But in truth, it is attention given to each customer that enters, and that begins with Tommy Katechis.
Katechis leads the Plaza by example. He moves with practiced ease around the 100 seat eatery, grabbing extra napkins for a customer who spilled her to go cup of coffee in the car, cashing out patrons quickly and with meaningful small talk of someone who knows them and all the while answering the phone, checking on the orders and rearranging the sandwich board with the specials of the day on it.
“Monday is my only day off and I’m usually here at 11,” Katechis said.
According to Katechis, their clientele tended to skew older, and those loyal patrons who were coming three times a day were diminishing. Seeing the change prompted him to make some alterations to the quarter-century old business.
“We are debuting a new menu. A lot more salads and a lot of dishes with avocado,” Katechis said. “Out menu has been the same for a long time and it was time to change.”
Not that the new Cobb salad and coconut shrimp are usurping the classics like the Greek salad and the breakfast offerings.
“All of our favorites will still be there,” Katechis said. “But our menu has been the same for a long time and we needed to make a change. People are always asking for different kinds of things.”
The Plaza built itself on the family recipes of Tommy’s father Mark Katechis, who still commutes from Totowa daily to help mind the store.
“He is here every day but he no longer works in the kitchen,” Tommy Katechis said. “But he trained out current chef on the recipes.”
Katechis said that there are a lot of newer families in Morris Plains that either don’t know they exist, or might not realize what they have to offer.
“We’re off the beaten path a little,” Katechis said. “People who have lived here six years tell me they didn’t know there was a diner in Morris Plains.”
One thing that will most likely draw the newcomers in is the fact that for the first time the Plaza will be accepting credit cards.
“I’ve been fighting with my father on that one for years,” Katechis said.
It wasn’t until they saw that so many customers were reacting to the sign informing prospective patrons they were a cash only business that Katechis said he had the leverage to make the switch.
“Some people were turning around and walking out. Others just would complain about it at the register,” Katechis said.
The new payment mode, menu items paired with home made delicacies and a dynamite cup of coffee is what Katechis is hoping allows the Plaza to compete with the big chain stores.
“We make our own sauces, our own cheesecake, muffins, our own cobbler,” Katechis said. “We offer a lot of things you won’t find elsewhere.
The Plaza Diner is located at 746 Speedwell Avenue and can be reached at 973-538-4108.