April 26, 2023

Popular Nassau Diner, Now Open For Business, Offers Favorite Familiar Treats in Modern Setting

ALL DAY DINING: The Nassau Diner is open, and customers are enjoying the opportunity to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner at this new establishment on Nassau Street.

By Jean Stratton

The coffee is hot, and the only thing kept in the freezer is our ice cream….Our curated classics are made from scratch, and elevated with fresh, quality ingredients.”

This is the report from The Nassau Diner, which opened last October at 82 Nassau Street. It is the one of the newest establishments owned by Genesis Hospitality Group. Headquartered in Hamilton, the company owns nine restaurants, bars, bakeries, inns, and boutique hotels in the area. In Princeton, the number includes The Peacock Inn, Chez Alice, Bread Boutique, Proof Pizza, and now The Nassau Diner.

“People love diners,” says Genesis director of hospitality Eben Copple, adding that diners bring back memories of fun times, and it is always good to have another informal eatery when you’re in the mood for something casual.

“Our diner is a good match for Princeton,” he points out. “We built it for Princeton. Our design plan was to have something historically accurate but to expand on the 1950s Art Deco style diner, and have a modern look. And we wanted to emphasize informal dining and cuisine. It’s very flexible. For example, you can have breakfast all day long.

Made To Order

“Another thing that really sets us apart is that our menus are two pages, not 27 pages! This indicates that everything is very fresh. It’s all made from scratch and made to order. We even make our own salad dressings. We’re raising the level for our customers. We hit a higher bar.”

A former chef, Copple has been with Genesis since 2018. Previously, he was chef at several restaurants in New York City, and for many years, chef at The Yardley Inn in New Hope.

The opportunity for a new adventure with Genesis was appealing, he says. “The development aspect has been one of the exciting parts of the business for me. It’s fun to create a new experience for people to enjoy. We are set apart because we always look for something different to contribute to each location.”

Tables, banquette, and counter seat100 people, and the diner’s spacious setting with black and white motif offers plenty of room to linger over breakfast, lunch or dinner. However, if customers are in a hurry, they can count on fast service, points out Copple. “Everything we have is fresh and fast. Everything is made to order, but served very fast. You can count on both the freshest ingredients and very fast service.”

As a former chef, he takes a very personal interest in what is served at the diner.

“I love the subject matter,” he says with a smile. “I like the subject of food. I really like all levels of the culinary field. The history of food, the stories behind it, the creativity. For example, there are so many ways to cook eggs!”

International Breakfast

In fact, eggs are a highlight at the diner. Scrambled, over easy, omelets, eggs Benedict, etc., etc. All are served throughout the day.

In addition, Copple is very enthusiastic about the diner’s International Breakfast selection. “This is still another way we are really set apart. I initially loved the concept of the French breakfast, with croissant and cafe au lait, and then we added croque madame (grilled ham and cheese en brioche, egg and bechamel sauce).”

The list expanded to include everything from English and Israeli-style breakfasts to Scandinavian, Russian, and upper West Side, among others.

The English and Israeli choices are especially popular, reports Copple. The traditional English  breakfast includes two eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, roasted mushrooms, griddled tomato, baked beans, and sourdough bread. The Israeli option features shakshouka (combination of simmering tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices, and poached eggs), farmer’s cheese, Israeli salad, and laffa flat bread.

Pancakes and waffles! No self-respecting diner is without them, but those at the Nassau Diner are exceptional. Made from scratch, they are exceedingly popular. And again, they are available all day.   

Another big favorite is the avocado toast, and the bread is also made from scratch.

Homemade Brioche Bun

Lunchtime is very busy at the diner, and soup, salad, and sandwiches are all on the menu. Club sandwiches, Reubens, and grilled cheese are traditional favorites, and the fried chicken sandwich and cheesesteak are also very much in demand.

“Our burgers are really special,” reports Copple. “They are cooked on our hot flat top griddle, and they cook very fast. Then they are served on our homemade brioche bun. In addition to beef, we offer veggie and turkey burgers.”

Especially popular is the California burger with tomato, avocado, bacon, American cheese, and garlic aioli. The “Shroom” burger is another favorite, featuring sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, and Swiss cheese. Several other choices are offered as well.

Salads include everything from the always popular Cobb and Caesar to Greek and the traditional “Three Salads” (chicken, tuna, and egg with tomato, lettuce, and choice of bread).

For those wanting full-fledged dinners, a number of selections are available: steak, fried chicken, pork chops, meat loaf, salmon, etc. as well as a variety of pasta dishes. A kids’ menu is also on hand.

An important highlight at the diner is its selection of freshly pressed juices. “These are very popular,” says Copple. “We have green apple, pineapple, carrot, and beet, and they are available in various combinations.”

DINNER AT THE DINER: “New Jersey has a history of diners. It’s the state’s culinary style! We felt there was a need for a diner like ours in Princeton,” says Eben Copple, director of hospitality at Genesis Hospitality Group, which owns The Nassau Diner. Shown is a table setting, with the diner’s specialties all ready for tasting. Above is a vintage poster (circa 1920s) of ladies enjoying an afternoon out.

Ice Cream Bar

Traditional diner pie and cake favorites for dessert are also included on the menu and in a display case.

Now, for true diner aficionados, the next step is to head for the ice cream bar. Sitting at the counter, sipping a milkshake, float, or ice cream soda, digging into a 3-scoop, 3-topping banana split or sundae is a dream-come-true.

“We really wanted to have this special ice cream bar,” explains Copple. “It is so popular that some people come in just for the ice cream.” They love sitting at the counter, he adds. No doubt a reminder of other days, other years, other ice cream treats.

In keeping with the popularity of the ice cream, and a nostalgic reminiscence, several wall displays feature vintage ice cream ads, including a circa 1940s version: “Ice Cream Shop. Nassau Street. Scoop 25 cents, 2 Scoops 50 cents, Milkshake 50 cents, Sundae 75 cents.”

Other displays include pictures of old-time juke boxes and assorted LP record covers with favorite “Golden Age” singers highlighted.

Copple is encouraged with the response of visitors to the diner, including families, high school and Princeton University students, as well as tourists, alumni, and parents of students who come to town. Many who come once will come again, he reports.

Two recent customers, who were first-time visitors, were very enthusiastic. “We had a great lunch, and we will definitely be back again,” said Princeton resident Pat McKinley. Her daughter, Jennifer McKinley agreed, adding, “We love the ambiance, and the staff is so friendly and helpful. They were so ready to answer our questions.”

Service and Staff

Keeping prices as affordable as possible is a priority, notes Copple, and he emphasizes that the diner prices are comparable to those of other eateries in the area.

He is proud of the diner’s quality in all ways, including its service and staff. “It takes a lot of people to make it happen,” he points out. “We are always looking for those who are interested in joining our operation.

“Princeton is an important location for us,” he continues, “and we are committed to crafting exceptional
experiences for our guests. Our priority is to make every day better than the day before and to continue to meet our standards.

“In addition, we look forward to becoming an integral part of the community. We support various organizations and charities, and we always want to have a relationship with the town we are in. As we look ahead, we hope to serve even more customers, and introduce them to our special signature service.”

The Nassau Diner is open seven days from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and take-out is also available. For further information, call (609) 493-0132. Website: www.nassaudiner.com.