Open At Last: The Red Hawk Diner Is Back After COVID-19 Hiatus

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Published February 15, 2022
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The Montclarion
(Left to right): Regan Neal and Ciriana Monti, both freshman psychology majors, eat and talk to each other at Red Hawk Diner's grand opening. Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

The long-awaited reopening of Montclair State University’s Red Hawk Diner is finally here.

The diner was closed back in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. However, it reopened on Monday, Feb. 14 after almost two years and welcomed students back to in-person dining.

Students eat and talk with friends at the Red Hawk Diner's grand opening. Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

Students eat and talk with friends at the Red Hawk Diner’s grand reopening.
Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

To maintain COVID-19 protocols, the diner launched a new same-day reservation system that avoids crowds and allows students to reserve a table for their dine-in visit. The diner also contains QR codes of the menu so students can digitally place their orders.

Seating arrangements were spaced out to keep social distancing. Photo courtesy of Julian Putnam

Seating arrangements were spaced out to keep social distancing.
Julian Putnam | The Montclarion

Students lined up at the door and waited to be assisted by the diner’s staff.

Tanis Lepore, a freshman undecided, was amazed by the old-fashioned look of the diner and enjoyed her experience, as it was her first time there.

Tanis Lepore and Tom Coraggio chat with friends after eating at the diner. Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

Tanis Lepore and Tom Coraggio chat with friends after eating at the Red Hawk Diner.
Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

“I’m definitely really excited that the [Red Hawk Diner] opened, especially as a freshman who didn’t have this experience before,” Lepore said. “It gives off a very nice ‘Riverdale’ feel and it’s very old-fashioned and I love that. And I got a cheeseburger with curly fries and it was really good.”

Tom Coraggio, a senior filmmaking major, is excited the Red Hawk Diner is open again.

“I love more food options,” Coraggio said. “It’s great to finally be in the diner for the first time. I think it’s great for more people to hang out and eat in now. The staff here is really nice and everyone is so friendly. It’s quite [the] perfect place to hang out.”

(Left to right): AJ Humenik, Gracie Parker, and Katie Sitzler keeping eachother company. Photo courtesy of Julian Putnam

(Left to right): AJ Humenik, Gracie Parker and Katie Sitzler keep each other company.
Julian Putnam | The Montclarion

Jaclynn Land, a freshman family science and human development major, liked having more of an in-person dine-in experience, rather than just ordering food.

“It’s a lot more fun than just taking out GrubHub and going back to your room,” Land said. “The diner is really cute and [I like] how they decorated it for Valentine’s Day. The workers have so much pride in their job and [everyone’s] having fun, so it’s a cute, fun experience to hang out and get food.”

(Left to right): AJ Humenik, Gracie Parker, Katie Sitzler, Jaka Doherty, Mason Towery and Sophia Civitella. Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

(Left to right): AJ Humenik, Gracie Parker, Katie Sitzler, Jaka Doherty, Mason Towery and Sophia Civitella chat amongst each other while eating their food.
Lynise Olivacce | The Montclarion

Billy Ibrahim, the director of retail dining at the Red Hawk Diner, is also thrilled to see students coming back and hopes the diner will be open 24 hours of the day, the way it used to be.

“We really wanted to have it open, the only thing that stopped us was the pandemic and we’re taking it [slow],” Ibrahim said. “We don’t know what the future holds but we’re looking forward to opening the diner [24/7] the way it used to be. But all in all, I’m really excited to see everyone coming back.”

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