NJ funeral homes can now serve food — some trying it out
After paying your respects during a visitation at Oliverie Funeral Home in Manchester, you can pay a visit to the food truck directly outside and grab a short-rib slider.
On the morning of the funeral, loved ones who may have forgotten to eat otherwise can enjoy some coffee and bagels, provided right inside the home.
Manager Geraldine Oliverie wasted no time to better accommodate guests after Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law allowing food and non-alcoholic beverages to be served at funeral homes.
For now, the funeral home is covering the cost of bringing vendors on site. But it intends to shift the costs to guests or the deceased individual's family over time.
But this is small potatoes compared to what Oliverie has underway in nearby Jackson Township. There, the newest funeral home will be accompanied by a banquet hall with room for 200 people, and a store where guests can purchase items such as flowers, urns and jewelry.
"That should be done within the year," Oliverie said, noting she started the process well before the law was signed, designing the project as a strip mall-structure so the funeral home isn't technically attached to the banquet facility.
With Murphy's signature earlier this month, New Jersey joined the overwhelming majority of states allowing the practice. Distribution, storage and consumption of food or drink must be separate from areas used to store or prepare a body. Food cannot be prepared on site.
No food-drink plan is currently in motion at Galante Funeral Home in Union, but funeral director Steven Galante said the site is interested in converting what was once known as the funeral home's "smoking room."
"That area is underutilized at this point," he said. "We had converted it to a lounge."
Galante said the funeral home is "not in the restaurant business," however. If families request food on site, they'd allow it. Food offerings likely won't be part of the arrangement booking, Galante said.
Quinn-Hopping Funeral Home in Toms River is attempting to gather ideas from funeral homes elsewhere that have been successful in this area. For now, they're comfortable with guests bringing coffee and food into the building.
"I'm sure we'll put together some kind of offering to people," said manager Michael Sutton. "For example — you're going to be here for a few hours, we have a caterer that we're working with and they can offer these different options for you."
New Jersey's law is permissive; it does not require that funeral homes allow food and drink on premises.
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