Princeton University has selected Agricola owner Jim Nawn’s Fenwick Hospitality Group as its partner to operate a bar and bistro in the former Dinky station buildings on University Place in downtown Princeton.
Nawn, who has been a Princeton area resident since 1999, owns Agricola, and formerly owned and operate 37 Panera restaurants.
The new cafe and restaurant are part of Princeton University’s Arts and Transit Project. Nawn will open a bar and bistro 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, train station, Wawa convenience store, and commuter-parking. 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 school’s 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, the school’s 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 north building will include 60 indoor seats with 30 seats outside. In addition to cocktails, wine and beer, the bar will serve small bites for lunch and dinner.
In the south building, the group will operate a bistro with a French-influenced menu serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. There will be seating for 125 people inside and 50 outside. There will also be counter seating and a private dining room.
The bar and bistro will offer home-style dishes focusing on locally sourced and sustainable produce, school officials said. The Fenwick group owns an organic vegetable, chicken egg and livestock farming operation that 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 the spring of 2017. The Terra Momo Group originally was awarded the contract for the project, but later parted ways with the University.
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 in New York.