MRM Profile: Turning the Tides–25 Years of Food and Friendship

To celebrate Stage Left’s recent 25th anniversary, co-owners Francis Schott and Mark Pascal rebranded the New Brunswick, NJ-mainstay: Stage Left Steak: A Contemporary American Steakhouse.

"This is a steakhouse with 2017 sensibilities," said Pascal. "We believe that all the philosophies of running an ingredient-driven, seasonal restaurant are ready to take over the last bastion of 'old-school' venues, the steakhouse."

Schott and Pascal met at Rutgers University, bonding over meals of bread, cheese and beer. In May of 1992, they opened Stage Left: An American Cafe  and began serving market-driven, contemporary American cuisine. In 2000, following an expansion and renovation, the name evolved into Stage Left Restaurant. The team also owns and operates Catherine Lombardi situated above Stage Left Steak. The 100-seat restaurant and cocktail lounge was named for Pascal's grandmother and has been serving Brooklyn-Italian style fare since late 2005. Executive Chef James (J.R.) Belt presides over both kitchens. Ricky Stevens is Chef de Cuisine of Stage Left Steak. An online wine shop,, went live in June.

To transform Stage Left, the co-owners brought in Alfano Renovations of Union County, NJ and Dublin, Ireland-based Restless Design for a $200,000-plus remodel of the dining rooms and bar, adding banquettes for a more clubby feel in the bar area, which is still centered by its 1930's vintage bar. As  part of its redesign, the restaurant has returned to using its walls for gallery space.Stage Left Steak
"They were designing from thousands of miles away with only a few site visits," said Schott. "Mike Alfano brought it to life. It was really interesting to watch the job come to life."
In this MRM Profile, the restaurateurs discuss the rebranding, the importance of building relationships and what the future holds.