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Asbury Park Guide
A Retooled Stone Pony

Jersey City restaurant owner Domenic Santana bought the Stone Pony in February, 2000. (All the newspapers describe him as "flamboyant." Don't let that scare you away. If you're geared for Rock, you're probably ready for anything, anyhow.)

Santana immediately began a whirlwind of repairs. These went from the major (180 water leaks, new carpet, new restrooms, new stucco outside) to the fine details (new drink rails). At the same time, Domenic hired back employees from the Pony's glory days and constantly sought their opinion on how to keep all the future in tune with the past.

With a combination of the official and the carnival, the Stone Pony came back to life on Memorial Day weekend, 2000. There were fireworks Friday night. The next day, then New Jersey Governor Whitman opened the club with a ribbon cutting. Performances by local groups and "oldie" bands continued throughout the weekend.

It worked. Tourists and nostalgia buffs flocked in to greet Asbury Park. Lovers of Classic Rock were ecstatic to be able to hear their favorite performers live. But, the Stone Pony wasn't stuck in amber. Crowds came every night to hear new music and to hang out with their friends. Even Bruce Springsteen and his wife Patti (nee Scialfa) couldn't stay away. Finally, after a long sleep, the Asbury Park Sound was back.

Listen, Toto, let me tell you, we're still in New Jersey! There's a long way to go for the happy ending and closing credits.

Looking like a Jersey version of Beirut, failed development projects formed a vortex around Asbury Park's blighted waterfront. Just about all the town had to be proud of was the reborn Stone Pony and the beach. So, did the residents and municipal government fall over themselves praising the Stone Pony's success? Nope! The Stone Pony was vilified for failing to serve Asbury Park residents. The club was to be condemned and torn down in yet another bloated attempt at redevelopment.

The only thing dumber would be to try to turn the beach into a dump.

Some said that the Stone Pony could move. If, as a location of historical significance, the Stone Pony could move, you've got to wonder, Why Stop There? Why not move Independence Hall to Asbury Park so that tourists can enjoy the shore and not have to trek all the way down to Philly?

Music lovers got ready for a fight. Asbury Park Mayor Sanders hinted of Dark Forces at work, "Outside influences have always controlled Asbury Park." (The FBI seemed to think otherwise. While this little three ring circus was playing, the feds raided Asbury Park City Hall looking for evidence of corruption in the preceding failed projects.)

The Stone Pony gets to stay. The New York Times reported on February 25, 2002, "... after a two month campaign, featuring rallies, protests, and, it is said, more than 70,000 letters, e-mail messages, petition signatures and phone calls from concerned rockers in every corner of the planet, the city government and the redeveloper have agreed to build around it."

The architect Andres Duany, renowned proponent of the New Urbanism, delivered a design that includes the existing Stone Pony. In the improved plan, an outdoor concert space now frames the club. The updated residential development contains and complements the Stone Pony like a flower in a vase.
The existing Stone Pony is to the right. The proposed outdoor concert area is on the left.

The Stone Pony
913 Ocean Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ

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