NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The managers of the Heldrich Hotel can’t promise those who come to New Brunswick for a night on the town that the fun will never end. But thanks to their new promotion, it doesn’t have to end early.

Through the hotel’s “Come For Dinner, Stay the Night” promotion, anyone who dines at one of New Brunswick’s myriad bars and restaurants will receive a 10% discount on an overnight stay.

Because the city is an outdoor dining destination for many far and wide who are hungry for, say, a stuffed cheeseburger at Tavern on George or Shrimp Fresca from Salt, the hotel is a natural partner for the restaurants in the city. They go together like a Cali chicken wrap and a cold coconut porter at Harvest Moon Brewery and Café.

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The offer is also open for people who come for events, such as those who take in a show at the Stress Factory Comedy Club.

The promotion stems from a conversation DEVCO Vice President Merissa Buczny had with Doug Schneider, the owner of Tavern on George and the Olive Branch, about a couple who was going to the Stress Factory one night. They were concerned about whether they could have another drink because they were going to have to drive home after the show.

Schneider suggested they stay the night at the Heldrich.

“He talked to them the next day and they said, ‘You know what, that was so worth it because that was less money than we would have paid for Uber back to Red Bank,’” Buczny said.

Friday marks the anniversary of two events that have shaped DEVCO in recent times. One year ago Friday, the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center – a $172 million cultural hub and apartment building – opened. The NBPAC opened with a gala event attended by Mayor Jim Cahill, Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ron Rios and many other officials and featured a night of dancing, singing and other performances.

However, Friday also marks six months since the first positive COVID-19 case diagnosed in New Jersey.

Buczny said the Heldrich was particularly hit hard during the pandemic because so much of its business comes from hosting conventions – and those were halted in the name of social distancing and public health.

DEVCO made the decision to keep the Heldrich open because so many workers from the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and Saint Peter’s University Hospital were staying there.

“These were the front line workers that didn’t want to go back to their families because they were concerned about spreading the virus,” Buczny said. “And we had so many visiting doctors and nurses that had come here just to treat people during the pandemic from other states.

“So, we made the decision – and it was a tough decision because we lost a lot of money – but we decided to stay open so that we could provide a place for those people.”

Now that the pandemic has subsided and the Heldrich and other spaces are allowed to have 25% capacity of each room with a  maximum of 150 people, the hotel is pivoting back to utilizing the 8,000 square foot ballroom on the ground floor and its 15,000 square feet of conference center space on the second floor.

“People are having pause about coming back indoors, but we put together plans throughout the hotel on how to utilize the space in a safe manner,” Buczny said. “So for each of our conference room spaces, we've done layouts and we've done photographs of what it would look like for you to be in our space and everybody to have their own six-foot diameter to work with - how to do it right, how to do it safe and  how to put in the protocols that are required to keep the place clean, and, you know, keep it operating so that people feel comfortable.

“So that's what we've been working on at the hotel for the last few months is really understanding what needs to be done to keep people safe.”