The Abandoned Luncheonette Opens a World of Fine Food and Music in an Unlikely Corner of South Jersey

Great vegetarian food, vintage music, vinyl records, and good company draw customers to Dave and Jen’s Abandoned Luncheonette on Mill Street in Moorestown, NJ.

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Dave and Jen own and run the Abandoned Luncheonette on West Third Street in Moorestown with help from their sons Bruce (left) and Stanley(right).

Explore Moorestown’s new gathering place for good food, friends and music

By Sean Fallon

Moorestown, NJ – I swing open the door of the tiny Abandoned Luncheonette on a Thursday evening on Mill Street.

It’s an oddity, sitting close by the town RR tracks, and I have no idea what to expect.

As I walk through the door, owners Dave Khanlian and Jen Hilinski invite me to sit at the counter as they prepare for a busy evening of feeding hungry Moorestown residents.

I sense it’s more than just a small dinette and soon discover that this tiny establishment nurtures amazing food, great music, close friendships, and the dreams of a couple with two young boys.

Not to be missed is Jen’s chopped green salad with avocado on toast. Pretty tasty!

Jen stirs her homemade couscous in a large stainless-steel bowl. Dave walks over to the record player behind the counter, and carefully selects a vinyl record from his vast selection.

Jen places her salted tahini chocolate chip cookies, figgy bars and other exotic, healthy sweets on the counter as the room fills with the warm velvet-like crackling and popping of the needle settling into the grooves.

Otis Redding sings one of my favorite songs, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay,” as I sink into my seat to enjoy Jen’s creation: a chopped kale-romaine salad with red cabbage, dates, feta cheese, sunflower seeds, and jicama.

It has been a long day for me. I relax. This is a welcome retreat.

Passionate Music Lovers 

Jen prepares food for a rush of customers at the Abandoned Luncheonette in Moorestown.

Dave grew up in Moorestown. College sweethearts, he and Jen moved to Moorestown together, marrying 13 years ago.  They are raising their two boys in a modest home near the center of town.

They purchased the then-abandoned luncheonette in November 2016 as a place to blend their passion for good-tasting healthy food, folk-country-blues-and-rock music, and the company of good friends.

Their desire to bring people together over food and music started 20 years ago after attending a few house concerts for popular music artists. They decided to try their hand at it and have been hosting sold-out concerts in their small living room for the last 15 years.

Dave is a fourth-grade teacher at Kirby’s Mill Elementary School in Medford NJ, and Jen is a substance-abuse counselor for the Maple Shade and Lindenwold school districts. They love working with young people and families in the community.  Their two sons, Bruce and Stanley often play board games and do their homework at the luncheonette when it is open.

Abandoned? Not Any More

You can find vintage vinyl records, CDs, movies, posters and books of all kinds for sale at the luncheonette on Thursdays and Saturdays.

When Dave and Jen bought the luncheonette, it had indeed been a recently abandoned lunch spot. The original establishment featured the usual eggs, bacon, pancakes, coffee, sandwiches, hamburgers, and other standard fare.

So, why do they call it the Abandoned Luncheonette?

It’s a fun play on words with a nod to their passion for good food and music. It is in fact named after the Hall and Oates album of the same name, produced in the 1970s. It so happens Dave heard Hall and Oates at his first live concert.

Inside the luncheonette, you will find all kinds of vintage records, CDs, books, knick-knacks, trinkets and toys.  The walls are lined with hundreds of records—from Bruce Springsteen, Public Enemy or a late 70’s recording of Sesame Street Disco.

I finish my salad and start digging through milk crates full of records from the ‘60s through ‘90s, a vinyl aficionados’ dream.

As I joke with Dave about some of the amusing records in his collection, my hand stops on a humorous “Sesame Disco” album featuring Ernie, dressed in white and dripping with gold jewelry, looking very much like Isaac Hayes.

The vocalists? The Sesame Street Muppets, of course.

I show my selection to Dave, who chuckles as he rings it up. Awesome, I think. Much as some people might question my taste in music, where else could you find such a treasure?

At the Abandoned Luncheonette, of course.

This Article was written by Sean Fallon and Edited by Christopher Biddle.  Christopher Biddle is President of Biddle Communications & Public Relations in Moorestown, NJ.  Sean Fallon is an independent communications professional based out of Monmouth County.

About Chris Biddle

With 35 years of experience as a hands-on communicator and PR practitioner, President Christopher Biddle is well positioned to help New Jersey-based companies tell their stories and get the results they want. An exceptional writer and editor, Chris is also a strategic thinker who has a proven track record in his ability to conceive and execute goal-driven communications projects both large and small. Chris was Vice President in charge of Communications with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association from 1992 until his retirement in 2012. Contact: Website | More Posts

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