Popular chain restaurant that NJ doesn’t need, nor should it ever
New Jersey is known for many great things. For example, we're home to one of the most delicious and unhealthy breakfast meats on the planet.
That, of course, is none other than pork roll (or Taylor Ham for those of you who insist). Not only are we proud to call this meat ours, but we also take pride in debating it.
And in New Jersey, it's almost unheard of for this product not to be on a menu in some form at many of our eateries. Diners and restaurants in particular.
Speaking of which, diners are another one of those greats New Jersey is known for. It's a badge of honor to be referred to as "the diner capital of the world."
No other location has as many diners as us. Nowhere else will you find so many diners within such a small region (More than 500 of them in fact, with some open 24 hours).
Even more impressive is that most of our great New Jersey diners aren't part of any national chain. The mom-and-pop model certainly lives on when it comes to our eateries.
Unfortunately, many of these establishments took a hit when the pandemic arrived in March 2020. Since that time, however, a bunch of them have recovered and are now thriving once again.
And that's the way it should be. New Jersey is very unique when it comes to its diners and it's one of those things that separates us from other states.
Now yes, there are some chain locations within our borders, but they don't really have the same charm as a true Jersey diner. Even if they are a popular chain throughout the country, some things are better off left outside our borders.
Every once in a while, I'll see different articles with suggestions of what should come to The Garden State. Some suggestions, like retail locations, aren't necessarily a bad idea.
But when it comes to national dining chains, some are better off remaining where they are now. And one dining chain in particular simply doesn't fit in with the Jersey lifestyle despite its popularity.
I'm talking about Waffle House. Now before I go any further, let me first disclose that I have eaten at a Waffle House before.
My verdict? It's pretty good. Honestly, when you're traveling long distances along the highway and need a bite to eat, seeing the glowing Waffle House sign jetting way into the sky is very welcoming.
But as a New Jerseyan, it's something I just can't see belonging here. Don't get me wrong, there's a reason the chain is so popular and why people love it so much. Not knocking that one bit.
In fact, outside of New Jersey, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything like a diner other than a Waffle House. And they're easy to find too, coming up frequently along the interstate.
Even Pennsylvania and Delaware have locations, so we don't have to travel far to experience one. And if you do travel, I encourage you to give it a try.
With that said, a Waffle House simply doesn't compare to a true Jersey diner. There's just something about what we have that sets us apart from the genericness that exists outside The Garden State.
As mentioned earlier, we're the diner capital of the world. We didn't get that title by relying on popular chains to do it for us. We did it because New Jersey business owners are simply the best and know how to make each and every one of our diners popular in their own unique way.
And for others traveling through New Jersey? Stop by one of our diners and give it a try. It's something that's unique to us and should always remain that way.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 weekend host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.