WESTFIELD, NJ — A shining chrome exterior, booths and a bar-like countertop, Vicki’s Diner is a quintessential New Jersey diner.
And thanks to generosity of its customers, it is here to stay.
Helen Rentoulis, 55, along with her husband, Peter, 60, have owned and operated the diner for 21 years. When the prolonged closure of the restaurant during the pandemic put it at risk of closing, its customers stepped up, donating to a GoFundMe that has netted $39,690 — surpassing its $25,000 goal.
“We’re humbled, completely humbled and gratefeful,” said Helen Rentoulis, in an interview with TAPinto Westfield. “I don’t even know the words to use. This is life changing for us. It really has helped a lot.”
Patricia Steckler, a regular at the diner, had started the online fundraiser last month when she learned that the longtime restaurant might not make it through the pandemic.
“Let’s help them with financial support to show how grateful we are to them,” Steckler then wrote. “And to keep Vicki's going, as a vital institution in our town.”
Vicki’s Diner is among a series of business to suffer during the pandemic. Just across the street, the 116-year-old chocolatier, Brummer’s Homemade Chocolate’s, closed permanently earlier this year. The owners of Lions Roar Brewing Co., which before the pandemic had confidently been readying to open, last month expressed concerns that funding could put those plans in jeopardy. And in August, Lord & Taylor — a longtime draw to the downtown — began liquidating its merchandise as the chain closed stores across the nation.
Helen Rentoulis is grateful for the community support.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude at how much the community reached out to us during this difficult time,” she said. “We thank you, and we love our community.”
Email: Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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