The rolling farmlands of Gloucester County in June—with hypnotic, wavy parallel lines of planted crop, craggy patches of trees, friendly farm stands, and soaring majestic skies—generate more than enough inspiration to seek out some of the many diners located in the southern reaches of the Garden State. Route 322, from Swedesboro to Williamstown, served as a scenic corridor to enjoy a number of roadside attractions.
Swedesboro Diner, Swedesboro
The impromptu tour began with brunch at the Swedesboro Diner. A delightful golden platter of French toast and bacon set an upbeat tone for the day. The eatery has won numerous “Best Diner of Gloucester County” awards since it opened nine years ago. I had the honor and good fortune to share a meal with my friend Bob (“Bobby”) Roberto, one of New Jersey’s legendary cowboys. Roberto, during a 40-plus year career, has won numerous calf-roping championships throughout the United States, and is a celebrity figure at the nearby Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove, NJ, one of America’s oldest rodeos (established in 1929).
Harrison House Diner, Mullica Hill
As they say in the old Western movies, “Hey cowboy, this town ain’t big enough for the two of us,” so I saddled up my SUV, bid farewell to Bob Roberto and headed east on Route 322. I passed the intersection at Route 45 in Mullica Hill and saluted the Harrison House Diner, a cozy spot where I enjoyed breakfast a year ago.
Angelo’s Diner, Glassboro
I crossed Route 55 and entered the scholarly environs of Glassboro and Rowan University. It felt like a good time for an “On the Road” pie break, so I dropped into Angelo’s Diner, a vintage stainless steel gem built by the Kullman Dining Car Company Inc. during the days when it operated in Harrison, NJ in the 1950s. A slide of blueberry pie topped with whipped cream and more coffee proved to be a good call in order to sustain my motoring momentum.
Geet’s Diner, Williamstown
Pictured at top.
Continuing east, I tracked Route 322 as it did a dipsy-doo in Williamstown and intersected with the Black Horse Pike. I knew it was time for lunch when I saw the glistening monument known as Geet’s Diner. Geet’s is a tale of rebirth on the Garden State diner circuit. The diner closed in 2016 and reopened earlier this year under the new ownership of entrepreneur Sandy Cannon. Following much-needed repairs, Geet’s celebrated a grand reopening on March 24. In addition to its silky smooth remodeled diner area, complete with blue, recessed ceiling lights, Geet’s features a spacious sports lounge. A generous house salad, topped with grilled shrimp, was a lunchtime treat for a Tuesday afternoon.
Just out of curiosity, I Googled information on Route 322. It turns out the road actually begins in Cleveland, near the banks of Lake Erie, goes through Pennsylvania “as the crow flies,” crosses the Delaware River into New Jersey via the Commodore Barry Bridge, then eventually connects with the Black Horse Pike and feeds into Atlantic City. Back in the 1920s it was part of an old auto trail known as the “Lakes-to-Sea” or “Ship-to-Shore” highway.
By most standards, this meandering late-spring diner tour was only a simple jaunt; 40 miles round trip there and back from Swedesboro to Williamstown. But the bucolic Gloucester landscape and stops at three very different diners proved to be nourishment for stomach, soul, body and mind. Philosophically speaking, the reward was the cumulative spirit of the journey rather than any given destination. Maybe I didn’t achieve an enlightened state of Nirvana, but I was fortunate enough to take time out of a busy schedule, stretch out in a beautiful corner of New Jersey, and have brunch with a champion rodeo cowboy, a slice of pie at an eye-catching, classic, factory-built diner, and lunch at a sparkling, reborn landmark.
One final confession and point of interest on this tour: driving west on Route 322, heading for the New Jersey Turnpike for my return trip to the northern half of the state, I succumbed to temptation and stopped at Rosie’s Farm Market. My my—those apple cider donuts were mighty tasty. One box just wasn’t enough. Next time I’ll spring for at least three.
All right, I admit it—along with the donuts, I also brought home a blueberry pie. The pie was just sitting on the shelf in this rustic farm stand and it looked so good. It didn’t last long once the box was opened on my kitchen table. Thanks, Rosie! Thanks, Route 322!
26 N Main St.
Glassboro, NJ 08028
14 N Black Horse Pike
Harrison House Diner
98 N Main St.
Mullica Hill, NJ 08062
Rosie’s Farm Market
317 Swedesboro Rd.
Mullica Hill, NJ
1975 Kings Highway
Swedesboro, NJ 08085