For more than one century innovative businesspeople have flocked to our City – like drag queens to a wig sale – to make their dream of owning a business a reality. 

The former McCrory Stores building, on Cookman Avenue, is home to Ken Le’s dream and true love this Valentine’s Day – Munch, a casual neighborhood eatery, which is preparing to celebrate its first anniversary in April. 

Prior to launching Munch, Ken was one of the many, many people in the area that dreamed of quitting an ultra-fast, turbo-pressured, mega-lucrative, New York City corporate job, to pursue his passion in Asbury Park.  His former career was in the advertising industry. 

“For years I wanted to make changes in my job and life and to open a restaurant that was creative, friendly, fun and exciting, however the time in my life was never right,” stated Ken Le, founder, Munch.

Finally, the time was right. 

“It took me three years of planning before I actually quit my job, gave up my upper west side apartment and moved back to New Jersey,” stated Ken.  “All the stars began to align and I realized I had to make this career move, for me.  It was scary but it was time.”

July 2006 Ken began the final steps to realizing his dream – a new chapter in the Book of Ken.

“I will never forget the last day at my office that summer,” continued Ken.  “It was an awesome feeling.  I celebrated with my colleagues and clients and could not wait to start the new ‘Munch’ part of my journey of life.  Everyone congratulated me, knowing I was following my dream.  Waking up the next morning, knowing I was going to focus solely on my passion, was huge for me.  It drove me to work even harder and faster.  I have never looked back – I recommend making a career change to anyone considering following his dream.”

Ken says the pressures he experiences owning a business are the same, but better than when he was part of the corporate machine.

“I am still tired and stressed, but it’s different because I look at the pressure as part of following my passion versus a rough daily grind,” Ken continued.  “I look forward to coming to work every day.”

He designed the Munch menu, filled with everything from comfort food to vegetarian dishes, to “take a contemporary approach to the great meals of our childhood.” 

I love Ken’s proprietary three cheese macaroni and cheese.  He has mastered the difficult art of making the onion rings crispy inside and out.  No mushy onions here.  Valerie Bertinelli would run over Jenny Craig for a basket.     

So, how did Ken choose the name “Munch” for his restaurant? 

“The name needed to reflect what I wanted in my restaurant – something vibrant, fun, comfortable and memorable,” stated Ken.  “I decided on Munch because I thought it encompassed my vision and it was one syllable strong.  One word – just like Cher.” 

In addition to his daily breakfast and lunch eatery hours, Munch is open for dinner – and packed BTW – each First Night in town, featuring a special menu. 

Log on to Munch’s brand new website, for restaurant hours, the complete menu, specials, reviews, local delivery information and more. 

What’s your dream?  Asbury Park can help make it happen, as it did for Ken.

Speaking of great food, the Culinary Education Center of Monmouth County’s restaurant Windows has opened for the spring season, Monday through Thursday, seating from 5:15 p.m. to 6.15 p.m.  Call 732.988.3299.  Also, the outstanding bakery is open daily 9 am to 10 am, 11:15 am to 1:15 pm and 5:15 pm to 6 pm.  101 Drury Lane, Asbury Park.  Everything the students make, with Barbara and Darin, is amazing.

Wishing you a wonderful, heart-filled, red-infused, chocolate-packed Single’s Awareness Day.  Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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