Planet Princeton

Masala Grill in Downtown Princeton to Close

Masala Grill PrincetonThe oldest Indian restaurant in downtown Princeton will close its doors this month.

Masala Grill opened at 19 Chambers Street more than two decades ago. The owner of the restaurant said the landlord raised the rent too high. She was then given a month’s notice to close.

“It’s been a shock. We haven’t even really had enough time to wrap things up here,” said owner Suchitra Patel. “We posted a sign about the closing yesterday, and regulars have been coming in to see us all day and have been sending emails. Our customers have been so nice to us during this sad time.”

The last day of normal eat-in lunch and dinner service is Friday, May 13. An open house will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 14 and Sunday, May 15.

Patel said Masala Grill will still continue to sell food after the closing, just not at a sit-down restaurant. Masala Grill will offer carry out, deliver and catering at a new location in West Windsor after the Chambers Street location closes. Delivery will be free in Princeton, and Patel hopes to find a Princeton location for pick ups as well. She also plans to have booths at local festivals and other events.

“To the friends I will miss dropping by and having a chat with, please don’t be a stranger,” Patel said. “I very much value your friendship and hope it will continue even if our meeting spot may be gone.”

For email updates from Patel and Indian cooking tips, sign up at the Masala Grill website. To place an order for delivery or pick up after the restaurant closes, you can still call 609-921-0500 or email masalagrill@msn.com.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • FreshAir

    A visiting family member went this weekend and brought us a Masala Grill feast… curries, biryanis, etc. were all excellent & everyone around our table loved everything. No complaints. The take-out food from Masala Grill is STILL great, even though the place may look closed already!

  • Pat Palmer

    Thanks for that information. I do wish them well and regret the closing very much. There are few good vegetarian options in restaurants in this area.

  • FreshAir

    The owner has a terminally ill family member… a development that surely wasn’t in her/their plan. It’s difficult enough to get adequate support as a woman business owner in our society, going it alone, without that added challenge. Princeton rental rates surely made it harder. I really wish her well as she moves on to a new situation that’s more workable. Overall the owners meant well & did their best, but life happened.

  • Thomas Rooney

    Not sad. I was given a dirty plate on one visit and had a fly in the water on the second and last visit.

  • Pat Palmer

    Actually, since this is a fair question, I’ll be more explicit. I remember clearly the first time I went to this restaurant, and instead of finding a soup of rasam, sambar or mulligatawny (the classic Indian soups always there before), there was no soup. When soup finally came out, it was yellow, unrecognizable and not very good. The fried vegetables also were not crisp and not kept warm. There was no lentils (to eat with rice–a stable for us vegetarians, and available in MOST Indian restaurants). I started paying attention, and that’s when it became clear the the cooks were no longer Indian–and clearly did not know how to cook Indian food very well. I thought they would figure this out over time, but it didn’t happen. So the decision to employ these particular cooks and not train them adequately was IMO a poor business decision. It may not be the main reason for closure, but I stopped going there as often after that. I did still go, but just saying it wasn’t what it formerly was. The food was still palatable, but not AS good–and not as Indian.

  • Pat Palmer

    The food no longer tasted like Indian food, and often Indian meal staples such as lentils were not even available. The soups were definitely no longer Indian soups. If a restaurant claims to offer Indian food, then it should. Anyone can read up and learn–but they didn’t.

  • curious

    so people of certain ethnic groups don’t know how to cook?

  • Pat Palmer

    I’m sad about it closing. It formerly was one of my favorite lunch brunch places, until the food quality fell off. The cooks were no longer Indian (guess which ethnic group, if not?) and the food was neither authentic nor particularly healthful any longer. I loved the place but it had become a shadow of itself.

    I must also say that landlords are pricing businesses out of existence all over town. The trend worries me. Greed run amok.

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