185-acre work-life campus welcomes three accomplished chefs to further enhance its growing dining scene 

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The Connell Company, the developer behind the premier work-life campus, announced three prominent additions to the culinary team at The Park in Berkeley Heights, N.J. 

The culinary team will be led by Brian Bistrong, Corporate Executive Chef at The Park and Culinary Program Director of The Park’s catering and events hospitality group, Table & Banter. Also joining the Table & Banter team is Ashley Davis as Director of Pastry & Baking. Louis Bayla will serve as the Executive Chef for Grain & Cane Bar & Table, The Park’s on-site premier restaurant featuring traditional American fare using fresh, regional ingredients. 

Sign Up for Mountainside Newsletter
Our newsletter delivers the local news that you can trust.

Together, the trio brings decades of experience working with world-renowned chefs in the esteemed New York City dining scene. 

Now in the midst of a $400-million redevelopment, The Park - formerly known as Connell Corporate Park - is transforming into a 185-acre mixed-use campus, delivering a newly imagined workplace solution to the traditional multi-tenanted office complex. Taking cues from West Coast-based tech firms and their respective corporate campuses, The Park’s new culinary offerings will be complemented by new and upgraded design, operations, wellness features and shared amenities. The newly reinvented Park also leverages a “collegiate campus” approach to working by offering all its tenants’ access to shared amenities and services, including indoor and outdoor workspaces, gyms, game rooms, fitness instructors, nutritionists, wellness services, on-site healthcare, and elevated and convenient culinary offerings. 

“The Connell Company is carefully curating The Park to be more than a place to sit behind a desk for eight hours every day. Instead, we’re working to transform the property into an inclusive activated campus that offers a more fulfilling and productive alternative to working from home,” said Shane Connell, executive vice president of The Connell Company. “I’m incredibly excited to welcome Brian, Ashley, and Louis to our hospitality team, and I look forward to their unique contributions to the world-class dining experiences we’re creating here at The Park.” 

The goal of The Park’s hospitality team is to provide tenants with first class services, amenities and culinary offerings that are unique to the workplace, increasing the appeal of The Park and its work-life philosophy. The new culinary team will also support The Park’s forthcoming destination restaurant and entertainment concepts — part of the campus’ ambitious expansion plans that also include retail and residential uses. When complete, The Park will be a suburban campus that provides cuisine, services and amenities on par with similar offerings in nearby New York City.  

“At The Park, our culinary approach prioritizes health and wellness and the inherent belief that food experiences are an opportunity to help people create lasting memories, share connections and ultimately lead healthier, happier lives,” said Brian Bistrong, corporate executive chef and culinary program director, Table & Banter Hospitality Group. “I’m eager and excited to work alongside Ashley, Louis, and the other team members at The Park, combining our shared passion for fresh, locally sourced ingredients and high-end cuisine to bring first-rate fine dining to Berkeley Heights.” 

A veteran of the New York City dining scene, Bistrong brings a wealth of culinary knowledge, experience, and passion to The Park’s burgeoning community. Previously, Bistrong worked alongside celebrated chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, David Bouley, Gray Kunz, and Bernard Loiseau. He now brings his culinary expertise to the suburbs of New Jersey, which marks a return to his roots having grown up in rural New Jersey. 

Working closely with Bistrong as director of pastry and baking for Table & Banter, Ashley Davis previously served as pastry chef for Dean & DeLuca, one of New York City’s best-known gourmet markets. While there she was responsible for developing all menu and holiday specialty items and creating unique treats for their signature pastry line. Ashley will now bring those same pastry and dessert options to The Park’s workplace dining facilities, restaurant concepts and catering services, further enhancing the daily dining experiences at The Park. 

Stepping into the role of executive chef for Grain & Cane, Louis Bayla leverages years of experience working in Manhattan’s dining scene, including at Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern, and as executive sous chef at Andrew Carmellini’s TriBeCa-based Italian restaurant, Locanda Verde. At Grain & Cane, Bayla will be responsible for menu curation with a focus on seasonality and ingredient-driven courses. Bayla will also partner with regional farmers and suppliers to source fresh ingredients that best showcase New Jersey’s plentiful variety of quality produce. 

The Table & Banter team is responsible for changing the dining experiences at the workplace, and is developing an expanded roster of dining options to service The Park’s workplaces. These new options include The Counter Marketplace, a high-quality office dining concept that includes pre-order and easy grab-and-go meals; an elevated food hall-style café providing hot and cold breakfast as well as lunch options; and RT Fresh, The Park’s exclusive customizable meal plan service, offering convenient on-site and to-go options. 

“At The Park, we take pride in being able to elevate the experiences across our entire campus, including all of our dining options,” said Steve Kilroy, Connell’s senior vice president of hospitality and marketing. “Whether you’re grabbing a meal to take home to the family at The Counter Marketplace, or sitting down at Grain & Cane for a relaxing dinner — we’re curating high-end, thoughtful menus that reflect both our appreciation for fine dining and the fresh ingredients made available thanks to our regional farmers and artisans.” 

Future plans to expand the dining scene at The Park include new additions such as a Southern California-style taco stand, a brewery and a beer garden with rooftop event space, and a 1950s-inspired hamburger restaurant, adjacent to The Park’s new interactive dog park. In addition to dining, The Park plans to add a residential component, which will be known as The District, along with entertainment retail, outdoor parks and athletic fields.

The Park, which is set on a forested campus just 30 minutes from Manhattan, features 1.5 million square feet of premier Class A office and flexible workspaces and is home to marquee companies such as L’Oreal, Bristol-Myers, and Samsung. The Park’s sprawling campus also features a 176-room Embassy Suites; bespoke fitness and health amenities, and a Life Time Fitness; programmed green spaces for active and passive recreation and Round Table Studios — a 40,000-square-foot social club and coworking space that offers a curated selection of thoughtfully designed workstations, pre-built private offices, and community spaces.

The Park is in the middle of its phased upgrade plan, with its final completion slated for 2023. For more information, visit https://theparkatnj.com/.

About The Connell Company

The Connell Company, founded in 1926, is one of the largest diversified, privately-held corporations in the United States. Over nearly a century in business, Connell has evolved from a commodities-based business to a real estate and finance based firm. Since its inception, four generations of the Connell family have owned and directed the organization.

Its newest and most ambitious project to date is The Park, a self-contained connected community 30 minutes from Manhattan in Berkeley Heights, N.J. Situated on a walkable, 185-acre campus with a 176-room Embassy Suites Hotel and a 112,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness center, The Park features over 1.5 million square feet of Premier Class A offices, flexible workspaces and collaborative lounges all anchored by a hospitality, culinary and wellness culture.

In 2022, The Park will add 328 apartments and 85,000 square feet of restaurants and entertainment retail, solidifying the campus’s status as the most vibrant live/work/play/learn destination in the Northeast.