This is the place that thrilled kids receiving their food in 3-D cardboard cars from the 1950’s that you wanted to bring home afterwards. This is the place that drew huge crowds to see Henry “The Fonz” Winkler when he stopped by. This is the place that was a meetup for bikers on Thursday nights as motorcycles packed the parked lot.

The Chatterbox is being torn down.

It was a 1950’s themed restaurant in Frankford in Sussex County, NJ. You’d walk inside and were pleasantly assaulted by the visuals and the vibes of a genuine throwback. In the middle of the restaurant as if on stage was always a classic car. They would change them out, too, so you never knew what you’d see next. Old movie posters graced the walls. On the way in or out were pictures of famous people who had stopped by (Henry Winkler among them.) A model railroad ran suspended over the tables. I took my kids here when they were younger but I’m not sure who enjoyed it more.

It’s already closed. Been closed since 2018. But any hope of owner Don Hall changing his mind is gone with news that the place has been sold and now a demolition permit has been issued. Yep, it’s being bulldozed. To the ground. Dust. Kaput.

In its place will be a Wawa. Because we need another one of those apparently. Look, nothing against Wawa. They’re fantastic. I’m just bitter that the truly special things that made up the most unique parts of New Jersey seem to vanish more and more. Like when Bowcraft Amusement Park in Scotch Plains was replaced by condominiums. It’s the homogenization I hate the most.

Don Hall told NJ.com he’s glad he chose to close down before the pandemic hit because he’s not sure they could have withstood that anyway. He’s probably right. A place like that where the ambience truly drew people in would have struggled with only takeout. With all the new normals lately it’s just hard when 2018 seems as long ago as the 1950’s.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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