On Panera’s Closing

Editor’s Note: The Panera at 136 Nassau Street in Princeton closed its doors on Friday, May 29. A sign posted on the door read: “We have closed our doors. Thank you for all of your support over the years. Be sure to visit one of our nearby cafes.” Other Paneras are located on Nassau Park Boulevard in West Windsor and Schalks Crossing Road in Plainsboro.

It was a genuine meeting place of Princeton students, faculty, and friends for years. Under new management during the past two years, Panera Restaurant had become one of the most beloved restaurants in town.

It had every advantage over the more mid-level and upscale restaurants on Nassau and Witherspoon. It was affordable (which is rare in a town aspiring to become a miniature Manhattan), offered free coffee refills and a pleasant, clean environment where one could read a book or a newspaper while staring through the wide front window at passers-by, a sparkling spring rain, or the soft flakes of a young snowfall.

Above all, the staff and managers cared about the guests. Their courtesy and kindness were unusual in a town that caters all too often to the people Princeton loves to call its elites. After enduring months of masks, social-distancing, and life in a bubble, we are all weary and eager for familiar faces and restaurants whose staff greet us on arrival.

Panera’s food is always fresh and environmentally self-conscious, and the scent of hot coffee on cold afternoons is perfectly mated with Panera’s outstanding pastry, probably the best in town, despite the attempts of newbie cafes whose pretensions to French tastes don’t quite make it.

And no cafe, bakery, or restaurant makes bread and bagels like Panera’s or charges fairer prices for them.

If the nefarious town landlords will get their act together before they reduce Princeton to a faux Palm Beach, with food too costly for most students and many ordinary “real” people who live close by, they will be doing a favor to all, especially those who call Panera a “home” away from home.

And I think we have all learned now what “home” really means, having lived through a historical pandemic which brought friends, family, teachers, students, and friends together in a way we never were before.

Libby Zinman Schwartz

Elm Road, Princeton

Art All Night, traditionally held at Roebling Wire Works, will be a virtual event this August.

Art All Night Goes Virtual

Greetings Artworks Community. I thank you for doing your part to keep yourselves and others safe during this time of crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much upon us, but we have made progress towards containing the coronavirus and can begin to look towards a time of reopening and return to some semblance of normalcy. Artworks staff has already begun planning how we can return to physical exhibits and programming when it is again safe and sanctioned by the City of Trenton and State of New Jersey to do so. In the meantime, your creative spirit continues to help all of our community in these isolating times.

After much deliberation and soul-searching, Artworks has made the decision that Art All Night, our iconic arts festival which was postponed until the weekend of August 15-16 because of the coronavirus pandemic, will now become fully virtual. As uncertainty continues over when and how New Jersey will recover from COVID-19, the likelihood of holding a festival in August, in Trenton, with thousands of attendees, seemed increasingly remote. We realized it was prudent to make other plans, and the more we explored the idea of a virtual event, the more we realized how exciting the possibilities were.

I know many of you will be extremely disappointed by this news, as there is really nothing which can compare to the wonderful in-person experience of Art All Night. I would like to invite you to join us as we embark on this new chapter for Art All Night. Just as each and every one of you is what collectively makes Art All Night such a wonderful event, your participation in this new virtual adventure is sure to ensure that it becomes a memorable success.

We believe that just about everything that you artists and attendees know and love about Art All Night — the huge variety of art on display, live music, live demonstrations, our film festival, children’s activities, master classes and talks — we will be able to present online for anyone and everyone to participate in and enjoy safely on August 15 and 16. Even more exciting is we will be able to provide the Art All Night experience not just to those who can travel to Trenton, but to anyone tuning in from across the country or around the world.

As we have continued to support artists since the COVID-19 lockdown began, we are particularly excited to be able to support artists and musicians through a virtual Art All Night, putting money in their pockets at this precarious time. Your generosity helps us to do so, so please consider a donation to Artworks to help us produce a virtual Art All Night. Any amount is welcome.

Stay tuned for instructions on submitting artwork online to Art All Night, as well as submissions by music performers, filmmakers, and other participants. Follow Art All Night Trenton on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and check in regularly at the Art All Night Trenton website, artallnighttrenton.org, in order to receive timely updates on the new registration processes.

Thank you all for your strength and support. We’re excited to be able present a virtual Art All Night to you, enabling us all to connect and interact happily and safely as we celebrate our large, diverse, and creative community in these difficult times.

Lauren Otis

Executive Director, Artworks

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