New ‘Element’ Being Applied to Former L.A.’s Restaurant Property
Residents of Southern Ocean County have had to brave plenty of elements since Superstorm Sandy. The latest element to be experienced is one of creation, not destruction, at the defunct L.A.’s Restaurant and Bar on Route 72 in Manahawkin. A new restaurant under new ownership is in the works.
The Element Restaurant and Bar is the latest undertaking of local entrepreneur Tony Cheng, who now owns the property and is revamping the building. Construction is currently being done on the building’s roof in particular, raising it several feet to create a more spacious look inside; tables and chairs are also brand new. Cheng plans to open Element sometime in May.
“It’s not going to be like L.A.’s; it’s going to be different,” said Cheng, though he said the menu will continue to focus on steaks and seafood.
That cuisine will come from Bob Shannon, who will take the reins as head chef and general manager. Shannon brings with him 35 years’ experience, the last 20 of which were spent at Tuckers Restaurant in Beach Haven before leaving on his own terms. Shannon also brings several former Tuckers staff members including his son Robert, a former bar manager there. The restaurant will need more employees before it opens, however, and Shannon encouraged those interested to look for a sign on the property asking for new staff sometime in April.
Element will be the fourth restaurant Shannon has opened in his career, which began after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978. He said the menu will include steak options as well as local seafood favorites, nightly dinner specials, and even some signature dishes he has taken with him from Tuckers, such as a popular fried tomato appetizer he served there.
“It’s going to be more upscale than L.A.’s,” said Shannon. “Ever since we’ve done this – between Tony’s reputation and my own – people have been congratulating my son and I and saying, ‘There’s nowhere to go in Manahawkin and get something to eat.’ It’s all chain-operated, and people just can’t wait for us to get open.”
Element will still offer a banquet room for lunch and dinner parties and an outside deck for dining. Cheng anticipates no live entertainment in the bar area at this time, though Shannon said, “We’ll probably have some live entertainment, but it won’t be every night. There’s no room for a DJ like they had here before.”
Shannon added he hopes Element will create a warm atmosphere for people of all ages.
“I talked to Tony and I said, ‘I want to have a place where people our age, anywhere from 40 and up, can come to a happy hour and enjoy themselves, then later on at night let the younger generation come.’ If you’re a Manahawkin resident, where can you go at 4 or 5 o’clock and sit in a nice, clean, casual bar and restaurant and have a good happy hour? There’s nothing like that over here.
“We’re not newcomers so that’s going to definitely help.”
— Michael Molinaro