LIVINGSTON, NJ — The passage of new legislation in 2019 has enabled Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, located at 68 Old Short Hills Road in Livingston, to open a new café on the premises.
In addition to the on-site café, the chapel's patrons can also now take advantage of a food service that provides snacks, breakfast or lunch to mourners in the course of a busy schedule.
All of this became possible after New Jersey legislators signed a new law eliminating a ban on consuming food and beverages in funeral homes.
"Funeral homes can offer food and beverage in their funeral home, or you can take it with you," said Louis Urban, managing director of Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman. "We advertise that we can serve a continental breakfast that can be eaten in the funeral home, or box lunches to be distributed to attendees to take in their cars or limos."
Urban added that the funeral home began offering this additional service in February and has "converted a space in the main level into a kitchen café."
Shortly after the law went into effect last summer, Bernheim-Apter-Kreitzman went about adapting to the change so that it could offer this in-demand service for its patrons and visitors.
"The whole thing took us about three months for the layout, new appliances, counters and tables, to renovate the area," said Urban. "I wasn’t intending to do anything until it became legal, but we lobbied along with many other funeral homes to get the legislature passed."
In addition to having the capacity now to prepare and serve light food after a service, Urban said that the chapel can also accommodate families who may have traveled some distance to sit Shiva.
"We can offer our facility for Shiva in the evening because we can serve food, and that is an integral part of Shiva," said Urban. "Let's say a family flies in from Florida. If they have no place to observe Shiva, they might have to rent space in a hotel or a banquet hall at great expense to themselves. But if they arrange a funeral with us, we can offer our space for more reasonable pricing."
According to Urban, the response has been overwhelmingly favorable.
"People enjoy the early morning breakfast, and they are really enjoying the option of a box lunch," he said. "People may be driving their cars an hour or so often over what is normally their lunch period. Now, everybody feels like they are being catered to for traveling during meal time."