March 19, 2014

elements Restaurant Plans a Move To Building That Houses Mistral

elements, the high-end restaurant on Bayard Lane co-owned by businessman Stephen Distler and chef Scott Anderson, may be moving to the building on Witherspoon Street that currently houses Mistral, another of the pair’s eateries, and The UPS Store. The space now occupied by UPS will be converted into two-story setting for elements if municipal approvals are granted.

“We like the building [on Bayard Lane], but the space is a little too large for what we’re doing at elements these days. And we think consolidating operations downtown would prove better for both elements and Mistral,” said Mr. Distler, who is a vice chairman of the Bank of Princeton and owns the two buildings. “The liquor license that goes with elements would be available to Mistral, which currently doesn’t have one.”

The newly combined building would keep Mistral where it is while adding a bar for elements in the adjacent first floor space that now houses UPS. A staircase and elevator would take patrons to the second floor, where the elements dining room would be located. Formerly occupied by Music Together, it has been vacant for a year and a half.

“That space will have elements’ kitchen and a private dining space that both can share,” said Mr. Distler. “It would overlook the library and Witherspoon Street.” The downstairs bar would be 1,400 square feet, while the second floor space measures 2,800 square feet.

Elements opened in 2008, and Mistral began operations last May. While elements’ offerings include a $43 “Niman Ranch ribeye” and a $125 chef’s tasting menu (“add $75 with beverage pairings”), Mistral’s more modestly priced menu is focused on small plates, the priciest of which is “36 hour beef cheek” at $22.

“They have very different concepts, with very different experiences,” Mr. Distler said of the two restaurants. “Elements is a unique dining experience we hope to take to a higher level when we relocate, in ways I can’t describe at the moment. Mistral is more of a fast-paced, lower-priced option. The only thing in common is that they both have phenomenal food. Both of our chefs [Mr. Anderson and Ben Nerenhausen] have been mentioned by the James Beard Foundation and are up for awards this year.”

Mr. Distler said he filed an application with the town last week. The plan must first be considered by municipal staff before going to the Site Plan Review Advisory Board (SPRAB) and the Planning Board. Asked about selling the elements building, he said, “We’ve had some interest. But we’re not there yet.”

Work on an outdoor patio is currently underway at Mistral, which the owners hope will be ready this spring. While there is no timeline yet for the move of elements, Mr. Distler said he would love to have it completed by November, in time for the winter holidays. “But that may be a little challenging, depending on how long it takes to get through all the approvals,” he added. “We’re talking about not a small amount of construction.”