ROXBURY, NJ – Groups and organizations in Roxbury might soon have a new place in town to gather for meetings: Roxbury Diner in Succasunna.

The owners of the eatery on Route 10 are seeking township approval to enlarge the establishment by about 1,800 square feet and use the new area as a multi-purpose room that can accommodate group gatherings.

Also being proposed is a cosmetic rehabilitation of the entire building, “increasing the aesthetic appeal of the commercial use for the community,” according to the proposal, which requires a zoning variance.

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If approved, the project would entail demolishing a house adjacent to the diner’s parking lot, a move that would enable expanding the lot. The house is owned by the diner’s owners and is used as housing for workers.

Ledgewood lawyer Edward Dunne, representing Dontas United, LLC - the diner's owner - said the proposed expansion of the business would provide “a flex space area for various sized meetings of small and/or large groups.” He said Roxbury needs that type of room, asserting. “there is no real place in town that does that.”

Making Room for Growth

In a document provided to the Roxbury Zoning Board, Dunne noted the proposed diner expansion, and demolition of a house to do so, has precedence at the site. The township Planning Board, in 1981, granted approval to a plan that enlarged the diner and its parking lot, something accomplished through the demolition of a house on West Street, he said.

The house currently eyed for removal is in an R-3 residential zone and the diner is in a B-2 highway business zone. Seemingly anticipating questions by the members of the current zoning panel, Dunne stressed “this application is unusual and does not provide a precedent for other applications to expand into the residential zone. This property already has a portion of its accessory parking expanded into the residential district, pursuant to the approval granted in 1981.”

He further asserted that “the uses have co-existed for many years without difficulties” at the site, and that current plans call for planting an “evergreen buffer, pushed back from the road with evergreen trees and shrubs to a substantial depth, which will improve the year-round appearance of this as basically a landscaped and manicured wooded area.”

Once a Humble Hangout

Change is nothing new for the parcel. Before it became The Roxbury Diner, the building was called Victoria Diner. Before that, the site was home to The Little Red Restaurant, a Buxton’s ice cream parlor and the Horseshoe Milk Bar; "just a little cinder block building, with garage doors in the front, where you got ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs," said lifelong Roxbury resident Charles Alpaugh. 

The “Dontas” in Dontas United refers to the Dontas family which bought the Victoria Diner in 2003. The Greece natives had operated a small luncheonette in Fairfield and felt the need for a bigger place, co-owner Jimmy Dontas told TAPinto Roxbury in 2017.

“The Roxbury Diner is a Roxbury Township icon, having been serving members of this community in one form or another for 60 years plus” wrote Dunne in his letter to the zoning board. “It is home to movie-goers, students after school, Sunday morning after church breakfast-goers, business people luncheons and a multitude of routine, repeat community customers.”

He also stressed that the Dontas family members “are well-known for their community involvement and good will” toward Roxbury.

Editor's note: Roxbury Diner is a TAPinto Roxbury sponsor.