BERLIN BOROUGH — The owner of the Country Town Diner hired a friend to set fire to his restaurant in order to collect the insurance money, according to Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colallilo.

Robert Zbikowski, 56, of Mount Holly, was hired by Thomas Giannisis, 51, of Bellmawr, to set the fire in the second floor of the eatery on White Horse Pike on Jan. 10. The diner was destroyed by the blaze.

Colallilo did not disclose what was used to set the fire.

The diner was once known as the White Horse Diner until it reopened under new ownership on Mother's Day in 2016, according to

Zbikowski and Giannisis were both charged with first-degree arson-for-hire and second-degree conspiracy to commit arson. Zbikowski was also charged with second-degree aggravated arson and second-degree creating or risking widespread injury or damage. Giannisis was also charged with second-degree conspiracy to create or risk widespread injury.

Zbikowski is being held at the the Camden County Correctional Facility pending a pre-trial detention hearing. Giannisis was released pending a future court date.

Colallilo did not disclose the legal counsel for either defendant.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or on Twitter @DanalexanderNJ