 'n' roll types, laid-back Jersey beach bums, and expat Manhattan gays.

    Joe Pompeo

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    Can't beat that view, right?

    Joe Pompeo

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    The terrace wraps around to the ocean side of Convention Hall.

    Joe Pompeo

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    I could drink and watch the waves crashing into the rocks all day.

    Joe Pompeo

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    Just don't get too close after knocking a few back.

    Joe Pompeo