OAKLAND, N.J. – The Oakland Diner’s regular customers and longtime staff rejoiced Wednesday, as the popular eatery opened back up for business after a nearly two-month hiatus.
“It is wonderful to be back. This is like our second home. It’s our family,” waitress Cindy Pianettini, who has worked at the diner for 26 years, told Daily Voice as she prepared drinks for customers Wednesday afternoon.
The diner had been closed since December, when a boiler room fire caused extensive damage to the Ramapo Valley Road building.
Owner Harry Mihas said “it was such a good feeling,” to open back up.
At lunchtime Wednesday, regular customers were also happy to be back.
“When you are here, it is such a friendly atmosphere,” said Wanaque resident Gillian Volerich, while sitting in a booth with her husband Allan.
The pair said they had missed the staff and the food.
So did Dr. Burton Seitler, of Ringwood.
Seitler, who has a practice in Oakland, was enjoying a solo lunch and a crossword puzzle Wednesday afternoon. Seitler said he planned to be back in a few hours – this time for dinner with his wife.
When asked what he liked so much about the diner he said, “Harry is very friendly. He makes this a nice warm place … It feels very homey.”
Following the fire, the building underwent extensive work. Much of it was completed by Eastern Services, of Fairfield. Two of the company’s workers, Ben Gaudiosi and Dominick Delplato, were on hand Wednesday.
The pair spent weeks at the diner -- much of it while the spot was without heat and electricity -- adding a new roof, doing tile work and replacing sheet rock, they said.
“We used to sit in the dark and the cold. Thank God it is open now,” Gaudiosi said.
“Seeing people here is nice,” Delplato added.
The diner’s owner agreed.
“This is a special diner. People love this diner,” Mihas said.