After months of speculation and anticipation, the owner of Great Road Farm in Skillman has announced he will open Agricola Eatery on Witherspoon Street in Princeton, in the location formerly occupied by Lahiere's restaurant.
The farm-to-table cuisine is described as “rustic American” with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients from Great Road Farm and other regional growers.
Great Road Farm already provides vegetables to Sprig & Vine, a vegetarian restaurant in New Hope, Pa.
“Agricola is the culmination of my journey to create a warm and welcoming gathering place that celebrates fresh, seasonal foods and the kind of extraordinary service that can accommodate the needs of the Princeton community,” said farm and restaurant owner Jim Nawn.
New Jersey native Josh Thomsen has been named executive chef.
Named a “Rising Star Chef” by StarChefs, Thomsen has been a chef at the famed French Laundry in Napa Valley, NobBill at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Tao restaurant, and Patina in Southern California.
Lahiere's has been closed for about a year, sparking much speculation about what might open in the large downtown location.
Nawn said he has worked to create a restaurant where first-time guests feel like beloved regulars, similar Lahiere’s.
The renovated restaurant, located near the intersection of Nassau Street, will have 200 seats, a lively bar and space for private events for up to 60 people.
The restaurant will open for dinner seven days a week. Shortly after opening, it will add weekday lunch, plus brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and catering services.
“This project has been a labor of love,” Nawn said. “Old buildings require that, plus a whole lot of patience. The community has witnessed the extent of the renovation firsthand, and construction will begin later this month. When Agricola opens, guests will be amazed at how distinct each room’s personality will be — from friendly and intimate to open and festive.”
In preparation for his new venture, Nawn completed an eighth-month program at the Institute of Culinary Education and a six-week residency in the kitchen of Veritas in New York City known for its wine list and contemporary American menu.
“I spent my time absorbing as much as I could while chopping vegetables and doing whatever menial task the chef told me to do,” he said. “It was incredibly humbling — that was part of the challenge, after all — but I was also able to study how world-class restaurants operate on the ground floor. The many firsthand observations I was able to make have combined to shape my vision for Agricola.”
Nawn is managing member of Fenwick Hospitality Group, LLC, which franchises Panera Bread locations throughout New Jersey.