February 6, 2019

Princeton’s First Restaurant Week Is Not Limited to Priciest Eateries

By Anne Levin

In cities across the globe, an annual tradition known as Restaurant Week allows diners to sample the fare at establishments they might otherwise be unable to afford. But in Princeton, where the first Restaurant Week will be launched March 10 to 17, just about every eatery is participating.

That means that foodies will be able to partake of special menus at restaurants ranging from PJ’s Pancake House and Princeton Soup & Sandwich to Eno Terra and The Peacock Inn. While many establishments will be offering fixed-priced menus of $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner, some of the lower-priced restaurants will be inviting diners in with other types of incentives.

“We really wanted to open it up to everybody,” said Michelle Pirone Lambros, whose company, Princeton Promotions, is marketing the event. “Whatever the smaller restaurants want to do is fine. We’re leaving it open to them. But we definitely wanted to include them. So not every restaurant has the $20 lunch and $35 menu.”

Lambros, who recently announced her candidacy for Princeton Council, said the goal is to generate interest in the entire local gastronomic scene. “This is traditionally a slow time for restaurants, so it’s the perfect time,” she said.

Restaurant Week dates from 1992, when Tim Zagat of the Zagat Survey and Manhattan restauranteur Joe Baum dreamed up the concept. The two had no idea their idea would morph into a national and international institution. New York City’s Restaurant Week has been such a success that it has expanded into a four-week event.

“The original four-day event was created as a goodwill gesture to the 15,000 reporters coming to cover that year’s Democratic National Convention,” Zagat wrote in The Atlantic  magazine in 2011. “Frankly, we thought it would be a short-term money loser but have long-term PR benefit for New York and the restaurant industry. Now, almost 20 years later, restaurant weeks have become a tradition in city after city because they appeal to both customers and restaurants. In short: they are a win-win.”

Princeton’s Restaurant Week is presented by the Princeton Merchants Association and MacLean Agency. Sponsors include the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, WPST, Princeton University’s Office of Community and Regional Affairs, the Yankee Doodle Tap Room at the Nassau Inn, JM Group, and Witherspoon Media Group.

As of this week, participating restaurants are: Agricola, Alchemist & Barrister, Blue Point Grill, Cargot Brasserie, The Dinky Bar & Kitchen, Eno Terra, Fenwick Catering, Jammin’ Crepes, Local Greek, Mezzaluna, Mistral, Nassau Street Seafood, The Peacock Inn, PJ’s Pancake House, Princeton Soup & Sandwich, Teresa Caffe, Trattoria Procaccino, Witherspoon Grill, and The Yankee Doodle Tap Room.

“Restaurant Week is now held in a lot of cities, even as close as New Brunswick, Hopewell, and Lawrenceville,” said Lambros. “It’s about time Princeton had one.”