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Exactly What You Wanted

Ever since Tops Diner was established in 1942, our focus has always been to serve what our customers want, exactly when and how they want it. As the American dining culture shifts, we recognize we must strive to recreate the 1920’s renaissance that birthed the diner as we know it today, all the while preserving the historical and cultural identity that made Tops Diner the model all others hope to emulate. 

By constantly evolving, we ensure our ability to provide a diverse menu of high quality options with the speed of service we’ve all become accustomed to, providing the uniquely satisfying experience synonymous with the Tops Diner name. Our hope is that we can grow as our clients do, and continue to serve both our Newark family, and our community at large. 

TOPS: Exactly What You Wanted.

Family owned and operated since 1942.

About the Tops Family:

Jimmy: The Storyteller

Since his earliest days in Fort Lee, New Jersey, food, family, and community have been synonymous. Jimmy’s parents didn’t believe in babysitters, so Jimmy and his brothers grew up at their family’s diner, where chores meant sweeping restaurants floors and washing the kitchen’s dishes. The diner was more than work though, and Jimmy took his commitment to the family business far beyond the restaurant walls. Whether it was traveling to the local market for the fresh fish and fragrant vegetables, or around the world to bring back exotic spices, ingredients, or even a new dish, Jimmy looped every experience back to the family diner.

Despite his love for culinary creativity and adventure, food isn’t truly at the epicenter of Jimmy’s love and commitment to this business. What Jimmy strives to do is bring the culinary experience others travel to Michelin star restaurants to enjoy right back home for a memorable night out. While food draws everyone in, Jimmy’s real focus is treating the customers that sit at his table to a taste of everything he’s experienced, and making them feel apart of the Tops family.

His recommendation: The meatloaf

His cocktail: Bloody Mary

John: The Wild Card

Growing up working weekends and long summers at the diner ingrained John with a 6th sense for operations, always allowing him to see beyond yesterday’s horizon and bring innovative ideas to the family business. Foreseeing a future where the family diner would one day become theirs, John enrolled at the New York Restaurant School at eighteen, where he excelled in his culinary pursuits. Returning to the family business with both his home-grown experience and his professional culinary training, John was ready to apply everything he’d learned to help evolve the family diner he’d always called home. 

John’s strength lies in his ability to shake up the norm while juggling culinary and operational details alike with precision. Over the past two decades, John has worked his culinary chops over classic and family recipes alike, bringing an element of surprise to every dish he modernizes. While he keeps a watchful eye on the big picture, John never forgets the little things that make Tops special- from hand-picking ingredients to putting the finishing touches on a dish before it heads to the table.

His recommendation: Thursday Night Veal Parmesan

His cocktail: Macallan 12, neat.

Van: The Architect

Being the eldest came with a slightly different experience for Van than it did for his brothers. Starting work at the family diner at just twelve years old, Van settled into administrative, managerial, and accounting work before Jimmy began his culinary experiments and John started looking to innovative horizons. Van also had years to study how he and his brothers worked best as a team, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each and nothing where they played interchangeable parts. Over time Van and his brothers put in their time both individually and as a team, paying their dues, and collaboratively cultivating the chemistry, the training, and ultimately, the team-wide respect it took to create the Tops Diner that stands today.

Van thrives when he’s flexing his analytical muscles, whether that means juggling the administrative and operation-based responsibilities, or motivating the team to be their absolute best. Despite having earned his stripes as a veteran restaurateur, Van feels both blessed and lucky to be a part of the team he and his family have fostered. While Van believes that one creates both their own opportunities and the luck it takes to succeed, he also knows that Tops Diner gave him two things that no other experience could- the simple value of a dollar and his unyielding work ethic.

His recommendation: The Reuben Corned Beef

His cocktail: Mojito