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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Corrections or additions?
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