The Princeton: 5 things you need to know
1 The Princeton in Avalon opened as a hotel in the late 19th century, became a nightclub in the 1970s and turned into a popular restaurant in 2003. After more than a century on the island, its landmark status is well-established. Couples, families and friends fill tables during the week, and all three rooms are packed to capacity when it becomes a nightlife destination on the weekends.
2 The venue's name really refers to three distinct areas within the same expansive space on the corner of 21st Street and Dune Drive. The Princeton Bar & Grill is the largest, with around 50 tables both indoors and outdoors, two long bars and nine flat-screen TVs. The Rock Room is an open area that's only open during the weekends. It features live bands and has several additional bars. The Circle Tavern is a gastropub with two more bars, another outdoor deck, about 20 tables and six of its own flat-screens.
3 All facets of The Princeton saw upgrades in the past decade. The borough approved serving alcohol outdoors in 2000, while the management started serving food in 2003 and poured money into the decor and appearance. Last year, the owners brought in Terry White, a well-known head chef from Philadelphia, to overhaul their menus as the new executive chef. Over that time, it's completely changed from what used to be considered a dive bar to an upscale destination with a high-energy atmosphere.
4 As every bar should, The Princeton provides free transportation seven days a week. The P-Shuttle will pick you up at your home for free after 5 p.m. if you live in Avalon, Stone Harbor and even parts of Sea Isle City. After 10 p.m. it continuously loops from 20th Street to 80th Street, South Dune Drive to North Ocean Drive and west over the 21st Street bridge. Call 609-641-1117 for pick-up or more info.
5 The bar and club obviously is most popular on weekends, but there are a variety of specials and events to keep people coming throughout the week. There are drink specials between 10 p.m. and midnight on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Wednesdays are both Ladies Night, with $3 champagne drinks for women, and Comedy Night, with $3 Heineken and Amstel beers and comedians throughout the summer.
Music: The venue has live DJs throughout the week, spinning modern hits like Maroon 5's "Moves Like Jagger" and LMFAO's "Party Rock Anthem." On the weekends, a variety of live bands plays everything from Bon Jovi to the Black Eyed Peas.
Vibe: Weeknights are low-key, with people casually chatting at tables or along the bars in both The Princeton Bar & Grill and The Circle Tavern. On the weekends, a primarily younger crowd packs every room to capacity, and The Rock Room is the center of the high-energy atmosphere, with a dressed-up, upscale clientele mingling and dancing.
What They're Saying
Jaclyn Kelly, 26, Havertown, Pa.
"It has a great variety of music. You can dance, jam to live music, listen to throwbacks - it has it all."
Kevin Valdez, 29, Mount Laurel
"It's basically like three bars and clubs all in one place."
What: The Princeton
Where: 2008 Dune Drive, Avalon
Season: Princeton, May to October; Rock Room, Memorial Day to Labor Day; Circle Tavern, year-round
Days/Hours: Circle Tavern and Princeton: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Mondays to Saturdays, noon to 2 a.m. Sundays; Rock Room: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays
Size: 20,000 square feet, three sections
Cover: $10 Fridays and Saturdays, Memorial Day to Labor Day
Dress code: Dressy casual
Drinks: Light beers: $3.50 to $5.50; mixed drinks: $4.50 to $6.50; shots: $3 to $6
Weekly drink specials: Mondays: $3 Miller Lites; Tuesdays: $3 Captain Morgan drinks; Wednesdays: $3 champagne drinks for women, $3 Heinekens and Amstel Lights; Thursdays: $3 Three Olives drinks.
Demographics: All ages, 21 to 40 on weekends
Club owners: Lizanne Tracy and Scott Zurawski
Debuted: 1800s as hotel, 1970s as nightclub, and significantly renovated in 2000s
The Look: The stylish brick building has two outside areas, with a patio on Dune Drive and a deck on 21st Street. Inside, The Circle Tavern has a traditional, hometown pub feel, The Princeton Bar & Grill is a mix of modern American sports bar and upscale restaurant, and The Rock Room is a wide open, no-frills nightclub for the overflowing weekend crowd.
Please remember to always drink responsibly