The building housing Lahiere’s Restaurant, one of Princeton’s first upscale dining establishments, has been sold for an undisclosed sum to a downtown investment group.
The property, which also houses four apartments and encompasses 5-13 Witherspoon Street, was owned by Lahiere’s owner Joe Christen until last week, when investment group ML Seven purchased it. According to Christen, Lahiere’s will continue to operate, as only the property and not the business was sold. “We’ll be here for a while,” he said.
Rumors had swirled over the impending sale for several weeks. There was speculation that Hamilton Jewelers, owned by Hank Siegel, might buy the Lahiere’s building and expand into it. Siegel, who denied any such plans, is the brother of Jeff Siegel, president of ML Seven. On Tuesday, with the sale official, Jeff Siegel also denied that Hamilton Jewelers has any designs on the Lahiere’s space. “Rumors fly in this town,” he said.
The property itself is more than 100 years old and has housed Lahiere’s for most of its existence. The restaurant was opened here in 1919 by Joseph and Mary Louise Christen, who came from Switzerland and France, respectively. For years Lahiere’s served French cuisine, but in recent years has switched to contemporary American cuisine.
The sale of the building removes the property from the Christen family for the first time.
When asked why he sold the property, Joe Christen said “I’m just moving on to other things.” Jeff Siegel did not comment on a reason, saying simply that he was glad to be able to land “one of the premier properties in town.”
Though the details of the sale are unknown, the assessment of the property encompassing 5-13 Witherspoon Street is almost $4 million, according to Princeton Borough. Annual taxes for the properties are about $82,000.
#b#Lahiere’s#/b#, 5 Witherspoon Street, Princeton 08542; 609-921-2798; fax, 609-921-3812. Joseph C. Christen, GM. www.lahieres.com