MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ - Families worked together to make Echo Tap and Grille a reality and now other families sit down for lunch and dinner regularly at this new eclectic eatery on Route 22 in Mountainside. It's a family affair through and through. But, it's also a happy hour haven and formidable business lunch destination.

Veteran diner owners and brothers, Peter Dedes and Nick Dedes, Sr., know a thing or two about the restaurant business. Having emigrated from Greece in the 1960's, they have been perfecting the art of serving Union County customers for some time.

The brothers were partners at the nearby Union Plaza Diner for forty years, where Nick Sr.'s son, Nick Jr. also learned the restaurant ropes, as well as Francisco Mejia. Mejia came to the United States from El Salvador in 1990 and worked at the Union Plaza Diner from the very beginning of his time in this country. Over the next 20+ years, Mejia earned the top spot in the kitchen and became a trusted partner and a member of the Dedes family.

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Now the four men own Echo Tap and Grille together. 

To be exact, the restaurant is 8,000 square foot, and one big labor of love. According to Nick Jr., "To be quite honest, our first ambitions were to not build it completely from the ground up. It’s an extremely difficult process to undertake, especially within three years of Nick Sr. and Pete retiring from the restaurant business. We explored other business ideas for the property, and with time, we realized that what these large families knew best was the food and service industry. We believe it's important to stay true to one's self - our strengths and passions."

With so many other restaurant and pub options along the busy Route 22 corridor, one would think, how could there possibly be a market for one more. However, from the moment you step into the Echo Tap and Grille, it certainly gives off a different vibe. 

Nick Jr. adds, "While Route 22 is served by many quality restaurants, fast-food chains and shops, we looked at the stretch of highway surrounding our current site and saw both a need and an opportunity to build something special: a vibrant and inviting place where people could gather for a beer or a meal among friends."

In keeping with the family theme, Nick Jr.'s sister Stephanie, the owner of an interior design firm, and her husband Adam, lent their expertise to the decor. Stephanie adds, "We wanted to venture out and explore a new concept by designing the restaurant ourselves, alongside with my firm. The combination of materials, textures, layouts, and vistas suggest that the environment was inspired by wild stimuli; yet these elements were woven together to compliment one another. The decor hearkens between NYC/Brooklyn, heavy industry. We trust it’s a space that will leave an impression on each patron who walks through our doors."

Of course the ambience matters but what matters even more is the food and the owners know that, having worked through the menu options before opening, many times. Nick Jr. explains, "When it came time to design a menu, our ambitions were threefold: create dishes that delight, celebrate the diversity of the local population as well as the modern restaurant, and provide just enough choices that entice you to try something new."

Under the same roof you can feast on inspired BBQ ribs, crispy brick oven pizza, Mediterranean-inspired calamari, eclectic salads as well as a unique Mexican specialty that according to the owners has already drawn rave reviews from their clientele. Along with an extensive cocktail list, drinks served in mason jars and 24 draft beers, there seems to be something for everyone. 

Since opening just about a month ago, the place has been steadily busy and the owners introduced a separate lunch menu. They are also considering live entertainment options as well.  

Echo Tap and Grille is open daily from 11:00 a.m. and you can sign up on their website for e-news to keep yourself updated on what's happening.