New Restaurant to Open in Downtown Hightstown
The open-flame charcoal grill was custom built in Newark.
A local couple is opening a new restaurant on Mercer Street in Hightstown featuring an open fire charcoal grill.
East Windsor residents Carlos Guerrero and Nydza Santiago are opening Mercer St. Charcoal Grill & Deli at 110 Mercer Street. The couple had been looking for a place to open a restaurant in Hightstown for two years, and when this storefront became available, it was just what they were looking for, Santiago said.
“The town has been overwhelmingly warm,” Santiago said. “We’ve had nothing but really great people coming around and wishing us well.”
The husband and wife team had a custom open pit charcoal fire grill built for the restaurant in the Ironbound district of Newark. It took six men to carry the grill into the restaurant, Santiago said.
“Carlos is going to be here running the show,” Santiago said since he will be running the grill while she takes care of the finance side.
The team has hired a staff of about six or seven others to handle other jobs in the restaurant.
“I’m really excited about the staff,” Santiago said, noting they all live locally.
The food will all be home cooked and the restaurant is BYOB, Santiago said.
Menu items, served platter-style and available for lunch and dinner, will feature: pork ribs, short ribs, T-bone steaks, skirt steak, rib eye steak and chicken - all on the grill. And for the fish lovers, they added a tuna steak to the menu, Santiago said.
The sides are eclectic, Santiago said, and include rice, fresh cut French fries, pinto beans, steamed and sautéed vegetables and home made potato chips.
Home made pies and cakes will fresh from A&M Farms in Robbinsville, and the restaurant will make its own homemade flan.
There is also a deli in the restaurant, which features the restaurants’ signature Cuban sandwich: ham, cut to order fresh pulled pork, Swiss cheese, mustard, pickle and special garlic sauce pressed hot. They will only make one pork shoulder daily, and once it’s gone, you have to wait until the next day for the limited sandwich, Santiago said.
All deli sandwiches will be served with home made chips.
But Mercer St. Charcoal Grill & Deli doesn’t stop at lunch and dinner. They will serve breakfast daily with brunch on Sundays.
The breakfast menu will include oatmeal, a variety of breakfast sandwiches and home made home fries. All types of coffees will be served, including cappuccinos, lattes and non-coffee items such as hot chocolate.
The menu is affordable, Santiago said, ranging from a hamburger and home made chips for $3.75 to feeding a family of four for $16 (which includes a whole chicken and sides of fries and rice).
“We want to have a great place for people to eat,” Santiago said. “We want to be an integral part of this community.”
Talks with building owner Michael Vanderbeck began in late July and by August an agreement had been reached, and work began on the building, Santiago said. In addition to the charcoal grill with a 13-foot hood, a full kitchen was installed, including a stove and two fryers.
“It’s been quite a collaborative effort,” Vanderbeck said. Santiago noted that Vanderbeck is also excited and has come by to help get the restaurant ready.
A number of people were interested moving into the storefront, including a yogurt shop, a yoga studio and a hoagie place, and it came down to what he thought would be a draw to the town, Vanderbeck said.
There will eventually be a grand opening through Downtown Hightstown, Vanderbeck said, but the date is not yet set.
The tentative soft opening is set for Oct. 15, however there is a possibility that could change, Santiago said. The restaurant will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. and seats around 40 people inside. During the warmer months, four to five outdoor tables will be set up.