February 15, 2012
NTU neurac 1-11-12

PERFECT POSITION: Jamie Kornbluth, PT and Certified Redcord Neurac Practitioner (top) guides professional dancer Kelsey Burns into proper biomechanical alignment during a side-lying hip abduction exercise with Redcord equipment at the Neurac Institute, 800 Bunn Drive.

Chances are you haven’t heard of Neurac — or Redcord. If you have a knee, shoulder, or back problem, or other chronic condition that just doesn’t get better, or if you need post-surgery rehabilitation, or if you are an athlete looking to improve strength and stamina, you will certainly want to know about this innovative center for neuromuscular rehabilitation, wellness, and fitness.

The Neurac Institute for Physical Therapy, P.A. opened at 800 Bunn Drive in 2010. As the first accredited Redcord Neuromuscular Activation clinic in the U.S., the Neurac Institute utilizes the cutting edge Redcord suspension therapy system in combination with other progression/regression techniques that provide high levels of neuromuscular stimulation and strength and restore one’s normal movement patterns, explains Brad Gulick, Neurac’s Director of Operations.

Begun in Norway 20 years ago, the Neurac method and Redcord equipment were established in the U.S. by Tyler Joyce and Ian Kornbluth, both physical therapists, who founded the Neurac Institute for Physical Therapy, P.A. Physical therapist Jamie Kornbluth, who specializes in Pilates, is the third partner.

“Musculoskeletal disorders typically involve muscle inhibition and over activity in response to pain, injury, over use, disuse, or inactivity,” explains Mr. Gulick. “This results in further restriction in movement, deficits in performance, and often chronic pain. These conditions represent a major treatment challenge for therapy professionals. They compromise quality of life, and they are a significant risk factor threatening a long and successful career as an athlete.”

Positive Results

Mr. Gulick speaks from experience, and can attest to Neurac’s positive results. Plagued by back pain as a result of sports injuries, he had been unable to obtain relief through traditional physical therapy. Hearing of Neurac, he decided to give it a try.

“I struggled so long with these injuries, especially my back, and I wasn’t able to enjoy my sport (rowing). After treatment here, the results were amazing and immediate. It returned my identity as an athlete.”

What sets Neurac (short for neuromuscular-activation) from other physical therapy methods is its utilization of the Redcord suspension therapy system in combination with other progression/regression exercise techniques. Progressive/regression involves moving forward and backward with the patient.

Neurac restores impaired or altered neuromuscular coordination patterns and can often provide immediate pain relief and improved physical function.

Now used in 40 countries around the world, the Neurac/Redcord system treats all ages. Unweighted with bungees, slings, and rope supports, patients can exercise in almost any position in a safe and painless manner.

At the beginning of treatment, the Neurac therapists (five at the Princeton location) identify muscle imbalances and then “activate” deep stabilizing muscles in the core and joints with corrective exercises and high levels of neuromuscular stimulation that promote core control, joint stability, extremity strength, coordination and balance, and every day function.


Using the patient’s own body weight and controlled instability, Redcord gets effective, fast results. Depending on the severity of the condition, freedom from pain is sometimes immediate. A course of treatment is typically one hour for three to four weeks, with most patients coming twice a week.

“Unlike other physical therapists, Neurac PTs do not rotate among patients,” notes Mr. Gulick. “They remain with the patient, one-on-one for the entire session.”

Common conditions treated by the Neurac professionals include ACL injuries, arthritis, balance problems, headaches, neck pain, knee problems, shoulder injuries (torn rotator cuff), and tendinitis, among many others.

Pilates, which focuses on core control, extremity strength, posture, flexibility, balance, coordination, and joint and bone health, is often used in combination with the Redcord equipment. Hands-on manual therapy is another technique utilized to enhance mobility of joints, stretch and release soft tissue, and help to improve circulation.

In addition to treating patients, the Neurac Institute is the national education center for Redcord’s neuromuscular activation training and continuing education courses for health and other professionals.

“Doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, personal trainers, endurance athletes, sports coaches, and Pilates instructors all come for training in the Neurac method,” points out Mr. Gulick.

Those who come for help include people six years-old to 90, and all ages can be helped, he adds. In addition, athletes often come to concentrate on special training, incorporating the Redcord equipment.

“I never cease to be amazed at the results. And, now, we are getting more and more referrals from doctors, including pediatricians, as well as chiropractors and sports coaches, too. We are very encouraged.”

Health Professionals

Co-founders Tyler Joyce and Ian Kornbluth are very busy with their hands-on therapy, overseeing the operation, and educating health professionals at the Institute, on speaking tours and at conferences.

“When I first learned of this methodology, I was interested right away,” reports Mr. Joyce. “I saw amazing results. To see people get better so quickly is great. As a physical therapist, you really want to help people get better.”

Adds Mr. Kornbluth: “When we were doing traditional physical therapy, we were looking to see what was missing, why people didn’t get better sooner. We were missing the exercise component. Then, Tyler found Redcord. This is something new, and it’s challenging. We really help people to improve their quality of life.”

Referrals from a doctor or chiropractor are needed for Neurac/Redcord treatment. Pilates sessions are available without a referral.

Once a patient has finished treatment, and has been trained in the Neurac/Redcord method, the Redcord Mini, portable take home equipment, is available for maintenance.

The Neurac Institute is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. (609) 683-1010. Website:www.NeuracPT.com

February 8, 2012
NTU Pr Diamond 1-11-12

QUALITY AND VALUE: “We are a factory-type jewelry center, focusing on diamonds and custom design. We offer the finest jewelry at wholesale prices that are fair to the customer,” says Hector Olaya, owner and general manager of Princeton North Diamond Co. Shown is an 18K gold diamond pendant, which Princeton North Diamond had repaired and restored with high quality diamonds.

“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” says the song, and they can be a jeweler’s best friend, too, notes Hector Olaya, owner and general manager of Princeton North Diamond Co. in the Princeton North Shopping Center.

He and his brother, the late Orlando Olaya, a respected gemologist, originally opened the store in 2003. Hector took charge of the store after his brother’s death last year, and is continuing the family tradition.

“We have been in the jewelry business for 25 years,” he explains. “Diamonds are our focus, and we give everyone in the Princeton area access to the top jewelry craftsmen that New York City has to offer. They are all experts with long experience. The diamond cutters are very precise and know every millimeter of the piece. We can do all kinds of custom work.

“We offer the finest quality diamonds, and create custom pieces, including rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and pins. We also redesign older pieces into more modern settings. The diamond dealers work directly with us, and we have the ability to get items from all over. We eliminate the middle man, and can supply fine jewelry at wholesale prices. We have jewelry for everyone’s budget, and we offer great value.”

Full Selection

Diamond engagement rings are always popular, of course, and wedding bands to match the engagement ring are in demand now, reports Mr. Olaya.

In addition to diamonds, the store offers a full selection of precious and semi-precious stones, as well as fashion jewelry. “The trend is toward big and bold stones,” he points out. “Big semi-precious stones in necklaces and earrings are popular, often with sterling silver accents.”

Pearls are classic and never out of style. Strands, bracelets, and earrings are all available, as is restringing.

Customers will find everything from cameos to cuff links to giftware in the store, with displays conveniently and attractively arranged.


Princeton North Diamond also offers a large selection of antique and estate jewelry and high end, slightly-used watches. “We are one of the few stores in the area to specialize in antique jewelry repair. All the antiques have a story,” notes Mr. Olaya. “We repair, recondition, and remodel. We also buy jewelry, gold, and silver from customers, and we trade watches. Cleaning and repairing watches is another service.”

The store offers full repair service, with state-of-the-art laser machinery available.

Mr. Olaya, who is also a real estate broker and formerly involved in the restaurant business in Princeton, is now fully engaged in Princeton North Diamond. “One of the things I like about this business is that jewelry, because of its inherent value, is an item that you can recycle, trade, and bring back. So, it works in a good economy or when times are harder.”

Providing quality products and attentive service to customers is very important, he adds. “We are going to take care of you here. We take time with customers. Sometimes, people think they have to go to New York for fine jewelry, but they can trust us. We invite anyone with questions about jewelry to come in and see us.

“We are a real part of the community and want to be known as the jeweler people think of in the Princeton-Montgomery area for professional service and fine quality jewelry at fair prices. We have many regular customers from the area and beyond, and we look forward to continuing to offer them the best service. We do things the right way here.”

Princeton North Diamond also accepts items on consignment, offers appraisals, and fills special requests.

The store is open Monday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Friday 10 to 5, Saturday 10 to 4, and by appointment. (609) 924-9400.

January 9, 2012

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank received a year-end corporate gift of $75,000 from Princeton-based corporation Church & Dwight Co., as well as a $10,000 grant from the company’s Employee Giving Fund for its healthy eating programs.

“We are truly overwhelmed and so very grateful that Church & Dwight and its employees have chosen to support our work to end hunger with such largesse and generosity of heart,” said Food Bank Director Phyllis Stoolmacher, “These dollars will help to ensure that we have the food and the nutrition programs to help children, the elderly, the unemployed, the working poor, and families in crisis to weather these difficult economic times.”

The Mercer Street Friends Food Bank is the largest source of government and privately donated food for hunger relief programs in Mercer County. In 2011, Mercer Street Friends supplied three million pounds of food and groceries and nutrition-related resources to a network of 60 food panties, soup kitchens, shelters and meal programs, and helped to feed over 25,000 children and adults facing food hardships.

Church & Dwight Co., Inc. manufactures and markets a wide range of personal care, household and specialty products under the Arm & Hammer brand name and other well-known trademarks.

The Church & Dwight Employee Giving Fund is a workplace giving fund which was established in 2005 to meet the desires of Church & Dwight employees to financially assist those that are less fortunate and to actively support and participate in the good works of not-for-profit organizations dedicated to that end.

“Church & Dwight has a deep commitment to supporting charitable organizations where their employees live and work and we are most fortunate to be among the charities they support. We thank them and their employees for their extraordinary confidence in our work,” said Ms. Stoolmacher.

The fourth 16-week series of classes, Princeton Dance for Parkinson, will be held January 18-February 22 from 1-2:15 p.m. at the Princeton Dance and Theatre Studio in Forrestal Village. Classes are designed to empower those afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, their partners, caregivers and friends, to enjoy movement, music and dance.

Classes for walk-ins are $10 per person. If a caregiver or spouse or partner participates it is an additional $5. Special discounts for six-class packages are given at $55, $25 for caregivers. No dance experience is necessary, and all levels can start at any time during the series.

Classes on the Dance for PD® started at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn in 2001, and have since been replicated in more than 40 other communities around the world. Only 100 dance teachers in the U.S. have been trained by the Dance for PD® program. All three Princeton instructors, Marie Alonzo Snyder, Linda Mannheim, and Debra Keller, are continuing their training with education workshops.

They will take turns co-leading the 75-minute class. Participants will explore elements of modern dance, ballet, social dancing, and repertory from each of the choreographers in an enjoyable, non-pressured environment that features live musical accompaniment.

For more information, visit mariesnyder@dancevisionnj.org or call (609) 520-1020. The studio is at 116 Rockingham Row in Forrestal Village.

January 4, 2012

LOOK GREAT, FEEL GOOD! “It’s great to have everything under one roof. Facials, massage, waxing, manicures and pedicures, and of course, all the hair services, are here. There is a trend toward a day spa today, where the spa and salon come together in a friendly, comfortable atmosphere.” Shown is the team at Copper River Salon & Spa. From left: Pamela Bennett, Shannon LoBue, Agnieszka Ebid, owner Barbara Weigand, Andrea Arriola, and Rachel Medina.

Look and feel like a new you after a visit to Copper River Salon & Spa! It’s only been in town since September, but this new beauty emporium has already made its mark. Located at 6 Moore Street (former site of Merrick’s women’s boutique), the new salon and spa offers a wide variety of salon and spa services, and in addition, is uniquely conscious of the importance of environmentally-friendly practices.

“We are very eco-friendly,” reports owner and stylist Barbara Weigand. “We recycle everything and our products are all-natural, plant-based. We are also part of the ‘Beauty Brigade’ a division of TerraCycle, which emphasizes reducing waste and recycling as much as possible. All our cosmetic bottles, color tubes, and plastic shampoo bottles are recycled. This is a world-wide project. TerraCycle is committed to finding other uses for things that would be thrown away. We believe being eco-friendly is being a responsible business, and we strive to be in harmony with the environment.”

The name she chose for her salon/spa also reflects a harmonious balance with nature, emphasizing the stability and structure of the metal, copper and the natural flow of water: thus, Copper River. The salon/spa is also a member of the National Association of Eco-Friendly Salon & Spas Organization.

Clients are responding both to these environmentally-friendly practices and to the high quality services offered at Copper River.

Master Stylist

Ms. Weigand, a Lawrenceville native, who has specialized in hair styling in the Princeton area for 20 years, is proud to have her own salon and spa. She has gathered an impressive team of stylists, colorists, technicians, and beauty experts, all dedicated to helping clients look and feel their very best.

A master stylist, Ms. Weigand was trained in the cutting techniques of Vidal Sassoon, and continued to hone her skills with the top stylists in New York, Los Angeles, London, and Paris. From classic cuts to the avant-garde style of the moment, she creates a special look.

“I am strong in both cuts and color,” she explains. “My clients appreciate that they can go longer between services because I truly understand hair-cutting with style and shape. The color supports the shape, is used in the big city salons, and provides shiny lasting coverage.”

In addition, Ms. Weigand is skilled in straight razor cutting. As she points out, “People are looking for something different. They want movement to their hair. I use straight razor cutting, which breaks up the layers, and is appropriate for long or short hair.”

Another very popular service today is hair straightening. Many clients with very curly hair like to have a new sleek look, and a variety of options is available, including Japanese straightening. “This is an alternative to keratin treatments. It works very well, and is permanent until it grows out.” explains Ms. Weigand. “You can go swimming, and the hair will still be straight.”

Bridal updo’s and make-up services are also a specialty of Copper River — for the bride and the entire bridal party. In addition, the salon offers treatments for a variety of hair conditions, such as thinning hair and scalp issues, as well as corrective color for problem situations.

Complete Range

Color is an enormous part of the hair industry today, and Copper River offers a complete range of opportunities — from semi-permanent to single process color to surface or full highlights.

Ms. Weigand points out that many considerations determine the best color route for a client. “Skin tone, original hair color, hair texture, and even life-style are all important. We often like to use multi-colored high lights, which give a natural look to the hair.”

Everyone is in a hurry these days, and clients often like to come in for a shampoo, conditioner, and blow out, she adds. “We also like to educate our clients and we can teach them to blow dry like a pro!”

Providing care and beauty treatments to the body was also an important part of Ms. Weigand”s plan. “I thought it was important to have full body services,” she points out. That was a significant reason she liked the Moore Street location (so close to the corner of Nassau Street). “I liked the fact that it had a second floor. We have three rooms dedicated to the spa — manicure and pedicure, facial, and massage.”

The range of body treatments offers a variety of massages, such as combination of Swedish and deep tissue techniques; hot stone therapy; and aromatherapy — all guaranteed to soothe body and soul!

Facials are customized to the individual skin type, whether dry or oily, and from teen-aged to mature. Cleansing, exfoliation, suitable mask, and soothing neck, arm, and shoulder massage are all part of the package. There is also a “Gentleman’s Facial”, a great gift idea for a special guy you know.

Massage Chairs

Mini-facials and massages are also available, lasting 30 minutes instead of the typical 50 or 75 minutes.

Manicures and pedicures are very popular, and include special massage chairs to increase relaxation during the service. Waxing, from eyebrows to underarm to leg to bikini, is another important service at Copper River.

Gift cards and special customized gift packages are a wonderful way to introduce someone to the therapeutic benefits that await clients at this new salon/spa. In addition, a variety of products are for sale, including the all-natural hair line of Rene Furterer, the Cellex-C skin care products, and the Bubalina line of body scrubs and lotions. Hair brushes, blow dryers, and curling irons are also available.

“My biggest pleasure is helping people look and feel good,” says Ms. Weigand. “It’s wonderful to see the smile on someone’s face when they leave the salon and spa. When they look great, they feel better!’

Copper River is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday until 5, Saturday 9 to 5. Sunday appointments for wedding events are available. (609) 921-2176. Website: copperriversalonand spa.com.

AU NATUREL: “All our ingredients are natural. No preservatives or chemicals. Our dough is made of 10 whole grains, and they help digestion. You feel better with our pizza!” General manager Kevin Brommer of Naked Pizza, which just opened at 180 Nassau Street, has a pizza ready for you! He looks forward to welcoming customers to the popular new eatery.

“We’re naked because we have nothing to hide!”

No, Kevin Brommer is not referring to the inhabitants of a nudist colony. General manager of Naked Pizza at 180 Nassau Street, he is describing the pizza at the popular new eatery. Open November 9, it is rapidly building an enthusiastic client base, all fans of the great-tasting, all-natural pizza, with no preservatives or additives.

“Naked means natural. Our pizza is simply an honest diversity of all-natural whole food ingredients that taste better and are better for you,” explains the Naked Pizza mission statement.

Headquartered in New Orleans, the company was started several years ago, and has recently begun to offer franchises. There are now two in New Jersey, in Princeton and Ewing, both owned by Kathy Vik. She looks forward to this new adventure.

Healthier Options

“Now that my kids are grown, I was looking for something to do. I had read about Naked Pizza in the New York Times Magazine. The founders wanted to be involved in healthier options in fast food. I thought that was a great idea.”

She is delighted with the success both of the Nassau Street Naked Pizza and her other franchise in Ewing. The response in both locations has been all she hoped for. Customers are all across the board — high school and college students, families, parents and grandparents.

“We already have regulars,” says Ms. Vik. “In fact, 40 to 50 percent of customers have been here at least once before.”

So what is it that makes this pizza so special?

First, it’s a testament that food can be both healthy and taste great. The emphasis on healthy, chemical-free and preservative-free ingredients is equaled by the company’s ability to create tastes that customers love.

The pizza crust is available in three versions: skinny, traditional, and gluten-free. The first two are made from the “Ancestral Blend” of 10 grains plus prebiotic agave fiber and probiotic (healthful bacteria similar to the ones in yogurt for digestive balance and health).

“Probiotics are beneficial bacteria cultures that enrich your digestive system, help optimize nutrition, promote balance and digestive health,” reports the Naked Pizza company. “A prebiotic is essentially fiber, food for the health-giving bacteria in your gut. Ours is one of the highest quality fibers available, extracted from the ancient blue agave plant, adding a slight trace of sweet without any sugar crash.”

All Natural

All the ingredients in the pizzas — the tomato sauce, cheese, the vegetables, the meats, etc. are also all natural. “Our cheese has no hormones or antibiotics, and the pepperoni, free of hormones and additives, is USDA-certified,” says Ms. Vik.

Mozzarella, cheddar, and feta cheese are available, and the tomato sauce is also natural — nicely spiced and herbed, with no added sugar or citric acid.

Customers can choose from a variety of flavors and 10-, 12-, and 14-inch sizes. Everything from a traditional tomato and cheese pie to a “Superbiotic” with artichoke, spinach, bell pepper, mushroom, garlic, onion, and cilantro are available.

The “Mediterranean”, second best-seller after the Superbiotic, is filled with artichoke, sun-dried tomato, onion, black olive, and feta cheese.

Skinny Crust

Other favorites include “Pima,” featuring black beans, jalapeño, cheddar, and chicken; “Omnivore”, with pepperoni, hamburger, bell pepper, mushroom, and black olive; “Farmvil,” with pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, and ham; “Greenhouse,” offering onion, tomato, bell pepper, black olive, and mushroom; and “Ragin’ Cajun,” with sausage, chicken, garlic, bell pepper, and onion.

“You can also customize your own pizza with a variety of our toppings,” adds Mr. Brommer. “The skinny crust is very popular, and we offer the traditional thicker crust, too.”

Also available are spinach salad, “Cheesy Breadstixx” (mozzarella and cheddar, chewy Ancestral Blend snacks with prebiotics and probiotics), and a variety of beverages from the New Jersey-based Boyland Company, including root beer, birch beer, cream soda, Cane cola, and diet cherry, as well as iced tea and bottled water.

Keeping Naked Pizza affordable is important to Ms. Vik. “We paid careful attention to our price range. We wanted our healthy pizza to be affordable to people. A 10-inch tomato and cheese is $6.99 and a 10-inch Superbiotic is $12.99. There are also special offers on Facebook and Twitter.”

Fun and Friendly

Naked Pizza focuses on take-out and delivery (nine minute delivery zone: “We don’t want the pizza to get cold!”). It is also in demand for its catering services. In addition, some customers like to linger by the counter to enjoy their pizza in the colorful pizzeria, with its fun and friendly atmosphere.

She is very proud of the Naked Pizza staff, including Mr. Brommer and assistant manager Martin Hancock. “Also, some of our staff is from Westminster Choir College. They have so much energy, and sometimes they sing!

“Our staff is all cross-trained in customer service and pizza-assembly.”

Ms. Vik is having so much fun, she even hopes there could be more Naked Pizzas in her future. “I strongly believe it is important to give people healthier options in fast food.”

“We’re definitely trying to get the conversation moving in that direction,” adds Mr. Brommer.

Naked Pizza is open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m; Friday and Saturday 11 to 2 a.m.

(609) 924-4700. Website: www.nakedpizza.biz.

December 20, 2011
Dr Cortese

“A CERTAIN SMILE”: “I enjoy the flexibility and the opportunity to be innovative in how I can take care of the patient. My practice is full reconstructive comprehensive dentistry — a mix of everything, including implants, crowns, dentures, facial prosthetics, and more.” Dr. Michael Cortese of Princeton Prosthodontics, specializes in complete oral rehabilitation.

What is a prosthodontist? First, it is one of nine specialties recognized by the American Dental Association. Second, it is the only specialty that deals with the entire mouth.

“Think of it this way,” explains Angela Cortese, office manager of Princeton Prosthodontics at 311 Witherspoon Street. “The prosthodontist is the captain of the ship. He diagnoses and develops a treatment plan, which can include other specialists, such as orthodontists, periodontists, etc., and he directs it.”

Dr. Michael Cortese, D.M.D., P.A., who established Princeton Prosthodontics in 1987, has recently been listed in the first edition of “The Best Dentists in America”. Out of approximately 10,000 licensed dentists in New Jersey, 256 were selected. Nationwide, 7500 dentists are listed out of approximately 250,000 licensed dentists in America.

“I was truly excited to be nominated because the nomination committee is a group of faculty and dental practitioners that I have a great deal of respect for. To be voted in by such an esteemed group and your own peers is an honor I will strive to uphold.”

Post-Graduate Training

A native of Plainfield, Dr. Cortese received his undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame and his dental degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University Dental School. He received post-graduate training in maxillofacial prosthetics and dental oncology from the University of Texas Health Science Center at M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute. Recently, Dr. Cortese was invited to teach at the New York University Dental School in the Graduate Implant Program.

A member of the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthodontics, a member or associate member of the American College of Prosthodontics, the American Dental Association, and the Society of Clinical Oncology, among many other organizations, Dr. Cortese has received numerous awards and honors, including being named as one of New Jersey’s top dentists by New Jersey Monthly Magazine. He also consults for the New Jersey State Board of Dentists.

Initially, dentistry was not part of Dr. Cortese’s plan. He aimed to be a surgeon, and was on his way to medical school. Plans have a way of changing, however, as he explains.

“In college, I lived with guys who wanted to go to dental school, and they urged me to consider it. I was a bio major, and it was rigorous. Finally, in junior year, I could take an elective, and I chose fine arts. I enjoyed painting and creating things, and found I had an aptitude for it.”

Artistic Skills

This led him to reconsider dental school, although his goal now was to focus on oral surgery. His advisors had other ideas, however, and directed him into maxillofacial prosthodontics, where all of his skills could be put to best use.

A maxillofacial prosthodontist constructs prosthetics to replace portions of the palate, jaw, and face, including eyes, nose, and ears, that are missing due to cancer, congenital defect, trauma, or surgical removal. The prosthodontist performs these supportive services for oral surgeons, dermatologists, opthalmologists, plastic surgeons, oncologists, and otolaryngologists. The work requires the skills of an artist and the techniques of a dentist.

After four years of dental school, Dr. Cortese received three more years of intense post-graduate training in maxillofacial prosthodontics and dental oncology. There are only three accredited maxillofacial prosthodontists in New Jersey and only 400 worldwide.

“After my training at M.D. Anderson, which is the premier cancer treatment center, I wanted to be in private practice,” says Dr. Cortese. “Princeton was right between New York and Philadelphia, and it was a great location.”

Dr. Cortese’s practice includes implants, bridges, dentures, inlays, crowns, bonding, and veneers, as well as teeth whitening (bleaching), treatment of TMJ and TMD, and snoring and sleep disorders (sleep apnea).

“I like being able to help people.” he explains. “If necessary, I can rebuild the whole mouth. Or someone may have lost a tooth and need to have a replacement. Whether to put in an implant or a bridge depends on the state of the teeth surrounding the gap from the missing tooth.”

Overall Health

“Dr. Cortese is looking at the patient’s overall health,” points out Angela Cortese. “Patients will get the best care and get it done right. During every visit, he checks for oral cancer. We are also seeing more TMJ cases now, which can come from over-use of the jaw, and it can be painful. He has also been working with sleep apnea conditions for 20 years. And he treats cleft palate cases, as well as medically-compromised patients, including those with ALS, MLS, and Parkinson’s Disease.”

Treating such a wide range of patients, typically within the ages of 35 to 75, Dr. Cortese spends a great deal of time with each individual case, including those patients who are afraid of dentists!

“We have ‘dentophobics’ who come, and they are really afraid to come in the door,” says Ms. Cortese. “You have to have patience to deal with the patients! Dr. Cortese is very good at establishing a relaxed, calm atmosphere and positive relationship with each patient. This is very important to him. We have patients from all over the state as well as Delaware, Philadelphia, New York, and even abroad. People find him on the internet”

“We enjoy getting to know our patients and their individual needs,” adds Dr. Cortese. “Our first goal is that our patients are comfortable and understand all of their treatment options. Additionally, we assist with convenient financing arrangements so that every patient can have the care they deserve.

“I really enjoy the challenge of my work,” he continues. “And it means a lot when people say ‘I don’t know what I would have done without you.’ Dentistry today is the best it has ever been. There is more flexibility now, and especially with the Branemark implant. It was a paradigm, a real shift with those devices. It opened doors to what we can do and be able to preserve what the patient has and restore it in a more natural and permanent way.”

Princeton Prosthodontics is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 683-8282. Website: drcortese.com


DECORATING AND DESIGN: “People are staying home more, traveling less because of the economy. They are looking for someone to help them decorate and make their home look nice and reflect their own style.” Iris Houlihan of Iris Interiors LLC enjoys helping clients realize their vision to make their home a haven.

What is your style? Traditional? Modern? Sleek and sophisticated, warm and cozy, something in between? Perhaps you are not even sure.

When it comes to interior decorating, the choices can be daunting. Fabric, furniture, colors, carpet, window treatments, accessories — how to select the best choices for your life-style, taste, and of course, budget.

Increasing numbers of homeowners are opting for professional help. More women work out of the house today and often have little time, inclination, or expertise to expend energy and effort into coming up with a design scheme for their home.

“People don’t want to make a major and expensive mistake, or perhaps they want a different look in their home, but don’t know how to do it,” notes Iris Houlihan of Iris Interiors LLC. A certified interior decorator, accredited home stager, and professional organizer, Ms. Houlihan enjoys helping clients achieve everything from a complete design change in their living space, to a color consultation about paint, to a re-design or rearrangement of existing furniture and accessories to add new interest. The results can bring new life and energy to a room or rooms, creating even more enjoyment in one’s home.

Unusual Turns

Vocations can take unusual turns, and Ms. Houlihan’s ultimate career in design is just such an example. Born in Germany, she came to the United States and attended Virginia Tech University, earning a degree in biochemistry. She later worked in the pharmaceutical industry in marketing and project management.

“I was always very visual and very interested in decorating,” she says. “As a girl, I moved the furniture around in my room, and reorganized everything. Later, I also enjoyed helping my friends decorate their homes.”

When she married, she and her husband moved to Hillsborough, and she took great pleasure in decorating their house. “I loved to work in design. I could always see beyond the existing contents of the house. Our first house definitely needed work, which was good for me. I wanted to add my own touch, and I liked having a challenge.”

A self-described “Type A” personality and multi-tasker, Ms. Houlihan was able to balance the many components of her life. These involved working in the pharmaceutical industry, running the household (which included three children and numerous dogs and cats), as well as continuing her decorating work as a hobby, and taking design classes.

“I believe if you really want to do something, it’s not work,” she explains.

She was pleased when the family moved to their next home, which was new construction, providing an empty canvas for her decorating talents. She welcomed the opportunity to decorate the new home in her own style and design.

Design Work

It became clear that decorating was her true calling, and she started part-time, then opened her own decorating business full-time a year ago. It has been a resounding success.

Her experience in the corporate world has helped her new undertaking, she adds. “My marketing experience proved very useful in running my new business, as was my general business background. Also, my husband encouraged me. I think he was glad that I could concentrate on other design work beside repainting our guest room every year!”

Ms. Houlihan decided to enter the decorating field gradually, first by becoming a professional stager. “I started staging houses that were for sale. With staging, you do what the house needs to appeal to the widest range of potential buyers. It goes beyond cleaning and de-cluttering; it helps potential buyers imagine themselves living in the house.”

Therefore, she points out, it is important to de-personalize the setting; neutralize and balance paint, carpet, furniture, etc. “We will rearrange, remove, and reduce the furnishings and decor in your home so that it will appeal to the most buyers and show the house at its best.

“90 percent of people search on line for a house,” she adds. “So, it’s important to have pictures that will appeal to these potential buyers. I like the staging. It’s about transforming the space, and it doesn’t take as long as the interior decorating projects.”

Interior decorating and re-design (or mini make-overs) are a big part of her business, however, and she helps clients throughout central New Jersey and beyond.

Client’s Personality

As a certified interior decorator, Ms. Houlihan does everything from one room to an entire house. “It is very important that the house reflect the client’s personality and taste,” she points out. “The budget is the beginning, and if someone is flexible, we can do more with less money. It doesn’t have to be about spending a lot of money. Amazing looks are created by layering, mixing, and adding texture and color.”

First, Ms. Houlihan helps to define the client’s taste and life-style. Do they entertain, cook? Are they formal, informal? Are there children, pets?

“Some clients have very specific ideas, but don’t know how to execute them,” she explains. “Others don’t always know what they want, just that they want something different. I definitely need to come and ‘meet’ the house. I’ll ask clients to tell me what they like or don’t like. Is there anything that they want to keep?

“It’s important to know how they use the room. The goal is always to make it beautiful, but functional. I also like to include some little unexpected designs that create interest.””

Ms. Houlihan notes a number of interesting trends in design today, including darker, richer colors. “We see dark brown, even black walls in rooms. Dark, dramatically-lit interiors with paint colors of navy, black, brown, and red are trends. You can also choose to have neutral colors but more vibrant accents. Keep the walls neutral, then decorate and accessorize with color. Tone-on-tone is also popular, especially with lighter colors — pale blue, yellow, etc.”

In addition, she continues, “There is more and more of a trend to modern. Transitional was the favorite for a while but now there is more interest in modern, and also, an eclectic look. This allows you to keep what you have but then add something new. You don’t have to have matched sets. You can break up a set and put one piece in a different room.”

Creative New Ways

This type of rearranging of furniture and accessories is often the focus of a re-design project, another favorite part of Ms. Houlihan’s work.

“It’s a bit like staging. You take whatever the homeowner has and use it in creative new ways. Bringing things from one room into another, for example. Sometimes, it can be hard for people to see outside of existing rooms; then I can help.”

Ms. Houlihan enjoys working on all sizes and types of projects, and all budgets. Costs are based on the scope and complexity of the job, and can be hourly or flat fees. The time frame can range from one day to months.

She also points out that some clients like to plan a project over time. “We have to know how much money they are comfortable spending. I can start a job and continue it over time. Someone might say, “I can spend $10,000 over three years, but let’s start with a certain amount now.

“I love what I do,” she says, with a smile. “I am getting more and more calls and many referrals. There has been great word-of-mouth, and I am very grateful to my clients. I am so happy to be able to help them realize their dream of what their house can be. I look forward to the opportunity to help them do something different and make their house even more comfortable and beautiful for them.”

Ms. Houlihan’s hours are by appointment, including evenings and weekends. (908) 265-7688. Website: www.iris-interiors.com.

December 15, 2011
Double Brook Farm

FARM LIFE: This sheep and lamb at Double Brook Farm in Hopewell are from the Katahdin breed, also called “hair” sheep. They do not have wool, but a coat of hair. The farm also raises cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and vegetables.

In 1910, 40 percent of the United States’s population grew the food that fed the rest of the population. Today the percentage of the population that feeds the rest of the country has been reduced to two.

It’s true that American farms have been disappearing as quickly as developers can snatch up the land. Robin and Jon McConaughy, owners of Double Brook Farm in Hopewell, are exceptions to this trend, however. They are doing all they can to bring the farm-to-table concept of local, sustainable farming to our area.

“It really all began because we were interested in having animals for our own food, showing our children where food comes from, and connecting with the land,” explains Robin McConaughy.

So, in 2003, the couple, both corporate executives, purchased 60 acres in Hopewell, with the idea of raising beef, chickens, and sheep for their own consumption.

Local Products

“We found we would have more animal meat than we needed,” continues Ms. McConaughy. “There was also great interest from friends and acquaintances in purchasing the meat and eggs, so expanding seemed the right direction. We also sold to some area restaurants. Then, we thought, ‘why not open a store and have a legitimate operation.

“I think more people definitely want local products, and healthy food today. They want to know what’s in the food and where it comes from. That demand for local, all-natural, pasture-raised products has defined the direction of our farm.”

The McConaughys discovered that distribution and procurement were key. “Distribution is a problem for the local farmers, and restaurants say they could not get quality and consistency. So we thought we could close the link: farm, market, restaurant.”

With this in mind, the now former corporate executives-turned full-time farmers, decided to go forward with plans for Brick Farm Market to open on Broad Street in Hopewell this winter, and Brick Farm Tavern, a restaurant to open in a renovated farm house on Route 518 and Amwell Road, in late spring.

“Nearly everything for the market and restaurant will be produced on the farm, and we now have 37 acres designated for vegetable farming,” reports Ms. McConaughy. “The market will have a butcher shop, eggs, cheese, seasonal vegetables, charcuterie, chocolate, juice bar, and Jen Carson’s pastries from Small World.”

Of course, it all begins with the farm, the animals, and the vegetables. Double Brook Farm has 300 head of cattle, 240 sheep, 150 pigs, as well turkeys and chickens. Most of the animals are for meat, some are breeding stock, and some chickens are for eggs. The McConaughys now own 265 acres of land and lease another 200.

100 Percent Devon

“The cows, which are 100 percent Devon, are completely grass-fed, which is healthier for them,” notes Ms. McConaughy. “And the composition of their meat is healthier. It has healthier properties. We have rotational grazing, and we move the cows to new grass every day through most of the spring, summer and fall. This helps the regrowth of the grass. Also, two to three days after the cattle leave the pasture, the chickens come in as the ‘clean-up crew.’ They scratch through and distribute the manure, replant seeds and add nitrogen to the soil.”

The farm has four different breeds of pigs: Hampshire, Berkshire, Old Spots, and Ossabaw. The sheep are the Katahdin breed, named for Mt. Katahdin, the highest peak in Maine.

The chickens, which are pasture-raised, are Rhode Island Reds for eggs, and Cornish Cross for meat. The turkeys, Standard Broad-Breasted and Heritage, are also pasture-raised. They are kept in a free-range pen until they are big enough to defend themselves against predators.

With their emphasis on being as self-sustainable as possible, the McConaughys are also developing a mobile slaughterhouse. This is for humane purposes and also so that farmers will know that they are actually getting their own meat, points out Ms. McConaughy.

Cows are kept on the farm for 24 to 30 months, and as long as people are going to eat meat, this is by far the most humane way for them to live. “It’s about choices,” says Ms. McConaughy. “Our cows are very healthy. I want our children to see that treating the animals humanely and also having a respect for the environment are important.”

Regarding the environment, solar panels are used on the roof of the barn and other buildings; diesel farm machinery runs on converted cooking oil, and all fertilizer comes from the animals themselves.

Farm Manager

Everyone knows that farming is just about the most difficult career path one could follow. The hard physical work, the unpredictability, the weather, the insects and other pests all take their toll. The McConaughys are doing their best to make it a success — to the benefit of everyone in the area who appreciates healthy home-grown food. They have gathered a staff of knowledgeable people to help them.

“David Sherman is our farm manager,” says Ms. McConaughy. “He oversees everything. We also have a vegetable manager, cheese manager, restaurant manager, and farm hands.

“We had a plan in the beginning, and the most pleasant part has been working with people who are excited about what we are doing. Being around people who are so passionate about what they do and about what we are creating here is the biggest pleasure.

“Now, I look forward to seeing everything materialize — the market and the restaurant. It all takes hope, optimism, and determination.”

She is also anticipating the farm’s special Christmas event to be held Wednesday and Thursday, December 21 and 22 from 11 am. to 7 p.m. and on Friday, December 23 from 9 to 1. “There will be fresh turkeys, frozen cuts of meat, fresh eggs, fresh vegetables, and Jen Carson’s sweet confections,”

Eggs and other products are currently available at the farm. (609) 466-3594. Website: doublebrookfarm.com.

One-Of-A-Kind Consignment Gallery

MANY CHOICES “We are the only consignment shop that focuses on furniture and large furnishings, and we have many choices at a fraction of their original cost.” says Jan Gutowski, co-manager of One-Of-A-Kind Consignment Gallery in the Princeton Shopping Center. She is shown by a Habersham Plantation hutch, featuring a display of English Romantic Staffordshire dinnerware (c) 1840.

“I can always find the perfect gift — unique, appropriate, and at the right price. It can be a real surprise too. I might never have suspected what I would discover, and yet it is perfect!”

This long-time customer of One-Of-A-Kind Consignment Gallery in the Princeton Shopping Center is always delighted to find the right item for any occasion. She stops in often because the selection is always changing.

Indeed, a treasure trove of choices awaits customers at this charming shop, which is set up for easy and convenient browsing. There is something for everyone and for every taste. Furniture, artwork, rugs, lighting, tableware, silver, crystal, decorative items, and everything from antiques to the latest styles are on display. The focus of the merchandise is gently-used items, but there are also occasional new pieces, such as the set of four Hickory chairs with Bergamo mohair fabric in bold black and white geometric design.

Opened in 1999 by interior designer Altina Noel, it has become a mainstay for area shoppers. “It’s all about recycling” notes Ms. Noel, who realized that when her clients wondered what to do with pieces they were replacing, there could be an opportunity for a consignment shop.

Interesting History

“We provide a real service for people who are down-sizing or moving,” adds co-manager Jan Gutowski. “They can bring items to us, and we’ll find a home for them. Customers like everything — from functional pieces, such as desks and dressers, to tableware, to rugs, and jewelry. They often like the quality of the older items, and the fact that something has a history.

“We had one piece that had a very interesting history,” she continues. “It was a ladderback chair that had come from Val-Kill, Eleanor Roosevelt’s home at Hyde Park N.Y., and that had her signature on it. She had established a guild for artisans to supplement their incomes by making furniture, metalcrafts, and woven goods.

“The inventory is all styles and ages, as long as it is well-made of fine quality, and in excellent condition. Marketability is also a factor. Our space is limited, and we have to be selective. We aren’t able to take everything. I enjoy learning about all the different items, and a lot of thought and effort goes into pricing things.”

People come in regularly to see the latest, she adds. “We’re on a first name basis with 50 percent of our customers. They often come in once a week to see what’s new. We always say ‘Don’t hesitate. If you see something you like, buy it. If you wait, it could be gone, and there is not another one!’”

The selection does change all the time. “We have an extremely wide price range, from $15 to $50 and up to $9,000 for a new Baker dining room table with eight Chippendale-style chairs.”

Sofas, upholstered chairs, and beds share the space with tables, chairs, and an array of tableware and decorative items. Vintage Lalique, Herend, and the enamel-on-copper Halcyon boxes — all very collectible — are available, as is an antique French oyster plate, vintage 1950s sterling tea set, Portmeirion platter, Waterford crystal biscuit jar, beautiful hand-blown cobalt blue powder pot with brass feet (c) early 19th century, and most unusual, a goat-pulling-a-cart napkin rings.

Rocking Horse

A lucky boy or girl will love to find the wonderful handmade vintage rocking horse under the tree on Christmas morning, and the beautiful backgammon set with uniquely intricate inlay is a special gift for someone on your list.

All sizes and styles of rugs — runners to large handmade Persian — are available, as is an intriguing selection of chairs. An antique caned Lincoln rocker with figured maple back, four charming antique French salon chairs, an original 1810 comb-back Windsor chair with mixed woods, and a set of four very modern molded wood chairs offer a variety of handsome choices.

Then, there is a terrific drop leaf gate-leg dining table, which can also fold down to become a long, narrow console table against the wall; also, the appealing small English corner cabinet, and the antique oak jelly cabinet — all special pieces.

The list goes on. The incredibly eclectic selection offers an amazing number of options: antique prints, along with fun DVD cabinets, the popular Byers’ Choice Carolers, and a nice selection of vintage and new jewelry. “And, for the holidays you can come in and find a silver-plated serving piece or extra wine glasses,” points out Ms. Gutowski.

50-50 Split

“We also have another special service where we provide audio and video transfer for old records and home movies onto CDs and DVDs. It’s another great way to recycle.”

The consignment arrangement is a 50-50 split between the consignor and the store, she explains. Items are kept for 90 days; there is a 15 percent reduction if they have not sold after 45 days, and if at the end of 90 days, they still haven’t sold, they can be returned, if the consignor wishes.

“We make a big effort to help people,” says Ms. Gutowski. “We are very proud of our service, and we try to make things easy. We’ll go to someone’s house to look at larger items, and we also work with a transportation service that we recommend.

“The top reasons for consigning with us and buying from us are: it’s green; you’re moving out and can’t take everything with you; you’re moving in and can’t fit everything in the new house; you want to part with estate pieces; you like the quality and craftsmanship of vintage and antique items and the value we offer.

“We really have one-of-a-kind items here at very special prices, and we go out of our way to help customers find things that are right for them, “ she adds. “And, you never know what’s coming in. It’s like Christmas morning every day! I look forward to being here every day, and I can’t wait to see what people are going to bring in.”

One-of-A-Kind is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 to 4. (609) 924-1227. Website: www.oneofakindconsignment.com.

December 1, 2011
NTU Savory Spice

SIGNATURE SPICES: “We get the spices delivered every week, and you can come in and buy as little or as much as you want — starting at half an ounce.” Owner of the Savory Spice Shop at 15 Spring Street, Jon Hauge (second from right) is shown with his son Alex, wife Janet, and daughter Olivia.

There’s a spicy new look on Spring Street. Just added to the street’s popular mix of stores, businesses, and restaurants is the Savory Spice Shop, which opened November 21.

“I wanted to open the shop in Princeton, and Spring Street was my favorite space of all that we saw,” says owner Jon Hauge.

Formerly in the corporate world, Mr. Hauge worked in the purchasing department of a building products company. When he had an opportunity for a career change, he knew he wanted something related to cooking. “Several years ago, I went to visit a spice shop in downtown Denver. I’ve been an avid cook. I always loved to cook, and I was very interested in all the spices.”

When he learned there was a franchise opportunity with the Denver-headquartered Savory Spice Shop, and that it could be independently-owned, he decided to make the move.

Fresh Spices

“There are 14 Savory Spice Shops in the U.S. and only one other in New Jersey, in Westfield,” he notes. “I always thought it would be great to have my own business, and my background in purchasing has been helpful.”

What especially appealed to Mr. Hauge about the Savory Spice Shop operation was the freshness of the spices, the attention to high quality items, and the focus on customer service. “Savory Spice Shop is built on the principles of providing you with innovative, high quality products and excellent customer service. The spices are ground weekly, and we get them delivered fresh every week. We have a range of common to exotic herbs and spices and more than 140 blends. There are also baking extracts, organic spices, hard-to-find spices, and more.

“Also,” he continues, “I want people to understand that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to improve the quality of what you eat. The addition of spices and seasonings can make a big difference, and we are happy to offer advice to people. We also have lots of recipes to share.”

The array of fresh spices includes traditional cinnamons, curries, salt and pepper, to exotic herbs and spices, such as grains of paradise, saffron, kaffir lime leaves, pomegranate molasses, achiote paste, and other specialties. There are signature seasonings, barbecue rubs, chicken and seafood blend options, dip and dressing mixes, salt-free seasonings, chili powders, and other flavorful mixing spices.

The visually appealing shop is conveniently arranged for browsing and buying. “We set up according to category, color, and appearance,” reports Mr. Hauge.

Enticing the senses is important in a shop like this, and every effort has been made to tempt the taste buds. Aromatic mulling spices are available to sample in hot libations, cinnamon rolls and dips have been offered, as well as freshly made popcorn.

Truffle Salt

“We have a popcorn popper and have popcorn with truffle salt for people to try,” says Mr. Hauge. “We also have a wonderful coffee-based blend, Baker’s Brew, to use for a barbecue rub, and a great cheddar cheese dip with a baked smoky flavor.”

There are so many treats in store: cinnamon sticks, Mayan cocoa, Mexican cocoa, Dutch cocoa powder, Chai spices, pizza and pasta pairings — and so much more.

Special advice is offered with cards featuring “Top 5 Spices for Pork”, “Top 5 for Seafood”, and “Top 5 for Steak”, and recipe cards are available for people to take home.

Mr. Hauge is very pleased with the number of customers coming in and calling as well. “People have been coming in from the beginning, and now they’re calling too. They want specific spices. One person called asking for sumac, a middle eastern spice — which we do carry.”

Related items, such as pepper mills and mortar and pestle sets are also available, and Mr. Hague points out that the spices, including a variety of gift sets, and the other products make excellent housewarming, hostess, holiday, and teacher gifts. In addition, there are fun seasonal items, such as small sachets of frankincense and myrrh, suitable for incense-burning.

“We can customize a gift set, and there are also tubes filled with different spices for $5, a terrific stocking stuffer and a way for someone to explore a new spice and flavor. We have a big price range, from $2 up to $50, and everything in between. Right now, if you buy five or more gift sets, you will get 15 percent off the price. Gift cards are available too. Spices are available in resealable plastic bags, small 2-and 4-ounce glass jars, and 8-ounce plastic bottles.”

Adult School

Mr. Hauge is happy to be in Princeton, and is already taking part in community activities. “I am teaching classes in spices at the Adult School, both now and in the spring.”

The enthusiasm, both of students in the classes and customers at the store, has been especially pleasing to him. He has also been warmly welcomed by the other merchants.

“I’m doing this because I love doing this, and I want people to have the same experience,” he says. “I like talking to customers and sharing information about spices. I often learn from people too, who have traveled and know about different spices. They like to share their recipes. And it is particularly nice that customers seem to enjoy talking to each other about spices in the shop.

“I felt that Princeton would be a great match for my shop. I knew that people here appreciate food and wine and dining experiences. I hoped to build a good solid customer base, and I think I’m off to a great start!”

He is happy, too, that his family has been part of this new adventure. “It’s really like a family business. My wife, Janet, who is a librarian at the Princeton Public Library, and my son Alex and daughter Olivia all help out.”

Savory Spice Shop is open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 11 to 5. (609) 454-5627. savoryspiceshop.com.

New To Us: Taste of Mexico

TEMPTING TASTES: “Mexican food has that spice, that tropical feeling. It not only tastes good, it makes you feel good. There is a fun feeling about Mexican food.” Leslie Paredes (left), general manager and Felipe Cruz, owner of Taste of Mexico are happy to welcome customers to the restaurant’s second location at 180 Nassau Street.

“Mi casa es su casa,” as they say in Spanish. “My house is your house.”

Nowhere has that sentiment been more happily translated into a restaurant setting than at the new location of Taste of Mexico at 180 Nassau Street. No one is a stranger here. The warm, friendly atmosphere welcomes customers, inviting them to enjoy the southern Mexican cuisine.

“I love restaurants! I sleep and eat restaurants!” says owner Felipe Cruz, who is also proprietor of Taste of Mexico in the Princeton Shopping Center and El Oaxaqueño in New Brunswick.

“I had been wanting to expand,” he explains, “and then the opportunity to move here became available. It was perfect. I think it was meant to be.”

New Things

The location is the site of the former Calico Restaurant, just behind Cox’s Market. Cox’s came with the restaurant, so Mr. Cruz is now also running the deli as well as all of his restaurants! He is not daunted by this challenge. With many years experience in the food industry, including managing restaurants in New York and the Princeton area, he looks forward to the opportunity.

“People in Princeton love to try new things,” he points out. “They have traveled and have experienced other cuisines. We are encouraged about the customer base that we are building. We already have regulars. The town has also been very welcoming to us.

“Another thing, the advantage of having multiple restaurants is that if you should run out of something, you can always get it from one of the other places.”

Born in Oaxaca, Mexico, Mr. Cruz came to the United States when he was 15. He always enjoyed cooking, and from his early years in the restaurant business, he looked forward to having his own place. His first, Taste of Mexico in the Princeton Shopping Center, has been a success for 16 years, and El Oaxaqueño for eight years.

He has every expectation of that success continuing at the new Taste of Mexico. “We have a unique product, the most authentic Mexican food around here. We have our own special recipes that have been passed down, and our chef’s recipes are one-of-a-kind. In authentic Mexican cooking, we use the freshest ingredients — cheese, vegetables, meat.

“We very much focus on healthy eating. Most of our items are grilled, and we use olive oil and very fresh vegetables. It’s healthy food, but with all the great flavor. I try to keep the originality of the flavor and the food with our recipes. We definitely stress our own way of doing things, our own special way of cooking and preparing dishes. You won’t find our kind of cooking everywhere. It’s our own special touch.”

Authentic Mexican Food

Two Princeton University students, one a repeat customer, one sampling Taste of Mexico’s dishes for the first time, agreed. “This is really great authentic Mexican food, and there is also a really nice atmosphere here.”

Many customers have already found their favorite dishes, reports Mr. Cruz. “Mole Oaxaqueño, the traditional dish with chicken and mole sauce; enchiladas with soft rolled corn tortillas with chicken or cheese, and green or red sauce; and fajitas, and tamales are all in demand for lunch and dinner.”

Among the appetizers, guacamole is a clear favorite, reports Mr. Cruz. “This is a real specialty for us. It is one of the most popular dishes, and people want it all the time. We also have a lot of vegetarian dishes, and more and more customers are wanting them. They are available in burritos, quesadillas, tostadas, fajitas, tamales, and enchiladas. Also, all our dinner and lunch specials are served with chips, salsa, rice, and beans.”

Special low fat platters are also available, including grilled quesadillas, shrimp, chicken, and steak, as is a variety of salads.

Lunch, dinner, and take-out are very popular, and on Saturday and Sunday, breakfast is also served. “Breakfast is getting more and more popular,” says Mr. Cruz. “We have specials like breakfast burritos, breakfast quesadillas, and also pancakes, waffles, French toast, and fruit platters. Orange juice is hand-squeezed.

“Two of our most popular breakfasts are Huevos Ranchero with fried eggs, black beans, and ranchero salsa, topped with queso fresco (fresh cheese), and flour tortillas; and the Spanish Continental, with fried eggs, black beans, and tomato salsa, topped with queso fresco, served with fried plaintains and flour tortillas.”

Breakfast Dishes

A variety of Mexican sodas and juices is available, and customers are welcome to bring wine and beer.

Prices include breakfast dishes at $6.99, appetizers from $5.99, lunch specials at $7.99, and dinner specials at $10.99. A children’s menu offers items from $4.99.

Catering is another specialty of the restaurant and also Cox’s Market, points out Mr. Cruz. “We cater anything, and we do a lot of lunches. Cox’s has the best panninis! We do a lot of catering for Princeton University.”

He is pleased, too, that even within the intimate setting of seating for 31 (with additional outside patio dining in seasonal weather), the restaurant has been able to accept groups and private parties. “We do our best to accommodate everyone, and that includes groups.”

Mr. Cruz looks forward to more people enjoying Taste of Mexico’s unique atmosphere with its bright and vivid decor and beautiful ocean mural, and of course, its signature cuisine. “People who come here will have the most authentic Mexican food. It’s the real deal! I am very encouraged, and the best thing is that people are coming back again. It’s everyone — all backgrounds, including lots of families, kids, and Princeton University students.”

Owning and operating a restaurant involves long hours, dedication, and determination. As Mr. Cruz points out, however, “Warren Buffet has said that if you find out what you’re good at and find your passion, you will be successful. Then, you don’t mind getting up early and staying late. You have found your passion.”

Taste of Mexico is open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday until 10, Saturday and Sunday 8 to 10. Call (609) 924-0500 or go to www.coxmarket.com.