A Fond Farewell to the Egg Platter in Paterson

The Egg Platter

Considering the occasion, if the legendary American folk singer and balladeer Woody Guthrie was still alive and kicking today (he died on October 3, 1967), it would be more than appropriate to request a few verses from his classic tune “So Long, It’s Been Good to Know Yuh.”

Steven Kolovos (left) and Tom Philis

There was a sentimental gathering of patrons in the early morning hours of Memorial Day at the Egg Platter, located on the Paterson side of Crooks Avenue. The 21 egg plate varieties, along with all the other comfort-food items on the menu, will come to an end on May 31, when the Egg Platter turns off its lights for the last time. Local news stories reported the site would be developed as a multi-use building, and that the diner would be removed. The diner’s demise had been under discussion in the press for more than a year, given the plans to redevelop the property.

The fate of the brave, little stainless steel diner, built about 70 years ago by Master Diners of Pequannock, is uncertain. There was hopeful speculation the diner car somehow would land at the Paterson Museum, but at first glance this seemed like an unlikely scenario, given the costs and logistics needed to move the prefabricated structure. If razed, the Garden State would lose one more vintage, golden-age beanery—another piece of Jersey Americana history and culture that, sadly, would land on the proverbial scrap heap.

The Egg Platter is a first cousin to the popular Bendix Diner, located in Hasbrouck Heights, at the intersection of Routes 17 and 46. Master also built the Bendix, which is larger than the Egg Platter but shares similar design features. The Egg Platter originally was known as Geier’s City Line Diner—a reference to its spot on Crooks Avenue, the boundary line between Paterson and Clifton.

Throughout the morning, partners Steven Kolovos and Tom Philis remained stoic, steadfast and faithful at the grill, turning out eggs, pancakes, French toast, corned-beef hash, potatoes and bacon for patrons who were on hand for their final meals. They’ve operated the Egg Platter since 1977. After 40 years of business and customer service, the duo, wearing melancholy smiles, seemed resigned to the diner’s fate.

This reporter stopped in at 7 a.m. and ordered two eggs over easy with bacon, just for old time’s sake. Customers chattered, eggs sizzled, waitresses smiled, coffee flowed, and silverware and dishes clinked—inviting, reassuring diner sights and sounds that soon would disappear. Nevertheless, despite the gloomy undercurrents within the cozy confines of the diner, a convivial atmosphere persisted. It was a reflective, nostalgic moment for a quorum of wayfarers to reminisce about their memories of the Egg Platter, which they described as the perfect place to land after a night of carousing during their wild and crazy younger days.

Eggs over easy with bacon; toasted bagel on the side

Diners are more than just places to eat. Food is only half the meal. They’re part of the Jersey landscape, language, attitude, culture, spirit, and DNA. This was evident even as the Egg Platter counted down its final hours.

“Lest we forget,” Memorial Day, originally known as Decoration Day, is a solemn national remembrance to honor fallen heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the Armed Forces. But on this particular Memorial Day, at the corner of Getty and Crooks avenues, there was a brief, respectful digression, a breakfast gathering of firemen, tourist, diner fans, shutter bugs, well-wishers, local residents and loyal customers, all of whom turned out to bid farewell to the Egg Platter.

OK Woody—one more time:
So long, it’s been good to know yuh
So long, it’s been good to know yuh
So long, it’s been good to know yuh
What a long time since I’ve been home
And I got to be driftin’ along.