Throughout Major League Baseball, the number 42 is retired in remembrance of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball. Having your uniform number retired is an honor that marks the significant contributions of an individual by taking their uniform number out of circulation in rememberance of them. At the Mate’s Inn, the restaurant has decided to retire the red hat and take it out of commission in honor of Crockett, the head waiter who recently transitioned out of the program.

Crockett with the red hat.

Crockett is an individual who recently moved on from Mate’s Inn and will look for employment in the food services industry upon becoming a returning citizen. He additionally is looking towards achieving his degree in the culinary arts from Mercer County Community College after receiving the recommendation from one of the patrons. From starting in the dish room a little over seven months ago, Crockett made a meteoric rise up the ranks to head waiter due to his warm and outgoing personality. In his relatively short time in this position he became one of the most beloved members of the Mate’s Inn and became a favorite of many patrons including the Mayor and Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver.

As Crockett’s red hat leaves circulation on his way to the Mate’s Inn version of Cooperstown, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, it is worth noting that Crockett was no diamond in the rough, but rather a team full of all-stars on a championship caliber culinary team at the Mate’s Inn.

The Mate’s Inn is operated under the New Jersey Department of Corrections under their Instructional Trade Institute which provides job and skills training for incarcerated individuals reentering society in the next year or two. With food services being the number one industry for hiring returning citizens, creating the Mate’s Inn has been a grand slam.

Since 2000, the Mate’s Inn has been a full fledged restaurant located at the DOC on 1300 Stuyvesant Avenue in Trenton. Currently boasting an all-star lineup of eight individuals, this restaurant provides real world experience and on the job training for individuals participating and some of the best yet affordable meals for patrons and others.

While participating in this program, individuals learn the ins and outs of working in a kitchen rotating through every station possible including dish washing, baking, fish, meat, and of course, being a waiter. What is rather remarkable is that even those most individuals have little or no prior experience working in a kitchen, this is no minor league team as in a short time the top-notch training provided by the staff including Chefs Dora Dunn and Dan has made this roster as formidable as the Cincinnati Reds’ Big Red Machine in the 1970’s.

In addition to Crockett there are many other notable individuals working at the Mate’s Inn. One of those individuals is Taron Fisher who has been involved for 2 months and has gained valuable skills including how to make mushroom soup, which he admits to never have tasting it before but recommends everyone to come out and try it.

Chris preparing one of his signature cheese steaks.

As in baseball, no pitching staff is complete without their ace, serving batters a wide variety of either lethal fastballs, Bugs Bunny change-ups, or sliders that simply fall off the table. The ace in the Mate’s Inn’s rotation is currently their Head Chef Chris who is serving patrons the most delicious cheese steaks in the region. You no longer have to travel to Philadelphia for a great cheese steak as you can instead head over to the Mate’s Inn to check out this top prospect’s cheese steaks that will soon become as legendary as Mariano Rivera’s cutter.

The Mate’s Inn serves is open to the public every weekday from 11:30am to 1:30pm with options to eat-in at their luxurious seating area which is perfect for that lunch meeting to catch up with an old friend to relax during a stressful day, or to take-out. The restaurant also features a rotating menu with new entrees and desserts being served up every month. In addition to their normal lunch menus, the Mate’s Inn hosts many signature events including celebrations for Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day which are usually packed and open to the public.

The restaurant is also known for their large amount of catering at incredibly affordable prices including for Homefront three days a week and for numerous State entities and events including the DOC Commissioner’s annual picnic.

The next time you are looking for a major league level meal at just a minor league level price, head over to the Mate’s Inn located at 1300 Stuyvesant Avenue. To learn more or to order in advance give them a call at 609-292-4036 x 5261 or email Priscilla.Devine@doc.nj.gov, Dora.Dunn@doc.nj.gov, or Stephen.D.Villari@doc.nj.gov.