Over five years ago someone reached out to Jim Miller, owner of Jimmy’s Cucina in Brielle and Point Pleasant Beach as well as Chippy’s Fresh French Fries on the Point Pleasant Boardwalk, to ask if he would be interested in opening a restaurant at Island Beach State Park. After going down to a meeting about this possibility and being at Island Beach State Park for the first time since he was a child, Miller, who has been in this business his whole life, decided to put in a bid.
THE BIRTH OF RED FOX
According to Miller, anyone with an interest to bid had to be at the meeting and with his history in this business he saw people there who owned a food truck and people with chain restaurants so there was a wide range of people present and interested. Despite the other interest, he knew he had something special to offer.
“I mean, we have a lot of experience in this, more than just the restaurant business,” said Miller. “We have places on the boardwalk, we had nine places in Great Adventure for 10 years. So this whole type of food operation, I felt like we had a lot of experience and a lot more than a lot of other people.”
Thus, they bid on it. According to Miller, they [the state] threw all the bids out, then he tweaked it a little bit and they ended up getting it. One of the items in the agreement was the possibility of adding liquor.
With the original plan to offer just beer and wine, an outside area sparked an idea for Miller. Instead of just beer and wine, he thought, why not make it a full bar utilizing an area outside.
“I said, ‘What if, as opposed to just beer and wine, it would be nice to have a pina colada, a strawberry daiquiri’ and they were like, ‘Hey, that’s a great idea, we didn’t think about that,’’’ explained Miller. “So anyway that’s how that came to be, which was good.”
According to Miller since then, they have been growing a little bit because there are still people who don’t realize there is a bar in the park since the park doesn’t allow guests to bring their own alcoholic beverages.
“So it’s a nice change to have it,” he added. “You go up to the beach, come back for a little bit, have some lunch, a cocktail and then go back.”
While there was initial worry about the bar getting wild, all of that worry has passed as Red Fox Beach Bar & Grill has proved to be very family oriented. According to Miller, people bring their dogs in and it’s just a nice, very vacation-y feel.
MEET THE MENU
Red Fox Beach Bar & Grill features a full menu that truly caters to each and every one of its guests. “Well one of the things you know we have the raw bar,” said Miller. We have fresh clams on the half shell, oysters on the half shell, peel-and-eat shrimp, so those are always popular and favorites.”
Miller notes that in addition to the raw bar, all the seafood is popular and that’s why they made the menu totally different from the inside menu at the regular food concession.
“One of the things that we do, and whether it’s this store in Brielle or our store in Point Pleasant or down there, is we make everything from scratch,” he said. “Our Coconut Shrimp, we bread it. It’s our batter. We’re not buying frozen coconut shrimp and throwing it in.”
“Our zucchini sticks, we make them from scratch,” Miller added. “Our chicken tenders, we make from scratch. Plus all our sauces, all our salad dressings, we make those from scratch. So that’s what differentiates us a lot in all of our operations.”
With a focus on seafood, the menu offers options for those who aren’t interested in raw bar selections like the Coconut Shrimp or Drunken Clams made with a white wine and butter sauce as well as Tuna Bites.
Landlubbers fear not because the menu features plenty of options for you as well like nachos with tortillas made from scratch and potato chips made from scratch. Another top choice from the menu is none other than tacos.
“The tacos are a favorite,” said Miller. “Whether they’re salmon or we have battered cod, some people don’t want the batter so we have blackened salmon, we have blackened shrimp and then we have regular beef and chicken, also.”
Miller also shared that the burgers are a big 8-ounce Angus burger so even a regular cheeseburger is a nice option. The crab cakes are made from scratch with lump crab meat and the salads are basically the same ones served at Jimmy’s Cucina paired with the same dressings.
Guests can also grab a sandwich or just go in and get a snack like chips and salsa or chips and homemade onion dip as well as stop by for a nice dinner like the blackened salmon with mango salsa and the fish and chips dinner.
MORE TO THE BAR & GRILL
Red Fox Beach Bar & Grill opens at 11 a.m. and the whole menu is offered until the restaurant closes, which is basically 7:30 p.m. for last call. They close at dusk when the park closes.
According to Miller, a big part of Red Fox is covered with a tent as well as outside tables with umbrellas. “So, even if the weather is a little iffy you can still stay dry,” he added.
Pair your meal with something from the full service bar. “We have everything,” he shared. “We have frozen drinks, pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris. We run a lot of specials. We’ll do a blueberry lemonade and again, like everything else we do, our sour mix we make from scratch and a lot of our juices are fresh squeezed juices.”
One of the new things that Red Fox is offering is local brewery options like local draft beer. From Palawena Brewery in Island Heights they are carrying their Ambog Ale, which is an Amber Ale and Wit, which is a wheat beer, both on tap.
In cans, they carry some IPAs from Toms River Brewing Company as well as a Honey Cream Ale and a St. John’s Irish Ale. “So those are two new additions to all our regular items,” said Miller. “We have typical rum buckets, which is a 32-oz. bucket.”
Live entertainment is also on the menu at Red Fox with most weekends welcoming it. “We have some local kids,” he shared. “Sean Tobin’s from right here in Brielle and there’s another Brielle kid, Eric Lubino, who plays out there and the other guy’s from Toms River, Charlie Mason. We have a good mix. As long as the weather’s good they’re there.”
Whether it’s a cocktail, lunch, dinner or to catch some live entertainment, make sure to head down to Red Fox Beach Bar & Grill before the season ends. “Just come on down while the weather’s nice,” said Miller with a smile.