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Hinkson's Will Move From Current Spot For New Restaurant

Matthew Hersh

Hinkson's, a 42-year resident of 82 Nassau Street, has announced it has signed a new tenant to its current space, and will continue to explore options for a relocation that will take place sometime in the spring, owners said.

Qdoba Grill, a Tex-Mex restaurant, will move in after the office supply store finds a new location.

Describing a strong business lodged in a space too large for its needs, Hinkson's owners said they have set their sights on Nassau Street after looking at the Princeton Shopping Center as a possible destination.

"We're not going out of business, we're still going to be here, we thought the shopping center would be the right move, but we have a nice base of people in-town," said John Roberto, who, along with Andrew Mangone, operates the store. Mr. Roberto, his mother Rosemary and brother Scott, run Town Management, the managing firm that owns the building.

In addition to Hinkson's, the building's tenants are Zorba's Brother, Burger King, Knight Dreams Comics, and Yanna Psychic Reader & Advisor. Mr. Roberto said the current 3,000 square-foot space Hinkson's occupies is beyond the needs of the store, and that they are looking for a space about half that size. Until recently, the store had been negotiating with Princeton Shopping Center to occupy a space of about 1,500 square-feet, Mr. Roberto said.

Those negotiations, however, faltered after a tenant at the Shopping Center raised objections to Hinksons's presence, Mr. Roberto added.

It was the prospect of an available space at the Shopping Center that prompted the owners to rent out Hinksons's current site, a prime location downtown.

"We were thinking, 'this is 3,000 square-feet, we don't belong in this spot, and we require about half of this'," Mr. Mangone said. "We grew up in this building, but we had to think with our heads, and we pursued the Shopping Center."

According to Mr. Mangone, the Shopping Center had a space available for February, and the two planned to move forward with a deal.

"While this was all going on, somebody was not happy with us coming down there," he said.

Messrs. Mangone and Roberto had wanted a location that would lend itself to both walk-in and drive-up traffic.

"We signed a lease for this place (82 Nassau Street), and we told [the Shopping Center] that we had to be out of here in six months and they said 'I guess our answer is no'."

"I think the rental office at the Shopping Center understands, but I don't think the management people have their fingers on the pulse of the community," Mr. Mangone added.

Dana Comfort, executive vice president of George Comfort & Sons, the Manhattan-based managing agent of the Shopping Center, would not discuss the specifics of the lease that never materialized, but said the Shopping Center had wanted Hinkson's as a tenant. He did say, however, the reasons for the failed negotiations were "more complicated" than the tenant's objections.

Hinkson's has long sought a smaller space because only approximately 30 percent of its business is generated from the retail end. A large, and growing, portion of their business, Mr. Mangone added, is through larger accounts with area schools and offices.

As for moving, Mr. Roberto said many of the specialty products that Hinkson's had discontinued in the past few years will return, along with "things you can't find."

"We'll have the better products that people in this area want," he said.

Mr. Roberto's father, Bert, bought the shop from Harold Hinkson in 1960. At the time Hinkson's was located in Upper Pyne, the building razed in 1963 to make way for One Palmer, the current home of J. Crew and PNC Bank. Upper Pyne was the sister building to Lower Pyne, still standing on the northeast corner of Nassau and Witherspoon Streets.

Hinkson's moved to the unit where Hulit's Shoes currently resides, and in the 1970s, moved to 82 Nassau Street.

The little office store keeps moving around on Nassau Street, but it is certainly not going away.

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