Princeton University has selected Fenwick Hospitality Group as its partner to operate a bar and bistro that are part of the Arts and Transit Project. The company’s founder, Jim Nawn, who has been a Princeton area resident since 1999, owns Agricola, a popular Princeton eatery that offers a farm-to-table menu, in association with Great Road Farm.
The development of the Arts and Transit Project encompasses an area along University Place and Alexander Street just south of McCarter Theatre Center and just east of Forbes College. The two dining options will be a bar and bistro located in the former north and south station buildings, respectively.
The transit elements of the Arts and Transit Project were completed last year and include the new, modern NJ TRANSIT train station, Wawa convenience store, commuter-parking and enhanced landscaping. Additionally, a road was built to connect Alexander Street to the north side of the West Garage. The project also includes three buildings, now under construction, that will provide rehearsal and performance spaces for the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Department of Music.
“Fenwick Hospitality Group presented us with exciting and well-conceived concepts for two dining locations that will be important components of the overall Arts and Transit Project. The plans that they have developed will offer attractive options for commuters, theater-goers, campus and community residents,” said Kristin Appelget, director of community and regional affairs and a member of the University committee that selected the group.
“The look and design of the proposed bar and bistro will bring freshness and vibrancy to the former station buildings,” said Paul Finley, the University’s program manager for real estate development. “Fenwick Hospitality Group delivered creative solutions for both venues.”
The bar in the smaller, north building will be designed for 60 indoor seats with 30 seasonal seats outside, serving drinks — including cocktails, wine and beer — and small bites for lunch and dinner.
In the south building, which was formerly used for baggage handling, the group has proposed a bistro offering an approachable French-influenced menu serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. There will be seating for 125 people inside and 50 outside. In addition, there will be counter seating and a private dining room.
The bar and bistro will offer home-style dishes focusing on locally sourced and sustainable produce. The Fenwick group owns an organic vegetable, chicken egg and livestock farming operation, which supplies Agricola as well as local farmer’s markets and other restaurants.
“We are very excited about working with the University in transforming the Arts and Transit neighborhood into a new cultural, social and dining destination for Princeton,” Nawn said. “We pride ourselves on our service and quality, and we look forward to welcoming a diverse community of commuters, visitors and residents to experience what we’ll offer.”
The bar is scheduled to open in spring 2016 and the bistro in spring 2017.
The selection committee consisted of representatives from a variety of University offices, assisted by independent food service consultant Tracy Lawler, who is based in Princeton.
The architect for the station complex is Rick Joy Architects of Tucson, Arizona. The interior of the bar and bistro will be designed by Celano Design Studio, New York.