U.S. 1 at 18

Corrections or additions?

This article was prepared for the November 6, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Between the Lines

In writing about the emerging Trenton dining scene in

the October 23 issue we spotlighted a newcomer, Mambo’s, a Puerto

Rican restaurant near the Sovereign Bank Arena.

We have since heard from two diners who visited Mambo’s on the strength

of our recommendation. One, a member of our staff, made a raved about

her experience, declaring the red snapper she ordered and the steak

her dining companion chose exceptional. The snapper "had a Cuban

sauce, tomato-based with onions and olives," she said. "It

was really good." As for the atmosphere, she said, "we felt

like family."

But a reader, Steve Savat of Lawrenceville, felt more like a family

outcast when he visited Mambo’s on a Thursday evening. After waiting

15 minutes with no server in sight, Savat’s wife "went into the

kitchen and asked if we could have some service." Upon placing

their orders, the Savats were told the restaurant was out of empanadas

and were not making any more Cuban sandwiches that day.

We asked Jose Diaz, Mambo’s owner, about the Savats’ experience. Two

waitresses were out the week the Savats visited, he said, one in Puerto

for a relative’s funeral. Diners are beginning to call ahead for reservations,

he added, and suggested that doing so would remove the possibility

of the type of unfortunate reception the Savats received.

Meanwhile, the future of Maxine’s, the restaurant across the street

from Trenton’s new Marriott, is in some doubt. Its owners, Henry and

Maxine Page, have filed for personal bankruptcy. In published reports,

the Pages have said they will continue to operate the restaurant,

and city officials have said a restaurant, whether or not it be Maxine’s,

will continue to occupy the space.

Top Of Page

In an article on HomeFront’s new building on October 16, the design-build

contractor was incorrectly identified. Scozzari Builders Inc. was

the contractor and Saphire Associates the architect.

Top Of Page
U.S. 1 at 18

Amid all the communiques referred to above, we received

a memo from the boss. Remember the U.S. 1 anniversary, he said. It’s

the 18th, and we ought to do the interview.

"The interview," we should remind readers, has been somewhat

of an annual event around here since the first issue of U.S. 1 in

November of 1984. It’s been a chance for our founding editor and publisher,

Richard K. Rein, to reflect on our past, ponder our future. So we

asked one of our reporters to venture forth and begin the dialog:

As usual the first impression was of the office itself, a rat hole

of a work environment, cluttered with cardboard boxes filled with

business records, back issues of newspapers, and equally out of date

computer equipment. Different this year was that amid the clutter

was not one human being, but two. That’s right, our boss is sharing

his office (inflicting his workstyle) with our newest colleague, writer

Jack Florek.

What’s the matter, boss, were you finding it lonely at the


If I were kid, I have to say — with no offense to Jack — that

I would have picked someone younger, shorter, and of a different gender

to share my space with. This is a business deal, kid. Jack came on

board shortly after my stay in the hospital for an angioplasty

and a stent this past January, and is one of several people around

here trying to take some of the load off my shoulders.

The good news is that it’s working.

How do you measure that?

One way is that I’m working a few hours less a week than I used to,

and yet we are collectively doing everything we used to do at U.S.

1 — and a little more. I was worried about that at first because

in the first few months after that hospital stay we had to push back

our printing date for our annual business directory not once but twice.

I’m also finding time to write a column virtually every week. I’m

still not now finding the time for the reporting that would turn some

good subjects into even better stories, but at least I’m cranking

out something. And that means I’m letting other things go around here

and that other people are picking up the slack. And that’s the only

way we are going to make the transition from an owner-operated enterprise

to a management-operated enterprise.

Up until a couple of years ago not a single editorial page came out

of U.S. 1 that had not been hand-tweaked by me in the desktop publishing

process. Now there are three other people printing out pages for us.

That’s the good news.

And the bad news?

Good question, kid. You’re actually listening to the answers as well

as asking the questions.

The bad news is that this transition costs money. Florek over here

isn’t working for nothing. The other new names you see on our staff

box also cost money. And, as you can clearly see, Florek and the rest

take up some space as well. We already grew out of our space a few

years ago, and rented a small office across the hall for Nicole Plett.

Now we are trading that space in for another, larger office just down

the hall — we’re calling it "the annex" and we’ll let

you determine how much it’s like the popular Nassau Street bar. But

in any case the extra space costs money, as well.

So how is the paper doing financially?

We are surviving, which a lot of the companies we were covering back

in the year 2000 can no longer say. The technology crash in the spring

of of that year took some wind out of the sails of many tech-oriented

publications, and the recession of 2001 (as much as the terrorism

of September 11, in my opinion) added to the misery of anyone making

a living selling advertising.

We may never get back to our single most profitable year ever, 1998,

but you should remember that year was a confluence of positive forces:

the economy and the stock market going great guns, Clinton before

Monica, the Princeton technology sector booming, and U.S. 1 still

growing into its weekly publication routine (which began in 1995)

and headed by an 80-hour a week editor, publisher, and jack of all

trades who thought he would live forever without benefit of an hour’s

worth of exercise or a week’s worth of vacation.

We may not get back to that. But we might — just might — reach

a less profitable but more viable long-term business model. I personally

will be making less but writing more.

Will that be a disappointment?

Not at all. I started this thing 18 years ago in part because I saw

my freelance writing markets getting more and more competitive. I

was spending more creative energy trying to make a sale than to write

a story. U.S. 1 was going to be one place where I could just go out

and be a reporter and writer. Eighteen years later I’m still trying

to get it right.

I feel I’m back on track to do that — the question is whether

I’ll live long enough to get there.

Is there any doubt?

Of course. As one doctor bluntly put it, I’m a "clogger."

And I can tell you that working long hours under deadline pressure

has never been on the list of recommended therapies for coronary heart

disease. But enough of this, kid, I have a story to finish. Later.

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