Richie Cecere’s, the restaurant that attempted to bring 1940’s-style glamour to Montclair with an 18-piece orchestra and showgirls wearing top hats and tuxedos with satin shorts, has put its liquor license up for sale for $850,000. The restaurant itself is not for sale, says Rich Hewitt, the broker handling the liquor license sale.
Asked why Cecere’s license is being offered at $125,000 more than the Charlie Brown license, Hewitt said, “There are not any others available.” The ARC license, if approved, is attached to a project to develop a restaurant at Lackawanna Plaza, he said, while Dick Grabowsky’s unused liquor license remains connected to the former Red Cheetah’s property on Bloomfield Ave. The consumption liquor license would have to remain in Montclair. Hewitt can be reached through Liquor License PA-NJ.
In the current recession economy, Cecere’s redefined itself as a restaurant that welcomed families and offered a more modestly-priced menu.
Cecere says business has been slow, with only one of three bars in the restaurant open for business. He says he’s now “bending” to local tastes. “The town seems to like bring your own. Everybody’s walking down the street with a bottle of wine in their hand.”
He adds that his luxe style seems to have been misunderstood. He said that a drugstore clerk recently told him that she didn’t go to his restaurant because she couldn’t afford it. ” ‘I heard a hamburger is $100,’ ” he quoted her as saying.
“Our coat room is mahogany. Most restaurants don’t even have a coatroom,” said Cecere. “When you make something too pretty, when you have waiters in tuxedos, that scares people.”
“We’re hanging in there,” he said. “Now I’m bending. If you like bring your own, bring your own.”
He said customers can bring their own wine now, even before the liquor license is sold, or order from the bar: “In other words, it’s AC/DC.”
Cecere added that he might bring back to the nightclub shows, which were suspended last April, in a BYOB setting.
Here’s the nightclub, with dancing girls, in May 2008, before the fall of Lehman.