The Penn Queen diner in Pennsauken closed somewhat recently, and developers were recently approved to demolish the diner and build a Taco Bell, Tim Hortons Coffee and Donut Shop, and a separate retail building on the extended large property and parking lot.
The former diner property sits at the wedge created by Route 130 and Westfield Avenue close to the Route 90 interchange (which takes drivers to the Betsy Ross bridge). A Wendy’s is located immediately behind the diner building and would be unaffected by this new project.
This Taco Bell / Tim Hortons project had been moving through the Pennsauken Planning Board process since early in the spring with several postponements. Back in March several media outlets reported it as a Taco Bell and a then unknown coffee shop.
Recent updates from Pennsauken Planning Board confirmed that the coffee shop is a Tim Hortons.
The board finally was able to grant the application on September 30th, 2023 and it was memorialized on November 1st.
Unfortunately as I write this on Tuesday night I don’t have available to me any of the submitted planning board documents such as a site plan, but from information provided in the publicly available notice I can determine the size of the Taco Bell and Tim Hortons, and match them up to existing stores already developed…. to get a sense of what is coming for Pennsauken.
If you’ve visited the Stratford NJ Tim Hortons, this new model for Pennsauken is significantly smaller but still features some indoor seating.
This proposal was presented by a local LLC but the Courier-Post had determined back in March that it was actually Summerwood Development behind the proposal, who is a large Taco Bell franchisor.
Taco Bell – Pennsauken
The plans for the Taco Bell include a 2,722 square foot restaurant building with a dual drive-thru, and 52 indoor seats.
This model has become one of their standard designs, with a restaurant recently opened on Route 70 in Cherry Hill (edge of Marlton) matching the exact square footage.
Tim Hortons – Coffee and Donuts
The Tim Hortons will be developed as a separate building and also will include a dual drive-thru.
I have only been to the Tim Hortons in Stratford NJ on the White Horse Pike, which is a very large location. This planned Pennsauken store at 1600 square feet will be half the size of Stratford
That being said based on content that I see online and from media coverage of other locations, the Tim Hortons of this size still manage to fit in 29 seats.
Likely it makes the configuration more similar to a Dunkin’ Donuts, whereas the larger Stratford Tim Hortons is about the size of a Burger King!
This is a brand new design that Tim Hortons announced just last summer. They also debuted an even smaller drive-thru only store at around 900 square feet.
A third building was approved for the property but is only listed as a 1,750 square foot retail building. There are no details on any potential tenants.
Penn Queen Diner
According to a Courier Post article in 1989, the Penn Queen Diner opened in 1964.
New owners took over in 1966 and over the years they saw incredible success at the location, which drove them to develop significant expansions.
1968 saw them adding a 110-seat modular addition, as well as the purchase and demolition of neighboring buildings to expand the parking lot.
The 1989 article states that the owners had just spent $1.5 million to expand and renovate the diner, almost doubling its size to 9000 square feet. That’s a large amount of money at any time… but it’s a huge investment in 1989!
At the time they were also adding a cocktail lounge to the restaurant. They were operating 24 hours and employed 75 people.
In 2019 new owners took over the diner, intent on reinvigorating the classic well loved eatery.
A Dec 2019 article at All Around Pennsauken describes the initial upgrades which included updating the bar area with new televisions and an updated Tavern menu.
The also added new menu options including more economical meals.
While I do not know the details for them closing just a few short years later (Facebook Posts continued until May 2022), this just crushes me to realize that it seems they purchased the diner less than a year before the world shut down from the COVID pandemic.
Even when the article was written at All Around Pennsauken in December 2019, no one had any idea of what was to come in just a few short months. I remember heading down to Wildwood that same month, and at lunch with my wife we were talking about “hey did you hear about this virus in China?” At that time no one expected the world to be impacted the way it was just three months later starting with March 2020.
So I don’t know the very specifics of why the diner closed, but I would imagine the closures and take-out only requirements during the pandemic likely added some financial strain to the new owners.
Links and Location
Penn Queen Diner – Demo Approved; Taco Bell and Tim Hortons
7349 N Crescent Blvd
Pennsauken Township, NJ 08110