With all of those surveys showing how Asbury Park is the #1 tourist destination and the #1  city in America....there are still challenges for some small business owners.

Cookman Ave., the main shopping/dining drag in Asbury Park, may seem to be THE place to go for coffee/breakfast/lunch/baked goods to start your day, but some business owners are still facing challenges.

The two biggest issues? Parking and over-saturation.

After what started out as a conversation about coffee shops and places to get breakfast in Asbury morphed into the ridiculous parking issues, here is the perspective of someone who has been involved in ownership of such an eatery.

1. Parking. Without additional parking downtown, people are literally fighting over spots during busy times. Because although there is additional parking down at the beach, most people aren't going to want to make the long trek from Ocean Ave. all the way to Cookman when it's cold off-season, or when it's too hot in the summer. Asbury Park needs some parking garages in the city near all of that shopping and dining.

2. There are now TOO many coffee shops and bakeries. Competition is usually good for everyone. But when TOO many coffee shops open, there just isn't enough business to go around. You'd think that wouldn't apply during the summer tourist season, except that those people are going to the beach and now there are several coffee shops on the boardwalk, so they aren't going to come inland (and pay for parking twice...again those pesky parking issues.) And in the off-season, Asbury Park isn't hopping with hundreds of people strolling the streets around breakfast-time that would allow each and every coffee shop/ breakfast eatery to bring in enough money.

3. With the new, giant high-rise being built on Ocean Ave., there should be hundreds more people coming to stay in Asbury Park, as tourists or residents. BUT there will also probably also be more coffee/breakfast/lunch shops. And even less parking!!!

EESH!

Although this is just an example of a coffee shop struggle, I know my friends have tried to get to a movie at The Showroom and couldn't find parking in time to get their tickets for the film. I have seen people fight over parking! And I have struggled in the summer sometimes for HOURS to find a parking space, and certainly wouldn't try to do that twice in order to dine in the Cookman area vicinity if I finally found parking closer to the restaurants along  the beach.

And vise-versa....I'm sure that all of those restaurants along the beachfront struggle all winter because if the rest of the action is on Cookman, most won't want to walk all the way down to the beach for a drink or, again, paying twice for parking.

Oh, and how about a free parking day once a week like Red Bank has?

Thoughts?