PHOTO: Mani, owner of Royal Atlantic
His wines come from all over the world as well, or at least 15 to 20 different countries as well as several states on both the east and west coasts of the United States, including New Jersey.
In this shop, Mani offers more than 5,000 items, from wine and beer, bourbons, gins and the rest to the newest craze, White Clam and the spiked seltzers like it. Mani thinks folks are being more health conscious, so they’re opting for the flavored and 4-5 percent alcohol beverages over beer and wine, but mostly over beer. Fact is, he sells as much spike seltzer as he does beer or wine!
Like so many others, it was the charm of the residents and the beauty of the area that enticed Mani to open his business on First Avenue in Atlantic Highlands. Mani, who’s been in the spirits selling business for a long time and takes great pride in his work, is owner of Royal Atlantic Wine & Spirits on First at West Garfield, and is so terrific at his job that after only two years, he had to move to a larger store and space that offered more parking. It’s not only more parking Mani wanted, it was safer access to and from parking that he wanted as well. He didn’t like the idea of customers leaving the store so close to the highway intersection or for that matter, during rush hours when there would be heavier traffic.
Not that he doesn’t have a huge supply of both beer and wine for those of us who prefer to quaff that. There are plenty of craft beers, including, or should it be, especially, Atlantic Highlands’ own Carton beers, as well as all the American brands and choices from no fewer than 15 or 20 other countries, from Chile and Belgium to Australia and France. The wines, too, come from 15 to 20 different countries as well as New York, of course New Jersey, and several states in the West. Mani spends a lot of time with his wine salespeople, because he knows they spend time with vintners and can tell him the pluses and minuses of different varieties. “You can enjoy a wine so much more when you know its history and romance,” he explains quietly. But it’s true, the salesmen who deal with Mani have to know their stuff and be able to answer all his questions. While about 50% of the wine drinking population really can tell the difference between a $100 bottle and a $25 bottle, the rest of us really don’t. And that’s what makes Mani feel he has to have a great supply of $15 bottles that taste like $25 bottles in stock.
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But there’s one more really great thing about this liquor store and its owner! Suppose you’re going to Christine’s, or the Siam, the Thai restaurant on First Ave for dinner. Neither has a liquor license, ,but both offer corking and glasses. But you’re already in the restaurant, and you don’t want to drive to the store. Problem solved. Give Royal Atlantic a call, either tell them what you want or ask for a suggestion, and voila! Within 5 to 10 minutes, your bottle will arrive at the restaurant. There’s a $2 .95 fee added for the service, and it’s available anyplace in Atlantic Highlands, be it home, business, or your boat. A great service.
There is also a wide variety of prices at Royal Atlantic, with wines ranging from $%7 a bottle to those outlandishly expensive reserves at the very high end. And while all varieties are offered year round, Mani has discovered that white wines are most popular in warm weather, there’s a huge spike in reds as the days and evenings get cooler, and roses seem to enjoy year round popularity.
The business employs four workers, and they all feel the same pride in Mani’s business as he, all espouse the care and concern needed for responsible drinking, and all know Mani’s great support for MADD and the importance of never serving to minors.
It was the peace, beauty, and the people of Atlantic Highlands that first brought him here. It’s the continued charm and warmth of the people, the ability to serve them with perfection, and the part he and his business play in ensuring people are happy and relaxed that keeps him here. One more asset in a community that truly stands out.
by Muriel J. Smith