Editor’s Note: Please check with individual restaurants directly before ordering as their status / serving plans may change from day to day.
Strange days have found us
Strange days have tracked us down
They’re going to destroy
Our casual joys
—The Doors, September 1967
Looking to Survive Virus Fallout, Restaurants and Diners Change Their Approach
Strange days, in the form of COVID-19, a.k.a. coronavirus, have found the Garden State. Those casual joys provided by restaurants and diners throughout New Jersey—good food and friendly community social interaction—have been halted. Governor Phil Murphy, on March 21, reiterated that these public venues close (other than takeout and delivery) “until further notice” as the state hopes to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The rapidly unfolding situation continues to change on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, as businesses cope with the preventative-but-necessary mandates of social distancing and self-isolation. Shuttered restaurants, diners, delicatessens and cafes were allowed to offer takeout service to customers and some were utilizing the delivery services of companies such as DoorDash, UberEats, and Grubhub.
Deliboy Delivery / Lasolas Market
Josh Gryvatz, the head chef and proprietor of Deliboy Delivery / Lasolas Market in Normandy Beach, said Friday, March 20, that he saw the fallout from the coronavirus as a call to action to ramp up his existing homemade food delivery service to customers in Ocean, Monmouth, Middlesex, and Mercer Counties.
As a lad, Gryvatz worked with his parents in the food business. Fifteen years ago his family purchased the Check Rite supermarket on the main drag of Normandy Beach, which was a seasonal business for the summer vacation crowd. Five years ago Josh initiated Deliboy Delivery as a complement to the local market.
“My wife and kids were my first customers,” Gryvatz said. “I’ve found a business niche to provide food to young couples and senior citizens in the area.”
On Saturday, March 21, Deliboy Delivery posted the following on Facebook:
A Note from Chef/Owner, Josh G.:
This is uncharted territory. For as many miles as we’ve put on since we set out on this endeavor nearly five years ago, we never could have imagined we’d end up here. That said, we want to let you know that although the circumstances have changed, our mission has not.
We will continue to fill your refrigerators with homemade food, you feel good about eating, for as along as we’re able. Every precaution will be taken to ensure your, and our safety throughout the process from sourcing to delivery. Should you have any questions or concerns to that end, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Stay well. Stay home. We’re all in this together.
B2 Bistro + Bar
Stephen G. Valentine, managing partner for B2 Bistro + Bar (pictured at top), said his organization opted against doing any take-out or delivery service during this time. He said B2 Bistro + Bar, which has four locations (Red Bank, Point Pleasant Beach, North Brunswick, and West Reading, PA) will donate its inventory of perishable food items to local churches and food banks.
“We have asked all salaried members of our team to take this mandated closing period to focus on our facilities,” Valentine stated. “We will be deep cleaning, sanitizing, completing maintenance projects and fine tuning every aspect of our operations. We have also asked our teams to focus on taking care of their families, their neighbors, and themselves.”
Valentine said B2 Bistro + Bar is offering customers the option of purchasing gift cards via its website and through Rally for Restaurants. “We are offering our holiday season promotion during these difficult times. Buy a $100 gift card and receive a $20 bonus gift certificate.”
“All of our employees and our families have been negatively impacted by this global pandemic,” said Valentine. “We will reopen on the other side of this better than ever. We hope and pray that everybody does. When this crisis is over, and it will end, I anticipate the restaurant industry will be busier than ever. We are all in this together.”
Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint
Curbside pickups for Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint, in Cedar Grove, are happening with the assistance of MyCoffeeHelper, a free-to-download coffee-shop app, and delivery orders can be placed through DoorDash. Gift certificates and shippable items, like bagged coffee beans, also remain options—options that could truly make all the difference.
“With these apps there’s no money exchanging hands and nobody’s handing us a credit card, said owner Dave Fletcher. “We’re leveraging technology to work within the confines of the current public health crisis.”
Keeping the Connections Fresh
All of these spots have loyal followings of regulars who already genuinely miss the in-person experiences they usually take for granted. The bright spot here is the way technology can keep those connections alive and well even during this uncertain time.
Case in point: Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint has come to be known for having a strong presence on social media, and by Thursday, they made excellent use of that element of their business, not once, but twice. The shop held a virtual edition of its widely followed Caffeinated Open Mic Night, with five performers plus their host, comedian Natty Bumpercar, coming together from their homes to keep the music going via Facebook Live. In a Jersey Bites article in January, Fletcher said, “We’ve stumbled on something special.” Businesses like theirs are committed to keeping that something special going throughout this uncharted experience.
Earlier in the day Thursday, Fletcher also broadcast at-home coffee-making tips from head barista Casey Wehr, with beans available for shipment (pictured, at top)—locally or nationally—even with the doors closed.
On the Diner Scene
Diners throughout the Garden State providing take-out service at press time included: the Allwood Diner (Clifton); the Colonial Diner (Lyndhurst); the Double S Diner (Wantage); the Florham Park Diner; the Manville Diner; the Mark Twain Diner (Union); the Montclair Diner; the Montville Diner; the Scotchwood Diner (Scotch Plains); the Silver Coin Diner (Hammonton); the Time to Eat Diner (Bridgewater); the Tom Sawyer Diner (Paramus); and the Vincentown Diner (Southampton). Please check with diners individually as their serving plans may change.
On March 19, this reporter enjoyed a take-out omelet with a side of home fries and wheat toast, from the Montclair Diner, followed by take-out coffee from Java Love, which, while closed for the time being as of Friday, is taking orders for coffee beans and gift cards online. At press time Montclair Diner was offering free delivery and curbside takeout.
The owners of the Broad Street Diner in Keyport, in a heartfelt post on Facebook, expressed concerns about how they would care for their employees in a message whose curbside plan, unfortunately did not last: “…We have started curbside pick-up (service); call in your order and we will bring it out to you when you arrive. Please be safe and thoughtful.”
Max’s Bar & Grill
Jen Maybaum is the third-generation owner of Max’s Bar & Grill in Long Branch. Established in 1928 as a seasonal Jersey Shore establishment by Jen’s grandfather, Mel (“Max”) Maybaum, the popular restaurant was renovated in 2017 for year-round operations, to keep pace with the economic revitalization of Long Branch. Max’s Bar & Grill is best known for its signature hot dogs (such as the lobster-topped “Surf and Turf” wiener) and offers a full menu of burgers, wings, and craft beers.
“We’re dealing with the situation as best we can,” Maybaum said, adding that her focus is strictly on the here and now, dealing with the current impact of the coronavirus. When asked to consider how business might pan out during the “high season” of the Jersey Shore’s summer months, she replied, “I don’t even want to think about it.”
Ryan DePersio, the celebrated chef and owner at the upscale Fascino restaurant in Montclair, spoke out in a Facebook video posted on March 14, saying he was personally making deliveries to support the restaurant’s takeout service. “We, as a culinary family, need your support. We have thin margins and employees that live day-to-day off their hourly wages. We take all the necessary precautions for cleanliness and now we’re taking it to another level for your safety.”
While even the deliveries, takeouts, and pickups seem to be coming to a halt for now, let’s do what we can in all of these restaurants’ communities to try to keep them afloat and positioned for strong returns as soon as the coast is clear. If there’s a place you KNOW you’ll be going to as soon as all of this is over, consider ordering a gift card now to use later. You can do it through their own site, or use Rally for Restaurants, which you can read about here. For some of these places, it could really make all the difference.
B2 Bistro + Bar
709 Arnold Avenue
Point Pleasant Beach, NJ
Broad Street Diner
83 Broad Street
Keyport, NJ 07735
Cedar Bean’s Coffee Joint
575 Pompton Avenue
Cedar Grove, NJ
Deliboy Delivery/Lasolas Market
3591 Highway 35
Normandy Beach, NJ 08739
331 Bloomfield Avenue
244 Bellevue Ave and 49 Church Street
Max’s Bar & Grill
25 Matilda Terrace
Long Branch, NJ
613 Valley Road