Bahama Breeze plans to officially open its latest location at the Ocean County Mall this week.
The 8,000-square-foot Caribbean-themed restaurant is set to open on Monday, Aug. 12, according to an email blast sent by mall owner Simon. The store mark the fourth Bahama Breeze location within New Jersey.
"We are excited to add Bahama Breeze to our roster of more than 120 specialty retailers," said Tara Melodick, Ocean County Mall’s director of marketing and business development, in a statement when the project began. "Its arrival is the latest move in our ongoing efforts to offer new dining concepts and expanded dining options to our shoppers in the Toms River area and visitors from all along the Jersey Shore. We think they’ll love its warm atmosphere and great food."
The Bahama Breeze restaurant is the third pad site at the Ocean County Mall. The other two, Olive Garden and TGIFriday's, are on the northwest corner of the mall on Oak and Hooper avenues.
"They're going to redesign the parking in the immediate area of the new building," said township planner Jay Lynch last year as approvals were being worked out. "The planning board needed to determine if the site would have sufficient parking, and it does."
The menu features foods containing "flavorful and colorful ingredients of the islands," according to Pat Burson, a public relations manager for the mall.
Menu items at Bahama Breeze include jerk chicken pasta, chicken kabobs, coconut shrimp, baby back ribs and seafood paella. Tropical drinks are among the beverage selection, and desserts like piña colada bread pudding feature Caribbean inspiration.
The Bahama Breeze liquor license was bought from downtown restaurant Jimmy C's, which sold its license in 2011.
The first Bahama Breeze opened in 1996 in Orlando and the chain, owned by Darden Restaurants, currently has 24 locations throughout the United States including locations in Wayne, Woodbridge and Cherry Hill.
The construction of the restaurant prompted some officials with the Monmouth and Ocean Counties Building and Construction Trades Council to urge mall management of to work more closely with them and to hire local contractors for work on the site.