Agricola, the long-anticipated replacement for the historic Lahiere’s restaurant, is slated to open Sunday night.
Signs appeared in the window of the Witherspoon Street restaurant today informing passers by that the restaurant is accepting reservations for Sunday night beginning at 5:30 p.m. Reservations were still available as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Agricola is the Latin word for farmer, and the new restaurant will have a farm to table focus, with many of the vegetables sourced from the restaurant owner’s Great Road Farm.
The restaurant, which will serve “rustic American Cuisine” is the creation of Jim Nawn, managing member of the Fenwick Hospitality Group, which operates Panera Bread franchises throughout New Jersey.
Nawn’s partner in the venture is New Jersey native Josh Thomsen, who will be the executive chef for Agricola. Thomsen was named a “Rising Star Chef” in the San Francisco Bay area by StarChefs in 2010. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he has worked with some of the most prominent chefs in the country, starting his career at the Hotel Bel-Air, Pinot Bistro & Patina in Southern California. He has also worked at French Laundry in Napa Valley, Mansion at the MGM Grand Hotel and Nobhill Tavern in Las Vegas, The Lodge at Pebble Beach, the Claremont Resort and Spa in Berkeley, and he was the chef de cuisine at Tao restaurant.
The renovated space at 11 Witherspoon Street has about 200 seats and a bar. Dinner will be served seven days a week. The restaurant eventually plans to add lunch to the menu, served on weekdays, as well as brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Private events and catering are also on the horizon.
Lahiere’s, a Princeton landmark that served French cuisine, closed in November of 2010 after 91 years. The restaurant served famous people from Albert Einstein to Bob Hope to the King of Jordan.
Investment group ML Seven, which is led by Jeff Siegel, purchased the building for $4.6 million. The company also owns some buildings on South Tulane Street in downtown Princeton, including the buildings that house the Princeton Record Exchange and the successful Japanese restaurant Moc Moc.
The opening Sunday is a soft opening, and a spokesman for the restaurant said the grand opening celebration date will be announced shortly. Reservations for Agricola can be made by calling (609) 681-2977