Dining out in Red Bank is similar to traveling the culinary world. Eating your way through places like Italy, Mexico, Thailand, Jamaica, and more, you experience the world over without having to spend hundreds of dollars on an airline ticket. In just a few weeks, adventurous eaters can stamp another country into their diners’ passports – Peru – when RUNA: Where Food and People Meet opens on Monmouth Street.
Chef Marita Lynn has been dreaming about the day when she would open the doors to her restaurant for more than 20 years. While waiting for the perfect timing, Lynn has been busy perfecting her skills in the kitchen with her catering business, Marita Lynn Catering, for more than 10 years.
“I’ve always wanted to open a restaurant,” Lynn said. “I was warned it wasn’t easy so I started my catering business.” Originally trained in a restaurant, Lynn wanted to be close to home and still be a part of her kids’ lives, so she installed a commercial kitchen for her catering business right in her home. Now that the kids are older and she’s ready, she’s finally getting a chance to open up the restaurant she’s been dreaming of.
“With a restaurant I’ll be able to have that special connection with my customers,” said Lynn who explains that ‘runa’ means ‘people’ in Peruvian. On her Kickstarter campaign site, Lynn explains how RUNA is all about the people.
“RUNA is solely focused on community, bringing together individuals who share a passion for food and who want to try Peruvian flavor.” Since moving to the U.S. when she was 20 years old, Lynn has been envisioning a restaurant where she can marry her family’s traditional Peruvian recipes and make them accessible to everyone despite their dietary restrictions.
Lynn will be offering Peruvian dishes that entice the taste buds, including classic dishes like ceviche. She will also be focusing on making vegetarian and gluten-free dishes so that “everyone feels welcome.”
Not only will Lynn be catering to the community with Peruvian inspired plates, but she will also be offering the community a chance to learn more about the art of cooking. Every Monday, RUNA will be open for “Pay Forward Mondays” which will include “Kitchen Intuition” cooking classes, empowerment resources and comfort meals for the homeless, valuable networking nights with entrepreneurs, and special women-only development opportunities.
“I want to change the mindset of women and show that they can be independent,” said Lynn when asked about the vision behind her “Pay Forward Mondays.”
Despite the two-year delay, Lynn is looking forward to finally opening RUNA’s doors with a little help from her friends. She’s been inspired by the community to create an atmosphere where people enjoy every aspect of their night out.
“It’s not just about the food – it’s about enjoying your time while you’re eating,” said Lynn.
RUNA (Opening July 2014)
110 Monmouth Street
Melissa Beveridge is a freelance journalist and editor, focusing on great food, healthy living, and wellness. Her passion for eating and living well embodies her writing. A lover of all things Jersey, she is also an avid traveler, always looking to discover those hidden culinary gems everywhere she goes. Her musings can be found on her blog mbeewell.wordpress.com.