NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - After the recent towing of cars at the former Bank of America lot behind Prestige Diner in New Providence, a community discussion ensued with close to 300 comments posted to the New Providence and Berkeley Heights Facebook forums to expose and warn the community.
The cars towed were patrons of the Prestige Diner who parked in the vacant lot while dining at the nearby restaurant. Although the lot is private property, many have parked there over the years [and decades] without penalty.
Jeff Ebert, Head Pastor at New Providence Presbyterian Church (NPPC), offered a solution to the parking issue. "Prestige Diner patrons are always welcome to park in the New Providence Presbyterian Church lot across the street (except for Sunday mornings when in-person worship resumes)," Ebert posted on the New Providence Community Facebook page.
Jimmy and Harry Vardas, owners of Prestige Diner said they are beyond grateful to the church. "What the church is doing is tremendous for us," said Jimmy Vardas. "Opening up their parking lot extends a lifeline in the spirit of the holidays and beyond. It signifies the relationship the NPPC has with the entire community and also with the diner."
Ebert said, "We've always been supportive of the local businesses and want to be good neighbors to everybody in the downtown district and throughout the community." He said, before COVID, Prestige Diner was his second office. "I was there three, four times a week for various meetings and meals and things like that."
Vardas describes this gesture of neighborly kindness as a "manna from Heaven. We pledge to reciprocate in kindness and continue to be good partners with the entire New Providence community."
And to all those that posted their support, Jimmy and Harry give a big, heartfelt thank you. "Events like this, as sad as they are, they show to everybody the true spirit and heart of New Providence. We all help each other. And we will always do what is right," said Jimmy Vardas.
Rupa Kale, of New Providence, started a gofundme account to raise funds to reimburse the Vardas brothers for paying the towing company to immediately release their patrons' cars.
"Jimmy and Harry Vardas aren't just a local business but pillars of our community," said Kale. "Time and again they show up and support the Borough and its residents in challenging times. They are considered family and loved by all in New Providence and beyond. That they would pay for their clients' fines speaks volumes of the kind of people they are. Between the pandemic and a fire earlier this year at the restaurant; they have suffered enough and it was important to me that the community show them support."
Kale added, "Of course, in true Jimmy Vardas class, he informed me that all proceeds from the gofundme will be donated to the New Providence Community Service Association."