EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ -   The new Metro Diner on Route 18 South in East Brunswick may be the first diner in this "Southern hospitality" chain to put down roots in New Jersey, but owners Mike and Jennifer Killeen have already made lots of friends in the community.  This past weekend, during a "soft" (practice) opening, the Killeens hosted a fundraiser for two charities, raising $13,500.  Guests paid what they wanted for their meals to representatives of the East Brunswick Elks Lodge and were served gigantic portions of comfort food, served by 150 new hires, assisted by their experienced trainers.  Some staff are people with special needs who are joined by their job coaches.

Denise Brucato of the EB Elks was pleased to announce that, through the efforts and cooperation of her team of volunteers and the Metro Diner staff, that the $13,500, collected over three days of munching at the location, would be split between two charities.

Half of the amount would go to New Jersey Elks Camp Moore. Tucked away in the Ramapo Mountains, Elks Camp Moore offers a fun-filled vacation away from home for children with special needs. A week at Elks Camp Moore is a remarkable experience not soon to be forgotten. The primary goal of the camp is to further develop the recreational and social skills of each child. In a relaxed and accepting atmosphere, each camper experiences new adventures, lasting friendships, and opportunities that promote independence and greater self-confidence. (website)

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The rest of the funds raised will be presented to Rebuilding Warriors. Rebuilding Warriors provides highly trained and socialized Service/Companion Dogs to Veterans diagnosed as Amputees as well as those with PTSD, (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). Most dogs are bred especially for this mission and have a highly sought-after demeanor. They provide these dogs to Honorably Discharged Veterans from any branch of the Armed Forces or from any service era meeting the eligibility standards.

Brucato was pleased to announce that the Elks were close to being able to sponsor two dogs to support veterans with needs, hoping to name them "Elk" and "Metro."  "These dogs have not even been born yet, but we love them already," said Brucato.

The diner was packed for the three-day event, with locals munching on specialties like waffles and chicken pot pie.  Trainers had come from other locations - the closest is in Bensalem, PA - to help this new location get off the ground.  The air was full of chatter and excitement, as eager-to-please servers rolled out some heart favorites.

On Tuesday, Mayor Cohen and Council Members Sullivan, Stanley, Wendell, and McEvoy were there for the official ribbon-cutting.  Cohen noted that the location was near the proposed East Brunswick Redevelopment Zone and was another sign of growth on Route !8.

Said Jen Killen, "It has been great to see the high level of excitement in this tight-knit community here in East Brunswick."