Glen Ridge restaurant, community groups feed health care workers

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GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Fitzgerald’s 1928 is the only restaurant in Glen Ridge, which means that, according to owner Paul Brewster, it’s the best restaurant in Glen Ridge. Now, the best restaurant in Glen Ridge is helping to feed health care workers at Mountainside Hospital, Clara Maass Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center.

With the help of the Kiwanis Club of Glen Ridge, the restaurant has supplied 75 meals per shift to each hospital for the last several weeks. Each meal runs at about $8, and Fitzgerald’s has donated sandwiches and meals with chicken, mashed potatoes and vegetables. The Bloomfield Rotary Club and Essex Running Club have also donated money to the cause.

“We coordinate a date and a time for me to drop them off at the hospitals,” Brewster said in a phone interview with the Glen Ridge Paper on May 8. “We’ve been generating about 75 meals at a time, so it’s been good.”

Before quarantine, the Glen Ridge Kiwanis Club met twice a month at Fitzgerald’s, but now that virtual meetings are the new normal that can’t happen. So they decided to donate the meals they would normally eat — and more — to feed doctors and nurses, which is in turn helping Brewster’s business.

“We’re supporting the one restaurant in town, which we want to still exist when we get the all clear,” Peter Ebling, the Kiwanis Club secretary, said in a phone interview with the Glen Ridge Paper on May 8. “And we’re helping the people who need it.”

Fitzgerald’s has been offering curbside pickup and delivery six days a week, and while it’s not bringing in as much business as an open dining room would, Brewster said it’s been keeping the lights on. The clubs paying for meals has helped to keep cash flowing as well.

“When we can open, it might only be at 50 percent capacity and with no bar,” Brewster said. “Maybe you have to take temperatures when people walk in. I don’t know if there’s a restaurant that will survive that. You can offer all of that, but will people want to come?”

It’s too early to tell. But until restaurant owners know more, they can aid in the cause.

“It’s a good opportunity to help,” Brewster said. “This is something we can do while everything is shut down. The support for Fitzgerald’s has been important to us, and it’s keeping the restaurant open. I’ve talked to hospital representatives, and today I got a note saying how grateful they are. It’s rewarding. At least there’s something we can do.”

Photos Courtesy of Peter Ebling