Auction marks the final call for Rascals club
By LINDA MOSS
In this case, it was everything and the kitchen sinks, plural.
At the former Rascals Comedy Club on Wednesday hundreds of items were auctioned off, including dozens of chairs, high-top tables and bar stools; boxes of dishes and glassware; a number of large tufted black leather couches; shimmery gold crocodile-print banquettes; a podium; a 10-burner stove with convection ovens; refrigerators; two polished brass fire extinguishers; TV sets; a wooden dance floor; several large mirrors and a variety of sinks.
They were among the items, divvied into 120 lots, that were all that remained of the comedy venue, which closed its doors in January 2007. The location at 499-501 Bloomfield Ave., owned by Montclair commercial landlord and developer Dick Grabowsky, has been vacant since then.
But Grabowsky has lined up a new tenant for the space: attorney Jason Miller, who plans to open an upscale restaurant-bar and large catering hall at the site. And Miller and his investors are eager to gut the property and start renovations, which is why Grabowsky hired Best Buy Auctioneers of South River to handle the auction of the goods so the building will be empty and ready.
Roughly 30 people -- a number of them restaurateurs and resellers --showed up to bid at the "short-notice" auction, which lasted about 1 1/2 hours. It ended up with more than $7,000 in sales.
The attendees included James Bednar, an owner of Silk City Distillers in Clifton, who came with his father Joseph. The younger Bednar, whose business makes bourbon and rum, said he was looking to pick up some high-top tables and chairs.
"I think there's a couple of things we'll bid on," the younger Bednar said.
Mark McCoy, general manager of The Stress Factory comedy club in New Brunswick, walked around checking out the items on the first floor. The Stress Factory is opening a new location in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in November or December, according to McCoy.
"We're looking for stuff to fill in our new club," he said. "With opening up a brand new club, you kind of want to have brand new stuff. [but] We knew this place was only open for a certain amount of time ... A friend of mine told me there was a sale going on. So we were coming up here to see maybe lighting, maybe kitchen-wise, high-top tables, low-top tables, maybe chairs, stuff we can use to furnish our new club if it fits what we're looking for."
It might be a problem to have to pick up and store any purchases until the second club opens, but McCoy said that buying at the auction could mean "we don't have to drop 10 grand on something rather than spend $4,000 or $5,000."
During the auction potential buyers followed auctioneer Joseph Benigno around the former club's first floor, where a large bar with brass railings still stood, and a side room where hundreds of tables and chairs were stacked alongside the couches.
The group also trooped through the first-floor kitchen and then went downstairs, where there was a smaller bar and more furnishings.
The 10-burner stove and a large ice machine were among the individual items fetching the most money, $525 each. A large new commercial-grade blender, which came from the now-closed Red Mango frozen yogurt shop on Church Street, sold for $500.
Many of the so-called "lots" being sold had multiple items in them. One lot included a group of 37 bar stools; another contained 96 stack chairs. The chairs went for $3 a piece.
Benigno and his co-worker in the auction, Jeremy Margolias, kept the chatter going and amusing as they hawked Rascals' remnants.
"If you don't buy then we have to charge admission," Benigno joked.
Rascals, which for many years had been in West Orange, opened in July 2004, according to Grabowsky, who attended the auction. But its parent company ended up filing for bankruptcy in federal court, forcing the Montclair club to close in January 2017. A mirror over a downstairs bar still has green Christmas garland wrapped around its metal frame.
Until the bankruptcy proceedings winded through the courts, which took several years, Grabowsky said he wasn't able to rent out the venue.