WESTWOOD, N.J. -- An appreciation for a legendary New Jersey rock ‘n’ roller helped bring Chris D’Eletto and Risa Kandel together. A nationally-televised show tied into their musical roots last year in renovating their Westwood restaurant, and business has boomed.
D’Eletto and Kandel opened Jack’s Cafe at 325 Broadway in Westwood in 2006. Last year, The Food Network’s “American Diner Revival” show and designer Ty Pennington and celebrity chef Amanda Freitag transformed the boxcar diner into a rock ‘n’ roll rail car.
That’s an appropriate theme for D’Eletto, a Bruce Springsteen enthusiast who has seen The Boss in concert more than 130 times. He plans to see him at least three more times this season.
“Risa loves him, too,’’ Chris said. “I think my pickup line when I met her was I’ll take you to a Bruce show sometime.”
D’Eletto has been in the restaurant business for nearly 30 years. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, and some of its notable items include lobster rolls, omelettes and a hangar steak made with D’Eletto’s special marinade. Jack’s uses the best ingredients, including newly-caught seafood, fresh produce and top quality meats and provisions.
The renovations spruced up the restaurant’s formerly non-descript interior. The diner’s red tiled walls include vinyl records with pictures of D’Eletto and Kandel and their families. They have seven children combined from previous marriages.
There’s also a stainless steel guitar, a $1,200 piece of artwork that D’Eletto saw at a local art shop. He passed on it because it was out of his price range, but the television show purchased it for the restaurant.
The crew from American Diner Revival transformed the restaurant while Chris and Risa traveled for a two-day vacation. They were unaware of the renovations, and happily surprised when they returned and saw the new features.
“We didn’t know what was up,’’ Chris said. “We were so happy with what they did. The brightened it up and now it’s like a rock ‘n’ roll theme. My wife and I were very happy.”
D’Eletto said restaurant renovations were on his wish list, but could not find the time or financing. Before he saw the renovations, he was concerned what they would look like. “I remember thinking, I hope they didn’t put in a counter with stools,’’ he said. “That’s not what we wanted.”
Since the show, D’Eletto said business spiked between 30-40 percent. “It’s been a great boost for us,’’ he said. “I’m so grateful for what these people did. They come in, they change your life and they leave. As great as Ty and Amanda were, the crew was amazing.”
With the restaurant in good hands with his children and staff, Risa and Chris can spend a few days during summer to travel to the Springsteen shows. The Boss found a fan in Chris with his first album, “Greetings From Asbury Park,’’ when D’Eletto was just 12 years old back in 1974. “The first song I heard from the album was The Angel and I thought this is horrible,’’ D’Eletto said. “The second song was For You, and the song changed my life. I spent the rest of that summer listening to that album.”
More than 30 years later, D’Eletto still shares his love of rock ‘n’ roll. And now, he gets to share that love with his restaurant’s patrons.
For more information about Jack’s Restaurant, click here.
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