Cox’s Market on Nassau Street to open restaurant

To feature "Pacific-Mex" cuisine

By: Marjorie Censer
   The owners of Cox’s Market on Nassau Street are slated to open a new restaurant focusing on "Pacific-Mex" cuisine in the space behind its current store.
   The restaurant — which will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner but may start with only lunch and dinner — will blend the Pacific backgrounds of owners Alan and Marguerite Heap with the Mexican and Guatemalan backgrounds of the market’s chefs.
   The Heaps have worked in restaurants in Guam and Hawaii. Mr. Heap graduated from Johnson & Wales University and spent four years at the Hong Kong Hilton. While in Hong Kong, he met Ms. Heap, a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. After time in Guam and Hawaii, the couple moved to Princeton, where they opened the Garden Café & Caterers at the Princeton YMCA. In 2003, they purchased Cox’s Market.
   Mr. Heap said the decision to open the restaurant represents an attempt to move his business forward.
   "There’s so much competition that you either keep pushing forward or you get out of the game," he said, noting that another Cox’s Market is slated to open on Quakerbridge Road.
   Opening the Princeton restaurant requires installing two new kitchens — upstairs, next to the market, and downstairs, next to the restaurant. Mr. Heap said both kitchens will be used for both establishments.
   The restaurant, operated by the Heaps and partner Carlos Espichan, will be BYOB and is convenient to Princeton Wine & Liquor on Nassau Street. Mr. Heap said the owner of Princeton Wine & Liquor will coordinate a wine menu for the restaurant.
   The restaurant, which the Heaps said has received unofficial approval from Princeton Borough zoning officials, does not yet have a name — there is a contest in which members of the public can submit names. The winner will receive a $500 catering gift certificate.
   The Heaps said the "Pacific-Mex" cuisine will blend more traditional Mexican food with Pacific ingredients. For example, fish tacos might include salmon, halibut or Chilean sea bass.
   "It opens up a lot of doors that you can’t even get close to in a Mexican restaurant," Mr. Heap said. "It uses ingredients you wouldn’t find in Mexico but flavors that you would."
   Ms. Heap said the menu will include plenty of fish, fruits and vegetables, allowing the restaurant to put a lighter spin on traditional Mexican food.
   The restaurant will accommodate some 40 customers, and the Heaps said they would like to have outdoor dining in warm weather. They called the restaurant’s style "casual upscale," explaining that it will fall in between formal and family-style dining.
   Prices will be roughly $8 to $12 for lunch and, including appetizers and dessert, roughly $15 to $20 for dinner, Mr. Heap said.
   The Heaps said they hope the restaurant will open in March.