EAST ORANGE, NJ - East Orange experienced a tremendous loss Monday night with the destruction of the Harris Diner on 21 Park Street in a late night fire. The diner has been in existence over 60 years at its present location, outlasting every other diner in the city. It was a true icon and community jewel.
In an emotional interview with owner Bill Nicholson he remarked, “This was the only diner in the fifties that allowed blacks to sit and eat at the counter. They said my diner would close; and it outlasted them all”. Bill was referring to the plethora of establishments that went out of business over the years, leaving Harris Diner the last diner in the city until Monday.
There is hardly a resident that has lived in East Orange for any significant period of time that doesn’t have a Harris Diner story. While covering the fire scores of people drove up to personally witness the destruction and to share their thoughts and best wishes to the owner and staff.
Bill also indicated that he doubts he will try to rebuild. The diner had inadequate insurance to cover the cost to rebuild.
Over the years, Harris Diner has been the scene for movies and even a popular Tums commercial.