Pretty but pricy: That's what nostalgic customers say of Clifton's new-and-improved Tick Tock Diner.
The Route 3 locale recently unveiled changes made during a 10-week renovation -- its first in nearly 25 years.
Online reviews and customers who wrote to Daily Voice said the prices are higher, menus are different and portions are smaller.
Tick Tock Diner's general manager Teddy Daniil, however, says: Not so.
"Many of the changes are interior design and most of them are just the color of the booth, wallpaper, new bar counter," Daniil said.
"It's the old counter with padded seats -- nice, beautiful comfortable seats.
"We hope our existing customers love the atmosphere and ambiance and the redesign -- that's why we did it."
Since its soft opening on Thanksgiving weekend, Tick Tock has gotten 12 Yelp reviews. Ten of them are 1-star, the other two are 2-stars.
Some people complained about the prices -- more than $6 for a side of fries, $13 for a burger and $7 for a slice of cake. That's nearly double the price of area diners.
"We did look at all the other diners," said Daniil, "and we're pretty much where they are."
The Tick Tock launch happened before its fully-loaded, revamped menu was ready.
Instead, customers got a condensed, one-page menu that Daniil said was intended to bring orders out quickly and efficiently.
The diner's robust 14-page menu available is "80 percent there" at the restaurant, Daniil said.
"The menu has been immensely condensed, and not what you expect when you visit a Jersey diner," said one Yelper, who happened to be at the grand opening last week.
Her biggest complaint was her order: A turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato and mayo on the side. On rye. Not toasted, she said.
Her sandwich came out with a mound of cold stuffing inside which, according to the chef, was the only way turkey sandwiches were being made.
Daniil maintained that all sandwiches and menu items are customizable.
"I simply wanted a plain turkey sandwich at a Jersey diner," the unhappy customer said. "But if the chef insists on wasting food that people did not order because that's the way he does things, well so be it.
"The interior has been updated very nicely, but that's the best that I can say,"
Another unimpressed customer, who wrote in anonymously to Daily Voice, said she and her husband have been going to Tick Tock for decades.
"But with those prices," she said, "we will no longer go much if at all."
"You can't even get an English muffin there anymore.
"Very upsetting to us long time customers, especially since we became good friends with the staff."
Daniil -- who noted that many staff members left to find other work during the renovations -- hopes that longtime customers will give their beloved diner another chance.
"We listen to our customers," he said. "We still have chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, an egg platter, 10 omelets.
"It didn't go far."
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