Whatever the complaints about Princeton’s new parking meters, one driving force in the planning was the evolution of the town from retail to entertainment and dining. Although some new restaurants are still on the drawing boards and not ready to share their plans publicly, a number shared their ideas for new and refurbished eating and drinking establishments.
Small Bites by Local Greek
Tony Kanterakis, the owner of Local Greek at 44 Leigh Avenue, which opened in November, 2017, is ready to open Small Bites by Local Greek at 20 Nassau Street. He says Small Bites is like “an extension of Local Greek for students and walk-up traffic.” The building owners approached him, first offering him a spot on Chambers Street, but when Dynasty Art went out of business, he grabbed the spot on Nassau. “The area is more boutique-like, more New York City-like,” he says.
Because students “don’t come down” to Local Greek, except maybe on weekend for brunch, Kanterakis says, “it was a good opportunity to do a grab-and-go like Hoagie Haven.”
“It will be more of a casual spot,” he says. They won’t have entrees or sit-down eating like they do at Local Greek. “Customers will order at the counter, and we will have 20 to 25 seats inside — a social table and a couple of other little tables — and outside in street when it is warm.”
The fare — including gourmet gyros, salads, kabobs, Greek-style burgers, as well as breakfast, with “super Greek” eggs in a skillet, pancake, waffles, spinach-feta omelet, savory pastries, and spinach, cheese, and meat pies — will be “like a healthier version of fast food,” Kanterakis says. Also, “we will have more sweets and pastries” — and, of course, wi-fi.
He expects the biggest draw to be the loukoumades, Greek-style donuts — fried in the window “like a show, pretty much” — and homemade Greek yogurt and ice cream (including a baklava flavor) with different toppings. “We’re really focusing on the Greek donuts — that’s going to change the whole scene. At any festival you go to or farmer’s market, the line is bigger than anyone else,” he says. Kanterakis hopes to open at the end of March or beginning of April. www.localgreeknj.com
Sakrid Coffee Roasters
Jonathan Haley will be opening Sakrid Coffee Roasters. Promising a “modern take” on the “tried and true Espresso bar,” he explains that Sakrid will go beyond “espresso-based drinks, served quickly while standing at a bar and having a quick chat with the barista.” Building on this culture, Sakrid will also offer “smooth cold brew concoctions on tap along with water-based drinks infused form locally harvested fruits, vegetables, and herbs.”
Looking to “find unique ways to bridge the coffee-growing and our own unique culture here in the Princeton area,” he said, “We love coffee and are of the opinion it’s extremely difficult to have too many coffee offerings in one place.”
The bar will have two or three seats with a view at the bar, next to the barista; space at the window ledge for standing or sitting, as well as a few banquette seats “for those looking to have a seat or conversation with company.” They will also offer “small bites that complement the amazing offerings already available (and soon available) at 20 Nassau.” Haley is targeting April or May to open. www.sakridcoffee.com
Bon Appetit kiosk at Carnevale Plaza
Inspired by a freestanding kiosk in Manhattan’s Bryant Park, Bon Appetit’s owner William Lettier designed the kiosk, owned by the Carnevale Group, that stands in front of the Carnevale Plaza apartments at 255 Nassau Street.
Talking about the “cool feel” of the New York structure, Lettier says, “I like that fact that you can have a walk-up kiosk — there are none in Princeton where you can order and go to the other window and pick up.” They will be offering sandwiches, crepes, espresso drinks, cappuccino, and will have a little gelato cart in the summer. The wall inspections are done, the sinks in, and they are waiting for the rest of the inspections to be completed.
Citing “building up” on that side of town, which is “getting busier as you go farther north on Nassau,” Lettier says he is “hoping to get a lot of folks from Princeton University” as well as people renting bikes from Jay’s, going to the post office, hanging out, or living in Carnevale Plaza to “drop in to get lunch or cappuccino or coffee.”
“The menu is going to stay flexible, but I want it to be fun. We look forward to opening.” He hopes to open in mid-March. www.bonappetitfinefoods.com
Renovations at Winberie’s Princeton began the week of February 11, and the restaurant is looking to reopen in late March, though Todd Sheppard of Select Restaurants writes in an email that “the exact timeline is unknown at this point.”
He continues, “The restaurant’s footprint is not changing, but guests will instantly feel a warmer ambience with the inclusion of upholstered booths and table cloths for an updated dining experience. Again, many of the guest favorites on the menu will remain, but we’re excited for people to try the new additions that include daily featured specials.” princeton.winberies.com
Several other companies have plans in the works, but are not yet ready to share details.
Triumph Brewing Company is planning to move its operations to Palmer Square. So far it has secured the old post office building, and the project has been approved by the planning board.
Lauren Swanekamp at Fenwick Hospitality wrote in response to an email about a potential restaurant at the former Two Sevens space. “There is not a confirmed idea that we can share with the public just yet.”
According to liquor license proceedings at an August, 2018, Princeton Council meeting, JM Group plans to open a restaurant called Kristine’s in the space formerly occupied by Rouge, next to Witherspoon Grill. JM Group owner Jack Morrison did not respond to requests for comment.
And a few restaurants have departed. Marhaba at 182 Nassau Street closed one day in October and never reopened. Its Lambertville location is still open. 30 Burgers, at 124 Nassau Street, has also closed, but a new location has opened in Quaker Bridge Mall.
Ready, set, eat
The Princeton Merchants Association has organized a Princeton Restaurant Week to take place from Sunday, March 10, through Sunday, March 17. Participating restaurants will be offering three-course prix-fixe dinner menus for $35 and a prix-fixe lunch menu for $20.
Visit www.princetonrestaurantweek.com for a list of participating restaurants.
This article was originally published in the March 2019 Princeton Echo.