The Gateway Diner has operated for 32 years in Westville, NJ and on Sunday night at 9:00 PM they will have their last serving.
The owners made the announcement at their Facebook page today soon after the end of the Phillies game, that as of this Sunday at 9pm they will be closed
They clearly say the closing is due to the upcoming Route 47 bridge rebuild project where the (State’s) use of eminent domain forced the Gateway Diner team to close the business.
The post goes on to say that the owners tried everything that they could to keep the doors open, for their employees and customers.
Within an hour of the posting, hundreds of comments and “caring” likes were applied to the post by loyal gateway diner customers, who thanked the owners for providing delicious food a place that many called home for many decades
Others called out the unfairness of the situation, with many using the word “heartbreaking” to describe the closing.
The owners say that through the years everyone has become like family to them.
A thank you was offered to customers for their the loyalty and patronage.
And then the announcement ends with an apology. We all know the owners likely fought hard to hold on to their beloved diner, and it seems there was nothing they could do to stop the closing.. yet they sadly seem to carry some of the emotional burden of this tough situation.
While the current owners have operated Gateway the diner for 32 years, the original building goes back to 1940 when it first opened as Joe’s Diner.
That’s 83 years!
So one update/clarification to how I wrote this originally. The open dining room side (running with rt47) is the original diner “Joe’s”. The portion of the L-Shaped space that has the counter and stainless steel elements is what was added in 1966!
If you are 30 years old today there’s a good chance that your grandparents were either young toddlers then, or maybe not even born… when that front stainless steel diner first opened!
Later on the origianl owner opened additional diners, and Westville became known as Joe’s #1 diner,
Then 30 years later in 1969 they expanded the diner.
A 1991 Courier-Post article featuring the diner (soon after the new owners had taken over in ’89) describes the remodeling that took place at the time.
The owner said care was taken to leave the original 1940 stainless steel and counter/stool main diner area intact.
The family had purchased the diner in 1989 and it was said that for about 12 years prior, the building operated as a Chinese restaurant…and was actually empty when the family purchased it.
The article went on to describe the diner portions which were very large and everything was made from scratch. “there are no cans here, all vegetables are fresh, and I do the butchering on premises”
For my own family having lived very close by in Bellmawr, the Gateway Diner was a regular stop for us before we moved to Deptford in 2014. My Mother and brother continued to visit the Gateway Diner regularly.
Route 47 Bridge Project
Currently, NJDOT and it’s contractors are replacing the Route 130 bridge which connects the western Brooklawn Circle to Westville. I have covered that project a few times.
I’ve also mentioned that the Route 47 bridge was to be rebuilt also, but I haven’t done any in depth coverage on that.
Last June South Jersey Observer posted an article about the contractor bid including photos of the blueprints.
In hindsight looking at the SJO images now, it seems clear that the diner is not represented on their plans… so likely the owners have known this for a while now. Which is expected.
Beyond the need to rebuild the bridge, one additional key problem is that right at the base of the bridge where the gateway diner is… it routinely floods due to Route 47 in that area dipping lower.
So a portion of the project is to address that issue, likely to raise the roadway higher
That all being said I’m not going to delve deep into the Route 47 Bridge rebuild here, and will have a separate article on the project.
Links and Location
Westville, NJ 08093