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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on April 12, 2000. All rights reserved.
Dining Destination: Delta’s
Entering Delta’s, the new restaurant on Dennis Street
in New Brunswick, one first meets a Norman Rockwell reproduction that
shows a small African-American girl, so immaculately groomed she shines,
wearing a dazzlingly white dress. Earnest and hopeful, she is being
escorted to school by two pairs of Federal marshals. The poster declares
both the political and ethnic stance of the strikingly successful
eatery and jazz spot that opened its doors in late December.
The Delta’s name is intended to evoke the delta region in Mississippi,
Tennessee, and Louisiana "where the land is fruitful." And
restaurant owner Coretta King, 27, describes the cuisine as "upscale
soul food." (That’s right: her name matches that of the wife of
civil rights leader Martin Luther King.) A mixed crowd covering the
spectrum from black to white gathers at the restaurant to enjoy ample
portions of rural Southern food served up with American music. King’s
fiance, Joshua Suggs, 28, who was instrumental in bringing the enterprise
into existence, and who serves as bartender, says, "We’re calling
it Southern food because we don’t want to scare anybody away."
The adventursome young couple plan to marry in May.
Chef Henry T. Dominick, 33, was born in South Carolina, and trained
at the Hudson County Culinary Institute. He was formerly at the Hasbrouck
Delta’s quarters, just down the street from the Frog and the Peach,
has been home to a succession of restaurants. The familiar 45-foot-long
oak bar from the 1920s is still there, along with a large mirror with
etched-glass decorations. Diners sit either at floor level or on a
balcony that overlooks the rest of the restaurant. The walls are decorated
with prints of paintings by African-American artist Alonzo Adams.
A particularly memorable large print in the perfectly-lit alcove area
on the ground floor shows a grandmotherly black woman working on an
eye-catching quilt that occupies most of the picture frame.
Under her hospitable gaze, diners can choose from a variety of food
with Southern roots. Appetizers, ranging in price from raw vegetables
with a spinach dip at $4 to shrimp cocktail with a Southwestern cocktail
sauce at $8.95, include Maryland crab cakes, fried okra, fried crawfish,
and a Creole crostini featuring a spicy topping of shrimp and andouille
sausage. A combination appetizer for two is available at $9.95. Salads
range from a house salad at $4 to a Caesar salad with shrimp at $7.95.
Soups include a daily special at $3.50, corn chowder for $4, and shrimp
and chicken gumbo for $4.50. Desserts range from $3 to $6, with sweet
potato cheesecake the house specialty.
Main dishes are available for both carnivores and vegetarians.
The vegetarian items, which include a three-bean southern chili, range
from $8.95 to $11.95. Other entrees, served with two side dishes,
range from $13.95 for chicken in gravy or meatloaf, to pecan-crusted
salmon with a Jack Daniel’s whiskey reduction at $22.95. Other items
include oxtails marinated in bourbon, catfish, whiting, marinated
ribs, and a 16-ounce sirloin steak. Among the more interesting side
dishes are black-eyed peas, fried okra, collard greens, and sweet
Brunch offers a choice of omelets, including a crawfish-shrimp-catfish
combination, or eggs accompanied by chicken, whiting, grits, or other
dishes for $16.95.
Delta’s serves lunch, beginning at 11:30 a.m., and dinner from 5 p.m.,
Tuesday through Sunday; Sunday brunch begins at 11 a.m.
The burgeoning weekend business is fired by live jazz, Fridays and
Saturdays at 9 p.m., with no additional charge. Dinner reservations
are imperative on weekends. Among jazz performers who have appeared
are Ralph Bowen and Ralph Peterson of Rutgers, as well as Pat Tandy.
No advance jazz performance schedule is currently available. Like
its performers, Delta’s is improvising its entertainment component
to suit its patrons’ tastes. In addition to the jazz, the restaurant
experimented with a Sunday gospel brunch, which attracted a large
and enthusiastic audience. Eventually, there will be an advance schedule
for weekend jazz and gospel brunches.
King and Suggs are new to the restaurant business. A California native,
King holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing and human resource management
from Long Beach State College. She moved to central New Jersey in
1998. "When I came I realized that there was no soul food in New
Brunswick or the surrounding communities — you had to go to Newark
or New York — Delta’s just kind of fell together," she says.
When King arrived in New Jersey, Suggs was working as a disc jockey
at the restaurant that occupied Delta’s quarters just before. "I
knew that the owner wanted to sell," he says. "Then Coretta
came from California, and said `Hey, we should open a soul food restaurant.’
The idea was in the works for about a year before we opened."
Suggs graduated from Rutgers with an economics major in 1998.
"We’re serving 250 dinners Friday and Saturday night, and are
surprised to be this busy this early," says Suggs, acknowledging
that Delta’s is still inventing itself as it goes along. "We knew
that we would eventually be this busy, but we never thought it would
happen this soon."
— Elaine Strauss
Lunch from 11:30 a.m.; dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. Sunday
brunch 11 a.m. Bar menu. Closed Mondays.
The annual "free" ice cream cone day at Ben & Jerry’s is Tuesday,
April 18, noon to 8 p.m., at the Forrestal Village food court, and
Bebe Neuwirth, star of stage and screen, is scheduled to scoop
beginning at 12:30 p.m. The event will benefit Big Brothers Big
Sisters of Mercer County.
That Neuwirth is a celebrity scooper is just part of the story. It
seems that the actress’s father contributed to founding a new program
that has multiplied across the nation. In 1991 Lee Neuwirth of
Institute for Defense Analyses and Gary Turndorf of The Landis Group
had assembled a small group of mentors and needed help with screening,
training, and case management. The mentors had been recruited by
Project ’55, established by the Princeton University Class of 1955.
Big Brothers Big Sisters agreed to provide the orientation for this
group, and the group "adopted" Cadwalader elementary school that year.
At first, the staff of the social service organization worried that
this program would be a watered down version of the traditional one,
where an adult is paired with a young person for home-based weekly
activity. "That opinion soon changed when Big Brothers Big Sisters of
Mercer County received an exemplary award at the national conference
in Indianapolis in June 1992," says Kim Cody a BB/BS
spokesperson. This idea grew so that 168 local agencies around the
world have a school-based mentor program with this one used as the
Now seven departments in state government allow release time for their
employees to participate as mentors. Three years ago the organization
was chosen as one of 52 recipients from 479 applicants for a federal
grant for juvenile mentoring programs. The grant amounted to $158,000
over three years and has just ended. This year 92 mentors are meeting
with 60 girls and 32 boys between the ages of six and 14 each week in
19 schools. Over a 10 year period, more than 400 children have been
mentored, but now 48 children are on the waiting lists for mentors.
For information call 609-656-1000 (www.bbbsnj.org).
of "The Sound of Music" at Kelsey Theater, Mercer County College,
Saturday and Sunday, April 29 and 30. Roles for 7 children ages 7
to 20; adults; and a large adult chorus are open. For audition appointment,
call Marge Swider 215-968-1904.
Edison, has auditions for four summer musicals Friday, April 28, through
Sunday, April 30. "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,"
"Evita," "The King and I," and "You’re a Good
Man Charlie Brown" are all being cast. Auditions are at the theater’s
home, Capestro Theater, Roosevelt Park, Edison. Open call for children
ages 6 through 12 is Saturday, April 29, at 10 a.m. only. No appointments.
Call 732-548-2884; website: www.playsinthepark.com.
Call for Entries
to its Mercer County Show. Deadline for entry applications is Monday,
May 1, for the exhibit that will take place June 2 to 15. Any artist
age 60 or older living in Mercer County may submit one entry of original
work completed within the last three years. For application and guidelines
accepting entries to its high school journalism contest in three categories:
news, features, and editorials. Articles must be published in school
or community newspapers or newsletters between May 1, 1999, and the
contest deadline, April 30. Entry forms are available at most libraries
or call Amy Rubens, 609-585-5085.
is accepting submissions for its next issue through Monday, May 1.
Any writer or artist who lives in the county may submit short fiction,
poetry, essays, drawings, or cartoons. Call 609-586-4800, ext. 3326,
or e-mail email@example.com.
for its first annual pageant. The competition will take place Sunday,
June 4, at the Princeton Holiday Inn. Competition will feature an
interview, evening gown, and tennis wear competition. "We are
looking for women who want to make a difference in their communities.
Ten percent of the pageant score is for community involvement,"
says director Lisa A. LaFisca. Call 609-584-0472; website: www.mrsnewjerseyun.homestead.com.
Deadline for entries is April 15.
offers an award package of $800,000, access to $3 million in scholarship
opportunities, and the chance to be named a U.S. Presidential Scholar
in the Arts for young emerging artists through its ARTS (Arts Recognition
and Talent Search) program. Applications are in Dance, Music/Jazz,
Music/Instrumental, Music/Voice, Photography, Theater, Film and Video,
Visual Arts and Writing; eligible artists must be high school seniors,
or 17 or 18 years of age.
Call 1-800-970-ARTS, or apply on-line at: www.ARTSawards.org. The
first deadline is June 1; $25 processing fee.
for its chartered buses that will carry people to the Million Mom
March, on the Mall in Washington, D.C., on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May
14. The march is intended to carry the demand of mothers for laws
to protect children from gun violence. Cost is $30 per person, with
some scholarships available. Call the Coalition at 609-924-5022. The
website is at: www.millionmommarch.com or call 888-989-MOMS.
iGive.com, an online shopping vehicle for charitable giving. In order
to contribute funds to the nonprofit agency, shoppers log on to www.iGive.com/comop.
Community Options provides employment services and housing for over
1,000 people with disabilities in 11 locations. Phone 973-644-4750;
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