By Donald Gilpin
The renovations continue at Princeton’s former post office building on Palmer Square, and the Triumph Brewing Company is looking forward to moving into its elegant new home by the first quarter of 2023, according to Triumph owner and CEO Adam Rechnitz.
Delays over the past six years, since Triumph first announced its plans to move from its 138 Nassau Street location, have been caused by easements that encroached on municipal property, protected state park land, the need for state permits, and, more recently, pandemic complications and supply chain problems in getting construction materials. But all systems seem to be go for an opening early next year.
“They’ve gotten a lot done. It’s going to be a beautiful place — I’ll tell you that,” said Princeton Building Inspector Dan Tagliere. “The framing and mechanicals have been done. A lot of the systems are in place.”
Rechnitz was upbeat about Triumph’s new Palmer Square setting — “obviously a better location” than 138 Nassau, he said. “I like the idea of being on the village green. We’ve learned a lot in the intervening 28 years since Triumph opened on Nassau Street about how to design and build, and we’ll be pleased to show the public what we’ve learned.”
Triumph closed its restaurant and brewery at 138 Nassau Street in February of this year. Rechnitz noted that it had been in operation for 28 years, ever since he moved to New Jersey in 1994 and founded the Triumph Brewing Company, one of the first brewpubs in the state, in what for a long time had been a bowling alley.
In addition to the Princeton location Rechnitz now owns and operates Triumph brewpubs in Red Bank and in New Hope, Pa.
As far as the new Palmer Square establishment is concerned, Rechnitz insisted on keeping most of the interior design details a secret in order to “maintain the element of surprise.” The huge brewing vats will be installed in the basement of the building in the next month, he said.
One of the supply chain delays involves the brewpub’s new lobby, which will consist of aluminum with framing
and glass attached to what was the loading dock on the east side of the building. The new entrance for patrons will be quite a contrast to the long, narrow corridor that led into the 138 Nassau Street restaurant.
The main hall of the old post office will be one of two dining rooms that will be on the upper floor, along with a bar and a lounge. Rechnitz explained that the decor in the basement would be familiar to former patrons of the 138 Nassau establishment, but he added that “upstairs will be something quite different.”
Richardson Smith Architects of Witherspoon Street in Princeton, who did the interior design of 138 Nassau as well as the designs of Rechnitz’s Triumph breweries in New Hope and Red Bank, have been the design architects for the new Palmer Square renovations. Collaborating with Richardson Smith have been Gittings Associates of Forrestal Road as the architect of record and Historic Building Architects of Trenton as the historic preservation architects.
Patrons of the old post office, which was built in 1937, may remember a mural titled America Under the Palms, which was in the lobby. It will not be moved, but will now be on the wall of one of the dining rooms. “It belongs to the federal government,” said Rechnitz. “It’s on loan to us. We have no say about it except we are obliged to keep it where it is and maintain it.” The mural had previously caused some controversy because of its depiction of Native
Additional work to be done before next winter’s opening includes new portions of roadway and curbing and widened sidewalks, according to Assistant Municipal Engineer Jim Purcell. “It’s going along smoothly,” he said. “Final paving will take place in a couple of months.”