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The Changing Face of Princeton: New Businesses Come to Town

Matthew Hersh

Princeton has been in high gear for some time when it comes to retail business turnover. However, recently some long-time business owners and stores have cause to pause due to the fact that they have retained a lengthy residence, and they're growing as well.

New York Sports Club at the Princeton Shopping Center has recently moved into a 3,000 square-foot space, the former site of Princeton Video, which moved just a few stores down next to The Cafe. The sports club, which first opened in at the Shopping Center in 1979 as Princeton Nautilus, then became Princeton Fitness before finally becoming a New York Sports Club seven years ago. "There really hadn't been a major change to the club, and this was something that was needed to accommodate members and be more competitive," said Alex Obe, manager of the Shopping Center NYSC location, referring to competition like Momentum Fitness in Montgomery Township and Golds Gym in Monmouth Junction.

Also coming to the Shopping Center will be Color Me Mine‹Art for Entertainment. The Shopping Center recently leased out 1,500 square feet to this business that offers classes on painting ceramics and creating mosaics. Shanghai Park, a restaurant specializing in Shanghai-style cuisine has occupied 5,000 square feet at the Shopping Center. The restaurant, which has locations in Highland Park and Jersey City, is located next to Radio Shack.

For people looking for rentals, Princeton Video and the Princeton Public Library are some of the last places in town to rent movies since West Coast Video at 259 Nassau Street closed in January. The store, which had opened in 1999, closed without notice.

Olives is said to be considering an expansion into the space recently vacated by Mandalay at 26 Witherspoon Street, according to several employees. Currently, the eight-year-old popular Greek delicatessen is looking to acquire appropriate permits and licenses before it can officially "break ground."

Having abdicated its thrown, Burger King has yielded its space to a decidedly healthier counterpart. Saladworks, a franchise owned by Rich Hopkins, is currently under construction eyeing an opening date as close as late next week. Mr. Hopkins, also owns Saladworks in Chatham Township and Piscataway. In addition to the menu, the interior will prove to be drastically different than that of Burger King. "There will be all new wallpaper, ceilings, furniture, pretty much everything from the kitchen-on-back," Mr. Hopkins said.

The Saladworks proprietor said he was encouraged by the apparent success of other eat-in/take-out eateries in town, and the fact that there seems to be, at least for now, room for all of them. "Whatever we can do to work together, I will do," Mr. Hopkins said, recognizing that a Tex-Mex restaurant, Qdoba, will eventually replace Hinkson's at 82 Nassau Street, possibly as early as June, according to John Roberto, whose family's firm, Town Management Inc., owns both Hinkson's and the entire building.

Finally, Palmer Square has been host to change over the past several months. Design Within Reach, an upscale, San Francisco-based furniture and home store will occupy the space vacated by Smith Bros. at 30 Nassau Street. "We've got a few comings and goings, and we've got a few vacancies to fill," said David Newton, vice president of Palmer Square Management. Since 2004, Palmer Square opened Ralph Lauren, Honey West Apparel, and The Bent Spoon, the Italian gelato specialty store at 35 Palmer Square West.

Halo Fete, the expansion of Halo Pub on Hulfish Street, has also opened, selling ice cream-based cakes and deserts.

Finally, Zoe, the upscale apparel and accessories store, moved last year to the 4,000 square-foot space formerly occupied by the Gap.

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