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Danny's Steakhouse Red Bank NJ
Oct 11, 2018

Danny’s Steakhouse: A Cornerstone of the Community

Danny's Steakhouse Red Bank NJ

Neighbor to Neighbor

Danny Murphy, owner of Danny’s Steakhouse and Sushi on the corner of Bridge Avenue and West Front Street, is a cornerstone of the community and an integral part of Red Bank history. Danny recently celebrated a birthday in August, and in addition to marking 79 years of loving life, he also embraced 69 years of loving Red Bank.

As one of Red Bank’s oldest eateries, Danny Steakhouse and Sushi is the place where hundreds of thousands have met for lunch, dinner, cocktails, music and friendship over the years. It is truly hard to imagine Red Bank without Danny Murphy or his restaurant. He has been a vocal and passionate advocate for the town and fellow business owners, particularly those on the west side of town.

Danny's Steakhouse Red Bank NJ Dan Murphy

The Murphy family arrived in Red Bank in 1949. To help support the family, his mother opened the Friendly Luncheonette on West Front Street. They served breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next eight years, including the famous “blue plate specials” which Danny assures were literally served on a blue plate!

In 1957, the family partnered with Brother’s Restaurant, and Danny honed his culinary skills. He began cooking pizzas, which he continued to master throughout high school and college. After graduating Interboro Institute in Manhattan in 1965, he became a court reporter in Freehold.

But there was something significant missing in Danny’s life – his passion for food and sense of community. The town needed a place to gather and share a meal made by him, so in 1969, Danny opened what began as his legacy – Danny’s Pizza Hut.

In 1970, the name was changed to Danny’s Italian Restaurant, which remained its name for the next 25 years. During this time, Danny sharpened his business skills and talents. He opened several more restaurants – Church on Main Street in Matawan in 1980, the Charlie Horse Café in Middletown in 1984, Candy Dancers in Santa Cruz, CA in 1987, and Nibbles in Ocean in 1989.

All of Danny’s restaurants gained success, but his Red Bank Italian restaurant was his heart and home. Thanks to his highly visible presence, his outgoing nature and his true interest in hearing what people were thinking about, Danny garnered a loyal following. He is also proud that the restaurant gave so many teens their first job. Many stayed on until after college. The entire neighborhood would wait to work here,” he said. “Much of the staff stayed on and has been here for 20 or more years.”

In 1995, Danny expanded his menu, adding fine-quality, dry-aged steaks, fresh seafood and sushi. Throughout nearly four decades, Danny’s Italian Restaurant has never been afraid to try new things, new menu items, specials and promotions … all to meet the changing tastes of the customers.

Danny is equally passionate about the community. He was one of the original founders of the Red Bank River Fest in 1980, a charter member of the Red Bank Special Improvement District started in 1990, board member of the Monmouth County Food Bank and the Red Bank River Center, and president of the Red Bank Art and Antique Center. He is also a cancer survivor, and in addition to his full plate of activities, Danny made time to write a volume of stories cataloging his life, his experiences and his memories.

Here’s an excerpt from one his essays titled “The Next Step in Growing Up in Red Bank”:

“As we left River Street School and walked north on Shrewsbury Avenue, we would always stop at Tomaino’s newspaper and soda shop. They made Italian lemon ice that was the best in the world. We would pass Katsin’s Drug Store which is still there, next was Seldin’s Clothing Store, grandparents of Norman of Trinkets Jewelry Store and of course Johnny’s market. A jazz lover, music constantly flowed from the inside of this store. Owner Johnny Gatta, somewhat of a character, would pay Raymond, a local homeless man who perhaps drank a little too much each day, one dollar to wear a sandwich board in front of the store that read, ‘Back in half an hour.’

“In Red Bank High School, in algebra class we learned that you could bounce your legs up and down and the whole floor would shake. Dr. Amy Chatenuneuf would glare up at the class, God help you if you got caught. I loved football and track and I think I learned more from the sports than from any other class. Sports taught you how to work as a team and relying on yourself to finish what you start.”

The memoirs are sure to be a popular pick for history buffs. While many of the people in the stories are gone, Danny’s Steakhouse and Sushi remains – bustling, growing, satisfying and lively, just like Danny likes it.