It makes sense that baristas are often plugged into the most interesting things in any community. Seresa Grillo, an Asbury Park resident who works at Starbucks (2303 Route 66, Ocean Twp) had this to say about some of her favorite things about life in Asbury Park. . .

Perfect local bar or place for a beer?

Asbury Lanes.

Favorite Jersey Shore building/architecture?
I love, love, love, adore the Wesley Lake bridges. Now if we can only do something about the chained locks after midnight…. The inside of the Paramount Theater is a close second.

Most relaxing night out?

Walk on the boardwalk with my husband and daughter with a stop at MOGO for Korean tacos.

Your ideal breakfast or lunch spot on a day off?
What’s a day off??

Best Jersey Shore pizza?
Simply because their pizza creations include the freshest ingredients, Porta…before10pm.

Best place to see art?

Parlor Gallery – the most cutting-edge art on the Jersey Shore, and yet my 4 year old daughter seems to dig it too!

Favorite grocery store/market or other local shop?
For local shopping, Beckman’s or the Asbury Fresh Farmer’s Market. For convenience and everyday pickins’, all hail Wegmans!

Favorite Jersey Shore kitsch experience?
Ok, so everyone has his or her Bruce/Asbury story. So much so, that the stories themselves are the stuff of kitsch. So here it is… I’m getting some odds & ends on Cookman when I see this muscle-bound dude apparently catching some rays on a street bench. I found it odd that some dude was just tanning in the middle of Cookman Avenue. So I approach the guy, and I notice it’s the Boss. So I go “Hi Boss, welcome back to the neighborhood!” In a strange daze, his under-bite attempting to assemble his words, he starts to mumble something about how he used to live at this one apartment across the street and he used to lay out on the rooftop (apparently, tanning has been his thing for decades?), and was the nicest guy a rock icon can be. Five minutes with the Boss chatting about the Asbury Park revival, and then some record store patrons began to notice him and the avalanche of super-fans descended upon him. He politely excused himself as his wife was getting her hair did at Hot Mess, and poof! Bruce Springsteen story was manifest! 

What books or magazine are you currently reading?
The Autistic Brain by Temple Grandin

Favorite CDs to play at work?
Anything new, upbeat and certainly not predictable. That said, we are hooked up to the Starbucks entertainment network which streams music at each location. If Andrea Bocelli is in on for longer than 10 minutes, I get antsy and change the playlist. (Don’t get me wrong; he is a talented guy, but not something I need to hear while making fast paced quality drinks).

seresa2Seresa enjoying some coffee at home on Cookman Ave.

Bike or Car?
Everyday travel is done in my Prius. Though summertime trips to the beach are made on my bike or on foot.

Any coffee mentor/s?
Oh jeez…working at Starbucks for 13 years? The line forms to the left.

Favorite little-known local history fact?
I love the historical factoid about the ocean view in Asbury Park!  Because of an unobstructed view easement for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, Sunset, 6th and 7th and Deal Lake Drive on a clear day, we can see the water from as far back as Main Street. It makes for an even sweeter drive home.

Hurricane Sandy moment that defined the Jersey Shore’s resilience for you?
We all wanted to get back to normal as soon as possible. The moment we knew the power was back on at the Lakewood Starbucks, all of the partners (employees) –including the ones flooded from their homes in the area rallied to get the store open, not to turn a profit, but because the community needed us. That location became “meet your neighbors and charge your electronics” central. Entire families camped out at tables lined with power strips and extension cords. Even when there was no seating, my peer and store manager Michele Paul rolled out a carpet for people to sit on. All this while brewing 16 Cambros of coffee a day, being delivered to the Toms River shelter. The power of community connecting over coffee was quite moving.

Where did you live before Asbury Park, and what brought you here?
I grew up in Dingman’s Ferry, PA but lived my teens and 20s in Montclair, NJ. My then-boyfriend, now-husband’s job brought him back to Monmouth County, and he asked me to come down with him. We both fell in love with Asbury the second we arrived (Of course, he had visited AP since he was a kid living in Freehold) – for me, this was a new inexplicable playground of art, music, fun and diverse people from all walks of life. I love this city and the residents that make it so great.

What projects are keeping you busy when not making coffee?
The project that keeps me the busiest is my wonderful 4-year-old daughter, Leonora.

Photos by: John Defiora

David Spelman is an artistic director, curator, music producer and Ocean Grove resident. He enjoys cycling, yoga, coffee, and generally encouraging creative dialogue across disciplines and barstools.

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