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Longtime Trenton restaurant reopens.


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Sunday, October 11, 2009

meir rinde



TRENTON -- Three weeks after closing, Pete Lorenzo's Café has reopened a few days a week as the owner considers changing the restaurant or selling the property.


"We're just trying to get some revenue here and there when we can," general manager Armando Frallicciardi Jr. said last week. "I can't say we're open every night for dining, but we're opening during the week for lunch, and we're serving steaks and stuff. It's a challenge."



Frallicciardi, whose father owns the 88-year-old restaurant on Clinton Avenue, said he's trying to serve lunch and possibly early dinners on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.


He's accepting cash only, he said, going "back to the way it was years ago."


"Hopefully we'll be coming out with a little bit of a different menu and different hours," Frallicciardi said from his home in Bucks County, Pa. "We're going to try to adjust and keep pushing along here."


The longtime power eatery for businesspeople and state legislators closed in mid-September. Frallicciardi had returned from a vacation to find that his walk-in freezer had shut down, forcing him to throw out large amounts of spoiled food.


The restaurant reopened briefly before Frallicciardi decided to take a break and re-evalute its future, in light of the city's decline as a restaurant destination, problems caused by renovations to the Trenton train station across the street, and his hope of redeveloping the property.


Frallicciardi said he met last week with city officials who told him that they want him to continue operating the restaurant.


But looming over the site's future is the city's plans for several blocks designated as the train station redevelopment area. Three developers -- Vista, Nexus and Matrix -- have plans to build office towers and residences in large projects along Clinton Avenue and East State Street.


Frallicciardi has said he would be interested in selling the property, either outright or to a developer who would put in a new building that would house a restaurant, but has run into obstacles.


He said Nexus and Vista have told him the restaurant's property is too small for their plans. Meanwhile, Trenton officials told him the development guidelines laid out by the city for the area do not allow certain uses he has considered, such as a fast food or chain restaurant, he said.


"If the lot is so small, take me out of it," he said. "Why do I have to follow the guidelines of the redevelopment area? I feel frustrated that, if we cannot operate as a restaurant, the city and state are tying my hands on what we can do."


City spokesman Kent Ashworth said Frallicciardi met with housing and economic development director Jerry Harris and other officials, who discussed subleasing and franchising possibilities for the property.


They are waiting for Frallicciardi to send them detailed data on the property that would help determine how the city could best help him, Ashworth said.


"We really do believe that we can support some venture here, but not without knowing what the numbers are," he said.


Frallicciardi said he will go to a future City Council meeting to ask that his property be removed from the redevelopment plan.


Contact Meir Rinde at mrinde@njtimes.com or (609) 989-5717.





I cannot think of Trenton Transit Center without seeing that brick building in my mind. I remember waiting out in the bitter cold for my ride to show up, or a blisteringly hot day as they renovated the station and most of it was closed, including the roy rodgers that used to be there, the neon sign partly working. They fixed their neon sign few months ago. I hope they stay as-is and open 7 days a week.


- A

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