Prestige Diner and Borough of
New Providence Collaboration Pays Off

By Kerry Law
Prestige Staff: Luis Sanchez, Manager; Teresa Fernandez, Hostess; Catelyn Livesey, wait staff; Amanda Smith, wait staff; and Danielle Smith, wait staff
The Alternative Press

Whether battling frigid temperatures of the
daytime, or using nothing more than rigged
lighting at night, construction crews are
working around the clock to complete the expansion and renovation of the Prestige Diner, New Providence’s 42-year-old eatery. "They have been working seven days a week, no matter what the weather conditions," said Jimmy Vardas, who co-owns the diner along with his brother Harry. "They were even here on Christmas Day."

Taking a cue from New Providence’s downtown "Streetscape" initiative, which began in the downtown of New Providence area several years ago to improve its aesthetic image, the Vardas Family, who have owned the diner for nearly 30 years, wanted to do their part to contribute to the appearance of the downtown area. With feedback and input from the New Providence Business and Professional Association and the Downtown Improvement District, a design plan was put in place.

Expansion plans call for an additional 45 seats to the current 100 seats in the diner. Renovation plans include adding a fireplace, new handicap accessibility, and updating the interior and exterior of the building. The remodeled building will have a traditional appearance that matches the colonial and stone look found throughout New Providence.

Before construction could begin, plans had to be submitted to the borough, county and state. The diner received the initial approval from the borough in May 2006, only two months after original plans had been submitted. "Every department at the borough was extremely helpful. The planning board and mayor gave great input and conducted efficient meetings. The engineering and building departments worked tirelessly, even sending inspectors out on a moment’s notice. The borough administrator acted as a liaison between other area businesses. I simply cannot say enough good things about my experience working at the borough level," Vardas stated.

However, things at the county and state level did not prove so effortless. The state denied the diner’s application numerous times for varying reasons. The diner’s largest setback occurred when the state required that a study be conducted around the surrounding premises for threatened and endangered species. From start to finish, the study took a year and a half to complete. "It seemed like night and day when comparing the experience at the borough level to the county and state level," Vardas commented. "Whenever an issue arose at the borough level, we were always able to find a very amicable solution."

Despite delays, construction crews broke ground on September 2008 with completion expected at the end of February. The diner will be closing on Monday, February 9th, for approximately two weeks in order to expedite completion. A grand opening celebration is anticipated for later this spring. The building is not the only feature receiving an expansion. Plans include hiring ten more members to join the staff and adding organic products, premium steaks and fresh seafood to an already sizeable menu. Regardless of the extensive makeover, Vardas emphasized that the establishment will still be a true diner. "The improvements are just our way of showing appreciation to the town for all the support and loyalty they have given us over the years. We cannot say enough ’thank yous’ to the Borough of New Providence and community members who helped in the progress of Prestige Diner."

Kerry Law can be reached at  

Photo above: Staff members of the Prestige Diner stand under an illustration of the proposed renovation and expansion plans. From left to right: Luis Sanchez, Manager; Teresa Fernandez, Hostess; Catelyn Livesey, wait staff; Amanda Smith, wait staff; and Danielle Smith, wait staff. Photo by Kerry Law