THIS MULTI TASKING BARMAN SOMEHOW MIXES DRINKS AT A BUSY ESTABLISHMENT WHILE MANAGING TO GO WITH THE FLOW
BY GILDA ROGERS PHOTOS BY ROBERT NUZZIE
The new weekend brunch menu at Urban Coalhouse Pizza & Bar in Brick, served Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., along with its “All Weekend Happy Hour,” are sure signs that summer is upon us. Brunch’s lemon blueberry ricotta pancakes offer gratifying sweetness, while the “Greens and Grains” bowl is a semi vegan creation stuffed with arugula, Brussels sprouts, poached egg, and gremolata sauce.
“The weekend it launched, I was called to help fill in at the bar,” said Senior Bartender Justin Rodman, describing how busy that meal service has been from the first. At 16, Rodman was diagnosed with Chiari Malformation, a dangerous condition that causes brain tissue to seep into the spinal canal. Today, he wears a treatment surgical scar on the back of his neck, a reminder, he said, of how precious life is. After this surgery and still in high school, he opted out of contact sports, but kept fitness minded and workouts ultimately evolved into becoming a personal trainer at Retro Fitness in Brick, which he schedules around his Urban Coalhouse duties. “I like helping people physically through training,” he said. Urban Coalhouse was Rodman’s entry into the restaurant business. He started here at 19 as a server, and is now mixing drinks and enjoying his “rollercoaster ride through life.”
“Management saw my relationship with customers and started cross training me serving tables while learning the bar,” recalled Rodman, who takes notable pride in a loyal fan base. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Kean University in 2016. “I’ve always enjoyed talking to people and giving them advice,” he said.
Asked for a recommended brunch tipple, he points to the “Early Riser.” Reminiscent of Sprite, but high octane and made for adults, it’s a combination of Ketel One Botanical Grapefruit & Rose Vodka, basil, and lime, topped o with ginger ale a thrilling way to start the day.
With three locations, Coalhouse restaurants are also known for red and white sangria and roasted chicken wings topped with sautéed onions and peppers. The sangria, which Rodman calls “a big hit,” is half price on Wednesdays.
The barman also finds time to apply musical talents as a drummer with the band e Ones You Forgot, which is a part of Vans Warped Tour and scheduled for a June 29 gig in Atlantic City. Together for five years, the pop/rock group produces its own music.
“My father bought me a drum set when I was about 8 or 9,” said Rodman, who’d begun lessons by the time he was 12. He practices in whatever time he can find, and counts Buddy Rich and Matt Halpern of the band Periphery as inspirations. He’s also grateful, he explained, to Urban Coalhouse Manager Sue Grzegorzek for allowing him to pursue musical passions. But back to drinks.
Rodman’s Cucumber Strawberry Smash (see recipe at left), which started as a seasonal cocktail, is now on the menu year ‘round. Craft beers, particularly IPAs (India Pale Ale), are trending among customers, as are stout and Belgium ales. (The restaurant makes a point of supporting area breweries.)
Born under the creative sign of Pisces, Rodman, as he put it, is “going with the flow,” while helping others along the way
Urban Coalhouse Pizza & Bar
700 Paramus Park, Paramus, 201.261.1380 / 515 Route 70, Brick, 732.262.5180 116 14th Street, Hoboken, 201.292.3388 / 2 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, 732.212.1700 urbancoalhouse.com