Quietly and without fanfare, a new nightclub is under construction in Asbury Park. The venue, called Johnny and June’s, is located in the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel which has not seen an entertainment venue in many years.
Johnny and June’s is dedicated to country music legends Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash. The country music star once had a financial interest in the hotel when it was owned and refurbished by his friend, Asbury Park developer Henry Vaccaro, but subsequently lost in a failed beachfront redevelopment plan.
The men behind the new club, brothers Chris and Albert “Albie” Manzo, have taken over the food and beverage operations at the Berkeley, anticipating they would be in business this summer.
“We took over in March and then the state was locked down because of the Covid-19 virus,” Chris Manzo said.
The opening is uncertain but work continues on the new club which is located in what had been a first floor hotel conference center that’s been gutted. New lighting is up and there’s a wall displaying Johnny and June memorabilia. The restrooms have signs on the doors for “Johnny” and “June.”
The Manzos grew up in the catering business, living in Franklin Lakes and working in their family’s banquet hall, the Brownstone in Paterson. That place became famous on the Reality TV show “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” which featured their mother, Caroline Manzo. The sons are on their own now and Chris had run a restaurant in Hoboken for 10 years and said there are many similarities between Asbury Park and Hoboken. But he believes “we picked the right town” in coming to Asbury Park.
When the hotel is fully open, the Manzos will also operate the restaurant and the Crystal Ballroom for weddings and banquets. For now, food is available only for registered guests.
No one is happier about the Berkeley Oceanfront’s new team than Henry Vaccaro, who with his brother Sam restored the hotel and reopened it in 1986. Vaccaro was a longtime friend of Johnny Cash and brought him to Asbury Park and even named a penthouse suite in the Berkeley the “Johnny Cash Suite.”
“We have lots of Johnny Cash memorabilia collected through the years which I will be happy to share with them,” Vaccaro said.
Given a tour of the new venue, Vaccaro called it “spectacular.”