To the Editor:

I'm feeling compelled to write this letter, as the other day, while having lunch with a friend at Pete's Place (Yogoccino) in Berkeley Heights, it saddened me to sit in this great restaurant during lunch time and seeing it completely empty! I chatted with the owner, Steve, and asked what is the going on? Why is this place empty during lunch when the food is delicious, the menu is great and the prices so reasonable. His answer was.... I am not sure!

Steve has been advertising, preparing daily specials, doing a lot inside to improve the looks of his place and yet it's still not crowded! Steve shared with me that he has given it his all and may have to "pack it in" if his business does not improve!

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As I drove home, I looked around at all of the empty places in town. Local parking lots are empty. I could not help but to get choked up! 

Here we have this great place in town, with an owner that always gives back to our  community. Steve is always the first one to step up to donate and be part of many events in town such as Relay for Life, the Concerts in the Park, 5K Runs, and the Rubber Ducky Festival, just to name a few!!!  It's one of the few places where our kids can go and hang out with friends!!!

As a community, we need to support our locals! We need to keep these great businesses in town!!  The last thing we need is more empty buildings!  I realize times have changed and maybe people are not dining out as much -- but if you are --  please support the locals!

There are way too many local businesses leaving and our downtown certainly is beginning to look vacant and none of this is good! Please support all of our local businesses as an empty downtown makes our quaint town look like crap!!!!

Cathy Balsamo