BRICK – An application for a new 6,000 square-foot catering headquarters to be built on a two-acre site of the former Allen Farms at 511 Herbertsville Road got unanimous approval from the Board of Adjustment during their recent meeting.
“The Farm at 511,” owned by Richard and Cynthia Bott, who are managing partners of Merri-Makers Caterers, purchased the property in April 2017 with the intent of centralizing their business, which is 95 percent preparing food for weddings.
The Botts are the exclusive caterers for The Ashford Estate in Allentown, The Bonnet Island Estate in Manahawkin, and are on the preferred list of caterers for the Taylor Pavilion in Belmar.
Richard explained that the new 10,974-square-foot, two-story building would serve as a central commissary kitchen where he and his employees would prep food for weddings, which is then shipped to the wedding venues in refrigerated trucks. Kitchen staff at the wedding venue would “take the food to the next level,” by cooking, heating and presenting the food.
The Botts would meet with clients at the new Merri-Makers headquarters, but food would not be served there. About 10 full-time employees would work at the Herbertsville location, including two office workers on the second level. They employ about 200 additional people, Richard said, but those go directly to the wedding venues and are not onsite.
The property came with several buildings, including a double garage and a former retail store fronting Herbertsville Road, which would be attached to the centralized new building, creating one structure.
The former garage, located on the northerly side of the property, would remain as storage. The former retail building on the southerly side would be the site of a new retail store where Merri-Makers would sell trays of prepared foods to the public.
A single-family residence on the northernmost side of the property would remain as a residence that could eventually house employees. The Botts have cleaned up the property by removing an oil tank, some unused structures and overgrown plants.
“The new building captures and preserves the rural character of Herbertsville Road,” said the Botts’ attorney John Jackson during the Board of Adjustment meeting. “The architecture and use enhances the farm character.”
The two-acre site is next to the Bob Anstett Cultural Arts Center and near the historic Havens Homestead Museum, operated by the Brick Township Historical Society. Brick Fire Bureau is directly across the street.
Plans also call for a small rental kitchen with its own entrance that could be used by smaller restaurants or caterers.
Minimal variances are needed for the project, Jackson added, which are mostly related to setbacks for the existing house, which were previously approved; and setbacks for the trash enclosure, which would be located in the back of the property against undeveloped land.
Other improvements to the site include paver patios and walkways, arbors, a fire pit, an herb and spice garden, landscaping, 35 parking spaces and lighting improvements. Plans call for the original Allen Farms sign to remain.
There were no members of the public in the audience, so there were no questions on the application from the public before the members of the Board of Adjustment took a vote.