Always invested in adding something new to the mix, Monmouth Park has launched a venue that is sure to be a summer hot spot at the racetrack.

BEYOND THE RACETRACK

Located on Oceanport Avenue in Oceanport, Monmouth Park racetrack has changed in appearance and amenities over the years, but the heart of the venue has never faltered.

Bringing horse racing to the shore since 1870, Monmouth Park racetrack will always be home to the races first, but there are many more offerings at the track to ensure there is a little something for everyone.

“We’re continually trying to add something to make it more than just a racetrack,” said Brian Skirka, marketing manager at Monmouth Park.

BREAKING IN THE BEER GARDEN

While the Blu Grotto Ristorante proudly serves modern adaptations of classic, regional Italian fare, Monmouth Park was on the hunt to add another location for people to grab a drink and a bite to eat in a bit more casual setting with an easy- going feel.

The Beer Garden at Blu Grotto is located directly below the Italian restaurant, but with its open, outdoor ambiance patrons can feel comfortable in casual attire after a day at the track.

According to Skirka, the aim was for the beer garden to have a different vibe than the restaurant upstairs.

“Even if you’re wearing shorts and flip flops you might not be able to go upstairs to the formal restaurant, but you can certainly come in here and just relax,” said Skirka.

“Once the weather gets nice we’re going to put lawn furniture out on the grass and make it just a much more relaxed atmosphere,” he added.

A NEW HOTSPOT AT THE TRACK

The Beer Garden at Blu Grotto recently opened its doors, or more accurately its beer taps, on May 13. It is open to the public Thursday through Sunday each week. On Thursdays and Fridays it opens at 4 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 12 p.m.

With 20 draft beers on tap, whether you are a craft beer afficionado or prefer a cold refreshing domestic beer you will be sure to find a pour you like.

Some of the food that you may already know and love at Blu Grotto Ristorante will be available at the Beer Garden as well, but there is also a separate kitchen and menu in the works. Expect to choose from a menu that serves gourmet bar pies, grilled garlic shrimp, a raw bar, mozzarella bar and more.

Once the sun goes down the beer garden illuminates with lights that are interspersed among the flowers and the trees, which keeps the ambiance going, as well as glowing, throughout the night.

LIVE ENTERTAINMENT

According to Skirka, weather permitting there should be live entertainment every night the beer garden is open. Even when there isn’t a band, the beer garden will be far from short on entertainment.

There are six TVs set up behind the bar, which will most likely feature the races on four of them and then sports games on the remaining two. In addition to the TVs, music will also be pumped through the sound system for patrons to enjoy in lieu of a band.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

“So we’re right across from the picnic tables, which is kind of the least formal part of the track, which is exactly what we want,” said Skirka.

The picnic area is the part of the track where you can bring your own coolers and the atmosphere is laid back and completely casual. Patrons should feel comfortable leaving the picnic area and walking up to the bar to grab a drink and something to eat.

A surefire way to beat some of the traffic post race would be to spend a little extra time at the track enjoying the beer garden.

If you’re not 21 or older you can’t enjoy the cocktails or beers, but there is still a place for everyone at the beer g

arden. Bring your family from the track and grab a table outside because the beer garden is family friendly just like the racetrack.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE

Skirka explained how Monmouth Park truly caters to all with mini- golf for kids, now the beer garden for adults and all new food indoors. Max’s Hot Dogs is now located indoors all year round and Lighthouse Italian Ice is open everyday that Monmouth Park has a race.

According to Skirka, it was a priority to make the track a lot more family friendly and more than just come, sit, bet on the races and that’s it.

“Our main business is still selling bets on the races, we absolutely want that, but we want to get someone more options [of things] to do, which people seem to be embracing,” Skirka said with a smile.

The goal is to continually expand Monmouth Park’s offerings, whether that is different live music, smaller concerts or the beer garden, according to Skirka.

The beauty of the Beer Garden is that it complements the races yet still stands tall on its own. “It’s an extra thing to do after the races or on its own,” said Skirka.

So whether you want to bring your family for a fun-filled day of mini-golf and Italian ice, enjoy a more formal dining experience with your friends at the Blu Grotto Ristorante, spend the day betting on the horse races, Monmouth Park strives to cater to everyone.

“That’s all we want to do, said Skirka. Introduce as many people as we can in any different way.”

With the Beer Garden now open make sure to spend some time enjoying a refreshing drink and delectable bite to eat at the newest go-to spot this summer.

In addition, Monmouth Park racetrack hosts a multitude of various events from food festivals to classic car shows, Family Fun Days and much more.

For more information on the Beer Garden at Blu Grotto as well as a full listing of Monmouth Park events and the racetrack itself visit monmouthpark.com.