HACKENSACK, N.J. — Since 1992, The Heritage Diner in the heart of Hackensack’s main drag on River Street — an unassuming, old-fashioned diner that served up American classics from an extensive menu and a full bar around the clock — had been a happy place for regulars. Family members would saunter up the steps of the 24-hour beloved restaurant to indulge their favorite breakfast of two eggs over easy with corned beef hash. A place a father and daughter would congregate every day for brunch following his wife’s passing. A spot that served as a first date that eventually led to an engagement for one couple; and a tried-and-true hangout for a 3 a.m. cheeseburger deluxe after a wild night out painting the town.
A haunt that many patrons called a “second home” and their favorite diner in Bergen County, perhaps the world. But after almost three decades of delivering delicious food and smiles to customers who came in and needed a place to sit and talk or a pick-me-up, The Heritage Diner is bidding its loyal patrons and the Hackensack community adieu and closing its chapter of a very long and rewarding run.
The Heritage Diner made the announcement on Facebook on Sunday, June 28 — coincidentally on what had marked 28 years in business.
“We are sad to announce that today, Sunday, June 28, will be our last day, a fitting date, as this year marked our 28th year in business,” read the post. “Thank you to our customers for your patronage and for becoming both our dear friends and members of our extended family. We have laughed together, cried together, sometimes even managed to have a quick cup of coffee together, as we will never, ever forget you. You were the reason we most enjoyed coming to work every day — nights, overnights, weekends, and holidays. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for a wonderful 28 years.”
According to NorthJersey.com, the owners of the 20-acre property bought out the lease. What was once a cherished meeting place in the so-called “city in motion,” which has numerous areas that are construction sites for luxury, mixed-use high-rise developments for young professionals in addition to senior housing projects, will soon be the site of a $145 million development inclusive of a mixed-use riverfront community comprising 654 residential units plus 18,000 square feet of retail space. The various construction sites scattered throughout the city are emblematic of Hackensack’s revitalization efforts to steer the city into the direction of a modernized residential and shopping destination in years to come.
While The Heritage Diner will be no more, its employees will be relocating to its sister location, The Suburban Diner, located at 172 Route 17 North in Paramus. The self-described “retro stalwart” popular for its sandwiches, burgers and pies that is open on week days and around the clock on weekends, will honor gift certificates that were purchased from Heritage.
Following the announcement, an outpour of support but inevitable sadness came from patrons who left heartfelt comments about their cherished haunt — some of whom were hoping to stop in once in-door dining was once again permitted by the governor amidst the current Covid-19 pandemic.
“Soooo sorry to hear of the closing,” wrote Joan Jouas. “The only place I would eat a hamburger. My sister, brother and I ate there a couple of days a week. Very sad… Was looking forward to reopening so we could have breakfast. Wishing you the best in the future.”
“One day before my wife gave birth, we were celebrating our anniversary in your diner,” wrote Luis Pflucker. “My family and I love your food. So many memories.”
Terese Goodman, another patron, said The Heritage’s fish dinners were the only ones her mother would eat, and had just unearthed a liking for their rice pudding.
Laura Viade said she was “crushed” and said her and her family would stop at this haven during their “darkest of times and happiest of times” and was too looking forward to stopping back in for a salad and milkshake after the state was cleared for in-door dining.
She added that the “warm and friendly staff” is also what made The Heritage Diner so special, along with their seemingly endless palatable offerings.
“You will all be in my memories,” she wrote.
The wait staff felt the same about their valued customers.
Debra DeVuyst, a public servant at the diner, wrote she was unable to express her heartbreak over not being able to see her favorite customers again, and the “smiles and joy” they brought her every day on the job. She also thanked brother-and-sister team, owners Tommy Higgins and Cynthia Karidis for making her feel like a significant part of the team and a friend in need.
“I prayed so hard for this not to happen,” she wrote. “The community is losing a staple of this town. I love you guys, thank you.”
Susan Kelly Glynn, another patron, echoed those sentiments.
“My youngest son is going to be upset when I tell him he won’t be having a grilled cheese deluxe and a side of sausage anymore,” she wrote.
Said Stephen Gargiulo, “Thank you for amazing food and great service! You will be sorely missed!!!”