JACKSON TOWNSHIP, NJ – Within the mega-strip mall that is Jackson Crossing was a small 1950s themed diner that Jackson residents of all ages loved, the Jackson Diner. The Jackson Diner was a revival of Main Street Americana, offering up traditional Jersey diner favorites like disco fries, burgers, and pretty much everything else imaginable.
They had a huge menu. Literally, a book when you sit down to order in the mid-twentieth century themed diner that is part diner and part soda/ice cream parlor serving up dessert courtesy of Farley’s Homemade Ice Cream.
Then COVID-19 came. In June of 2020, the Zimmerman family shut the business down amid the Great Lockdown, mandated by Governor Phil Murphy. Diner food isn’t exactly takeout food, so while nearby pizzerias managed and the diner became one of the many small business casualties at the hands of the Murphy lockdown. The Diner had recently celebrated its 12th anniversary on June 1st.
“The Jackson Diner will not reopen under the Zimmermann family ownership. This was a very difficult decision and it is extremely unfortunate,” the family posted on Facebook last June 12th. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the diner, we faced true hardships and had to consider finding a buyer to continue the Jackson diner legacy. We want to thank our loyal customers immensely for all their unconditional support throughout the years. We truly couldn’t have done it without you! We apologize for this news, as we are deeply saddened by this decision as well. We would like to extend a special thank you to the employees, whom we consider family for all of their hard work and dedication. It has been an honor to be a part of the Jackson Community & serve every patron that walked through the doors over the past 12 years, we are truly grateful.”
In December of last year, Vito Cardinale, manager of the Jackson Crossing Plaza posted an advertisement to sell the diner as a turnkey operation.
Everything was for sale. The furniture, the equipment, even the name.
Then it reopened. It came back with little fanfare and if you want to know what has changed, pretty much nothing it all. The new owners apparently use the first page out of the playbook entitled, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
The diner has many of the familiar faces working both the front and back of the house, including the chef and the food is absolutely no different than it was last June when the doors were closed.
It’s the same menu and the same mint candies at the register. When you come back to the Jackson Diner, it’s as if it never closed at all.
The only thing missing of course is the diner’s founding family who built a rock-solid foundation to allow the new owners to continue their legacy.
The Jackson Diner isn’t without competition. There’s the longtime Mug Rack and just this spring, town planners approved the construction of a new JB’s Diner. Jackson is still without a 24-7 diner, like many surrounding towns as neither the Jackson Diner and the Mug Rack offer 24-7 availability.