Middlesex County News

Not Your Typical Hospital Cafeteria at Saint Peter's

54f6ebae6df4dfbef7f2_Restaurant_2FIFTY4_image_picture_1_-_Copy.jpg
64e5a12f3cf771c46f79_Restaurant_2FIFTY4_image_picture2_-_Copy.jpg
ee5555a008de38787f3e_Restaurant_2FIFTY4_image_picture3_-_Copy.jpg
54f6ebae6df4dfbef7f2_Restaurant_2FIFTY4_image_picture_1_-_Copy.jpg

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The morning rush has subsided at Restaurant 2FIFTY4 inside Saint Peter’s University Hospital on Easton Avenue.

It was about 10:30 a.m. on a recent Wednesday and Eileen Lombardi - with more than 30 years at the hospital - manages the restaurant. Fresh off breakfast, she and the staff are preparing for the lunch rush.

A few seats are occupied. A doctor is using the private meeting area at the restaurant and requested the light music to be turned a few notches down. Others are sitting in trendy banquette seating, featuring padding that absorbs noise and eliminates an echo.

Sign Up for E-News

Restaurant 2FIFTY4 provides a place of refuge in a hospital setting, providing comfort and satisfied palates.

“The great part about having Restaurant 2FIFTY4, besides a great menu, is that they are able to work within the framework of healthcare workers demanding schedules,” said Diane Negri, manager of admissions and registration at the hospital. “They understand our collective need to step away from our departments and enjoy good food in a pleasant environment.”

That was the vision of Ron Rak, CEO of the Saint Peter’s HealthCare System and Peter Connolly, executive vice president at the hospital. Together, they transformed a ho-hum coffee shop into a sit-down restaurant for the 3,000 employees at the hospital, visitors and others who come by specifically for the food.

To build on the Restaurant 2FIFTY4 experience, hospital officials also upgraded the lobby, with designs similar to what you would see in a boutique hotel. They also enhanced the gift shop, offering items far beyond Mylar balloons and flowers.

In 2009, to capitalize on their vision for the eatery, hospital officials recruited John Serra, who had been in the restaurant business for 26 years.

At the time, Serra said he was semi-retired, moving away from the demanding industry of owning three restaurants: Ginamarie’s in Scotch Plains, Al Dente Ristorante in Piscataway and Lafontana Ristorante in New Brunswick.

But he was intrigued about what could be created at Saint Peter’s.

“We worked as a team on the mission,” said Serra.

Restaurant 2FIFTY4 opened in 2011. It’s mission: To create the type of dining experience you would find in downtown New Brunswick, on such strips as Albany Street. You’ll find fresh produce, ingredients and fresh sauces. You’ll sit in a dining area with soothing earthy colors, drapery and also tables for al fresco dining.

“The restaurant provides a refuge for loved ones who may stay six, seven, eight days to a month at the hospital and doctors and nurses who may need to meet privately with a patient,” said Serra noting that the menu has reasonable prices and regular specials.

Restaurant 2FIFTY4 is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Monday to Friday. On a daily basis, there is the fresh soup of the day. Connolly, who beams with pride over the restaurant, carefully tracks sales, and is always eager to know who many people purchased the daily special.

Serra said the restaurant serves 400 to 600 customers a day, with many customers taking orders to bring home.

An interesting note: Restaurant 2FIFTY4 provided food and refuge for those without power during Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“The hospital was up and running because of generators and people would come here for their meals,” said Serra. “We saw many of those people come back even after Sandy. They were so pleased with the experience.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Edison

Holy Savior Cheerleading Squad Takes Season by 'Storm'

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Holy Savior Academy’s (HSA) ‘Biddy’ Cheerleading Squad, the Storm,  recently completed their 2017-2018 season with a first place win in their division at Cheerfest. Held May 12 at Six Flags Great Adventure, the annual multi-state competition featured teams from throughout New Jersey. 

“This cheer season has been such an ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.

 

Q. When did you join TAPinto.net?

I joined TAPinto.net in September, ...

Annual Immaculate Conception Carnival On Tap

May 23, 2018

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Immaculate Conception will host their annual carnival on June 12 through June 16. The carnival will be open on Tuesday, June 12 through Friday, June 15 from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. and on Saturday, June 16 from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Fireworks will close out the five-day event on June 16.

The Immaculate Conception Summer Carnival is a family-friendly, community event that includes ...

Senator Robert Menendez to Give the Keynote Address to Progressive Grassroots Group

May 23, 2018

Senator Robert Menendez will be the keynote speaker that the Inaugural Gala presented by Action Together New Jersey (ATNJ), the state’s largest progressive grassroots organization.

“I am honored and humbled that Action Together New Jersey asked me to keynote this year’s gala,” Sen. Menendez said. “After a 2016 election that shook many New Jerseyans to their core, ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...