WESTFIELD, NJ — For 21 years Vicki’s Diner on East Broad Street has been a staple of Downtown Westfield, and now its customers are hoping to make sure that it stays.

When customers learned the diner might not make it through the pandemic, they pitched in with an online fundraiser that as of Friday morning had raised $15,689 for the restaurant struggling to make it through COVID-19.

“They have depleted their savings in order to pay their staff and cover their diner expenses,” writes Patricia Steckler, on the GoFundme page. “Let’s help them with financial support to show how grateful we are to them. And to keep Vicki's going, as a vital institution in our town.”

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Helen Rentoulis, 55, along with her husband, Peter, 60, have owned and operated the diner since its start in Westfield. The pandemic has made that task even more difficult, which is why the couple is grateful for the community support.

“The challenges are keeping our staff intact and paying our overhead,” Helen Rentoulis said. “It’s been very difficult. Beautiful customers reached out and put that [fundraiser] up, and I’ve never felt so blessed in my life.”

Helen Rentoulis, who lives with her husband in Mountainside, said they give back to the community when they can, including recently helping to provide meals for seniors.

On Friday, the couple had something else to also be thankful for: the ability to open for indoor dining at 25% capacity, following Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order.

“Today is our first day opening inside at 25%, so we’re 25% happier today,” Helen Rentoulis said. “We have many things to be thankful for.”

Click here to visit the GoFundMe page.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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