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Hollywood Diner Woodbury Heights Starting Full Remodel, Remain Open Throughout

Hollywood Diner Woodbury Heights Starting Full Remodel, Remain Open Throughout
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Known by locals as the Hollywood Cafe and Sports Bar, the beloved Mantua Pike diner in Woodbury Heights will undergo a full remodel starting with an exterior upgrade which will give it a classy art-deco style design.

When originally developed in the late 1990s the diner carried a 1950s Hollywood theme, so it would seem that with the remodel the new owners are moving towards a “Golden Age of Hollywood” 1920s theme!?

It appears they’ve also moved to using a shorter name… “The Hollywood Diner”

A full interior remodel is also planned but at this time ownership is not releasing any details on those interior changes.

A representative for the Hollywood Diner tells us that the restaurant will remain open throughout all of the remodeling.

It’s a large and sprawling restaurant/bar complex so they should easily be able to block off sections of the restaurant at a time, so that workers can focus on rebuilding each section without disturbing diners seated in other areas.

The new ownership is wasting no time in upgrading the restaurant as already in their short 6 months of ownership they have installed a new Heating and Air Conditioning system!

Hollywood Cafe & Diner will soon see a full remodel!

Hollywood Diner and Cafe sold in September of last year to a South Jersey restaurant & catering hall family who have a 35+ year history in South Jersey restaurants, with the big initial boost coming in 1989 when Bill Kolovos and partners took over the then closed Lucien’s Old Tavern in Berlin.

Today the Restaurant and Investment Group is headed by son Chris Kolovos, who in the last 20 years or so has led the company through incredible growth and success, building a portfolio of iconic South Jersey venues which includes; the all new Olga’s Diner in Marlton, The Colonial Diner in Woodbury, The Mansion on Main Street Wedding Event Hall in Voorhees and Lucien’s Manor Wedding Event Hall in Berlin.  They also own other restaurants including the Penrose Diner in South Philadelphia

The Mansion on Main Street Voorhees – Same ownership has acquired the Hollywood Diner in Woodbury Heights

Chris has described online how he remembers at 10 years old helping out his father with the remodeling of the old Lucien’s Tavern, and then years later getting his first job as a server at the Berlin wedding and event facility.

Today, Chris leads an investment group which lists a portfolio of 14 restaurants and catering halls as well as another 20 commercial properties!

Colonial Diner in Woodbury – Same ownership has acquired the Hollywood Diner in Woodbury Heights

Clearly Chris and his partners know how to develop and operate successful restaurants… and have big plans for the Hollywood Diner in Woodbury Heights!

The renderings of the new exterior of the Hollywood diner show it as an Art-Deco 1920s style design featuring a variety of gray shades with mirrored chrome accents.

So to be clear, this is my take on the new design theme based on the provided renderings and other materials!

If you’re unfamiliar with what I mean by a “1920s art-deco style”…  if you’ve ever visited Disney’s Hollywood Studios and walked its initial Main Street section, it feels to me that the Hollywood Diner team is going for that era with the new look!

The overall shape of the building remains the same with the entrance in the same place, but shifted over to face the front.

A section of wooden french doors in the front (that I don’t think were used) are to be removed. Gone also will be the the window awnings on the left, and the curved roofline edge over the diner section. In their place will be a sleek chrome/mirrored accent piece at the top of the first floor level.

The very top of the upper section will be a darker slate trim creating a perfect backdrop for the retro-style lettering of the restaurant signage “The Hollywood Diner”. Additional chrome will accent this area.

One notable change already seen by diners is the removal of the 1954 Ford Thunderbird which sat inside the diner.

A nicely prepared posterboard explains how the Thunderbird was a gift from prior owner John Balis to his wife Helena.   Helena was still operating the Hollywood Cafe Diner when it was sold last fall, and the car has incredible sentimental value to her, as she had had lost her husband in a tragic accident over 20 years ago.

Helena shared the Thunderbird with the community for many years and now it is where it belongs… with Helena.  Commenters in a local Facebook group says that it is currently in a local auto shop being refurbished, but I have not been able to confirm that

Hollywood Café and Diner – History

In July of 1997 the Balis family took over ownership of the former Woodbury Heights Diner on Route 45, which at the time had been closed for more than two years.

John Balis was already a successful restauranteur in South Jersey, developing and owning Adelphia’s in Deptford and the Phily Diner in Runnemede.

A 1997 Courier post article describes how at the time John and his partners we’re looking to invest more than $1 million in the Woodbury Heights building, which included an expansion. They were also able to obtain a liquor license for the property.

What was previously a older beat up boxy diner became the exciting, bright and boldly colorful Hollywood Diner and Cafe… carrying a 1950s theme.  

The purchase and investment proved to be very smart one as over the years additional expansions took place at the property, including two full sized bar areas.

Tragically in December of 2001, the 46 year old John Balis passed away after intervening in an altercation at his Adelphia’s restaurant.

Wife Helena Balis at the time seemed to have found a home at the Hollywood Diner, not only as owner but as the day-to-day manager of the Mantua Pike restaurant.

Later on she and partners opened in 2009 the successful Riverwinds Restaurant in West Deptford. Helena still lists “Owner at The Riverwinds Restaurant” on her social media profiles.

Links and Locations

Hollywood Diner
940 Mantua Pike
Woodbury Heights, NJ 08097