The new "covered roadway" tunnel which is part of the 42/295 reconstruction project has been in action for several weeks, with 42N-295N traffic routed through it. This weekend the second phase of the tunnel redirection went live, with the 76E (traffic from Philly) which is heading to 295N, also moving through the tunnel. There were some commuter concerns with how lanes merged before the tunnel and would the two additional 76E lanes "fit" into the tunnel.. well NJDOT surprises us all as they do fit FIVE lanes in the tunnel. But watch out for the right side lane merge AFTER the tunnel.
As reported a few days ago, the Brooklawn Diner has reopened after several years closed, after what feels like a long remodeling period. We’ve all noticed how beautiful the outside is, and after a visit this morning… 42Freeway can say the inside is just as awesome.
The core layout of the diner is still there, with some reasonable and also surprising changes.
The diner has new owners… no affiliation to the prior owners, so you should look at the new Broolawn Diner as just that.. completely new!
(For more info on the owners and what happened with the prior owners, check this Cleary’s Notebook post)
Update on 24hrs: They originally planned on 24hr opening, and still do… But for right now they want to focus on getting the first 2 shifts right before adding a third. They were happily overwhelmed by the volume of customers!
So specific to the interior changes.
First thing you notice, is that EVERYTHING is new. It seems that every surface in the diner has been replaced, including the kitchen.
The second thing you’ll notice is how bright everything is. Brighter floors, fixtures and… wow, where is all that extra light coming from?
Warm yourself by the fire
When you first enter you’ll notice that the cashier stand and counter are in the same place. Yes its all the same?
But turning left to the room that used to house the fireplace you’ll notice.. wait, there is no fireplace!
Not only is the fireplace gone, but the entire wall is now a consistent row of glass! Remember how before it was just a dark wall with the big fireplace in the middle? All gone, opened up, and BRIGHT.
Its strange and neat to sit there and be able to see the train bridge! When the road floods or a truck hits the bridge, this will be a great vantage point
Also, because the new diner doesn’t have a liquor license, the small bar area is gone.
Today that room is surrounded by booths along the perimeter, with chrome edged tables and chairs in the middle. The theme of this room is a fun and festive 50s soda shop diner.
The contrast from the old darker walls, dark carpeting… to now having checkered flooring and so much natural light, is very striking.
Wasn’t there a room over there…?
Another distinctive change is they have closed off the back dining area! Many wont notice it is gone. Management tells me that the kitchen is slightly bigger but the main use of the space is for offices and storage. So yes, there is less room for seating and looking at the number of tables in the remaining portion, it seems there are fewer than before. less dense which is probably a good thing. But the addition of booths may offset that.
The main front diner
The main front diner area is set-up with the same floorplan as before, but everything is new. Floors, booths, counter, and counter stools. I sat at the counter and found the chairs very comfortable. One of the other area diners have their chairs much to close to the counter wall and my legs don’t fit, but Brooklawn’s set-up is very comfortable.
The old sunroom is no longer a sun room.
So at the far right side was where the old sunroom had been added decades ago, to handle (at the time) the growing number of diners. This area is still available for diners but it has been converted into a traditional eating area. The all glass sunroom with its leaks, and dirty windows is completely gone.
In fact, this area has been transformed into a more “fancier” eating area for the diner. Whereas the other side is bright and fun, the right side is more formal, with fancier chairs and a darker motif (while still letting in a lot more light). This is the side that you have Grandmom’s 75th birthday dinner. 🙂
Even the restrooms are new and remodeled. Yes, I took a picture of that too.
I grew up just blocks away in Bellmawr and raised my family in the same neighborhoods, and I’ve frequented every one of the area diners 100s of times. We like to cook, but we never loved to cook… so we probably always ate out more than most. (My facebook friends on my personal page can attest to that!). So I have many memories of the Brooklawn Diner, as well as Metro/Ponzios and other area diners. I can still remember my communion lunch at the Club Diner (remember that mosaic wall?), many celebrations at the Brooklawn diner, and I still remember celebrating our wedding at the ol’ Five Points Diner, which coincidentally is now the closest diner from my home in Deptford (also, the Seven Star is killing it. Always busy). My more recent memories of the Brooklawn Diner are more associated with late night visits with the friends and band mates of “Zipper”. So I’m not declaring myself a diner expert, but with so many great memories of area diners, and the recent disappointment of the Freeway Diner closing… it really does feel good to see that the Petrogiannis family crossed over the river to New Jersey to save one of our iconic eateries. Thank you!
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