May 28, 2014
ALL ABOUT ACCESSORIES: “I like color, and I like texture. We specialize in scarves, jewelry, and handbags. My mix of accessories is culled from my own love of the items as well as listening to what my customers want.” Hannah Schussel is owner of Hannah! Jewelry & Accessories, the new shop on Chambers Street.

ALL ABOUT ACCESSORIES: “I like color, and I like texture. We specialize in scarves, jewelry, and handbags. My mix of accessories is culled from my own love of the items as well as listening to what my customers want.” Hannah Schussel is owner of Hannah! Jewelry & Accessories, the new shop on Chambers Street.

Accessories complete the fashion statement. They also add flair, fun, and flourish.

Now, there is a shop in Princeton that is all about accessories. Hannah! Jewelry & Accessories opened in March at 6 Chambers Street, and is ready to help with that special look.

“I love being a retailer. This is what I do,” explains owner Hannah Schussel. She certainly has experience. Former owner of Toys …. The Store on Palmer Square for several years, Ms. Schussel went on to wear many hats at the gift shop at McCarter Theater. “I created, managed, and bought for that shop for 12½ years. When it closed last year, I realized that I missed it. Just as I felt all those years ago when we began our toy store, being a retailer is part of me. I love the interaction with people it allows me.”

“I especially wanted to be in Princeton. Being part of the Princeton community of merchants feels as if I’m back home with family. And it’s great just being two blocks away from McCarter.”

Special Focus

Ms. Schussel wanted to focus on accessories because “people love them. We have items from around the world, including the U.S., Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. I decided to start with 20 of the most popular lines we had at McCarter, and see what people liked.”

So far, they seem to like everything, with a special focus on scarves, she adds. “The scarves are mostly from Italy, with some from local textile designers as well, and we will also be getting others from Africa,” she reports. “They are silk, cotton, and viscose (natural fiber), and the very large ones are especially popular. They range in price from $29 to $97.”

The selection includes a variety of over-size multi-colored choices in gorgeous designs as well as smaller sizes. “We also have vintage scarves with fabric from the 1920s and 30s, with fringes done by women in Bolivia,” says Ms. Schussel. “And, people are buying more than one. A woman came in recently, got one as a gift for a friend, and then bought one for herself. This happens all the time.”

The eclectic jewelry collection is also intriguing customers, she adds. “It’s like eye candy! We offer up-to-the-minute costume jewelry always based on seasonal fashion colors. And our prices are for everyone — a very wide range, including crystal studs from Germany for $19. We have items from Patricia Locke and also Anne Koplik, who designs all the jewelry for ‘Dancing With the Stars’. In addition, the jewelry from Pink Powder in England incorporates semi-precious stones and very avant garde styles.”

Clip-on Earrings

“Another line from Detail includes antique brass and cabochons, that is, cone-shaped multi-surface glass, which is polished to offer multi facets. There are necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, and they are striking.”

Ms. Schussel also wants customers to know that she offers a selection of clip-on earrings.

Handbags are in a variety of styles, sizes, and colors, including leather designs from Latico; a new clutch line by the designers of Big Buddha bags; and Mei vintage bags with vintage kimono fabric will be available soon. A lovely selection of evening bags is also offered.

Related items include charming purse hangers in assorted colors, which can attach to the edge of a restaurant table, effectively concealing the handbag below the table. Attractive Ponchee purse inserts are also in several colors, with spaces for cell phone, wallet, etc. They are pretty enough to be used as a small purse, offered at $35.

AirQuart see-through travel plastic cosmetic bags from Flannabag are popular at $21, and the same company offers jewelry pockets.

Ms. Schussel notes that rolling travel bags will also be available soon. Small eyeglass magnets — the glasses attach to the magnet, which is worn near the shoulder — are another popular choice, and there is also a nice selection of hair accessories.

Engaging Collection

Men are not forgotten, and wallets and cuff links are available for them. In addition, a selection of greeting cards — all handpicked by Ms. Schussel — rounds out the engaging collection of items in this charming shop.

“I look forward to having a shop that people will go out of their way to visit and spend time in,” says Ms. Schussel. “Our customers are all ages, and we have a price range for everyone — from $15 to several hundred dollars. I want people to feel comfortable and at home — just as they did at the toy store. They can try things on, sit down, and see what they like. I really enjoy the interaction with everyone, and I am so glad that people are finding me.”

She adds that special 10 percent discounts are available for former McCarter Gift Shop customers and for first time customers to Hannah! In addition, a special “Celebrate Princeton” discount will be offered to Princeton University alumni wearing orange and black during Reunions weekend.

Hannah! is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday, Friday until 7, and Sunday noon to 5. (609)921-2490. Website:


May 14, 2014
SPRING PLANTING: “After nearly 50 years, we are still true to our initial intent of offering unusual plant material and horticultural enjoyment to our customers.” David Scudder, owner of Ambleside Gardens & Nursery, looks forward to sharing Ambleside’s outstanding selection of plants, trees, and shrubs, all ready for springtime splendor.

SPRING PLANTING: “After nearly 50 years, we are still true to our initial intent of offering unusual plant material and horticultural enjoyment to our customers.” David Scudder, owner of Ambleside Gardens & Nursery, looks forward to sharing Ambleside’s outstanding selection of plants, trees, and shrubs, all ready for springtime splendor.

Named for a village in the Lake District of England, Ambleside Gardens and Nursery was opened in 1965 by Townsend and Mary Scudder. Located on Route 206 in Belle Mead, it was a smaller version of what it is today: a thriving family-owned nursery and landscape center.

When the Scudders opened Ambleside, there were no other garden centers in the area. They offered a garden shop, fully stocked with plants, trees, and shrubs, and also a landscaping service. In addition, an international gift shop, filled with items from around the world, became a uniquely popular part of the Ambleside scene.

The Scudders developed a loyal and growing clientele over the years, with customers coming not only from Princeton and the area, but from New York, Long Island, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Ambleside has been the subject of articles in books, magazines, and newspapers, and has also won numerous awards, including five Governor’s Trophies for Best in Show at the New Jersey Flower Show.

When Mr. and Mrs. Scudder retired to Vermont last year, Ambleside remained in the family. Their son David had taken on the reins of ownership earlier, and is determined to continue the Ambleside legacy. Formerly in charge of the landscaping service, he has a long history and strong interest and expertise in horticulture.

Busiest Time

“I helped out here as a boy. We all did — my brothers and sister — and I developed a liking for it,” he explains. “I came on full-time in 1982, and I helped people with the design and organization of their landscapes. What grows well where, what plants like sun or shade, and when and where they should be planted. It’s important to put a plant where it wants to be, whether it’s in sun or shade. And if a plant will grow to be 20 feet, don’t plant it under a bay window!”

This is the busiest time of year — from April until the beginning of June, adds Mr. Scudder. “People are interested in gardening, and even though there are a lot of things competing for their free time, gardening remains a popular activity.”

Among other things, it is a great stress reliever. In this high tech age, when everyone seems so rushed, the hands-on experience of digging in the soil is very basic. It’s relaxing, therapeutic, gets people outside, provides exercise, and can be a family activity. It can also be a special awakening moment for children.

In the words of Townsend Scudder, “What’s more exciting than putting in a seed, and seeing the miracles that happen? From seeds grow gardens of miracles!”

Gardening is a welcome activity for all ages, including the older generation, he adds. “it gives people something to look forward to, to remain curious about, and keeps them young.” He may be on to something. Supporting evidence comes from an expert. “But though I am an old man, I am but a young gardener,” wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1811. Mr. Jefferson lived to be 83.

Gardening does take some effort, however. As Mary Scudder noted, with a smile, “A lot of people want a beautiful garden without work or with low maintenance. That just won’t happen. Low maintenance means on your knees! Of course, we can help with information on what plants grow well where, and what needs a lot of maintenance, what will take dry soil, wet soil, etc.”

Time Schedule

It is also helpful to know which plants can be planted early and which should wait for guaranteed warm temperatures. The knowledgeable Ambleside staff is ready to provide information to customers regarding the appropriate time schedule.

“Pansies are popular now, and they like cool temperatures, as does alyssum,” notes David Scudder. Roses can be planted now, and also, cold weather vegetables, such as lettuce and spinach. Flowering trees, including cherry, dogwood, pear, and plums are very popular, and can be planted now, also forsythia, azalea, hydrangea, and rhododendron.

A number of perennials, such as primroses, bleeding hearts, Christmas and Lenten roses, and foxglove, can also be planted in cooler temperatures.

“To be safe, wait until May 15 to plant many annuals, including geraniums, petunias, snapdragons, and impatiens, when there is no risk of frost,” advises Mr. Scudder. “Also, these are all popular for hanging baskets and container gardens on decks and terraces.

“This winter was very hard on plants and trees, especially newer ones,” he adds. “The ground was frozen for such a long time, it was hard on the root system.”

One of the major issues facing gardeners and those who enjoy their flowering landscape is the deer problem. If fencing is not an option, there are ways to discourage the deer, whether by using deterrent products or incorporating plants unattractive to them.

Deterrent Products

“There are many plants deer don’t like, including perennial geraniums, ferns, ornamental grasses, and Siberian iris, as well as such shrubs as boxwood, gold cypress, and spirea,” points out Mr. Scudder. “In addition, vinca and lantana have become popular annuals because the deer don’t like them.”

Among the deterrent products are Deer-Off and Milorganite, and it is a good idea to alternate them for the best results.

Ambleside has long been known for its collection of unusual plant material, and this continues to set this garden center apart. “We try to have a niche, and people know we have rare and unusual plants, including many dwarf evergreens, dwarf pines, and dwarf spruces. Our collection of Japanese maples is very well-known, and we have 100 different varieties. I like introducing people to something different, unusual plants they have never known about.

“And I like helping them learn where to plant so the garden will flourish,” continus Mr. Scudder. “We have a complimentary landscape consultation service here. Customers can bring in a printed photo of their property and a scaled diagram, and we will help them establish a garden.

“I am always pleasantly surprised when I meet younger people interested in plants and gardening. Sometimes, we get second generations of customers, who came here as kids, then moved away, and now have come back. They like to bring their children to see the fish in our pond, but they are interested in learning about the plants and gardening.”

Customers will also find a varied selection of garden ornaments and statuary, wind chimes, and bird feeders, all popular items in the spring. “We are always happy to find items made in the U.S. and be able to offer them to customers,” says Mr. Scudder. “Our gift shop, although especially popular at Christmas, is open every season, and we try very hard to find things from all over the world, including the U.S.”

Ambleside, with its current vista of color, attractive and convenient arrangement of plantings in appropriate settings, and with descriptive maps and informative charts, is a delightful place to visit. Never more so than in the spring.

A welcoming place for all ages, it is open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday until 8, and Sunday 10 to 5. (908) 359-8388. Website:


April 29, 2014
NTU Zastra 1-15-14

FASHIONABLE LOOK: “This jacket features hand-sewn sequins. If you have a black dress, you can add the jacket for a fashionable look. It’s a great way to dress up your outfit.” Aruna Arya, owner of Zastra, the new women’s boutique on Palmer Square, is shown with a selection of her own designs, including this gold jacket with unique sequinned handwork.

“What you love to wear is fashion!”

Aruna Arya should know. As a fashion designer and owner of Zastra, the new women’s boutique at 28 Palmer Square East, Ms. Arya is an expert on the latest styles and trends in today’s fashion.

It is about comfort, individuality, informality, and versatility. Unlike times past, when the great fashion houses of Paris, London, and New York set strict guidelines about styles, skirt lengths, and the like, today it is up to the individual.

“Some women are looking for something totally different, unusual,” points out Ms. Arya. “I have always been attracted to comfortable clothing myself, and I incorporate that in my designs — free-flowing and often cotton, with an informal theme and lots of color.”

Originally from India, Ms. Arya earned master degrees in fashion design and fashion business administration in the U.S. and India. She worked for several years as a designer in San Francisco, where she developed a network of colleagues in the fashion industry.

“I worked with designer Joseph Domingo, and I learned a lot from him,” she notes.

Vivid Colors

India is known for its stunningly vivid colors and color combinations, and Ms. Arya’s styles often reflect this intriguing mosaic. “My knowledge of Indian fashion helps me in selecting a fine fabric, experimenting with colors, and achieving the highest quality of hand embroidery.”

Formerly owner of the women’s shop, Miss Simoni, Ms. Arya opened her new boutique in November, offering her own designs as well as those of others, all under the Zastra label.

“Beaded items are special for me,” she explains. “I love to design them; they are hand-sewn in India, and the garments are one-of-a-kind. The workmanship is unique.

“Also, from the time I started Miss Simoni, I established myself as a fashion designer for private clients in town. I’ve had a lot of referrals and word-of-mouth. I did two wardrobes for one client, and another woman wanted me to design a dress when she was presented with a lifetime achievement award. She wanted me to include a variety of her other awards and logos into the dress. It was quite a challenge! I am currently designing a bridal outfit for a bride in Princeton.

“My designs appeal to all ages,” she continues. “If I’m feeling youthful, I’ll do youthful sketches. If I am feeling more established and mature, I’ll do other kinds of sketches. Generally, the sizes run from extra small to extra large.”

Dresses and jackets in a variety of styles are on display in the charming shop, and many feature hand-sewn beading. Sophisticated styling is prominent, including an elegantly individualized red jacket which can add sparkle to a black dress. Another look is a military-style jacket, also one of Ms. Arya’s designs.

Exceptional Scarves

Assorted outerwear, including wool coats and jackets, offer a variety of styles for the winter, and the selection of scarves is exceptional. Gorgeous lightweight wool choices, often with fringe and tassels, feature digitally printed designs in beautiful color combinations.

“The scarves are highly popular,” notes Ms. Arya. “A scarf is something you can always wear; it can enhance any outfit, and complete the fashion statement. We have all kinds and sizes of scarves, starting at $40. People love our scarves so much!”

Jewelry is another favorite at Zastra, with a variety of colorful choices from $25. “Jewelry is a great quick gift,” she points out, “and our necklaces have been especially popular.”

Handbags, also important accessories, are another specialty, including striking designs in leather.

Ms. Arya adds that she is very pleased that many customers from Miss Simoni are coming to Zastra, as well as many new clients.

“I saw all the colorful items in the window,” reports Princeton resident Lisa Granozio, who came into the store recently on impulse, and purchased several items. “The shop has such a nice open space and an eclectic look, and I love supporting new local business owners.”

Zastra always has a number of promotions and events, including shopping parties with refreshments and music, adds Ms. Arya. “Friends and customers come in to celebrate birthdays or other occasions and have a fashion night out. I always have a promotion for the party with discounted prices. The person who is having the birthday asks the guests not to bring presents, but to buy something, and I donate a portion of the sales to a charity of her choice. These have been very popular and a lot of fun.”

Team Effort

Ms. Arya is delighted to be off to such a good start at the Palmer Square location, and is grateful to Palmer Square management.

“I want to say that it is a blessing to be here on Palmer Square. The management is so helpful. They work with you, and it is a real team effort. I also appreciate all the ladies — customers and friends — who believed in me. They gave me the courage to do this. They make me feel like a Princetonian!

“I think customers find that Zastra is set apart by the fact that everything here is very original, and many items — more than half — have been designed by me,” continues Ms. Arya. “A lot are also made in the U.S., and many of the other designers are young, just beginning, and have new and fresh ideas. A lot of customers, including tourists, who come in, say they only want to shop in a local, independent store. They are looking for something different, and appreciate our quality designs and the unique materials we offer.

“Zastra means ‘art’ in Sanskrit, and I wanted to make the boutique like an art studio.”

The boutique is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 to 8:30, Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 924-5752. Web:

—Jean Stratton

April 23, 2014
SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: “I am an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister, and also a spiritual director, sometimes called spiritual guide or spiritual companion,” explains Reverend Laura Craig. She offers spiritual guidance to people of many backgrounds.

SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: “I am an ordained interfaith/interspiritual minister, and also a spiritual director, sometimes called spiritual guide or spiritual companion,” explains Reverend Laura Craig. She offers spiritual guidance to people of many backgrounds.

Reverend Laura Craig wants to assist people on their spiritual journey, share their doubts and questions, and ultimately help them discover the spiritual path that is right for them.

“The focus of interfaith ministry is that everyone’s path is legitimate, holy, and good for them,” explains Reverend Laura.

An interfaith/interspiritual minister and spiritual director, Reverend Laura traveled her on own journey before she found that her life work was in helping others achieve spiritual well-being. Growing up in Westchester County, New York, she attended the Catholic Church and Catholic schools, and her best friend was Jewish. “I went to her family’s Seders and other religious celebrations, and I was always wondering about different faiths at a young age,” says Rev. Laura.

Majoring in biology at Fordham University, she found that she was focused on other areas, and “my spirituality was on the back burner for a while.”

Spiritual Awakening

After graduating, she married, had a child, and later went on to earn a masters degree in food science at Rutgers University. Then, several years ago, she developed chronic fatigue syndrome, which forced her to stop working due to severe exhaustion and other symptoms. During this time, she consulted physicians, therapists, herbalists, and a number of other specialists in her search for a means of recovery.

“I was so exhausted that I was basically unable to do anything,” she explains. “However, my spiritual life blossomed during my illness. There can be a spiritual awakening during a low period of one’s life.”

Gradually, her energy returned, and she set up a monthly support group at St. Joseph’s Church in Hillsborough to help people going through a divorce. “It was anywhere from eight to 12 people, and it was helpful to them and me,” points out Rev. Laura. “I had something to do and was entering life again. In time, the group expanded to weekly meetings.”

“At one point, a woman called, and wanted to be part of the group. She was Jewish, and this was a Christian-based program. I said I would try to make it more interfaith-oriented, but she felt she couldn’t participate. So, I thought I could develop my own interfaith program. I decided on three 13 week group sessions during the year, and it went very well.”

“Every week, there was a different topic. Divorce is like a hurricane — everything is torn apart. We also had an opening and closing prayer, which I wrote. By this time, I was healthier, and after getting a part-time job, I decided I wanted to go to school to become a spiritual director. I had found that my own spirituality was becoming more and more important to me, and the desire to be a spiritual director came out of my experience with the support group. I saw that people could surely benefit from spiritual direction.”

She attended Oasis School in Pennsylvania, which offered a two-year program. “You study all the different religions, looking at how people pray and how they relate to their God,” explains Rev. Laura. “One of the important lessons was that they said you have to let go of everything you know and learn how to listen. This is an ancient concept.”

Same Truths

“I learned more about all the religions, and my whole world opened up. There was a new awareness of how other people pray and practice their faith. Actually, the central part of every religion is really the same, with the same essence: faith in a higher power, and all stress the same truths, including goodness and righteousness.”

As a spiritual director, Rev. Laura can serve as a companion to anyone who is on a spiritual journey. “Basically, the only requirement for spiritual direction is one’s desire and openness to discuss, express, or grow in intimacy with God,” she explains. “You, the directee, decide what to discuss. Whatever is going on in your life is the entrance way for us to explore together where God is taking initiative and your responses to God’s actions. As director, I allow time and space for discussion, reflection, and prayer.”

Rev. Laura notes that many reasons prompt someone to see a spiritual director. “Feelings of spiritual emptiness, unconnectedness, restlessness, and the realization that one’s childhood faith is no longer enough are all reasons. Sometimes, one might have a powerful experience of the Divine, and need to discuss what has happened with someone who would understand.”

Rev. Laura is also a member of Spiritual Direction International, which has a website, offering information and guidance.

Continuing to seek ways to offer spiritual help to others, Rev. Laura discovered the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City in 2008. “Looking into it, I felt it was the right place for me. The two-year program consisted of lots of reading, writing papers, and going to different houses of worship. We spent a month on each of the major religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and Native American faith practices. “We would worship with the people of all these different faiths, saying the prayers, reading the scriptures, and learning about them. It was complete immersion.”

“Interfaith ministry and interspirituality are relatively new terms on the spiritual landscape,” she continues. “Interfaith ministry enables one to minister to people of all faiths, when traditional venues cannot meet their needs. Interspirituality means that whichever spiritual path is mindfully chosen by someone, it will lead to the same Divine Unknown, the same Creator, the same God.”

Personalized Ceremonies

“All authentic spiritual traditions, at their core, are committed to the common values of peace, tolerance, wisdom, compassionate service, and love for all creation. Beneath the diversity of theological beliefs, rites, and observations lies the deeper common ground built on a clear understanding of authentic spiritual experience.”

Ordained as an interfaith minister, Rev. Laura can perform christenings, weddings, and funerals. “It is very personalized,” she explains. “I create the ceremonies for the people, and it is very individualized. An interfaith/interspiritual minister can meet the needs of someone’s life circumstances when traditional religions may not. For example, a couple not practicing any particular spiritual path may want to publicly welcome their baby and not know anyone to officiate at their ceremony. An interfaith/interspiritual minister will create and personalize a service that is meaningful to them and their guests.”

Reverend Laura also hopes to offer a series of retreats, including music, meditation, and reflection,  which will be held at her location at the Fellowship in Prayer at 291 Witherspoon Street. She is a member of the Princeton Clergy, and is also involved in prison ministry.

As she says, “We are all human, and all have the same needs and longings and frustrations. I witness that over and over again. My job as a spiritual director is to listen beneath the words to show them where God is working in their lives. I am a spiritual person, and I want to walk with people on their spiritual journey.”

“My highest aspiration as interfaith/interspiritual minister is to become a bridge between people of different faiths, enabling them to respect and honor each other’s traditions in an effort to bring some peace into our very broken world.”

Rev. Laura can be reached at (908) 281-6776. Website:


FAVORITE FOOD: “There is a lot of expertise here. We are very well-educated about food. We make everything from scratch, and we really pride ourselves on the depth of our flavors.” ­Carol and Norman Todd, owners of Market Roost in Flemington, are proud of their establishment’s 33-year-old history.

FAVORITE FOOD: “There is a lot of expertise here. We are very well-educated about food. We make everything from scratch, and we really pride ourselves on the depth of our flavors.” ­Carol and Norman Todd, owners of Market Roost in Flemington, are proud of their establishment’s 33-year-old history.

The Market Roost is a Flemington treasure! Located at 65 Main Street, this caterer, restaurant, and gift gallery has been pleasing its customers since it opened in 1981. Situated in the Flemington historic district, it offers professional service in a friendly and charming setting.

Then, there is the food!

Owner and chef Norman Todd is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and served as chef in many fine restaurants in California and Florida before opening Market Roost. His co-owner and wife Carol Todd is the pastry chef, food stylist, and catering event planner, as well as overseer of the eclectic gift selection.

“The business really evolved,” notes Ms. Todd. “Originally, we had planned to be a market, and then we decided to have a restaurant too. People would come in to buy items, and then stay to eat. The 1980s were a time of a renaissance in food.”

Brunch and Lunch

“The catering business came along a bit later. We started as an eatery for brunch and lunch. Then, eight months after we opened, a customer asked if we could cater her wedding. Now, we do all kinds of catering — corporate, private, and lots of weddings. It’s all across the board, and everything is customized. We do the total package. We have an in-house floral designer, and we work with a great rental company.”

With the advent of the internet, the Market Roost’s reputation, already well-established, has spread even farther afield, reports Ms. Todd. “Recently, an independent film  company from Brooklyn, N.Y. found our website, and contacted us. “They were in Hunterdon County for a project, and they wanted catering for their company. They were very pleased with the results!”

The Market Roost is available for every kind of party and event, from picnics to elegant galas — both residential and corporate. “We did a Texas-style barbecue and then a corporate event for 1000 guests. It really varies. We start getting very busy in March with engagement parties and showers, and St. Patrick’s Day events. Then, of course, in the spring, summer, and fall, there are lots of weddings.

“Menus can be theme-oriented to include foods of Tuscany, Caribbean and Latino foods, French and Asian influences,” continues Ms. Todd, who also specializes in menu development. “Menus are developed by the customer’s food wishes and budget. We are very flexible, and work closely with our clients. Many catered events are held at private homes, offices, or at one of Hunterdon County’s historical sites. We have access to many off-site locations.”

The Market Roost has a very loyal clientele, both for catering and dining at the restaurant, and they come from all over, notes Ms. Todd. “We get people from northern N.J., New York City, and even California, when they are in the area.”

The enthusiastic critiques the Market Roost has received in the local press, as well as in The New York Times and Star Ledger, among others, has reinforced its reputation. It was also featured on the Food Network for a year on Dining Around, and its recipes were included in specialty cookbooks, and the Zagat Dining Guide.

Thanksgiving Dinner

“We often have young couples and professionals from Manhattan who come out to enjoy weekends in the country,” notes Ms. Todd. “They become repeat customers here. One of our regulars in Manhattan sent his chauffeur to pick up Thanksgiving dinner for 12. Locally, we have a lot of people from Princeton and Montgomery Township.”

Open for breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea and pastries, the Market Roost is especially known for its super Sunday brunches. “Our special Sunday brunch menu has been reviewed and rated by many food critics as one of the best Sunday brunches to be found,” says Ms. Todd. “Each item is individually prepared by Norman with the infusion of many flavors. Everything is made from scratch. The Eggs Benedict with freshly-made Hollandaise sauce are extremely popular. Also our Kahlua French toast includes thick sliced egg bread, is egg-dipped, pan-cooked with clarified, unsalted butter, topped with Vermont maple syrup and toasted almonds, and choice of bacon, sausage, or ham.

Other brunch specialties are corned beef hash (house-cured beef brisket, Idaho potato, Italian parsley, and cracked black pepper), served with a poached egg; baked croissant with French brie, Granny Smith apples, and honey mustard; fresh pineapple corn fritters, with Vermont maple syrup, choice of bacon, Pennsylvania linked sausage, or ham; and a variety of omelets, specialty pancakes and Belgian waffles.

The lunch menu is equally popular, featuring salads, sandwiches, and assorted chef’s specials. “Norman’s veggie and grain burger with creamy honey curry dressing, green salad, tomato dill dressing, multi-grain flatbread with melted cheddar is a real favorite,” says Ms. Todd. “By the way, we have 12 different salad dressings made from scratch.”

Salads and Sandwiches

Other popular choices are quiche with hand-rolled parmesan crust, roasted root vegetables or caramelized onion and bacon, Gruyere cheese and custard, green salad or fresh fruit; jumbo lump crab cakes with cole slaw, tartar sauce, and corn muffin. The Market Roost’s international theme is evidenced by its inclusion of spanakopita, with Greek style spinach and feta cheese enveloped in filo with Greek salad.

Salads include chicken breast; Caesar; seasoned warmed roasted vegetables over fresh mixed greens; organic grain (high protein grain with veggies, and hummus); Oriental spring rolls with mixed greens; and tapas platter (including Green salad), among others. Salads and sandwiches start at $7.95, and chef’s specials range from $9.50 to $14.50.

Pastries and baked goods have always been a strong part of the Market Roost’s business, and all baking is done from scratch, with the finest ingredients, emphasizes Ms. Todd. “Our baking is European-style. We baked croissants early in the 80s when the American public was just beginning to know what a croissant was. Muffins, scones, sticky buns, pies, quiches, cakes, tortes, wedding, and special occasion cakes are made with fresh fillings and European-style butter cream.

“We are food artists,” she adds. “We love what we do. A woman has been coming in twice a week to bake with me for the past 25 years. Baking is very labor-intensive. It can take eight hours to make a wedding cake.”

Popular baked choices include Granny Smith apple cake with sour cream, lemon pound cake, black velvet flourless chocolate cake, creme brulee Cheesecake, and carrot cake. Four kinds of biscotti, various brownies, cookies, and cupcakes are other tasty treats.

Pies are another big focus, and Ms. Todd is especially noted for her fruit pies. “There is more interest in fruit pies now, and I fill my pies with an abundance of fruit. Cherry is a real favorite.”

Coffee, cappuccino, hot chocolate, and a variety of teas are also available.

Gift Selection

Ms. Todd adds that generally, people are interested in healthier diets today, and have moved away from some of the richer choices that were previously popular. “We have always emphasized farm to table. There is so much local produce here in the summer that we have always been able to offer the freshest products.”

In addition to the food, including cheeses, baked goods to go, gift baskets, handmade chocolates, and an eclectic home accessories gift selection are available. The shelves are filled with everything from pottery from Tuscany to candles and napkins to platters and teacups to a very popular jewelry selection.

Providing a pleasant, relaxed environment is important to the Todds. “Customers say they feel good when they come here,” notes Ms. Todd. “I always tell them to relax and take their time. We want them to take time to savor the taste!”

Among those who have done just that was the late Julia Child, who had a home in the area. “She enjoyed coming in to eat and spending time here” recalls Ms. Todd. “I like the interaction with the customers who come in to eat and also those who want catering service. We enjoy educating people about food, and I look forward to introducing even more customers to the Market Roost and seeing our business continue to grow.”

The Market Roost is open Wednesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 9:30 to 5, Sunday 9:30 to 2 for brunch, and 2 to 3:30 for lunch. (908) 788-4949. Website:

For catering service, Ms. Todd recommends six months to a year notice for weddings, and at least two weeks for other events.


April 15, 2014

Now that “the winter of our discontent” seems finally to have faded into memory, area residents look forward to getting outside.

Spring cleaning, gardening, and landscaping are all on the agenda, and in addition, this is often the time to target the patio, terrace, or deck. Outdoor living space is the focus of many homeowners, as they look ahead to spring, summer, and fall outside activities.

Bringing the inside out is popular with many people today — they are opting for outdoor kitchens, fireplaces, and a variety of entertainment features on their patios. “Overhead structures have become extremely popular with our clients,” says Steven J. Doerler, owner and president of Doerler Landscapes Inc. in Yardville.

“Our clients are looking to extend the time period that they utilize their outdoor rooms so overhead structures, including roofs and pergolas. are very popular. Overhead structures provide a sense of enclosure and act like a ‘ceiling’ for an outdoor room. The structure then lends itself to the addition of ceiling fans, lights, and infra-red radiant heat. Kitchen stations, fire elements, water features, and seating walls are also popular features. Of course, with our digital society, many of our clients incorporate flat screen TVs, music, and mood lighting that can all be remote-controlled.”

Potential Patio

Greg Powers, owner of Re New Masonry Repair and Renovation in South Brunswick, also points out the popularity of outdoor living reflecting the home’s interior. “Patio designs have changed over the years. I see patios as an extension of the inside of the house. The layout is designed much like an area in the home. You can have a sitting area, similar to a living room, a designated kitchen area, a bar — anything you can imagine.

“Sometimes, a client has a hard time envisioning the size and space of a potential patio. I tell them to go inside the house and look at their living room or kitchen. Measure it, look at what’s inside, how many sofas, tables, chairs, etc.? This can be helpful when designing the patio to determine the size that would best suit the client’s needs.”

Mr. Powers adds that patio sitting walls are favorites with many people today. “They can turn a flat ordinary patio into a comfortable courtyard. Pillars with lights on them are are very popular as well as built-in barbecues.”

The addition of plants and flowers to the patio goes a long way in enhancing its appeal. Many options are available today, as Ronni Hock, owner of Ronni Hock Garden and Landscape in Lawrenceville, points out: “Patio containers are a wonderful idea to add that special touch and color to the patio. I always suggest using plants that grow well in tight spaces. Not all annuals perform well in containers over a longer period of time. Be sure to ask the experts at your garden center if they will last through the summer into the fall.

“Also, use plants that attract hummingbirds or butterflies, such as Salvias, Nicotiana, Lantana, Phygelius, and Verbena, to mention a few. I recommend starting with a large container (18 inches or larger) to be sure the root system of the plants has plenty of space to mature over the summer.

“Using small flowering trees is another favorite of mine. Hydrangeas work well, and smaller Crape Myrtles, evergreens, or a tropical plant called Brugmansia, which will grow into an eight-foot tree in one season, are all good.”

Good Soaking

In addition, continues Ms. Hock, “Use a good mix of potting soil and fertilizers to be sure the plants have all the nutrients they need. Larger containers need less watering. Just give them a really good soaking once or twice a week — especially when the extreme heat kicks in.”

Ms. Hock designs patios of all shapes and sizes, often using natural stone or pavers. As she notes, “Many of my clients in the Greater Princeton area prefer bluestone or a Pennsylvania fieldstone to achieve the historic ‘look and feel’ indigenous to our region. Some people want extensive landscaping or gardens surrounding these outdoor living spaces, which I am delighted to create. Others want a more simple, elegant approach to decorating their patio.”

Steven Doerler reports that many excellent materials are available for patios and terraces today. “The materials that we recommend are often related to the architecture and time period in which a house was built. For older or more traditional homes, we try to incorporate brick, bluestone, or other natural stone products. Newer homes lend themselves to traditional products as well as some of the newer paver products. As a design-focused firm, we concentrate on the utilization and form of the terrace or outdoor room, which will help determine the size and shape of the space.”

Greg Powers notes that the most popular materials with his customers are concrete pavers, clay pavers, and natural stone. “Concrete pavers come in all shapes and sizes, and many colors. They also require more maintenance than clay pavers or natural stone. Clay pavers look like the classic brick that are on many homes. Often they are orange/reddish in color with different variations. They will last decades.

“Natural stone is the most durable of all material and comes in a variety of colors and textures,” he continues. “The one thing that can preserve all of these materials is waterproofing. The freeze/thaw cycle is the culprit in many renovations I do, whether it be steps, retaining walls, or patios and walkways. Not allowing your brick or stone to absorb water will greatly increase its longevity and beauty.”

Both Mr. Doerler and Mr. Powers incorporate 3-D imaging to help customers visualize the finished patio. “Our firm encourages a collaboration approach with our clients, and one of the tools that we utilize to communicate our ideas is 3-D imaging,” points out Mr. Doerler.

“On the Spot”

“It allows us to work with our clients on a myriad of conceptual ideas, which helps us to refine the project scope and budget. With 3-D imaging, we can make revisions ‘on the spot’ relative to materials, so that our clients can fully envision what the finished project will look like.”

“It takes a lot of the guess work out, and customers can get a better feel of what to expect when their patio is complete,” adds Mr. Powers. “I provide a complimentary 3-D design for all customers who are interested in building a patio. Most of the time, it is hard to envision the finished patio from a sketch or from ideas in a book or catalog.

“However, I always maintain a lot of flexibility during the building process because as the patio starts to take shape and all the colors, textures, and dimensions come together, this is when the customers can realistically get a clear picture of their patio. A collaboration is the most gratifying approach to designing and building a patio for the customer and for me. I love feedback. Two creative minds are better than one!”

All sizes and shapes of patios are part of the professional services of Mr. Powers and Mr. Doerler. As the latter notes, “We custom design outdoor space of all shapes and sizes. Recent projects have included removing an old deck and replacing it with a raised terrace. In our case, we are a design/build landscape architectural firm. In our 51st year, we feel that by building the projects we design, we have a great deal of experience with a full range of surface products, their costs and limitations. Being involved in the project from the beginning to the end is very fulfilling when we see the finished project and watch the plan come to life.”

Dream Spaces

“I design everything that I build,” adds Mr. Powers. “It’s a wonderful form of expression. I like to think of myself as an artist first, with good masonry and construction skills to make what I design and build last. I offer a lifetime warranty on all my masonry. I am that confident that if you do it right the first time, there is no reason that the patio can’t look just as beautiful decades from now.”

Costs vary considerably depending on the size and scope of the job and the materials chosen. “Project budgets can range from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars,” points out Mr. Doerler. “One thing that is important to note is that many outdoor spaces can be constructed in phases so we encourage clients to communicate their dream spaces to us and then allow our firm to help guide them to design and implement their dream, whether it is all at once or over time. The more important component is to have a plan. There is the old adage: failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Mr. Powers agrees. “I have done small, intimate sitting patios to large, several thousand square foot brick paver driveways and multi-level patios. Cost is dictated by patio size, elevation, type of materials used and what types of features the client wants, such as outdoor kitchen, walls, pillars, sitting walls, etc.”

Whether it’s a small fix-up or a total redesign and anything in between, with the help of these professionals, you will be able to enjoy your patio for many seasons to come. Your outdoor living space can be transformed into a visual pleasure, integrating the natural beauty of the surroundings. It will be the “go-to” place for you, your family, and friends.

—Jean Stratton


Recycling and repurposing have become the watch words for many in our community today. These environmentally-friendly practices have been adopted by increasing numbers of people who are looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint, lessen the impact on over-burdened landfills, and tend their gardens without chemicals and  pesticides.

One of the most important and popular repurposing projects today is composting. Whether one chooses to create an individual compost project in the back yard or to participate in the Princeton Curbside Organic Program, the opportunities for composting are on the rise.

Started in the Princeton Township Public Works Department (PWD) in June 2011 as a 3-month pilot program for curbside organic waste collection, the Princeton Curbside Organic Program is here to stay. 900 households have already joined in, and the numbers rise daily, notes Janet Pellichero, CPR, recycling coordinator, Department of Public Works, who oversees the program. In 2013, participants kept nearly 325 tons of organic waste from reaching the Pennsylvania landfill used by Princeton. In addition, the program has won an award for innovation from Sustainable Jersey.

“There are many benefits to composting,” notes Ms. Pellichero. “Composting diverts materials away from landfills, which are an expensive and unsustainable method for our waste disposal. Buried waste in a landfill creates methane gas, which is a potent greenhouse gas that is a major contributor to global warming. Waste in a landfill can sit there creating the gas for hundreds of years.


“Huge amounts of organic waste and a special GoreTex cover are incorporated so the compost piles get very hot,” continues Ms. Pellichero. “This means that compost can be made using items that can’t be easily composted in a back yard, such as meat and bones, fish skins, pizza boxes, waxed paper, pits, and yard waste, including sticks and branches. Organics become compost in just 80 days after you put them out for weekly collection. The organic waste is turned into a nutrient-rich and beneficial soil amendment. Our compost is a beautiful material, fine, dark, and full of wonderful nutrients.”

Paticipants in the program receive a 32-gallon wheeled cart with attached lid, a kitchen container, and free compost every spring. The collection fee is $65 per year, and residents can join anytime throughout the year.

This program is separate from the Mercer County recycling program for glass, paper, cardboard, and aluminum, adds Ms. Pellichero, and people would continue to take part in that program.

“Our organic program is a wonderful complement to the County program,” says Ms. Pellichero. “Organic material makes up approximately 20 percent of our solid waste. Removing it from the solid waste and turning it into compost helps increase recycling rates here in Princeton and in Mercer County.


“Our program is very eye-opening,” she adds. “I have spoken to many individuals, organizations, commercial institutions, and municipalities in New Jersey and surrounding states. Even the EPA has contacted us about our program. All are interested in doing similar programs, and realize this truly is the ‘low hanging fruit’ that can easily be captured and diverted from landfills. Over time, municipal solid waste disposal costs will decrease, recyling rates could increase, and valuable landfill space will be created. It really is a win-win program! It benefits our soil and air, our own back yards, and the environment as a whole.”

In addition, Ms. Pellichero encourages residents to continue their own back yard compost projects as well. “Composting is a natural process that turns organic material into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Gardens with healthy levels of compost need less water and fertilizer to give just as much growth as a garden without compost. Our Public Works Department has distributed Earth Machines to our residents over the years. We encourage any method our residents utilize to compost.”

Many homeowners enjoy composting in their back yard. Leaves, fruit and vegetable cuttings, coffee grounds, and tea bags can all be used to create back yard compost. If leaves are used, it is best to shred them, since they break down more easily than whole leaves. Also, mix them with manure (four parts leaves to one part manure). Manure contains nitrogen, which helps the compost to break up and decompose.

Sustainable Princeton is a big supporter of composting, both individually and of the Princeton Curbside Organic Program. “In 2012, Sustainable Princeton applied for and was awarded a $20,000 grant from Sustainable New Jersey to support Janet Pellichero and the PWD in increasing the number of sign-ups for the Curbside Organics Program,” notes Diane Landis, Sustainable Princeton Executive Director.

“Build a Bin”

“Sustainable Princeton also has a back yard compost program called ‘Build a Bin’. There is a design for a back yard compost bin on our website that can be made out of palettes for very little money. One of our board members is a LEED Accredited Architect, and she created the design which has been used to build bins all over town. First by Sustainable Princeton volunteers and staff, and then by Anthony Teng, a high school senior who built bins at the public schools, Princeton University, and homes for his Eagle Scout project. He was awarded his Eagle Scout badge last fall, and received the Sustainable Princeton Leadership Award this February.”

An enthusiastic advocate of composting herself, Ms. Landis has her own back yard composting project. “I would not used cooked foods or meats in a back yard compost bin for fear of rodents. So, if you keep it to veggie and fruit cuttings, coffee grounds, tea bags, and mix it with leaves, the pile will heat right up and turn into black gold! You do want a mixture of brown (carbon-rich) and green (nitrogen-rich). The list of what to put in can be found on our ‘Build a Bin’ website.

“Also,” continues Ms. Landis, “you want to turn the pile of materials two to three times in the spring and fall. Keep it moist but not wet, or it will get slimy. In my case, I have a rolling compost bin. It looks like a side-ways barrel with an opening that locks shut for food scraps, and has aerated openings to help the food compost. I can easily spin it, and it creates lovely compost, but it’s not enough for my whole garden, which is why I love the curbside organic compost we get by being in the program. I love the dark rich soil that comes from the program, and I grow my kale, spinach, tomatoes, lettuce, and peas and flowers in it.”

She echoes Ms. Pellichero’s point that the landfills will soon reach the cut-off point, adding, “Our ground water also gets contaminated, and why not create something usable from what we consider waste? As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, ‘Organic waste composting is the final frontier of recycling.’”

For further information on Princeton’s Curbside Organic Program, call (609) 688-2566 or consult the website:

Information regarding Sustainable Princeton’s “Build a Bin” program is available at

In addition, Smith’s Ace Hardware in the Princeton Shopping Center offers a variety of composting devices and containers in assorted sizes for do-it-yourselfers. The store also sells bags for the Princeton Curbside Organic Program and compost from that program.

—Jean Stratton

April 2, 2014
GOOD SPORTS: “We are teaching kids from kindergarten through eighth grade how to compete with good sportsmanship — and at the same time to have fun. We also pride ourselves on safety. We check each kid in and check the child out to see that they are met by a parent or designated adult.” Johnny Rooney is director of Hit ‘n’ Run Sports Academy and Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp.

GOOD SPORTS: “We are teaching kids from kindergarten through eighth grade how to compete with good sportsmanship — and at the same time to have fun. We also pride ourselves on safety. We check each kid in and check the child out to see that they are met by a parent or designated adult.” Johnny Rooney is director of Hit ‘n’ Run Sports Academy and Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp.

A co-ed day camp experience is available year-round from Johnny Rooney’s Sports Camp Academies. A safe, structured environment gives children the opportunity to enhance their athletic skill and compete while having fun and making new friends.

Choices include the Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp, weekly XFL camp, and JR’s Hit ‘n’ Run Academy. Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp programs are held at the Otto Kaufman Community Center on Skillman Road in Montgomery Township. The Hit ‘n’ Run Baseball camp will be in action this summer at the Montgomery Baseball Complex in Skillman.

A graduate of Montgomery High School (with a post graduate year at The Hun School) and C.W. Post College with a degree in elementary education, Mr. Rooney has been a teacher and coach for 17 years. He currently teaches physical education to pre-K through second graders (including handicapped students) at Orchard Hill Elementary School in Montgomery Township. He also trains a number of Robbinsville LL softball teams, coaches the Jersey Outlaws, a 14 U travel team, and helps recruit future college softball players for the Mercer County Community College softball program.

Mr. Rooney’s first camp, Hit ‘n’ Run Baseball, began in 1998, and Fal-Rooney, with co-director Mike Falco, was opened in 2006.

Biggest Benefits

“Our camps’ biggest benefits for the kids are building confidence, making friends, and promoting good sportsmanship,” explains Mr. Rooney. “They have a chance to play, learn, compete, make new friends, and have a great time. And each of our Academy coaches consistently emphasizes the importance of teamwork.”

At the Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp, kids participate in many sports and activities, including kickball, basketball, dodge ball, ping pong, soccer, and dance, among others. They compete as members of a team, which includes all ages playing together. As Mr. Rooney explains, “When they first come in, the kids just play, and then we pick the teams. They are thoroughly balanced, with first and second graders and sixth, seventh, and eighth graders all on the same team. They meet new faces and form new friendships, and the younger kids look up to the older ones as leaders.

“Kids are exposed to a lot more today in so many areas,” continues Mr. Rooney. “We like them to be able to participate in the good old games that are fun. Even with all the high tech and the digital society, kids are still kids. This is a chance for them to be active and have fun. We work very hard to stay creative, and it’s great to see how excited the kids are and how they look forward to coming. The day ends with the entire camp dancing together. We also provide water and healthy snacks for them.”

The average number of kids in the program is 60, he adds, with 14 to 20 staff members. “A lot of the coaches, whom we call role models, are my former students and athletes,” he adds.

Playing Fair

Because of the strong emphasis on good sportsmanship, campers learn early that bullying is not tolerated. “The kids come up with great slogans,” points out Mr. Rooney. For example: “If you care, you’re playing fair!” “If you had fun, you won!” and “At Fal-Rooney, we don’t bully, we buddy!”

In addition to the camps, Fal-Rooney has introduced birthday parties, offering a variety of sports and games. Parties are an hour and a half, and have become very popular.

Fal-Rooney Olympic Camp currently meets once a week on Wednesday at the gym in the Otto Kaufman Community Center for an hour and a half. Its program is extended in the summer, with camps during the weeks of June 24, July 7, July 14, and August 11, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pre-camp care starts at 8 a.m., and post-camp care is available until 5 p.m. This program is for boys and girls entering grades first through eighth.

Hit ‘n’ Run Baseball camp will be held at the Montgomery Baseball Complex in Skillman the week of July 28-31. Also co-ed, the camp is for kids entering first grade through ninth grade. Hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration for summer camp is available March 1st.

“We are set apart because we have a different dynamic,” notes Mr. Rooney. “We’re not focused on just one thing. We offer a real variety. I always look forward to getting together with the staff for planning, and then seeing the kids come for the first time. There are lots of new faces, but also many repeats. We have lots of siblings, too, and I see  many kids grow up over the years. I love kids. I really enjoy seeing them laugh and have fun.”

For further information, call (908) 672-9398 or consult the website:


March 12, 2014
FINANCIAL FINESSE: “The advice I would give to everyone is to come to a qualified professional with experience and a good reputation. We distinguish ourselves from other CPA firms by offering personalized one-on-one service.” Thomas McNulty, CPA, looks forward to helping clients with their financial needs.

FINANCIAL FINESSE: “The advice I would give to everyone is to come to a qualified professional with experience and a good reputation. We distinguish ourselves from other CPA firms by offering personalized one-on-one service.” Thomas McNulty, CPA, looks forward to helping clients with their financial needs.

No one wants to think about it, but it’s on the way! Even in the midst of winter, we are one day closer to April 15 — the day procrastinators love to ignore.

Nevertheless, it’s getting closer, and if the thought makes you nervous, help is at hand. Thomas McNulty CPA, LLC is a certified public accountant with a master’s degree in taxation. He has practiced for 17 years, and currently has offices at 20 Nassau Street.

“Originally, I was in marketing, but then I realized I wanted to make a change,” says Mr. McNulty. “I had always done well in accounting, and liked the process of keeping track of debits and credits. I became a licensed CPA in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and then went to graduate school and got a master’s degree in taxation at the University of Philadelphia. Now, I specialize in small business accounting, helping to relieve clients of the financial headaches of their daily business. This includes bookkeeping, business strategies and planning, business structure, and taxes.”

Mr. McNulty’s clients include a variety of small businesses and individuals as well as those for whom he provides tax help.

Profit and Loss

“I work on a regular basis with my target market, preparing a monthly financial statement to include profit and loss, balance sheet, and a general ledger. If a company needs to get a loan, banks want to see that statements have been checked by a licensed CPA, and that the certified financial statements adhere to the generally accepted accounting principles.

“In addition, I do taxes for 400 individuals and 30 different organizations and companies in the Princeton area and beyond.”

Mr. McNulty has many clients of long-standing, and often if they have moved to a new location, such as California or even overseas, they still retain his services. “My clients are really a mix of people — all ages and backgrounds. They include Princeton University students and foreign students, as well as older people. I help them and plan strategies for them. All my clients are valuable to me, whatever their income level and financial situation. I treat everyone the same.

“When it comes to accounting, most people, even when they’re very smart, are off the grid. I help them to get back on the grid, and try to make sure they don’t veer off. I assist them with budgeting, financial analyzing, and I also partner with the best local financial companies to set up a financial plan and investment strategy appropriate to my clients’  goals. I also help with start up business planning.”

Mr. McNulty also points out that continuing education is part of his job focus, and this includes 40 hours a year. Business rules and regulations can change, as well as the tax code.

“I look forward to the tax season,” he says. “It’s important to help people through it. I try to help them save on their income tax legally. Also, I find that a big factor in the business is with people who have gone to companies such as H & R Block, whose employees are really part-timers. Their customers often ultimately pay more in additional fees or in correcting mistakes. I get clients who have done this, and I need to fix their returns. There are also people who try to do it on their own, and it gets too complicated, and then, they come to me. According to a study done by the U.S. government, 77 percent of all tax payers believe that they benefitted by using the services of a professional tax preparer.”

Solid Foundation

Mr. McNulty is especially busy from February right up to tax time in April. “The real challenge is that I’m hit with an enormous amount of work in a very short time, but I welcome the opportunity to help people. Overall, I really enjoy helping clients succeed in life and to reach the goals they want to achieve. I lay out the framework and a solid foundation for them to get there.”

He looks forward to becoming part of the Princeton community and building his practice further. “I want to be like the the family physician of old whom you could always count on to be there for you. I believe I am set apart by my background and education, experience, and the continuing education I participate in. And also, the fact that I work with the best local professionals in the U.S. is a plus.

“I look forward to growing the business, helping more clients, and keeping the impeccable reputation I have established. Helping clients to keep their finances in order, and put systems in place in which they can grow their own business and lead to further job creation is my priority.

“Also, we realize that money is tight in these tough economic times. To accommodate our customers and make our services more affordable, we may be able to provide you with several different payment options and a plan that suits your budget.”

Mr. McNulty is available by appointment Monday through Friday (seven days during tax time). (609) 497-1040. Website:


March 5, 2014
LOOKING GOOD: “We are an exclusive Redken salon, and our stylists have been trained by the leading industry professionals in Redken color and cutting techniques. We emphasize continuing education to all of our employees.” Bernadette Reed, owner, manager, and sthylist at Sofia Lido Salon and Blow Out Bar, is enthusiastic about her new hair salon.

LOOKING GOOD: “We are an exclusive Redken salon, and our stylists have been trained by the leading industry professionals in Redken color and cutting techniques. We emphasize continuing education to all of our employees.” Bernadette Reed, owner, manager, and sthylist at Sofia Lido Salon and Blow Out Bar, is enthusiastic about her new hair salon.

A  new look for a new year is available at Sofia Lido Salon and Blow Out Bar.

Everything from trimmed bangs to blow dry to highlights to tint backs to formal up-dos to CHI relaxers, as well as waxing treatments is offered at this brand new salon.

Located in the Shoppes at Pennington, 21 Route 31 North, it is owned by stylist Bernadette Reed, and opened in January.

“I am so encouraged,” says Ms. Reed. “I have really been surprised by how quickly customers have found us. I already have a growing clientele. Also, this is an excellent location. I looked for a place for quite a while. This is great. It is new, and very well
maintained. There is also a lot of foot traffic here.”

The arrival of Sofia Lido on the hair salon scene has a unique history. Ms. Reed’s previous career could not have been more different. After graduating from college, she worked as an institutional equity sales trader on Wall Street, and was a survivor of the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

New Perspective

“This changed my outlook, and gave me a new perspective,” she explains. “I wanted to do something else. I had always enjoyed getting my hair done, and was interested in hair stying. I have difficult hair. It’s very curly and frizzy. So, I decided to enroll in Concord Cosmetology School in Ocean Township. I thought I’d give it a try and see if I liked it.”

After the 10-month course, Ms. Reed received a license from the state board of cosmetology, and worked for several years at a salon in Marlboro. “That was a very good experience,” she recalls, “and I got a lot of continuing education in cutting and color.”

She is now a Redken-trained colorist and stylist, and has completed advanced training in Matrix, Colorly, Goldwell, and Socolor color systems. She is also certified in the John Sahag dry cutting method, and has had extensive training and experience in the CHI Japanese straightening and Keratin straightening systems. She is enthusiastic about having her own salon and the opportunity to share her expertise with customers.

“There are so many aspects to this work,” she notes. “I think the salon is set apart by my training and my love for what I do. I really enjoy the blow out. It’s very creative. You can create so many looks, and that is why I decided to have the Blow Out Bar, offering a variety of different blow out opportunities.”

Fashion Statement

In any salon today, of course, it’s all about color. Coloring hair is seemingly for everyone — almost all ages, and men as well as women. Although it is still often to cover gray, its use has gone far beyond that. In many cases, it has beome a fashion statement.

“Color is very big,” says Ms. Reed. “People are using hair color at younger and younger ages. Some people actually change color with the seasons. Spring and summmer tend to be lighter with highlights. Winter can be darker with lowlights. The ombre look is still seen for longer hair, but it’s not quite as popular as it once was.

“We offer both ammonia-free and low ammonia color choices. I like to use foils for highlights. I like the end results. Also, color products have a lot of conditioners today.”

She adds that when considering hair color changes, it is important to take into account the client’s natural hair color and skin tone. “People tend to go lighter as they get older because their skin tone changes. And most clients are trying to achieve a natural look. Another thing, some people are also opting for Tint Back — a return to a darker color, either with a complete change or by removing highlights.”

Regarding styles and cuts, choices are very varied and individualized, reports Ms. Reed. “We are seeing a lot of long to short — you see this with some celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway. There are many techniques for cutting. But, of course, long hair is never out of style. Generally, people with curly hair want to have it straightened. We offer straightening techniques, including CHI Japanese straightening and keratin straightening, with no formaldehyde.”

Easy maintenance is always desirable, but Ms. Reed points out there is no such thing as no maintenance. Most people at least blow dry their hair at a minimum. “The point is we help to educate our clients about caring for their hair, showing them the correct way to blow-dry. etc.”

Special Savings

In addition to hair service, Sofia Lido offers a variety of waxing treatments, including eye brow, lip, chin, neck, ears, and sideburns, beginning at $5.

Women’s hair cuts are $60, wash and blow-dry $35, blow dry only (arrive with hair washed and wet) $25, and a variety of other blow dry packages is offered. Children’s cuts (10 and under) are $25, and men’s $30. Single process color is $60, highlights $85. Special savings packages are available, and a 10 percent discount is offered for clients 65 and older.

In addition, the salon offers baby sitting opportunities. As Ms. Reed explains, “We work directly and exclusively with The Village Leaning Center in Pennington. They offer our clients a discounted hourly rate of $12. The Village Learning Center is a half mile away from the salon.”

Not only is Ms. Reed delighted with the successful opening weeks of the salon, the clients are equally pleased. As one new customer, who had come in by chance, noted: “I am very happy. I love the way my hair looks, and I am impressed with the care and attention to detail that Bernadette provided. I will definitely come back!”

Ms. Reed looks forward to introducing many more clients to Sofia Lido and offering them high quality service. (609) 737-7770. Website:

Jane Brady, Owner/Audiologist

Jane Brady, Owner/Audiologist

“I  love working with people and helping them to hear better. The technology has changed incredibly, and there are so many hearing enhancement device choices and styles today. These can help individuals to hear better, thus helping with relationships, helping them at home, and at work.”

Dr. Jane Brady AuD, owner of Horizon Audiology, wants people to be aware of the many opportunities available to help them correct hearing loss.

Although wearing glasses is commonplace for the millions of people with vision impairment, and few resist wearing glasses, many people hesitate to obtain a hearing aid. Whether it is associated with the aging process or they are reminded of their grandfather’s bulky and often malfunctioning device, there is a decided reluctance for many even to investigate the possibility of a hearing aid.

The fact is, however, that hearing loss is occurring at younger ages than in the past and for various reasons, points out Dr. Brady. “We are definitely seeing more hearing loss at younger ages. Even with teens, there can be early signs. The very loud music young people listen to has been a factor. Hearing loss can also be a result of illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, and childhood illnesses. I have patients from newborns to geriatric, and my typical patient is a Baby Boomer in his or her 50s or 60s.”

Distinct Differences

Dr. Brady, who has a doctorate in audiology, has been practicing for 21 years. She opened her own practice at Horizon Audiology at the Medical Arts Building on the Princeton-Hightstown Road (Route 571) in East Windsor in 2007.

Prior to opening her own practice, she had worked in Princeton with physicians, and she is aware of the medical issues that may be a factor in hearing loss. She sees patients of various ages from all over the Princeton area, and Dr. Brady has noticed distinct differences both in her patients’ motivations and expectations.

“It is important to know how the different generations are wired and what they expect. Baby Boomers have a mindset of wanting things to be fixed — whether it is a shoulder or knee problem from sports, or hearing loss. Also, you can’t assume about someone’s life-style because of their age. Ask them questions. People of all ages are living very diverse life-styles. Ask what they do and what their weekends are like. Do they travel? Attend lectures? Concerts? A person may be a teacher or business executive; their situation and environment can vary and be a factor in their level of hearing frustration.”

Noisy environments obviously create more stress than if one works in a library, for example.

Best Style

When a person decides to consult an audiologist, either as a referral from a physician or as a result of their own decision, the hearing professional will test and evaluate their hearing and then discuss the results.

Even if someone has decreased hearing, they may not yet need a hearing aid. If the hearing loss is significant, however, a device may be indicated. Dr. Brady works with them to determine the best style for their needs.

“Certain types of devices are better for certain people,” she explains. “The fit of the ear, if there are medical conditions, their sensitivity to the device are all factors. Dexterity can be another issue. Someone might have vision problems or arthritis and have difficulty operating the device. It also depends on their level of frustration and what their preconceived notions may be. Some people don’t want any fuss. The New Lyric device is inserted into the ear by the audiologist and stays there, and then is replaced when necessary. The client never has to think about it.

“The audiologist chooses the minimum level of technology that will help the person hear better.”

Hearing aids vary in cost, anywhere from $900 to $2000, depending on the level of technology.

Continuing Education

Dr. Brady, who is board certified and a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, is very involved with continuing education, attending classes and seminars to keep up with the latest advances and trends in the industry.

“The technology changes so rapidly, with state-of-the art advances coming along all the time. Now there is a tiny computer to adjust the sound level of a hearing aid. In the beginning of my practice, I used to do that with a mini screw driver! I even see a time when we can do adjustments over the phone — tele-audiology.

“It is an amazing time, and our level of service keeps up with all the new developments. Helping our patients is always uppermost for me and my staff. There are three audiologists and our office management staff, who are all so knowledgeable and dedicated to serving the patient.”

In addition, Dr. Brady provides services for the community, including free screenings at health fairs, and volunteering at “Ask the Doctor” programs at senior centers.

“It is important for patients to realize that if they are having a problem with hearing loss, we are here to help them. They can call an audiologist on their own without a doctor’s referral.”

Horizon Audiology offers a full range of quality hearing aids from many manufacturers. It is open Monday through Friday 8:30 am. to 4 p.m., and every other Saturday.

Call (609) 448-9730 or visit them online at

January 15, 2014

“Italian food is comfort food. It tastes good. I could eat it seven days a week!”

Ben Sanford, manager and co-owner with chef Joe Egitto, of Cugino’s Italian Specialties in Pennington, loves what he does. “I just like the idea of food. I’ve been in the food industry for 14 years, and we are very enthusiastic about Cugino’s.”

The Italian Specialty shop, located at 2566 Pennington Road (near the Pennington Circle), has become a popular gathering place for customers from all over the area. Its wonderful displays of tempting Italian specialties and gourmet items are an irresistible combination, and many diners come more than once a week.

Cugino translates to “cousin” in Italian, an appropriate name for the establishment whose owners are indeed cousins. They grew up enjoying Italian dinners at the Egitto family home in Staten Island, and the idea of having their own restaurant took hold early on. “I always liked cooking,” explains Mr. Egitto. “My mom and dad were both good cooks, and I paid attention. I really always hoped to have my own restaurant.”

Italian Market Place

When the opportunity to open Cugino’s came along, he and Mr. Sanford did not hesitate, and it was a very hands-on family effort. They designed and built most of the interior themselves, laying the wood floor and spackling the walls to look like an old Italian market place. The rustic wooden tables holding the imported gourmet items were built by Mr. Sanford’s father, and Mr. Sanford and Mr. Egitto installed the tile in the L-shaped countertop.

“This is such a great location, and we wanted it to have an old-school neighborhood shop feeling. The atmosphere is definitely reminiscent of Italy.”

Cugino’s is primarily a take-out establishment, but seating for about 10 is available at a counter and a nearby table.

Then, there is the food! “We use the freshest ingredients, and we try to get local products whenever they are available,” point out the owners, who also recently opened Cafe 72, an American-style restaurant in West Trenton.

“At Cugino’s, all our retail items are from Italy or New York. Everything is very high quality, and it is extremely important to maintain the quality of the products. Consistency is a high priority.”

Cugino’s is home to all sorts of fresh options and indulgences. The menu offers a variety of panini sandwiches, pasta bowls, personal pizzas, and numerous fresh salads.

Many Favorites

“Eggplant parmesan is very popular, and our antipasto platters, and paninis are stand-outs for us,” reports Mr. Sanford. Among the many panini choices, some favorites include the Italian Combo with capocollo, Genoa salami, sopressata, mortadella, prosciutto, provolone, romaine, tomato, and Italian dressing; the Bruschetta chicken with grilled chicken, bruschetta, basil pesto, and fresh mozzarella; and the eggplant parmesan, including breaded eggplant, marinara sauce, and fresh mozzarella.

The variety of individual 10-inch pizzas offers many favorites. The San Genaro includes Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, and caramelized onions, pomodoro, and fresh mozzarella; the “Grandma” offers pomodore, fresh mozzarella, basil pesto, and garlic. There are also vodka, white, meatball, and vegetable pizzas, among others.

Grilled chicken and chicken and tuna salad can be added to the many salads available. Especially popular is fig salad with mixed greens, prosciutto, and sun-dried figs. Also favored are antipasto with mixed greens, Italian meats and cheeses, olives, and roasted red peppers; grilled chicken Caesar with romaine lettuce, shaved parmesan reggiano, homemade croutons, and roasted chicken. Cugino’s house salad features arugula, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and roasted peppers.

Other popular dishes include stuffed portabellos, manicotti, chicken rollatini, lasagne Bolognese, Chef Eggito’s father’s homemade meat balls, and prosciutto-wrapped artichokes.

There are also very popular daily specials, including, Monday: Italian meatloaf; Tuesday: roast pork panini; Wednesday: shrimp chef selection; Thursday: veal chef selection; Friday: fresh fish selection.

Assorted pastas, sauces, a variety of Italian cheeses, 15 different kinds of olives, and Italian-style breads (arriving daily from New York) are also favorite take-home or sit-down choices. And, coffee, cappuccino, latte, and espresso are all on the menu. “We have a local coffee bean roaster,” points out Mr. Egitto.

Ahead of the Event

“Catering has become a big part of the business,” adds Mr. Sanford. “We do all sizes of parties and events, and we get very busy for the holidays, especially with lots of Christmas Eve dinners, and then New Year’s Eve and New Year’s day. It is best to order catering three or four days ahead of the event.”

Catering specials include panini trays, antipasto platters, pizza platters, and fruit and cheese trays, among others.

Tiramisu, Italian cookies (including Mostacciola specialty cookies), biscotti, assorted Panettone for the holidays, pizelle waffle cookies, specialty Perugina chocolate, and Torone nougat candy appeal to customers with a sweet tooth. The selection of Italian gourmet olive oils and balsamic vinegars, honeys, jams, and gift baskets all provide wonderful hostess or holiday gifts.

Food prices are typically $7 to $12 for sandwiches, salads, and pizzas.

“We want to remain a simple place, not at all pretentious,” says Mr. Sanford. “This is our creation, and we choose everything very carefully. We are definitely hands-on owners.”

Adds Mr. Egitto: “Cugino’s is very special for us. I love cooking and also being out with the customers. They appreciate our years of experience and what we are trying to accomplish.”

Cugino’s is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 10 to 5. (609) 730-4100. Website:


January 8, 2014
EATING RIGHT: “This is a totally different approach to integrating nutrition, de-stressing, and attitudes toward food,” explains Veronique Cardon, MS, director and facilitator of The CogniDiet program. “It is cognition, de-stressing, healthy nutrition, and exercise. People will feel so much better.”

EATING RIGHT: “This is a totally different approach to integrating nutrition, de-stressing, and attitudes toward food,” explains Veronique Cardon, MS, director and facilitator of The CogniDiet program. “It is cognition, de-stressing, healthy nutrition, and exercise. People will feel so much better.”

“I  have been on a diet so many times, but the weight always comes back.”

“I know all about calorie counting, fat content, portion control, so why am I still not losing weight?”

“I have spent so much money and so much time struggling on diets, but nothing has changed.”

“I am so tired of yo-yo dieting. I want to change my life-style.”

If these comments sound familiar, it may be time to consult Veronique Cardon, MS about The CogniDiet(TM) program. Not a quick fix, this program is not about calorie counting and getting on the scale. It is about changing one’s attitude toward food and approach to eating. It is a life-style change.

“People need to eat less and move more,” says holistic nutritionist Ms. Cardon, who is the creator and facilitator of The CogniDiet(TM) program.

Extensive Knowledge

With a Masters of Holistic Nutrition from the Clayton College of Natural Health and a commercial engineering degree from the University of Belgium (Brussels), Ms. Cardon worked as a nutritionist at the Princeton Integrative Health Center for four years.

Previously, she had worked as an executive in the pharmaceutical industry in New York, and gained extensive knowledge about neurology, brain chemistry, depression, obesity, diabetes, and addictions, including smoking.

In addition, Ms. Cardon had struggled with over-eating and the stress accompanying a demanding career for many years, finally stabilizing herself by following a healthy diet, exercise, and controlling stress levels.

Because of this background, she decided to share her own experiences with others and try to help them establish a healthier life-style and attitude toward food.

Her program is based in part on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. “This is a science that helps people change the way they think and therefore behave. It focuses on helping people deal with anxiety, depression, and weight loss” she explains. “I studied this, and I thought if I could educate people about nutrition, cognitherapy could be adapted to focus on weight loss and alleviating stress.”

Ms. Cardon believes that we are in the midst of a “perfect storm” today. “Some of the weight problems have to do with the commercialization of food in the U.S. and the prevalence of processed food. The brain gets accustomed to this. It’s a perfect storm: the super-sizing and processing of food, and lack of activity.”

Every Five Minutes

The ongoing stress level in our high tech society today is another factor, she adds. “Long ago, stress levels rose when there was imminent danger. Stress rose when someone confronted a lion, for example, but then once the risk was over, the stress diminished. Today, people see the lion every five minutes!”

Whether it is job-related, being stuck in traffic, always being rushed — whatever the situation, people frequently find themselves anxious and stressed. And, as Ms. Cardon notes, when it’s under stress, the body craves carbs.

So, why do people eat when they are not really hungry?

You had a bad day: the boss didn’t appreciate your efforts; the kids were impossible; your boy friend found another! Maybe a little ice cream for comfort? Some potato chips? Whatever your favorite snacks to help you through the bad times and take the edge off.

These are all reasons why people eat when they are not really hungry — out of disappointment and unhappiness, also boredom and addiction. In addition, if you are in a hurry, you can pick up something on the run that more often than not is full of calories and is the least healthy choice.

Ms. Cardon wants to change this scenario. “So many people eat much more than they actually need, and the brain begins to expect it. The advertising today is all geared to getting people to want food, especially snacks. Snacks are definitely a culprit.”

Over Time

“We help the client change her attitude toward food and realize that ‘my current eating habits are not good for me.’ At CogniDiet, we think of losing weight over time, not a quick fix. I encourage the clients to have a goal. What are the benefits to them of losing weight? They learn to be more centered on what is good for them generally.

“Some people are involved in too many activities, for example. What is crucial? What is important, and also, what activities and projects can they say no to? This is a way of relieving stress. Every time you do something, the brain registers and remembers it. We need to rewire the brain.”

This requires determination and dedication and a 12-week program, points out Ms. Cardon. “It’s a step-by-step program to retrain the brain, and we go slowly. During this time, I can guarantee that clients will become more attuned to their body and hunger level. They will keep a record of what activities they are involved in, what they do, and when they feel tempted to eat, even if they are not really hungry.”

It takes 12 weeks to learn new skills, she explains. Weeks one to six will focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Emotional Brain Training. There are no diet or eating guidelines during the first six weeks. We will gradually introduce some healthy nutrition tips and activity level recommendations.

“Weeks seven to 12 will help you to solidify your brain skills and teach you more about healthy nutrition and active life-styles. We will equip you with the tools to maintain weight over the long term.”

Ms. Cardon offers both one-on-one and group (six to eight) sessions. Initially, she has an interview with the client to identify goals and establish a specific plan. Once a week sessions — one hour for individuals, two hours for groups — are available.

Strong Guide

“In the group, they learn from the other people, and they also share their own experiences,” she notes. “My clients are all women, generally 40 and up, and they have tried everything,” says Ms. Cardon. “One client said to me, ‘I’ve tried many times to lose weight, and this time I feel that I have a strong guide to help me.”

The fact that Ms. Cardon had struggled with her own weight problem as well as coping with stress resonates with clients. They know she understands their dilemma. “When they come to me, they really want to change. I’m asking them to do hard work, but they are ready, and they want to feel better. Everyone can have a plan, a strategy. We look at how she should shop and plan meals, even when she is very busy. I offer nutritional tips and also some recipes.

“During the second week, someone might report that they made one healthy nutritional decision. Maybe they had an apple instead of a cookie. I notice that the clients almost always have an ‘aha’ moment. They begin to feel better, are getting their energy and power back, and are taking charge of their life.

“The challenge is for them to find time to focus on it. This is a journey, and they must make it a priority. It’s a matter of exercising the brain. This is a life-long practice.”

“Loving Saboteur”

Also, advises Ms. Cardon, beware of the “loving saboteur”: those friends who urge you to have that second piece of chocolate cake, pecan pie, or other desirable second helping. This is a time to focus on what is best for you.

Changing one’s eating habits of long-standing is not easy, she acknowledges, but the benefits are so important to one’s overall health and well-being.

“This is a totally different approach of integrating cognition, healthy nutrition, attitudes toward food, de-stressing, and exercise. People will feel so much better. Also, when someone finishes the program, we have an on-going support group, offering on-going encouragement.

“I really enjoy feeling that I am helping people, and that they can benefit from what I learned from the struggle I have been through. I look forward to helping even more women, and making a positive difference in their lives.”

The CogniDiet Program can be reached at (609) 921-8980; or via email:

Hours are by appointment. A pilot program is currently underway, with the full program to begin in January.

NTU Cranbury design 12-25-13“Our clients count on us. They know that we do what we say we are going to do.”

Kim Evans, general manager, strategic marketing (and former founding partner) of Cranbury Design Center, is emphatic about the firm’s reliability, reputation, and quality work.

“We project manage our jobs. We sit down with the customers, and everything is planned out. We pay attention to every detail. We are in constant touch with the clients and let them know what is happening throughout the process.”

Known for its kitchen and bath design and build projects, Cranbury Design Center is located at 146 West Ward Street in Hightstown. Owned by Frank O’Leary and Charlie Rini, it was founded in 1999. Refreshing, remodeling, and renovating are the firm’s specialties, and they can advise clients on the latest trends in the industry regarding cabinetry, appliances, finishes, hardware, etc., while keeping in mind budgetary requirements.

Existing Footprint

If clients want to keep their existing cabinets, but would like a new sink and stove, then a “refresh” is the choice, notes Ms. Evans. This is popular, but even more typical is a remodel.

“In this case, we keep the existing footprint, but add new cabinetry as well as new appliances. In the case of a renovation, everything is new and often completely rearranged. This can also include an addition to expand the area. We do all size jobs from powder rooms to full spa-type baths, and small to very large kitchens. The kitchen is the heart of the home. No matter how big or small its size, people like to gather there. We have done some very charming small kitchens.”

People choose to make an investment in kitchens and baths for various reasons, she adds, and this can underscore their selection. “If they are planning to move, they may decide on a refresh, just to make the bathroom or kitchen appealing to prospective buyers. People who are not moving may decide to fix up the bath or kitchen if an appliance has worn out or perhaps they just want a new look and something more up-to-date. Interestingly, new owners often call us as soon as they move in because they want a remodel or even a renovation.”

Ms. Evans has seen a lot of changes and trends in kitchen and bath design over the years. There has been a definite trend toward a more open look, with one room flowing into another without doors. This is very true in the kitchen, she points out.

“No matter what size the kitchen is, people like it to be open and not shut off from the rest of the house. Often, family rooms are adjacent to the kitchen, without any demarcation except a kitchen counter.”

Kitchen Islands

Ample storage space and functionality are other factors that are important to clients today. “We also see the styles moving away from the traditional, heavily decorated look to more contemporary clean lines. It can also be a transitional look. Some people like an avant-garde feel, with stainless steel backsplashes, for example. There are just so many choices today.”

Kitchen islands are a must, and they are getting bigger, reports Ms. Evans. “They’re multi-functional now. People eat there, set out food for entertaining, etc.”

Wood floors in the kitchen are in demand now, although tile is often favored by many homeowners. Granite continues to be the number one choice for countertops but other options, such as Corian, silestone, natural quartz, and laminates are all available.

“Granite is king,” says Ms. Evans. “It is known for its durability, and there are more choices in the variety of colors now. People seem to like a combination of colors and contrasts. For example, you can have a dark island and light cabinets. Or the island can have a different countertop — wood with granite around the perimeter.”

Both light and dark cabinets are popular, and they can be as customized as the client wishes. Choices include stock cabinets, which can also be customized, and typically take three and a half to four weeks to be delivered and installed; semi-custom, which are not standard size and can have some modifications, with a time frame of eight weeks; and fully customized cabinetry, which takes eight to 12 weeks.

Customers like the cabinets to have convenient features, such as sliding drawers and lazy susan corner slides for easy access. “All our cabinetry is high quality at whatever price level,” notes Ms. Evans.

Up-to-Date Styles

“Lighting is also important, and under cabinet lighting is in demand today.”

Many of the same features seen in the kitchen are also desirable in the bath, she reports. Ample storage, easy access, and up-to-date styles, including clean, contemporary lines, are all important. “Granite and marble countertops are popular, and the floor is nearly always tile. Some of the tile can even look like wood.”

In some cases, clients are also opting for larger showers, and even eliminating tubs.

The Cranbury Design Center’s staff focus is to ensure that the client’s kitchen or bath refresh, remodel, or renovation progresses smoothly from start to finish, says Ms. Evans. “At the outset, co-owner Charlie Rini goes to see the client’s house and asks specific questions regarding life-style, and how long they plan to stay in the house. Depending on this, they select different cabinets and appliances. I also love going to the house and helping the client through the process. It can be very creative.”

And the clients are from all backgrounds and walks of life, she adds. “Some clients come in with the complete shopping bag. They know exactly what they want. Others may have some idea as to color but don’t have too many specifics in mind. Still others don’t have a clue — they just know they want something different. We do our best to help them find the way to the best kitchen and bath design to fit their needs.”

The firm’s many repeat customers and referrals are testimony to its long and valued reputation.

Cranbury Design Center’s handsome show room with many sample kitchens and baths on display is open Monday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday until 5, Saturday until 2. (609) 448-5600. Website:


December 26, 2013
TREASURE TROVE: “We have new items all the time in all the categories. And one of the joys of an independent store is that you can bring ideas to it, and it also has its own tone and personality.” Owner Barry Weisfeld (right) and general manager Jon Lambert of Princeton Record Exchange, look forward to introducing even more customers to their great selection of CDs, DVDs, and LPs. Mr. Weisfeld holds just one of the many thousands of jazz records available at the store.

TREASURE TROVE: “We have new items all the time in all the categories. And one of the joys of an independent store is that you can bring ideas to it, and it also has its own tone and personality.” Owner Barry Weisfeld (right) and general manager Jon Lambert of Princeton Record Exchange, look forward to introducing even more customers to their great selection of CDs, DVDs, and LPs. Mr. Weisfeld holds just one of the many thousands of jazz records available at the store.

“We are here to recycle CDs, DVDs, and vinyl into the hands of music and movie lovers who can appreciate it all over again.”

Barry Weisfeld, owner of Princeton Record Exchange, is enthusiastic about the success of his longtime business, neatly tucked away on South Tulane Street.

Within, customers will find an amazing treasure trove. 150,000 new and used CDs, DVDs, and LPs fill every shelf and rack in the store. Every musical taste can be satisfied. “We buy new stock every day, with thousands of titles arriving every week, so our stock changes constantly,” says Mr. Weisfeld. New releases, rock, jazz, classical, imports, oldies, blues, world, shows, soundtracks, and folk are all well-represented.

One of the largest independent music and movie stores in the country, the spacious, well-lit Record Exchange carries a truly wide-ranging inventory in excellent condition at reasonable prices.

Great Staff

“We get 600 to 700 people coming in each day,” points out general manager Jon Lambert. “Also, we have a great staff. Their dedication, knowledge, hard work, and insight are outstanding. Many of them have been here more than 15 years, and they share their knowledge with the customers. And also, the customers like to share information with us. We have ongoing give and take. That is one of the great things about an independent store.”

This remarkable story began in 1980, when Mr. Weisfeld first opened Princeton Record Exchange at 20 Nassau Street, following a successful — and strenuous — career buying and selling records at college book stores along the east coast. A stop at the Princeton University Store introduced him to this area, and after subsequent visits, he decided to settle here.

When he first opened the shop, it was stocked with 15,000 recordings, many of which were hard-to-get or discontinued selections. In addition, ¾ of the inventory was new. This is a reversal of the situation today, in which 75 percent of the inventory is used, 25 percent new.

Business began to take off early on, as customers soon found they could turn in their own records for cash or credit toward a new purchase, and have the fun of seeking suitable replacements. Word got around, and the Exchange became so popular that records and customers almost seemed to be vying for the available space.

“Space was clearly an issue. We definitely needed more,” points out Mr. Weisfeld. So in 1985, they moved to the current South Tulane street location.

Customers love browsing through the incredible selection, even sitting down on the carpet to get a better look at the lower shelves, he adds. “Some stay all day, and then come back the next day.”

Music Lovers

In the classical section, CDs, LPs, and DVDs of orchestral works, string quartets, piano sonatas, chamber music, operas, 20th century, and vocals are available. In the DVD section, there are over 20,000 DVDs of music, TV, children’s, Disney, sci-fi, action, thrillers, comedy, drama, classics, foreign, avant-garde, and documentaries.

Bargains abound for the serious or casual music lover, many who visit regularly, not only from the Princeton area, but from such places as New York City, Asia, and Europe to check out the large, ever-changing inventory. There is ample room to look around, check covers, and shoppers are encouraged to browse and meet other knowledgeable customers.

The most popular sellers right now are classic rock (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix), modern jazz, and classical, says Mr. Lambert. Trends come along all the time as to what is popular, but these three categories remain strong.

Regular customers come in all the time — both buyers and sellers. “We buy and sell tens of thousands of items every month,” he reports. “And our customers are all ages, anywhere from 15 to 80! There is a core group of guys in their late 20s to 50s, who are serious collectors.

“Also, every April on the third Saturday, there is ‘Record Store Day’, when we’ll have new releases that have only been released to independent record stores. Hundreds of people line up outside the store waiting until we open. We also get a big crowd on Black Friday after Thanksgiving for limited editions and audiofile vinyl.”

In addition, he points out that the store can receive as many as 30 collections a day, when people bring in their CDs, DVDs, and LPs. “People can bring in items for us to look at if they have less than 100 pieces. If there are more, they can call, let us know what they have and make an appointment. We examine everything very carefully, and we guarantee everything against defect. In fact, one half of less than one percent of items we sell are ever returned. The customers who bring in items are often moving or downsizing, and sometimes it’s an estate sale.”

Big Selection

“I like going out and buying a big selection,” adds Mr. Weisfeld. “You never know what you’ll come upon.”

Mr. Lambert agrees. “I’ve been here 24 years, and every single day, I see a title that I’ve never seen before. It is never dull!”

Both Mr. Weisfeld and Mr. Lambert are proud of Princeton Record Exchange’s growing reputation. It has been named in the top 20 record stores in Rolling Stone; in the top 10 in GQ; top 10 in Time; and in the top five in the Wall Street Journal.

“We went from a little store to a thriving operation, which is getting national attention. Three things set us apart: breadth of selection, low prices, and quality control.”

Customers will find an array of prices, including more than 50,000 CDs, DVDs, and LPs priced at $4.99 or less. The store is currently paying up to $4 per disk for strong-selling CDs and DVDs in excellent condition; up to $2 for strong-selling LPs in excellent condition; and up to $100 or more for rarities in great demand.

Princeton Record Exchange is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11 to 6. (609) 921-0881. Website:


FULL SERVICE: “We do every type of job, from the smallest to the biggest. Customers know they can count on our reliability, knowledge, and service.” Mike Twarkusky (left) and Anthony Tallone are co-owners of Cifelli Electrical Inc. The firm handles everything from installing smoke detectors, surge protectors, ceiling and paddle fans, and flat screen TVs to exterior lighting to full residential and commercial electrical renovations.

FULL SERVICE: “We do every type of job, from the smallest to the biggest. Customers know they can count on our reliability, knowledge, and service.” Mike Twarkusky (left) and Anthony Tallone are co-owners of Cifelli Electrical Inc. The firm handles everything from installing smoke detectors, surge protectors, ceiling and paddle fans, and flat screen TVs to exterior lighting to full residential and commercial electrical renovations.

Knowledgeable, reliable service is the hallmark of Cifelli Electrical Inc., which has been a mainstay on the Princeton business scene for 40 years.

Located on Airport Drive, right by Princeton Airport, the company handles every size of job, both residential and commercial. From minor repairs to service installation and replacement and renovations, Cifelli Electrical provides customers with the help they need.

“This work is never boring,” reports co-owner Anthony Tallone, who went to work with previous owner John Cifelli in 1987. “I’m an ‘honorary’ Cifelli,” he says, smiling. “Both my co-owner, Mike Twarkusky, and I started at Cifelli then, and we became owners in 2004. I was still in high school when I began working for John. Then, I went to Mercer County Vocational School for five years to become an electrician.”

From the time he was a young boy, Mr. Cifelli had always been interested in understanding electrical systems and how things were put together. “My father was an iron worker,” he explains, “and when he finished our basement, I enjoyed watching this process. I liked seeing how things all came together. What I like most about the electrical work is the combination. You not only have hands-on, but you’re also building something. And, it’s a thinking man’s job. You have to figure things out, and there is also trouble-shooting. It has everything.”

Every Situation

Cifelli truly covers every kind of situation, including setting up electrical systems in new houses, replacing old wiring in existing houses, installing smoke detectors, and dealing with emergencies, adds Mr. Tallone.

“We’ve had calls from people when half of the house is without power, and 40 people are coming to dinner! Also, sometimes, people have trouble with space heaters. They don’t realize how much power they take, and people overload the circuit.”

Regarding safety issues Mr. Tallone notes that “with older homes, the best bet is to change the devices; that is, the plugs and switches. You want to be sure there is a tight connection. Loose connections and old frayed cords are potential fire hazards. If it’s an old beat-up cord, throw it out.

“When it comes to extension cords, there are three things to be mindful of: (1) The number of cords to use on one spot, don’t overload; (2) The type of cord, whether it is for indoors or outdoors, and (3) The proper wire gauge for the application, that is, use heavier duty cord for heavier duty needs.

“Also, the newer LED technology has helped with cutting wattage down for holiday lighting consumption.”

Mr. Tallone has seen many changes in the business over the years, especially in the area of technology. “The technology has changed so much in every way, he points out. “With smart phones, there is now instant access. It has changed our business. You can take a picture of something on site, and send it back to the office. I remember when people just had beepers!”

Changing Technology

“Because of all the changing technology, we have continuing education. Keeping up to date is the biggest challenge, especially with the code book changes. I am very excited, though, that the lighting quality and technology is constantly progressing. It keeps us on our toes. It evolves and changes all the time. We can be in a small house fixing a light one day and be on a ladder on Nassau Street installing electrical tubing in a building the next day. Every year, we do the holiday lighting for the Lewis School too.”

In addition, notes Mr. Tallone, with the advent of the recent severe storms, including Irene and Sandy, Cifelli is doing a lot of business with generators. “This has really taken off. People want to be prepared for an emergency. They are afraid of losing power. We are a Kohler dealer, and we do the most business with automatic generators, although we have portable ones too. In any case, it is important to have maintenance by a professional to avoid glitches. It is true that an automatic generator will increase the selling value of a house.”

Interestingly, he adds, “We had always done work with generators on a larger scale for businesses, but now homeowners want them. In many cases today, houses have become small businesses in terms of power, because of the technology and the amount of power they consume. Houses used to take 100 amps; now they take 200 to 300 amps.”

Busiest Season

Mr. Tallone emphasizes that Cifelli is ready to take on any size job, and when possible, even solve problems over the phone. For example, “We’ll talk with people on the phone and learn about the problem. I can usually give them a price, depending on the time needed and the materials. And sometimes, if it’s a minor situation, I can help them fix the problem over the phone.”

Cifelli’s busiest season is from October to January, he adds. “Homeowners are getting ready for the holidays. They’re buying new light fixtures and often want help hanging chandeliers, etc. Then, things slow down for us from January to March, before it picks up again.

“Mike and I have been in this business for more than 25 years, and there is always a surprise. I’ve seen houses that have a basketball court inside! We go from a two-bedroom house to a nine-bedroom mansion, and everything in between. It’s all across the board, and in this town, there is always something out of the box. We meet all kinds of people with different backgrounds and experiences. It’s a great job!”

Cifelli has been given the highest rating by the Better Business Bureau, and is a member of the Central Jersey Electrical League, the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and the National Electrical Contractors Association.

It is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (609) 921-3238. Website:


December 18, 2013
HOME DECOR: “We are surrounded by beautiful things, and we hand-pick the items. We get new merchandise in every week, and we really enjoy seeing people buy lovely things for their home.” Painter Fay Sciarra (left) and her business partner Linda Sciarra, are delighted with the success of their gallery Umbrella in The Tomato Factory.

HOME DECOR: “We are surrounded by beautiful things, and we hand-pick the items. We get new merchandise in every week, and we really enjoy seeing people buy lovely things for their home.” Painter Fay Sciarra (left) and her business partner Linda Sciarra, are delighted with the success of their gallery Umbrella in The Tomato Factory.

A visit to Umbrella at the Tomato Factory is a visual pleasure. Filled with the colorful and intriguing art of Fay Sciarra and an eclectic selection of antiques and home furnishings from a number of dealers, this “gallery and more” is a haven for collectors, buyers, and browsers.

Located on the second floor of the 100-year-old Tomato Factory, an antiques cooperative at 2 Somerset Street in Hopewell, Umbrella recently expanded, doubling its space, which provides an opportunity to display the collections of even more dealers.

“We call it ‘Umbrella’ because it is a collaborative group of creative people,” explains Fay Sciarra. “We wanted people who could think beyond the traditional; people who could create a wonderful environment.”

“We have a very eclectic selection, including unusual items you won’t find everywhere,” adds Linda Sciarra. “We sell such a wide variety. Each dealer has his or her own enclave or ‘vignette’ and their own aesthetic but everything blends together.”

Vintage Coco Chanel

Among the dealers who are represented are Maria Gage Antiques, Robert Evans Antiques, Russell Hutsko and Richard Hoffman Antiques, Nancy Furey Design, Jeffrey Henkel Antiques, and Gary Gandel Antiques.

“For the holidays, we have items from Katy Kane, the vintage couture and clothing dealer,” says Ms. Sciarra. “It’s a special selection of vintage Coco Chanel, a Hermes handbag, Gucci alligator belt, Christian Dior necklace, Chanel-style gold cuff bracelets, and beaded and sequined evening bags. We want people to know they can come here and see different things. We want them to be visually stimulated.”

Of course, Fay Sciarra’s art is a highlight. Noted for her vibrant use of color, rich texture and patterns, and imaginative whimsy, she works in many media: acrylic on canvas, reverse painting on glass, mixed media, sculpture/assemblage, and collage.

“I’m a painter and assemblage artist, so I know a lot about famous post impressionists and modern artists whom I’ve studied,” says Ms. Sciarra. “But Umbrella has opened my eyes to iconic furniture designers like Philip and Kelvin LaVerne, Vladimir Kagan, Le Corbusier. I’m learning every day about antiques. And then there are interior designers like Tony Duquette, Nate Berkus, Anthony Barrata, and Kelly Wreastler.

“The amazing thing is that some of them (the ones who are still living) are customers of ours because of the internet. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself that we have created such a thriving business tucked away on a side street in Hopewell!”

Customers enjoy the engaging display of home furnishings, antiques, and accessories, including one-of-a-kind lighting. A ceramic “asparagus” table lamp and vintage sconces are appealing specialties. Unexpected and unusual items are creatively exhibited in the spacious quarters. For example, visitors will find an industrial coatrack, recycled from a Manhattan art school. With numerous hooks, it is perfect for a family mudroom. Very popular, only one is left of the four initially available.



“We enjoy offering recycled items from the nationally renowned ‘architectural archeologists’ Olde Good Things,” says Linda Sciarra. “They are one of the largest salvage companies in the U.S., and really became known for making farm tables out of wood, such as pine, that comes from old buildings. There is a lot to be said for repurposing old items.”

Among the popular pieces from Olde Goode Things is tin wall art recycled from a tin ceiling, she adds. “They also wrap tin on wood, and make small decorative pieces, as well as mirror, which become art objects. This is really creative recycling. The company makes chandeliers out of old globes, which are terrific. We also have chandeliers in lucite, iron, crystal, and wood. We have lamps made from vintage grape and olive buckets, and the buckets can also be used as magazine and newspaper containers. This company is so inventive.”

In addition, Umbrella displays a large table top of galvanized steel, with industrial iron legs, from Olde Good Things. The company has also provided handmade chalk boards made of real slate. Another intriguing item is a vintage Buick grill, a perfect addition to a “Man Cave”, whose inhabitant loves old cars.

The custom farmhouse tables are very popular, notes Ms. Sciarra, and customers can select the top they prefer. A number of other antique tables are also available, including a large elm, burlwood, and mahogany dining table (c) 1940s, featuring lions’ claw feet.

“We have mid-century (1950s) one-of-a-kind furniture from all over, including the U.S., France, and England,” she points out. “It is really beautiful, including a very impressive George III-style partners desk circa 1940s, in mahogany with leather top. An 18th century French provincial farm table is another outstanding piece.”

A variety of decorative pieces include animal replicas: a terra cotta horse’s head, an Italian terra cotta lion (ready to pounce!), and a pair of marble lions, each playing with a marble ball. Two carousel horses, old-time ceramic piggy banks, brass telescope, giant brass candlesticks, and vintage 1930s/40s suitcases sporting travel stickers, decanters in assorted styles, and a large mirror from the Marx Brothers estate are all part of the very eclectic selection.

On the Road

“We go on the road to find things, often in New England, and also, people find us,” says Linda Sciarra. “They may be downsizing and need to part with some of their belongings. We find that comfortable chairs are very popular. People are always looking for a pair, especially vintage club chairs.”

Umbrella also has a flourishing on-line business. “This supplements our in-store business very nicely. We are on, which has a huge customer base throughout the world. It is one of the largest on-line retail sites. We have now shipped throughout the world — to Dubai, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, among other far away places. It really gets our name out worldwide, and we’re becoming known to important decorators at

“We also have a store front on e-bay, and we have gone on-line with Houzz, the number one on-line site for decorators. Someone can go there and say ‘I’m looking for ideas to decorate the family room.’ It’s a great source for people wanting to decorate.”

Umbrella will have its fifth anniversary next April, and both Fay and Linda Sciarra are enthusiastic about the gallery’s future. It already has a large customer base of regulars and repeats.

“We have really become a destination place, and people can find such a variety here. Sometimes, a shopper will come in and be looking for a particular item, but then see something else that catches their eye. And the inventory changes all the time, so there will always be something different to see.

“We are also very much hands-on owners. One of us is always here. We believe in having control of the business, and this has been a very successful concept for us.”

Customers will find a wide price range, from $25 up to $1000s, and everything in between, add the owners. “We have wonderful aesthetic pieces that will beautify the home, and we have met so many wonderful people. We want even more people to know about us, and we look forward to having them come to see what we have. We continually update our website, and we are also on Facebook.”

Umbrella is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 466-2800.


“Rest Traveler Rest And Banish Thought of Care;

Drink to Thy Friends And Recommend them Here.”

These words were originally found in an old English inn near Oxford. Now carved above the mantel in the Yankee Doodle Tap Room of the Nassau Inn, they have cheered guests here since 1937, when the Inn was rebuilt on Palmer Square. The fireplace beneath is lit during the winter months, adding welcoming warmth and a glow to the informal pub setting.

The Tap Room’s name is derived from the unique 13-foot Norman Rockwell mural of Yankee Doodle situated above and behind the bar. It is the largest Rockwell mural, was commissioned in the 1930s, and was a gift to the Inn from Princeton University. The mural took just over nine months to complete in the Rockwell studio. He thought it would be fitting to paint Yankee Doodle because of Princeton’s strong connection to the Revolutionary War. It is a big attraction at the restaurant.

Guests at the Tap Room find themselves in good company, as evidenced by the gallery of famous faces who have visited the Nassau Inn. From John Foster Dulles and Adlai Stevenson to Jimmy Stewart and George Gallup to James Baker and George Shultz to Thomas Kean and astronaut Pete Conrad to Bill Bradley and Ralph Nader to Brooke Shields and Michelle Obama and many more, the portrait gallery covers a wide spectrum of Princeton University graduates over the years.

Culinary Creativity

History and culinary creativity come together at the Tap Room. Michael LaCorte has returned as executive chef after a hiatus of 20 years. “I had been a chef at the Nassau Inn for some years back then,” he recalls. “At that time, I worked at Palmer’s, one of the inn’s three restaurants. It was a happy experience, and I met my wife there!”

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Mr. LaCorte had always been interested in cooking. “I liked to look through my mom’s cook books and I also enjoyed watching ‘The Galloping Gourmet’ TV cooking show. I tried my hand at making some dishes and I also worked at an Italian restaurant during high school.”

His later experience included time at the River Cafe in New York City, and then as a corporate chef in the business world. “I wanted to solidify my base,” he explains. “It’s very important to be able to execute. You can have all the proper ingredients, but then you have to execute. This is crucial. Here at the Inn, we make a point of hiring new people, with fresh ideas. I have two sous chefs and one line staff for the Tap Room, and one sous chef for catering. I cook, do prep work, and also administrative work.

“Catering is a big part of the business, with banquets, weddings, corporate events, etc. With the holidays coming up, we will be very busy from Thanksgiving through New Year’s, and then we have a break until Valentine’s Day.”

Chef LaCorte is very happy to be back at the Inn, and he especially enjoys the Tap Room experience. “We are repositioning ourselves as a ‘Gastro Pub.’ The choices have expanded and evolved, and we have American-focused food, including a bar menu, regular menu, and children’s menu.”

A variety of choices for breakfast, lunch (also Sunday brunch), and dinner is offered every day, and diners are enjoying everything, including vegetarian and gluten-free options.

The “Princetonian”

“We try to satisfy all dietary needs,” says Mr. LaCorte. “We are especially getting known for the best burger around. It’s a blend of chuck, short ribs, brisket, and choriza (Spanish sausage). We call it the ‘Princetonian’, and it won first prize in the Mercer County ‘Burger Mania’ 2013 contest. It is topped with smoked mozzarella cheese and port wine onion marmalade, served on a toasted sourdough roll, with fries, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and pickle.”

Three other hamburgers are also available, including a mushroom and barley veggie version.

Other favorite dishes include seared salmon with roasted butternut squash, served with Brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms, bacon lardon, and toasted quinoa; also salted duck breast with sun-dried cherries, root vegetables, and roasted sweet potatoes. The roasted all-natural semi-boneless chicken with rosemary, and served with bread pudding, local vegetables, and pan gravy is gluten-free. Braised boneless short ribs in red wine and chipotle, served with cipollini onions, horseradish, with beets and olive oil mashed potatoes is another popular dish, as is Orecchiette pasta with sausage and broccoli rabe, including spicy Milford Farms all natural pork sausage, with garlic, and “little ear” pasta.

Specials are also available every night for dinner.

Appetizers include cheese soup, featuring a blend of sharp cheddar, mozzarella, smoked Gouda, and blue cheese with smoky paprika; also, hummus, Nassau wings (gluten-free), and Tap Room sliders (mini burgers on toasted mini sourdough buns with cheese and pickle).

In addition, “Small Plates” are available, notes Mr. LaCorte. “These are larger than appetizers, but smaller than an entree. They are very popular, because people can sample a variety, such as fried basil risotto balls, stuffed with fresh mozzarella cheese; duck confit stew, simmered in roasted garlic sauce, cipollini onion and parsnips; and sauteed shrimp and cheesy grits, with garlic, tomato, mushrooms, preserved lemon, and chorizo.”

Molten Chocolate Cake

The variety of salads is very popular and chicken, shrimp, and steak can be added to the greens for more substantial fare. One of the most popular is fried goat cheese with toasted almonds, balsamic vinaigrette, fall greens, and roasted baby red and golden beets.

Everyone loves the Tap Room’s desserts, from the creamy Tiramisu and the classic crème brûlée to the warm apple tart with vanilla ice cream to the individual pumpkin pie, and of course the molten chocolate cake. Assorted ice cream, gelato, and sorbet are also offered.

In addition, coffee, cappuccino, and espresso are on the menu, along with a variety of after dinner drinks.

Diners can also enjoy a wide selection of beer, wine, and spirits, notes Mr. LaCorte. “We have 22 world beers, including some from micro breweries, on tap and a variety of wines and cocktails.

“I think we are set apart because we have found our niche and offer quality food. We have the freshest ingredients and special recipes. Of course, presentation is important. You want the dishes to be pleasing to the eye. We try to focus on local farms, and we get our produce, beef and chicken locally. We also change the menu twice seasonally, for fall and winter, and spring and summer.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served seven days. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. With late night in the bar until 11 Friday and Saturday. (609) 921-7500. Website:


December 4, 2013
MAGICAL MUSIC: Boys in fourth through eighth grade come from across the country and around the world to pursue a challenging musical and academic curriculum at the American Boychoir School. The Choir has long been recognized as one of the finest musical ensembles in the U.S. Here, members of the Choir are shown in one of its acclaimed performances.

MAGICAL MUSIC: Boys in fourth through eighth grade come from across the country and around the world to pursue a challenging musical and academic curriculum at the American Boychoir School. The Choir has long been recognized as one of the finest musical ensembles in the U.S. Here, members of the Choir are shown in one of its acclaimed performances.

Founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1937, The American Boychoir (originally the Columbus Boychoir) came to Princeton in 1950, and has been an important part of the cultural life of the town ever since.

Established by Herbert Huffman, the Choir is considered to be one of the finest choirs of its kind in the United States and among the finest in the world. It is currently under the guidance of Litton-Lodal Music Director Fernando Malvar-Ruiz.

The objectives stated in The American Boychoir School’s original charter are as important today as they were in 1937.

“(1) To build character in young boys and prepare them for good citizenship.

(2) To provide an exceptional training program for musically talented boys, regardless of their religion, social or financial circumstances.

(3) To make this unique opportunity the motivation for general educational attainment.

(4) To help enrich the cultural life of the nation and to produce a musical organization that is recognized throughout the country as the finest of its kind.”

Special and Unique

“This institution is special, unique,” notes American Boychoir general manager Christie Starrett. “It is wonderful to watch a child’s development, and the Choir takes boys from any background. 60 percent of the boys are on scholarship. They might be from a family with no musical experience or from a home in which both parents are musicians, and then their voices are melded into this wonderful Choir.”

Boys aged nine to 14, in grades four through eight, attend the American Boychoir School. They come from across the U.S. and from abroad. Typically 45 to 50 boys comprise the student body, both boarding and day students.

In January of this year, the school moved to the Princeton Center for Arts and Education, the site of the former St. Joseph’s Seminary at 75 Mapleton Road in Plainsboro. Five buildings, including classrooms and rehearsal space, a chapel, and gym on 47 acres offer expanded space for academic studies and music rehearsal.

In addition to the Boychoir, the location is home to The Wilberforce School and the French American School of Princeton.

“St. Joseph’s was formerly an educational institution, and when we found it was available, it seemed like a good fit. It offered us the right kind of space,” says Dr. Kerry Heimann, PhD, the Choir’s assistant music director and accompanist. “The chapel is outstanding and can serve as performing space.”

Boys who are interested in joining the Choir and attending the school audition in an informal setting. No previous musical experience is necessary, explains Dr. Heimann. “We have very simple auditions. The boys don’t have to prepare music. We are interested in hearing their tone, range, and getting a sense of their personality and interest in music.”

Natural Progression

Even if their voices change, the boys remain in the Choir, adds Ms. Starrett. “We emphasize that the voice change is a normal part of life. It is a natural progression of a male human being.”

A fully accredited middle school education, with instruction in language arts, math, social studies, science, and Spanish, is available with the advantage of small classes for more individual attention. The boys’ day is long, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Music study and rehearsal encompass three to four hours a day, reports Dr. Heimann. “They study music theory, learn to read music, and also take a year of piano instruction.”

They also have physical education and exercise options, as well as a one-hour rest period during their intense daily program.

The curriculum of The American Boychoir School is uniquely structured so that the boys gain their education not only in the classroom but also during their tours and travel experience and their musical performances.

“Part of the learning experience is experiential learning,” points out Ms. Starrett. “The boys can read about the Alamo, and then actually be at the Alamo when they are on tour. They come away from the school not only as musicians, but as informed citizens.

“Also, another component of the boys’ education here is the school’s heavy emphasis on manners and character development. This is very important. The boys meet people all over the country and other parts of the world. They have to be able to converse and be comfortable with people of different backgrounds and cultures, and be courteous and polite.

Musical Excellence

“The major pillars of the tours are cities,” continues Ms. Starrett, “but we go all over the U.S. and perform in small towns as well. The boys stay in private homes and have opportunities to be with people of different backgrounds, culture, etc. This broadens their horizons.”

The Choir is highly regarded in music circles as well as among the general public whose appreciative audiences greet the Choir warmly. The Boychoir’s standing as pre-eminent ambassador of American musical excellence is maintained through an extremely busy tour schedule, both nationally and abroad, and through frequent television and radio guest appearances.

The Choir typically schedules five tours during the school year, often for three weeks at a time. During the tours they keep up with their academic studies, completing assignments and homework. Nearly 100 peformances are scheduled throughout the year.

The Choir is also often invited to join internationally-known artists on stage, including great classical artists, such as opera stars Jessye Norman and Frederica von Stade, jazz headliner Wynton Marsalis, and pop icons Beyoncé and Sir Paul McCartney.

The boys also perform regularly with world-class ensembles, including The New York Philharmonic, The Philadelphia Orchestra, and The Boston Symphony, among others.

The Choir’s legacy is preserved through an extensive recording catalog, which includes more than 46 commercial recordings. Its most recent release, Journey On, was hailed by Fanfare Magazine as “a fabulous recording, encompassing a remarkable range of music and styles, all of it performed with an astonishing accuracy and élan, conveying at every turn a sense of discovery and an utter engagement with the music.”

Upcoming Tours

The focus of the Choir’s repertoire is classical music, but the boys also enjoy performing lighter selections. “Ten percent of our boys sang with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra,” notes Dr. Heimann. “This was a very different musical experience.”

Upcoming tours and engagements include trips to various locations in the U.S. In addition, the choir recently returned from a concert tour to South Korea. Many Princeton residents look forward to the Choir’s annual Christmas concerts in the Princeton University Chapel and Richardson Hall in December, this year to be held Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15.

In addition, the public is welcome to attend Friday afternoon rehearsals held in the chapel at the Arts and Education Center.

Many Boychoir graduates continue in the field of music as adults, notes Dr. Heimann. “Some have gone into performing, teaching music, and arts management. Most retain a strong relationship with music and the arts throughout their lives.”

“During Alumni Weekend, a lot of graduates come back, and they enjoy singing with the boys,” adds Ms. Starrett.

Both Ms. Starrett and Dr. Heimann have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the mission of The American Boy Choir School and to watch the boys develop into superbly talented musicians and outstanding individuals. “Seeing the boys develop as musicians, become polite and cooperative people, and be aware of the world around them is a pleasure.”

For further information, call (609) 924-5858, or visit the website:


SINGLE SOURCE SOLUTION: “We provide quality home repair, maintenance, and management services for homeowners. We have a network of pre-qualified service providers. We put it all together for people: one call, one solution.” Ray Disch and Jim Baxter are co-owners of Total Home Manager, LLC., headquartered in Hopewell.

SINGLE SOURCE SOLUTION: “We provide quality home repair, maintenance, and management services for homeowners. We have a network of pre-qualified service providers. We put it all together for people: one call, one solution.” Ray Disch and Jim Baxter are co-owners of Total Home Manager, LLC., headquartered in Hopewell.

Imagine not having to worry about the leak in the roof, cleaning the gutters, shoveling snow, waiting for the plumber, or painting the house!

This is exactly the scenario that Jim Baxter and Ray Disch, co-owners of Total Home Manager (THM), want to make available for you. You don’t have to move, you get to stay in your own house, and you are relieved of stress and strain and all those pesky details that accompany home ownership.

As its name suggests, Total Home Manager is prepared to take complete control of maintenance, repair, and management of whatever problems and needs arise.

Established by Jim Baxter of Baxter Construction and entrepreneur Ray Disch, it is headquartered at 31 West Broad Street, Hopewell.

Overall Solution

Formerly co-founder and owner of The Triumph Brewing Company in Princeton, and currently a real estate broker with Callaway-Henderson Sotheby’s International Realty, Mr. Disch saw the need for an overall solution to the various problems that arise in owning a house.

“I continually got calls from people who needed a plumber, electrician, carpenter, furnace repair, blue stone for their terrace, etc.” explains Mr. Disch “I kept referring lots of people to them, and I began to think ‘there’s a business here.’ We could be a resource for repairs, maintenance, and management.”

Mr. Baxter had been thinking along similar lines. “It seemed to be a great idea. We had been asked to do a variety of things by our customers, including small jobs, such as fixing steps, and other repairs. With Total Home Manager, we can do whatever people need, including cleaning the chimney and gutters, sealing the driveway, etc.”

Mr. Disch and Mr. Baxter had known each other for years, and each brought his particular set of skills to the enterprise.

“As a contractor/builder, Jim has people working for him, who we can call upon,” points out Mr. Disch. “We guarantee licensed workers, liability insurance, and workman’s compensation coverage. We vet everyone, and either they worked for Jim, or they are people we know. All the carpentry and handyman-type work is done by Baxter Construction.

“And in addition, since we give them so much work, they give us preferred pricing for our customers. It’s just so much easier for people. We send one invoice to the homeowner instead of their receiving multiple bills. We review the bills, and do all the work for you.”

Check List

This service is a boon for a wide range of people — from busy professionals to single homeowners to older people to those who never owned a house before — adds Mr. Baxter. “Each job has its own personal project manager. There is always someone overseeing the work. In addition, if people are away, we can watch the house. We have a check list, and we will do weekly inspection — to see if the water is leaking, if there is storm damage, etc. We’ll even start their car, clean the garage, take care of the pool, and watch over the pets.

“Also, when people are away, it can be a great time to do work in the house, including putting in a new kitchen, new floors, or other renovation or remodeling projects.”

The THM customer base is growing, report the owners, and more than 100 projects have been completed or are ongoing. Continuing relationships with customers is very important, notes Mr. Disch.

“Our business is relationship-based. The focus is relationships, not projects. We build lasting relationships with people. For example, a new homeowner moved to Princeton, and her husband was away. Super Storm Sandy was predicted, and she didn’t know how to start the generator. We took care of it for her.

“In another case, a woman had an incident when her door key broke in the lock. It was raining, and she was alone in the car with the kids. We had been doing work for her, and she called us. We had a key to the back door, and we got there within an hour.”

Among THM customers are people who travel, and are often away from home for long stays. “One of our customers went to Maine for three months, another to Florida for six months, and still another to Hong Kong for a year,” says Mr. Baxter. “They gave us keys to their house, and we took care of everything for them. In some cases, they might need a new water heater or sump pump, or they might decide they want landscaping services. We provide everything, and customers  appreciate the service, support, and level of trust that we offer them.”

Preventive Maintenance

Customers range from those wanting small individual repair or maintenance jobs to those who are involved in large, on-going projects. They are located in a 15/20-mile radius, and have included Princeton, Hopewell, Pennington, and Skillman residents, among others.

Studies have shown that preventive maintenance is many times more cost effective than reactive maintenance after something has failed, point out Mr. Baxter and Mr. Disch. THM offers four different plans for people who wish to have more comprehensive service and management coverage. These plans vary in scope, and there is a choice to fit every situation. The right plan can be customized to the customer’s needs, life-style, budget, and age of their house.

Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze plans offer varying degrees of service, but all provide home inspection, quick response time (immediate turnaround), preferred pricing, and opportunities for energy audits, concierge service, and a variety of optional inspections (lead paint analysis, radon testing, mold assessment, and insect/pest inspection).

“We also have budget plans that can span three to five years,” note the owners. “We know that not everyone can afford to do everything at once.”

Mr. Disch adds that his real estate work provides a nice connection with THM. “When I do a listing presentation, people will ask. ‘What do I need to fix before selling?’ I can help with this, and tell them what is worth repairing and what is not. So, it’s a nice synergy with construction, THM, and real estate. One call does it all.

“We also see a time when we can have an impact on homeowner’s insurance. If they work with us to maintain the house, it could reduce the premiums on their homeowner’s insurance policy.”

“We are very encouraged,” adds Mr. Baxter. “We think we have the perfect answer for today’s world: a single source solution for complete interior and exterior home repair and management service. Call us for a complimentary evaluation.”

(609) 466-3355. Website:


November 20, 2013
FINE FURNITURE: “Customers really like the simple clean lines of our furniture — the elegant and sleek look. We focus on both Scandinavian and contemporary furniture.” Roberto Hajek, owner of Contemporary Designs in Hopewell, is shown by a handsome solid teak dresser and queen size teak bed.

FINE FURNITURE: “Customers really like the simple clean lines of our furniture — the elegant and sleek look. We focus on both Scandinavian and contemporary furniture.” Roberto Hajek, owner of Contemporary Designs in Hopewell, is shown by a handsome solid teak dresser and queen size teak bed.

“People will come in and say ‘My parents got this piece from your grandparents, and it lasted forever. I want that furniture too, that same


Roberto Hajek, owner of Contemporary Designs at 33 West Broad Street in Hopewell, is very proud that he is continuing a family business. “My grandparents started the business in northern New Jersey in the 1960s, and then my parents brought it to central Jersey in the early 90s. First they were in Kingston, and then it was in the Montgomery Center.

“It was called Scandinavian Concepts then, and was mostly Scandinavian furniture,” explains Mr. Hajek. “Now, I am including both Scandinavian and contemporary pieces. I’m an independent ‘Mom and Pop’ store, which is becoming rare today. There aren’t many left anymore. It’s so many big companies today. But as a smaller shop, we can often be flexible about prices, and we have a very big price range.”

Contemporary Designs offers furniture for every room, including home offices. Featuring solid teak and natural cherry, as well as maple and walnut, it provides furniture, with sleek, sophisticated lines.

Highly Desirable

“Our furniture has an elegant, clean look. It never seems crowded or cluttered,” says Mr. Hajek. “It is both domestic and imported, including from Denmark and Canada, and it is high quality. Not many companies carry solid teak and cherry now, but these woods are very durable and highly desirable.”

Big sellers at the shop are bedroom, home office, and dining room sets, he adds. Increasing numbers of people are setting up home offices, and Mr. Hajek can provide customers with a variety of choices.

“Modular offices are very popular now. We can pretty much build the office the customers wants. It can be customized according to their space, whether it’s large or small. There are choices in teak, cherry (stained or natural), maple, and espresso, among others.”

Bookcases, desks, filing cabinets, hutches, and credenzas are all available.

Mr. Hajek points out that an eclectic look for furniture and home decor is popular today with many customers. “People like to mix and match. They don’t want everything to be the same. They may have new pieces and older pieces together, and it adds interest.

“We can really provide whatever they want. We can customize wall units with different woods and finishes. We can set up a TV stand with a hutch — there are just so many options today. It depends on the customer’s life-style.”


Whether it’s the intriguingly modern designs of contemporary furniture (including glass and stainless steel), a classic leather chair, incredibly comfortable upholstered sofas from Canada, cozy sofa beds, informal lounge chairs, children’s bedroom sets and desks, teak dining room table and chairs, or a handsome one-of-a-kind cherry magazine stand from Denmark, Contemporary Designs can provide it.

Mr. Hajek can also accommodate a young couple just starting out, or retirees downsizing. All ages find choices at Contemporary Designs.

“We really have a great price range,” he adds. “There is something for everyone’s pocketbook. For example, we have a bedroom set, with bed, dresser, and two night stands, for $800. Then, we have a teak bed for $1500. We have chairs at $45, $100, and $300.”

Customers are primarily from the Princeton area, but also from as far away as New York City, the Lake George area in New York, and Buffalo. “We do a big business on-line, and in addition to the furniture in our showroom, we have many brochures for people to look at,” points out Mr. Hajek. “We have great word-of-mouth, lots of referrals, and repeat customers.”

Family Business

“Also, I personally deliver the furniture. We offer delivery, set-up, and clean-up. It is wonderful to see how pleased customers are when they see the new furniture in their room. We have established a reputation, and people know they can count on us. There is continuity in our family business. You can rely on the quality of the furniture. Our products are built to order and built to last. They’re not just off the assembly line. They have outstanding style and quality.

“I also want to say that I am very proud of our family business and the opportunity to continue it. I am very fortunate and blessed to be able to do this. My parents and grandparents are so pleased.”

Contemporary Designs is open Monday through Wednesday by appointment, Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 11 to 6, Sunday 12 to 5. (609) 309-5388. Website: www.contemporary—

LIVING LEGACY: “I enjoy this work so much. It’s an honor to be a part of this mission and follow in the footsteps of a woman who is so inspiring.” Pamela Carroll, marketing director of Pearl S. Buck International, is shown by the Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie, Pa.

LIVING LEGACY: “I enjoy this work so much. It’s an honor to be a part of this mission and follow in the footsteps of a woman who is so inspiring.” Pamela Carroll, marketing director of Pearl S. Buck International, is shown by the Pearl S. Buck House in Perkasie, Pa.

Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Pulitzer Prize for her memorable book, The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck was a prolific writer, author of more than 100 books, and more than 1000 publications, including papers and articles.

Pearl S. Buck International is a memorial to her legacy, and continues to further adoptions across the world and to support children in need through sponsorships.

Born in West Virginia in 1892, Pearl was the daughter of missionaries who focused their work in China. She spent the first 40 years of her life in that country, and while developing a deep regard for Chinese culture and tradition, she was also aware of the need for de-stigmatizing attitudes toward children of mixed heredity.

Pamela Carroll, marketing director of Pearl S. Buck International, a non-profit organization, notes, “Pearl was a blond-haired, blue-eyed child growing up in China. She felt apart, and often encountered discrimination. She wanted to spare other children from having that experience, and later in 1949, she founded Welcome House, the first adoption agency of its kind, to help find homes for multi-racial, multi-national children.”

Welcome House, whose mission focused on international adoption from mostly Asian countries and domestic adoption in Pennsylvania, has placed more than 7000 children, including those with special needs, in stable homes.

In 1934, Ms. Buck had returned to the U.S., and purchased Green Hills Farm with 48 acres in Perkasie, Pa. Part of the stone farm house dated to 1740 and part to 1825. Ms. Buck expanded the structure over time, and it was home to her and her family, including six adopted children and her second husband Richard Walsh.

In addition to Welcome House, she later established Opportunity House, which continues to be an important part of Pearl S. Buck International. This program expands opportunities for children and families who need health care, education, livelihood, and psycho-social support by means of sponsorship, particularly through a monthly donation.

The focus is primarily Asian countries, especially Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. In addition to a monthly donation, other options are available, including one-time or recurring special donations. These can support supplying drinking water to children and families in the Philippines, renovating orphanage bathrooms to provide warm running water for children to shower in Vietnam, building handicapped-accessible playgrounds in South Korea, and providing scholarships to poor, rural children living in remote areas of China, among other needs.

Since 1964, these programs have helped more than two million children around the world. As Ms. Carroll says, “One woman with one vision helped over two million lives.”

During the time Ms. Buck lived there, Green Hills Farm welcomed many visitors across a wide spectrum, including writers, artists, composers, philanthropists, civil rights leaders, religious leaders, and politicians, points out Ms. Carroll.

“Pearl had a powerful pen, and she also reached out to people in other ways, through speaking engagements and personal contact. She saw things that were wrong, and went home and acted. She could persuade people to help her cause. And she had such prominent friends as James Michener and Oscar Hammerstein, who lived in the area, among many others.”

Ms. Buck was a long-time advocate of cross-cultural understanding, women’s rights, and racial harmony. As early as 1940, she was a vocal supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.

The Pearl S. Buck House, a national landmark, promotes the legacy of Ms. Buck by preserving and interpreting her home to educate and develop multi-cultural appreciation, opportunities for children and families, and worldwide partnerships.

“I am so pleased to have the house open again,” says Ms. Carroll. “Ms. Buck’s presence and energy are still here. This is a living legacy. We are continuing what she started.”

The Pearl S. Buck House is one of 10 national historic landmarks in honor of a woman that has an intact collection, she adds. “Everything is as it was when she lived here, including her clothing. We have an Awards Room, featuring photos and many of the awards and honors she received, including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, gifts from presidents and world leaders, hoods from the 16 universities, including Yale, Howard, and Rutgers, which awarded her honorary degrees.”

Also on display is the manual Royal typewriter on which she typed The Good Earth and a paperback copy of The Good Earth from 1938, the first paperback to be published.

Ms. Carroll is very pleased about a new discovery that will eventually be added to the collection. “An unpublished manuscript has been discovered in Texas. It is a novel, The Internal Wonder, and the last one she wrote before she died in 1973. It’s planned for publication in October.”

Pearl S. Buck International sponsors many events, as well as tours of the House and the grounds. The 1827 red barn, now the Cultural Center, is used for corporate retreats and meetings. A permanent tent is available for special occasions, including weddings, proms, and other events.

A “Woman of the Year” award is another tradition, and honors a woman who exhibits the humanitarian efforts exemplified by Pearl S. Buck.

Award-winning gardens surround the House, and the water garden was designed by Ms. Buck. In addition, her gravesite is on the grounds.

A gift shop offers a wide range of items and souvenirs, including many which are Asian-inspired. Scarves, one-of-a-kind jewelry, rice china, books and more are all on display. A special corner features a variety of specialties for children.

Holiday tours and seasonal events, writing workshops, tours for groups, including school children, are available, and there are even reading group opportunities, notes Ms. Carroll. “If book clubs read a Pearl Buck book, it would be a great addition for their understanding to come here for a tour. Also, we offer box lunches and we have a tremendous amount of educational resources on our website. We have a grant from Wells Fargo so that local kids can come to visit. There are 22,000 visitors each year.”

New this year are Chinese and Korean Culture Camps. For children entering kindergarten through sixth grade, the camps will explore the culture and traditions of China and Korea, focusing on language, arts and crafts, sports and games, music and dance, food, and history.

Ms. Carroll continues to be inspired by Pearl S. Buck and the opportunity to focus on work that supports her legacy. “There are so many layers to this work. It is truly a global message. I was so inspired by a meeting held here before I came to work at Pearl S. Buck International. and I continue to be inspired. I look forward to encouraging people to come and see us. It’s a wonderful day trip. You can plan on being here two hours, taking the guided tour, which includes wonderful anecdotes, walking on the grounds, and enjoying the beautiful setting.”

Tours are available Tuesday through Saturday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.; Sunday at 1 and 2. Groups of 10 or more need to make a reservation. Buffet or boxed lunch options are available. For further information, call (215) 249-0100. Website:


November 13, 2013

Standing at the bar has taken on a whole new meaning for many who are enthusiastically embracing The Bar Method!

This special workout program is now available in Princeton, with a studio located at 29 Emmons Drive. A franchise owned by Amy Clark and Jenn Tigue, it offers an unusual approach to fitness.

It is based on the technique developed by former dancer Lotte Berk, who after injuring her back, decided to combine her ballet bar routines with her rehabilitation therapy. She opened a studio in London, and helped sculpt the bodies of her students.

The Bar Method is an evolved version of the Lotte Berk Method, which had been brought to the United States, and was founded by Burr Leonard. Her flagship studio opened in San Francisco in 2001, and since then, more than 25 Bar Method studios have opened in California, New York, Connecticut, Illinois, Washington, and New Jersey.

Health Benefits

“We started out as clients,” explains Amy Clark. “We had both been going to other gyms, but this was so different.”

“It really changed our lives,” adds Jenn Tigue. “We feel better, look better, and we have made so many new friends. We are passionate about this. There are so many health benefits.”

It did indeed change their lives in many ways, and specifically as they changed careers, when they opened The Bar Method Studio. Ms. Clark, a dietician, and Ms. Tigue, a registered nurse, did not hesitate when they had the opportunity to open the franchise.

What sets The Bar Method apart from so many other fitness centers is its emphasis on creating a lean, firm, sculpted body. As the owners explain, “It combines the muscle-shaping principles of isometrics, the body-elongating practice of dance conditioning, the science of physical therapy, and the intense pace of interval training into a powerful exercise format that quickly and safely reshapes and elongates muscles.

“Its non-impact one-hour workout targets all major muscle groups, and improves posture,” they continue. “The result is a recognizable ‘Bar Method Body’, featuring sculpted arms, flat abs, a lifted seat, and elongated thighs. And we emphasize core strength, which is so important for good health, for posture, and for the back.

“One of the biggest differences in The Bar Method and other fitness centers is that ours was developed with the help of doctors and physical therapists, and our instructors go through six months training, and all are certified.”

Personal Attention

Classes are always under the guidance of one of the owners or an instructor, and are divided into three segments: a 15-minute warm-up with free weight exercises and push-ups; then intense leg and seat work at the bar for a half-hour; followed by abdominal work at the bar and on mats for the final minutes.

“All the exercises are doable for most levels, and we give people a lot of personal attention,” explains Ms. Tigue. “Also, all the exercises can be modified for clients with specific conditions, such as arthritis, injuries, etc.”

The classes emphasize safety, she adds, and in particular, joint safety. Exercises are low-impact, and the studio floor is carpeted to lessen joint impact.

The Bar Method classes alternate between exercises that demand intense bursts of energy and deep stretches, This format produces both high-caloric burn and firmer muscle mass, explains The Bar Method literature. Every exercise includes active stretching and strengthening, followed by additional strengthening to elongate the muscles just worked.

“Most clients who do The Bar Method regularly become slimmer and lighter,” notes Ms. Clark.

Participating in classes three to five times a week will produce the best results, and many students do this. But just getting a start will point a beginner in the right direction.

“We are very encouraged. We have many regular clients, and it is very inspiring to see how enthusiastic people are,” reports Ms. Tigue. “They are coming in at 5:30 in the morning! That makes me look forward to coming in at 5:30 too for their class. It is so satisfying.”

Correct Form

The Bar Method studio is spacious, spotlessly clean, and attractive. Two workout rooms (one large and one smaller) feature a horizontal bar around the room and mirrors. Mirrors are important so that people can see their form as they perform the exercises. Correct form is very important for the safety and success of the exercises.

In addition, a locker room with showers and inviting waiting area are available.

Bar Method participants are men and women, ranging in age from teens to those in their eighties, note Ms. Clark and Ms. Tigue. Class sizes vary anywhere from two to 25, with eight different classes throughout the day.

A number of different payment packages are available. A single class is $25, which is deducted if the client signs up for more. Savings are offered for packages, and a new client special includes 30 days at $175 for as many classes as the client wishes.

“We are so pleased to be doing this. We love the method, and we love to teach,” point out the owners. “People come to tone their body and are so pleased when they see results and realize they are doing something good for themselves. They look better and feel better. Many say that The Bar Method has really changed their lives.”

Of course, for best results, note Ms. Clark and Ms. Tigue, this should be part of an over-all life-style, with good nutrition and other healthy exercise.

“We have a very friendly and positive atmosphere here, with so many regular clients. Now we look forward to expanding our clientele, including more people from Princeton, and bringing The Bar Method concept to even more participants. And this is a great location, with lots of convenient parking.”

Hours are Monday through Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (609) 356-0244. Website:


POOLS AND PATIOS: Wayne Wilson (left), service coordinator and renovation supervisor, and Steven Gorlin, president of Gorlin Pools & Spas, are ready to help customers with a full spectrum of pool services — new pools, renovation and maintenance of existing pools, and hardscape and water features, as well as equipment, supplies, and patio furniture.

POOLS AND PATIOS: Wayne Wilson (left), service coordinator and renovation supervisor, and Steven Gorlin, president of Gorlin Pools & Spas, are ready to help customers with a full spectrum of pool services — new pools, renovation and maintenance of existing pools, and hardscape and water features, as well as equipment, supplies, and patio furniture.

A pool in the backyard is a dream-come-true for many homeowners, and more and more people are seeing it become a reality.

“Pools have actually been prevalent in New Jersey since the 1950s, and nationwide today there are six million in-ground pools,” says Steven Gorlin, president of Gorlin Pools & Spas.

Headquartered in Lakehurst, the company opened in 1999 and merged with the Princeton Pool & Patio Shop in April of this year. The long-time Princeton establishment on Alexander Street had relocated to Hightstown in 2005, explains former owner Wayne Wilson, who had become president and CEO, when his father Bill Wilson retired. The elder Mr. Wilson had owned the business since 1975, after having purchased the pool division from Princeton Fuel Oil.

“I started helping in the business when I was 14, says Wayne Wilson. “We began as a simple service firm, providing spring openings, closings, service and repairs, chemicals, patio furniture, weekly cleaning, and pool painting. When I became president and CEO, I proceeded to take the business in the direction of my passion: reconstruction, custom stone and concrete patios, tile, and the conversion of the old painted surfaces into the newer custom plaster surfaces.

Driving Force

“The business grew exponentially, and I had the honor of working for some very famous individuals, as well as at such locations as the Governor’s Mansion at Drumthwacket and also Morven. In 2004, I was notified by Princeton University about their targeted project for Alexander Street, and I purchased a new property in Hightstown. Then, during the recession, when the economy was rocked to its core, I had to contemplate where I wanted to go and how I could change the experience homeowners have with home improvement contractors.

“I approached Steven Gorlin, who had known my father, and who is chairman of the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. He is a man of great integrity, much like my late father, and we agreed to merge our beliefs and businesses, and become the driving force of change in New Jersey. We still provide all the normal seasonal preparations, but in addition, we also offer new commercial and custom residential construction, waterscapes, such as waterfalls, custom in-ground spas, high technology fiber optic lighting, automated control systems, salt technology, and my passion of custom stone and concrete restoration services.”

Mr. Gorlin, who has been working in the pool business since 1969, is pleased to have a more prominent role in the Princeton pool market. “Previously, we had a small part of the Princeton market, and now since Wayne has joined us, we have the lion’s share. Now, our crews can stay in the area all day, not just come for one job.”

The combined efforts of Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Wilson create a professional and dynamic partnership. Customers can expect expert service — whether they are first-timers installing a new pool, renovating an existing one, or adding enhanced elements such as lighting and sound and improved hardscapes and waterscapes.

Safety Issues

The choices available today are amazing. All shapes and sizes of pools, options as to color, texture, and style of the surface and deck are seemingly endless. And new advances come along all the time.

“We specialize in higher-end pools, including customized Gunite (concrete),” explains Mr. Gorlin. “We are set apart because we are certified in the pool industry as (1) certified building professionals (CBP), and (2) certified service professionals (CSP). I am both, and all of my technicians are certified pool operators (CPO). They go through chemistry courses. There are real safety issues relating to pools regarding chemicals.

“Also, pool alarms are available now which can be programmed. For example, if a child should go into the pool at night, the alarm goes off, and flood lights come on.”

Advances in technology relating to pools continues at a rapid pace, he adds. “The technology of pools is catching up with the technology in other areas. Today, you can control your pool from your cell phone, including adjusting the water temperature, if it is a heated pool; controlling water features such as water falls, etc. Lighting is very popular now, and the pool can be programmed for color. There is a multiple array of colors in lighting, and it’s a great way to set the mood and tone for a party.

“We also do all kinds of water features — ‘water in transit’ (that is, moving water), including waterfalls with laminar jets. These are all popular.”

Pools are available with vinyl linings, pre-fab fiber glass, and Gunite, points out Mr. Wilson. 20 feet by 40 feet (30,000 gallons of water) is a typical size, but all sizes and shapes are available. Currently, rectangular pools are making a comeback.

“Vanishing Edges”

Textures and colors of the surface (bottom and walls) offer incredible variety. A lake or lagoon effect, a pebbled or sand look are favored, but there is really no end to the possibilities. Also, pavers and blue stone are very popular for decks now.

“Today, more people are enjoying the ambiance of the pool,” reports Mr. Gorlin. “They like to sit beside it, look at it, and relax, just as much as actually swimming. Pool parties are a very big deal. And there are so many features in pools today. For example, ‘vanishing edges’, in which three of the walls are higher than the other wall, creating an optical illusion. There is also a perimeter slot overflow. Water comes up over the pool and drops into a slot between the pool and the deck. It creates an unbelievable ‘mirror’ on top of the water.”

Of course, Gorlin Pools has a complete selection of all pool equipment, supplies, including automatic pool covers, and patio furniture.

“We also do weekly maintenance for 1200 people every month,” notes Mr. Gorlin. “Not all pool owners have the time or inclination to do this themselves, and as professionals, we check everything to make sure that it is operating correctly.”

Typically, the company focuses on residential pools but it also provides indoor pools for commercial use for hotels and other businesses.

“We have also put in pools at animal hospitals for therapy purposes for dogs and cats,” point out Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Wilson.

Gorlin Area

In addition to pools, the company provides in-ground spas and hot tubs, which are very popular with customers, who come from all over the area. Mercer, Monmouth, Middlesex, Ocean, Somerset, and part of Hunterdon County are all part of the Gorlin area.

Although most people typically like to have their pool open from Memorial Day through Labor Day, many others are keeping them open even longer, says Mr. Gorlin. “Some have the pool open even until Thanksgiving, if it is heated. And this is becoming more and more popular, as people enjoy being outdoors as long as possible.”

It is a priority for Mr. Gorlin to see that customers have the pool they want, and he works with them to achieve the desired outcome. “The best part of my day is working with my employees and customers. I’m a people person. I love to get to know someone and learn what they want in their backyard, and then I can make it a reality for them.”

Mr. Wilson is proud that he is able to continue the business his father began in another setting, and that many of the Princeton Pool & Patio customers are still with him. “I am also pleased that I am able to focus on reconstruction, and I want our customers’ pools to last forever. With our experience and professional expertise, we are really the best at what we do.”

For customers who want a new pool for the next Memorial Day, it is best to start the process now, advise Mr. Gorlin and Mr. Wilson. “There are so many components involved: choosing the style, surface, deck, getting permits, etc. Also, whoever you hire, make sure they are professional and licensed and certified. We hope you will work with us. We want Gorlin to be a household name in Princeton!”

Gorlin Pool & Spas can be reached at (732) 323-8200. Website:


October 30, 2013
“COMFORT” CUISINE: “We have a varied menu that focuses on ‘comfort’ food that people love — meat loaf, mac ’n cheese, La Frieda burgers, chicken pot pie, fish ’n chips, spaghetti and meat balls, and much, much more. Our prices are reasonable, our food is the highest quality, and the environment and ambiance are as nice as you will find.” John Procaccini (left), Zissis Pappas, and Tino Procaccini, owners of North End Bistro, look forward to welcoming customers to their new restaurant.

“COMFORT” CUISINE: “We have a varied menu that focuses on ‘comfort’ food that people love — meat loaf, mac ’n cheese, La Frieda burgers, chicken pot pie, fish ’n chips, spaghetti and meat balls, and much, much more. Our prices are reasonable, our food is the highest quality, and the environment and ambiance are as nice as you will find.” John Procaccini (left), Zissis Pappas, and Tino Procaccini, owners of North End Bistro, look forward to welcoming customers to their new restaurant.

Appealing, authentic, and accommodating. These adjectives come to mind when North End Bistro is mentioned.

Just opened at 354 Nassau Street (a near neighbor to the Whole Earth Center), it is the latest venture of the Procaccini brothers, John and Tino, and their partner Zissis (“Zi”) Pappas, who are rapidly establishing a reputation as up-and-coming restaurateurs and entrepreneurs in the Princeton area.

Owners also of P.J.’s Pancake & Pasta House, Osteria Procaccini in Princeton and Pennington, and the new P.J.’s in West Windsor, the Procaccini brothers and Mr. Pappas have worked hard to create unique and convivial dining experiences for their customers.

“A friendly, knowledgeable staff, customer service, and quality food are a priority for us,” says John Procaccini. “People know they can count on us. It’s our experience and reputation. With the Bistro, people have said to us: ‘When we heard it was you guys, we knew it would work.’ They know they can count on the quality and value we offer. There is no cookie-cutter feeling in any of our restaurants.  Everything is fresh and made to order.”

Quite A Journey

It has been quite a journey for John and Tino Procaccini since — at the ages of 24 and 21 — they first opened La Borgata Ristorante & Pizzeria (later known as La Principessa) in the Kingston Mall on Route 27 in 1999.

This was followed by Sotto Ristorante (later the Princeton Sports Bar & Grill). They discovered their passion for the restaurant business, with Tino as chef and John handling the business end and “front of the house.”

“We never really envisioned where we are today,” says John. “It just evolved. The turning point was when we opened Sotto with our cousins in Princeton, and we have continued to learn with all our different experiences. Once you find the right concept and model, it falls into place.”

“Our business motivation is diversification,” he continues. “This is important in today’s world and economy. We offer something for everyone. You can go to P.J’s. for breakfast, and to the Osteria or Bistro for lunch and dinner. We have people who come to each of our restaurants every day.

“We have such a nice mix,” adds Mr. Pappas, who joined the team two years ago. “The mix is fun, and it keeps us busy. We can go to five different restaurants throughout the day — starting with P.J.’s, then to the Bistro and Osteria, and then over to Pennington, and soon to West Windsor. I really enjoy the variety.”

They certainly seem to have found the right “M.O.” Each of their restaurants is a hit with customers, and chances are you will see someone you know enjoying lunch or dinner.

Charming Setting

This is certainly true of the Bistro, which offers seating for 70 inside and 26 outside in a charming setting. Tables and booths are available, as well as a small bar area, with four chairs.

“We wanted to establish a feeling of tranquility and comfort,” points out Mr. Pappas, whose mother, interior designer Urania Pappas, is responsible for the decor. “Our design elements emphasize earth tones, restfulness, and serenity.”

Design features include depictions of sepia-toned tree branches (so softly rendered that they almost resemble a waterfall), and color scheme of moss green, and egg plant purple. A comfortable waiting area offers a small sofa and chairs.

Indeed, comfort is the key — both in the appealingly down-to-earth atmosphere and in the choice of food.

As one recent diner noted, “To me, the first thing that comes to mind is the lobster mac and cheese. Super! Then, being able to sit outside on a nice warm evening or afternoon is such a pleasure. I think the Bistro has a European feel to it, with lunch or dinner served outside next to the sidewalk, with people walking by and a sense of activity. It’s a very appealing atmosphere.”

The menu, which is the same for lunch and dinner, has proved to be a big success. There is truly something for everyone’s taste. Sandwiches, salads, tacos, pastas, entrees, such as chicken rustica, glazed salmon, steak, and more offer choices at reasonable prices.

“Thanksgiving Dinner”

For customers who like to plan ahead, the menu features regular specials for each day of the week. Monday: chicken pot pie; Tuesday: corned beef and cabbage; Wednesday: slow-cooked spare ribs; Thursday: “Thanksgiving Dinner” turkey breast, cranberry orange relish, mashed potatoes; Friday: seafood steam pot; Saturday: braised pork ossa bucco; Sunday: chicken parm.

The “Thanksgiving Dinner” has been a conversation piece, and as Mr. Pappas points out, it was a result of “the genius of the minds melding together!”

Appetizers include such specialties as truffle spinach and artichoke dip; poutine (fresh cut fries, gravy, and melted provolone cheese); and cannelini bean hummus, among others.

The French onion soup is a favorite of many diners, as is the mac and cheese (in many variations), and spaghetti and “mama’s” meatballs (John and Tino’s mom’s specialty!).

“Popular sandwiches include the lobster roll, our special half-pound La Frieda burgers — a blend of filet, short ribs, and sirloin,” reports John. “Customers also love the blackened chicken with bibb lettuce, avocado, and cherry wood bacon; the traditional Reuben, and our fish, chicken, or beef tacos are always in demand.”

A specialty on the menu is the Kids Corner, featuring a variety of choices, such as spaghetti and meatballs, mac ’n cheese, grilled cheese sandwich, chicken tenders, and peanut butter and jelly, served with beverage and brownie for $8.

Jersey Shore Favorite

No one forgets desserts at the Bistro. Seasonal cobblers, brioche bread pudding, brownie a la mode, fresh berry and cream parfait are all in demand. And the restaurant is now known for offering that special Jersey shore favorite, fried Oreos!

The Bistro does not have a liquor license, but it has an arrangement with Hopewell Valley Vineyards, and can sell bottles of wine. Customers are also welcome to bring their own libation of choice.

Take-out is available, and many people stop in to take something home after work, or back to their office for lunch. The proximity of the restaurant to nearby offices, stores, and residences is a real plus, notes the Bistro team.

“Lots of people walk in. We’re conveniently located with sidewalks right in front, and we want to be the local place for people to stop in. And, if people are driving, we have convenient parking space as well.”

Prices start at $8 for appetizers, $10 for sandwiches and salads, $12 for tacos, and $15 for entrees.

The Procaccini brothers and Mr. Pappas are very happy about the enthusiastic response to the restaurant, and they look forward to giving customers a warm welcome. “We want to make our guests feel good. We offer hospitality, quality, and a unique atmosphere. And you don’t have to break the bank to eat here. We have reasonable prices that can work for everyone’s pocket book. We are very popular with families. We’re easy-going, and very kid-friendly. We really appeal to all ages. We love what we do. We will have opened 3 restaurants in one year, 2013!”

North End Bistro is open seven days, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. (609) 683-9700. Website: