Iconic Fireplace restaurant in Paramus closing after 65 years

PARAMUS, New Jersey (WABC) – An iconic New Jersey restaurant closes its doors on Friday after 65 years in business.

The Fireplace on NJ-17 in Paramus has served American cuisine in Bergen County since 1956 but is now another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising cost of goods and labor shortages.

“We are sad to announce that we made the difficult decision to close our doors at 4pm,” the owners said in a message on the company’s Facebook page. “In recent months it has been increasingly difficult to keep our restaurant running. We would like to thank all of our loyal guests who have supported us over our 65 years. It has been an honor to serve you.”

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Founded as a hot dog and hamburger stand by the late Frank Reilly, a Navy veteran turned FBI agent, it has grown into an institution known for its home cooking and timeless casual atmosphere.

His son Patrick, who ran the business to the end, bought neighboring homeowners to enlarge and expand the property.

“I can’t really point that out. I mean, we’re in the same boat as a lot of restaurants that are struggling. The fight is real.

“It’s tradition,” says customer Anne Tappen. “An iconic vintage restaurant that so many people came to as kids and that could refer to our high school days, coming here and bringing our kids here and my grandchildren and it’s just so sad.”

More than an hour before the fireplace last opened at 11:00 a.m., guests started queuing in the hot sun, and many of them have memories spanning three generations.

“I used to come to the restaurant with my parents for breakfast,” says customer Jennifer Tiedemann. “I always have a special feeling here. I call it the ‘fireplace feeling’ that the food is just so good.”

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The restaurant survived storms and economic downturns and was able to stay open despite the pandemic standstill. Owners started out with drive-through and take-away services, but ultimately it wasn’t enough to cover the cost of running the restaurant.

“I can’t really point to (COVID),” said Patrick Reilly. “I mean, we’re in the same boat as many restaurants that have problems. The struggle is real. The cost of goods, just getting them, is a real problem.”

“Well, I think it’s a sign of the times,” said customer Richard Sprenger. “Things are changing. People are unable to get business.”

Whatever the reasons, the Fireplace’s loyal customers – and their children and grandchildren – are heartbroken. Many waited up to two hours to have their last fireplace cheeseburgers.

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