Looking to offer Avalon locals and visitors an upscale, trendy dining and nightlife experience, as opposed to the casual, beachy vibe of most of the area's eateries, brothers Anthony and Steve Cozzi opened FUZE Restaurant and Mirage Lounge.
"Avalon really didn't have anything upscale," says Anthony Cozzi, owner and general manager of the restaurant and lounge with his brother, Steve, its head chef.
"The Mirage (which FUZE replaced) was more of a run-of-the-mill T-Shirt-type of restaurant, which this town is loaded with - we wanted to bring something classy and trendy to Avalon," Anthony says.
According to the reactions they've been getting from their guests since opening in 2009, they've accomplished their goal.
Guests can dine in the main dining room or in the lounge at the bar, which flows into the restaurant. They also are welcome to skip the dinner and enjoy an evening of live entertainment and drinks in the lounge,
"People love our bar because everyone seems to know everyone or make friends if they don't," he says. "It just has this friendly, social vibe to it."
Happy hour is 5 to 6 p.m. with half off on all beers and house wines.
FUZE also offers an extensive wine list, awarded a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2010, and a specialty cocktail menu created using its house-infused vodkas, such as a vegetable infusion for its signature Bloody Marys and seasonal fruit infusions.
They also barrel their own bourbon.
"Right now, we have a barrel sitting on the bar, aging our bourbon," Anthony says.
FUZE offers live music throughout the evenings every Thursday through Sunday.
On Thursdays and Sundays, classically trained solo guitarist Frank Coffman performs in the lounge.
"He sets a really good vibe," Anthony says. "People love him."
On Fridays, it's Irene Nash & Andy Toscano of Music Magic performing timeless favorites, and on Sundays it's the smooth sounds of Irv Mellman on piano and Sharron Kruk on bass.
"They're a little jazzy," Anthony says of Mellman and Kruk, "and very good."