BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - It has been a little over one week since customers were able to enjoy a slice at the counter or a delicious meal in the dining room at Dimaios in Berkeley Heights. Dimaios, like all New Jersey restaurants, have been forced to close their doors to patrons and rely strictly on takeout and delivery orders due to the action taken by Gov. Phil Murphy in the attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.
“We are doing our best to adjust,” said Joe Passalacqua. “We are taking curbside pick up orders by phone. Customers can pay by credit card when their order is placed and when they arrive we will have a staff member outside that will check them in and we will bring their food out to them.” Dimaios also offers delivery through DoorDash. “99% of our menu is available,” added owner, Sal Passalaqua. “We are limiting our regular dine-in specials and keeping to more standard options like tilapia, chicken and shrimp.”
The normal lunch rush has also slowed dramatically since many local businesses are deemed non-essential and have been forced to close. Many of their scheduled parties in their dining room have also been put on hold and many patrons have reached out simply to buy gift cards to support the restaurant during this global crisis. “We are doing the best we can to keep as many of our staff members employed as we can. Many of them have been here for years and are the heart of our business. We have asked our waitstaff to take shifts running our take out, but they are not making nearly what they usually do on tips,’’ Joe said.
Restaurant staff has been regularly sanitizing the kitchen and meticulously wiping down everything delivered from their suppliers. “When a box of food or supplies gets delivered we empty it out, wipe everything down and then bring it inside,” said Sal.
While extremely grateful for the influx of dinner takeout orders, Dimaios is asking customers to be patient with them. “We are experiencing an increased delay because of the safety measures that we have put in place, our new curbside pick up system and the fact that dinner rush is only from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. On Friday, we did 200 orders in two hours. When we say it is going to take 40 minutes for your meal to be ready, it is not because we are taking our time,” lamented Sal.
Dimaios remains open for takeout from 11a.m. to 8 p.m. Sal said, “Our decision to stay open is evaluated every day. The need to consider the health of our family, staff and community continues to weigh heavily on us. If the numbers keep going up, I may need to make adjustments. I ask my staff every day how they are feeling, I just keep checking in. This is a serious situation.”