Blawenburg Cafe Reopens as Blawenburg Bistro
By Barbara A. Preston l June 1, 2021
After what seems like years of suspense, the charming historic property at the corner of The Great Road and Route 518 has a new owner, and a new bistro. Jennifer Cifelli, who worked as a music and Spanish teacher for 10 years in Greenbrook Township and two years in Franklin, took control of the building, which originally served as Judge Cornelius Stryker’s Store from 1830 through the 1860s.
Cifelli is not new to the hospitality industry. Her husband, John Cifelli, is the general manager of Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes. John also held management roles at The Stockton Inn.
They met as students at Rutgers. He was in the glee club, she played violin. Their daughter, Easton, 6, is named after the avenue in that noisy college town, on the banks of the old Raritan. They also have a son, Michael, 3.
While bottles of Unionville wines will be sold in The Blawenburg Bistro, the restaurant is Jennifer’s gig. She is the chef, manager, and owner of the space. “I can’t believe it’s mine,” she says, during a recent interview with The Montgomery News. While some kids watched cartoons, Jennifer says she watched cooking shows instead.
She grew up in Warren Township, and her father was the cook in her family. She considered majoring in food science at Rutgers. “But I knew I wanted to have a family, “she says, noting that cooks work weekends, holidays, and evenings. That would not be conducive to having a family.
The bistro, serving breakfast and lunch, still gives her time to spend with her kids, she adds. She especially treasures the history of the building, and displays it proudly via black and white photographs on the walls.
“The Montgomery News was once in this building,” she says, always the teacher! This, in fact, was news to The Montgomery News editor.
Most exciting, though, is her plan for the place. She plans to sell dinners as well as a take-out service for the busy teachers right down the road at Montgomery High School, and for business people in the community. She knows how busy life can be, and how tough it can be to pull dinner together after a long day of work. Offering it on a take-out basis still keeps her evenings free for her family.
Article continues after ad from our sponsor.
She says the popular items on her menu right now are curried chicken, salmon, and pasta salad. Already positive reviews are popping up on Google: “An absolutely adorable bistro with an amazing staff that has attention to detail and customer needs that’s more than happy to share how the food is prepared and the ingredients,” writes Victor Tarassov. “You can tell they have a passion and love for what they’re doing by the way the food is prepared.”
Menu items include brie with fig panini, hummus cucumber tomato wrap, turkey sandwich with truffle-seasoned potato chips; salads; and more. There is also pleasant outdoor seating. For those in need of their java fix, the bistro will soon add an iced coffee and espresso machine. (Dinner and homemade ice cream service will begin sometime in June.)
391 Co Rd 518
Skillman, NJ 08558
M-F: 7 am to 2:30 pm
S-S: 8 am to 2:30 pm