BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ -- Host Stephanie Willoughby caught up with Ralph Acquaviva, Owner of Delicious Heights, a restaurant/bar/takeout establishment, to see how he has managed his business during the COVID-19 pandemic and learn about the initiatives he has established to continue meeting his customers’ needs.
“My dream was always to open up a restaurant,” said Acquaviva. After working in the restaurant industry in New York and Jersey City as a young adult, Acquaviva opened Delicious Heights, first as a takeout establishment focusing on restaurant-quality food, positioning himself as an alternative to pizzerias and Chinese takeout. He has since expanded to two other locations, in Basking Ridge and Bedminster, and has created a full restaurant experience, along with retaining the takeout side of his business. Acquaviva described the vibe of Delicious Heights as the “local bar and grill.”
When the coronavirus outbreak arrived in New Jersey in mid-March, initially, Acquaviva closed his restaurants for safety’s sake, keeping in mind the older members of his family. Also, expectations back then were different as to how long lockdowns would last. “I was thinking in my head: this is going to be a two-week snowday,” he said.
However, as the outbreak became a pandemic, New Jersey declared a state of emergency and stay-at-home orders were extended. Acquaviva soon began receiving messages from customers asking him to reopen, saying that he was needed. And so he decided to do so, as he was deemed an essential business, although “at first it was nerve-wracking,” he said, “but as we’re riding this out, it’s getting a little easier.”
Acquaviva also started a “mobile market” with social-distanced service. He loaded up a refrigerated van with prepared meals, as well as packaged food and grocery items, drove it to the community and stopped in different neighborhoods. People were able to place online orders in advance for items that were often hard to find in stores and pick them up from the mobile market. “The town’s looking out for me,” he said, “so I want to look out for the town.”
Future plans for Delicious Heights include possibly converting their banquet space in Bedminster into an á la carte service that Acquaviva predicts will be much in demand going forward. In the meantime, Delicious Heights is “waiting for the governor to tell us to turn on, and we can turn back on,” he said.
To read more about Delicious Heights and their mobile market, visit them online at www. deliciousheights.com.