When it opens in September, Lokal is going to boast killer views of the New York skyline. However, owner Mona Panjwani is confident that the views will be just part of the attraction.
Along with restaurateur Hemant Phul — who created the concept behind Lokal — the duo have completely revamped the former Taphaus space and turned it into a new restaurant and bar that they hope reflects the changing spirit of Jersey City.
“Jersey City is a town of immigrants and we’re all the new locals,” says Phul. As a result, Lokal (German for “local”), will be all about Jersey City. The restaurant will source as many ingredients from New Jersey as it can. Likewise, the cocktail menu will feature local beers and spirits, alongside internationally recognized brands.
Designed by Abraham John Architects, the spacious dining area can accommodate approximately 200 guests. Lokal will also have an indoor lounge section and an outdoor dining patio. (The patio is expected to open next spring).
Tapping into New York talent
Helming the kitchen at Lokal will be executive chef Walter Donadio. Donadio is a Michelin star kitchen trained chef who has worked at a variety of restaurants from Nobu Fifty Seven to Le Cirque. A graduate of the French Culinary Institute (International Culinary Center), Donadio loves combining flavors from different cuisines.
Creating Lokal’s beverage program is mixologist Tess Sawyer. Sawyer has worked at New York’s The Up & Up, Mother’s Ruin, and The Happiest Hour. While neither the food or cocktail menu have been finalized, Panjwani ensures us that both menus will have something for everyone.
A restaurant for special events and every day dinner
Although Lokal will have a special area for private events, Panjwani and Phul emphasize that they want their restaurant to be the kind of place locals can visit for dinner or drinks any night of the week. Everything will be accessible and there will also be a unique happy hour with steep discounts on food, says Phul.
The mission behind Lokal is to showcase the best that Jersey City has to offer and keep locals from crossing the river to dine in New York.
“Jersey City has come a long way,” says Phul. “We’re bringing in quality food and a quality bar program so that you can stay local.”
Lokal is expected to soft open mid-September and will be open Mondays through Fridays for dinner and on weekends for brunch and dinner.