By now I’m sure you have figured out that I like to title my blogs after songs. When I first thought about writing this story the hit song, ‘Mony Mony’ by Tommy James & The Shondells immediately came to mind. But since this anecdote is about the two Pats, it would probably be called ‘Money, Money.’ Although, it wasn’t always that way, the fact that these two knew each other as young men and would become business partners over a decade later was with no uncertainty a happenstance; a chance occurrence, a twist of fate, and a bit of synchronicity. How they met and ended up in Asbury Park is pretty interesting, and their story began long before this city was on either of their radars. If you’re an Asbury insider, you probably already know who I’m talking about; Pat Fasano and Pat Schiavino.
Pat Schiavino, (pronounced Ska’vino) was once known around town as Pony-tail Pat. Today he is mostly known as a real estate agent and accomplished artist, hosting events in his gallery on Cookman Avenue; Art 629. When I first came to Asbury Park he was still sporting that long pony tail. A graduate of Montclair State with a degree in Industrial Arts and Design, and a self-taught artist, he’s had an eclectic career: ranging from interior design, to music, art, and real estate. After graduating he started out working for an interior designer doing loft conversions in New York City. Then in 1979 at age 25 he was commissioned to design and build a popular jazz club in Montclair called Katie Gray’s. When the job was completed he became a partner, worked as the house booking agent, and learned the music business. With his young career rapidly evolving he took a leap further south and landed at Club Bene; booking big name talent into the small venue on Highway 35 in Sayreville, one being Floyd Vivino, with an act called the “Uncle Floyd Show.” Uncle Floyd was a cross between Soupy Sales and Howard Stern. People would stand in long lines to see this traveling variety show that combined slap stick comedy with music, showcasing both emerging and well-known artists.
While Pat Schiavino was getting his education at MSU, Pat Fasano was getting his at the school of life. He began working as a bus boy in Gambino’s restaurant when he was 13. Later, while attending high school in New Brunswick, he worked as a waiter at a well-known restaurant called the Wooden Nickel, serving high profile clientele, one of which was the city’s Mayor. In 1975 Johnson & Johnson chose New Brunswick as their headquarters, bringing life back into the City. As Pat served the Mayor his favorite entree, he would overhear conversations about plans for the city’s redevelopment. An ambitious and insightful teenager, he decided to buy a low cost property. “Back then you could sit down with Mr. Farley, the bank manager, and if he liked you he would give you a loan.” Pat recalled. With the help of Mr. Farley, he purchased his first investment property for $16,000; he was 19 years old. Having no formal training and nothing more than a Reader’s Digest “Do it Yourself Manuel,” Pat renovated the property himself and rented it to some of his co-workers at the restaurant. Then he bought another and rented it out to college students. A few years later, and with some collateral behind him, he bought Moscow’s Tavern on Thorp Avenue and turned it into a night club. This trendy new club where mostly punk rock and new wave bands would perform was called ‘Patrix.’ At the age of 27 he was the owner of a night club, had several rental properties, and turned his $25 a night tips into $2 million.
It was now 1983 and Pat Schiavino had become the main booking agent for the Uncle Floyd Show, which was the hottest ticket in town, booking shows in all the popular night clubs, one of them being Patrix in New Brunswick. The two Pats got to know each other through phone conversations, doing business together over the course of three years. Fast forward to 1990; Pat Schiavino, on his way to a Super Bowl party in Belmar, and with some time to kill, decided to take a drive through Ocean Grove, a place he’d never been. He became enchanted by this quaint little town and when he stumbled upon a house on Franklin Ave with a for sale sign out front he called the number and bought the house that day. Not only was he the youngest person on the block, but he was also the only man living along side a host of elderly widows. Pat lived there for 11 years, during that time, as the elderly widows passed away, young artists started moving in around him.
Meanwhile, Pat Fasano’s success of buying and rehabbing properties in New Brunswick brought him to a bank auction at the Sheraton Hotel in Eatontown. He purchased a property, sight unseen, in Ocean Grove on Seaview Avenue. He restored and flipped the ginger-bread Victorian. It was 1995, and the disremembered seaside community of Ocean Grove was filled with boarded up hotels that the state had once used as transitional housing. Seeing opportunity within this under-utilized real estate, Pat began his due diligence to find out who owned them. Over the next few years he purchased; The Marlboro, The Wilmington, The Aldine, and The Majestic, from the bank for pennies on the dollar. He converted three of them into condos and restored the Hotel Majestic on Main Avenue to its original grandeur, which he later sold.
With Pat Schiavino’s art career beginning to take shape he decided he needed a studio to work in and wanted to buy a low cost property, so he looked across the lake thinking he could get a deal on one of the abandoned buildings in Asbury Park. Things didn’t go exactly as he hoped. Pat attempted to purchase three different properties and each time they had already been sold; first the DJ’s Deli building, then the now Robert Legere building. By the third try he had become immensely frustrated when he was told, once again, that someone else had beaten him to it. “How is it possible?” He asked himself. “Who would want to buy boarded up buildings in Asbury Park?” He asked the owner who it was and he was kind enough to pass along a phone number. With the intention of telling him to back off, Pat gave the guy a call.
Pat Schiavino listened while his competitor told the story of how he once waited tables in New Brunswick and would overhear the Mayor’s conversations, inspiring him to buy and redevelop property. Immediately Pat thought, “wait a minute, I heard this story before.” Pat Schiavino’s rival turned out to be an old business acquaintance and friend he never actually met; Pat Fasano. For years they had both been in Ocean Grove and had no idea the other was there. They decided to become business partners and began buying property together in Asbury Park. With the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit of Pat Fasano and the artistic, interior design background of Pat Schiavino, the two were a perfect combination.
To be continued…
In my next blog you will learn more about the unfolding of this story, along with some interesting accounts of Asbury Park back in the day, and how it came to be where it is now. For previous blogs about Asbury Park go to http://www.asbury-insider.com