New at the Holiday Inn: ‘72 East’ Hosts Opening
On Aug. 25, the place to be in Stafford Township was at the new 72 East American Bar & Grill, located in the Holiday Inn. Early that evening, several hundred people mingled with friends over appetizers and drinks at a special grand opening reception in the newly renovated eatery, formerly known as the Stafford Restaurant & Grille.
“We reached out to the community to stop by and see the new place,” said Liz Santoro, Manahawkin Holiday Inn director of sales and marketing. “The response tonight has been fantastic.”
Larry Veltri, Holiday Inn general manager, said the new restaurant has been renovated “top to bottom.”
“We got rid of some walls, and now the whole bar area is open,” he said. “We have a new lounge area where people can relax. There is new flooring put in. It was a complete overhaul.”
Veltri said the renovations were part of mandates from the Holiday Inn’s parent company, Intercontinental Hotels Group, which requires hotels to submit remodeling plans every 10 years in order to get relicensed.
“This is our first relicensing because we opened in 2005,” he said. “We also made major improvements to our 110 guest rooms and six suites. We have to keep up with the demands and the needs of our guest and customers.”
The restaurant also underwent a menu overhaul, and during the open house, servers were offering free samples of appetizers, including pulled pork sliders, hummus and pita, fried broccoli and firecracker shrimp.
Wes Robles, restaurant manager, said 72 East offers “classic American fare” as well as Italian favorites and seafood specialties. Robles, who joined the staff in June after managing Tacos El Tio in Egg Harbor Township, said one of his prize dishes is Mojo Salmon, a traditional Cuban flame-grilled salmon filet.
“I think the customers will really like our whiskey sirloin,” said Robles. “All our entreees are made to order in-house.”
He said the restaurant also has varieties of burgers, sandwiches and salads.
From the bar, Robles said patrons should enjoy the “Islandtini,” a drink consisting of Malibu coconut rum, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice and fresh lime juice.
He said the bar also serves mules – namely, the Moscow Mule, Mexican Mule and Kentucky Mule.
“They all have fresh lime juice and ginger beer,” he said. “The Moscow Mule has vodka, the Mexican Mule has tequila, and the Kentucky Mule has Kentucky bourbon whiskey.”
Robles, 30, said he has spent nearly half his life in the restaurant business.
“I started out washing dishes,” he said. “I’ve been working my way up and am glad that I’m at the Holiday Inn. This is a very nice looking restaurant in a very busy area, and I think we have something very special to offer.”
— Eric Englund