Time to Say Good-bye?
A landmark sits dark in a town named Williamstown. On the corner of Sicklerville Road and the Black Horse Pike sits an empty diner called Geets. Whether you were stopping for your coffee in the morning or hanging out for a little jazz you are one of the people in town that cannot remember a time when that diner was not lit up and cooking.
In 1942, Frank and Rose Sylvester opened a truck stop on the corner in the middle of nowhere. The name Geets came from Frank as it was his nickname. Over the years Geets survived, as the town of Williamstown grew around it. Things changed: Atlantic City Expressway replaced the pike for shore traffic, new developments sprang up all over. Other businesses on the other corners disappeared but Geets kept on going.
The Sylvester family sold the business, which was now an established diner, in the 1980’s. It continued as a viable business until it was then sold again to NJK Hospitality, LLC and Vailios (Bill) Patouhas for $2.13 million dollars in 2005. It was about this time that the diner got a facelift and a sports bar was added to the back in 2008. It was this ownership that eventually lost the diner when they declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy then converted it to Chapter 7 and the authorities demanded it be shut down immediately. They were unable to pay the taxes and other bills to the municipality, the state and IRS. After lunch customers and employees were ushered out of diner and doors were closed.
Geets Diner was a part of most of the people that lived and grew up in the area. There is not a person in town that can’t think about the diner without bringing back a memory. A main hangout for the coffee crew and late night, it is sorely missed by the residents of Monroe. Not only is it a landmark that had been used in unaccountable directions but it was the first job for most who have lived here for years. How do you explain this loss of an icon that feels like the loss of a friend.—Joy Peralta