Unity Bank on Thursday said it provided a $752,000 U.S. Small Business Administration loan to help fund the opening of Muddy Waters Gastropub, a unique Asbury restaurant that provides Austrian and Hungarian favorites as well as traditional pub fare.
Muddy Waters, located at 1090 State Route 173 in Asbury, was previously operated as American Spirits Bar. Muddy Waters owner and chef Attila Geczi acquired the more than 4,000-square-foot building and nearly six-acre property last fall and went to work creating a restaurant experience with a distinctly European flair. Geczi has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years and worked and consulted in five countries on two continents.
“Unity Bank has helped bring our dream for Muddy Waters to life and we could not be more thankful for everything the bank has done for our small business,” Geczi said. “Our family has been making wine professionally for centuries, and serving wine always goes hand-in-hand with good food. The sense of hospitality and the need for hard work has been ingrained in us since we were children. I started working on our family vineyard in Hungary when I was 8 years old.”
Geczi and his wife, Eniko, have updated the former restaurant’s kitchen, cleaned up the dining space, and repaired and painted the exterior. They also built a stage and acquired a professional sound system and a drum kit for musicians to use on nights when Muddy Waters offers live music. They also removed nearly 50 dead ash trees on the property and initiated the first phase of a landscape rehabilitation.
“We want to transform our beautiful six-acre property to be able to host weddings, company outings and music festivals,” said Geczi.
“We appreciate the opportunity to help the Geczis fulfill their dreams for Muddy Waters,” Unity Bank CEO and President James Hughes said. “As a community bank, we understand that every small business is unique and, as an SBA preferred lender, we can expedite funding for local entrepreneurs. We look forward to Muddy Waters enjoying great success in the community for years to come.”
Geczi opened his first business in Hungary when he was 19, selling the wine that his family produced. After completing his culinary education and gaining restaurant experience in Europe, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1994 and worked in restaurants in New York City and New Jersey.
“Obviously, my heritage gave me the inspiration for Muddy Waters and the fact that I can cook Austrian and Hungarian dishes very well,” Geczi said. “The concept of the restaurant is a gastropub that gives me the creative freedom to do whatever dishes we think will be well received by our clientele. That is why I never wanted to do a 100% ethnic restaurant, as it confines you in one cuisine. And, you know, It’s hard to dance with shackles on. The idea is simple: We take well-loved peasant dishes from both the New and the Old World and elevate them to a restaurant level using cutting-edge culinary techniques, and wholesome fresh ingredients. Having the restaurant in farm country allows me to score my veggies and meat from local farms. Here farm to table is not a trend, it’s a no-brainer.”