An August 2005 trip
to Edgewater Park by joellevand
Quote: Living in New Jersey for over twenty years, I get sick of the same old jokes about "what exit?". Sure, New Jersey is a car-based state, but there's a lot more here than just highways -- and to prove that, I'm writing about traveling on Route 130 through Burlington County.
I can still remember the excitement of heading to the Howard Johnson on Rte 130 North after a holiday shopping excursion with my mother and her two sisters, my cheeks red from the cold and my lips colder as they slipped around the red and blue striped plastic straws in my unusually thick milkshake.
In the car, a navy blue Buick Skylark, were the many trophies of our consumer hunting expedition: bags from Boscovs and Children’s Sample Shop among the other fashionable middle-class stores of the outdoor promenade of the Willingboro Plaza, where we’d picked up everything from kitchenware to a new Girl Scout uniform. While my mother and her sisters chatted about big, important adult things, I swung my legs happily; we’d started the night out with a meal at the Ponderosa Steak House and now I was ready for our drive back up the highway to the Delran Shopping Center to see the newest Disney animated feature in the Millside Theatre. Dining, movies, snacks, and shopping all on one highway! Ten years later, tooling down the highway at speeds hitting seventy or eighty, hardly any of that early-eighties economic establishment that was the Route 130 corridor was evident as it became a no-man’s-land of teenage loiterers, stabbings, and good ol’ fashioned drag-racing. While some of the diners of my childhood were still in operation, most had begun a strict curfew policy; no one was willing to stay open twenty-four hours. The Willingboro Plaza was a ghost town, a rat-infested shell that stood as a depressing reminder of prosperity while vines and weeds slithered up the sides of the Howard Johnson like the tentacles of some Lovecraftian monster from it’s watery home and the Millside slowly decayed, it’s marquee still bearing the name of the last movies it showed, including the abominable Spice World.Flash forward another ten years. Now in 2005, commerce is returning to the hollow remains of the once glorious corridor. The theatre has been knocked down to make way for a new Target Greatland store and the Hartford Square Shopping Centre has brought a shops, salons, and even a Quiznos to the tiny burbs of Burlington County. We even have a college on our fair corridor and enough unique Mom and Pop shops to make it well worth a two hour detour on your next trip up north.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 2, 2005
7001 Route 130 South
Edgewater Park, New Jersey
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 14, 2005
Routes 130 & 206
Edgewater Park, New Jersey 08505
Remember those old '50s-style drive-in diners, the ones where you pulled up along the side of the building and cute waitresses on roller skates and waiters in white paper hats served you at the window? Probably not, as these are mostly an invention of Hollywood, with very little substance in the real world. However, one such drive-up diner does exist, right on New Jersey's famous Route 130.
Stewart's Root Beer is more than just a landmark, it's a Burlington City tradition. Three generations can trace their first job back to this little orange-and-white shack, where root beer floats are called "black cows" and "California burgers" resemble very little of the health-conscious cuisine we've come to associated with the modern Golden State. The boys still wear white paper hats, the girls skirts and aprons, and both make change at the car side window with the help of flip-down coin dispensers slung low on their hips.Of course, no place is all ambiance, and Stewart's is home to some of the most delicious fast food you'll find in the state. The hot dogs are old-fashioned pork hot dogs slow roasted, the way soda shops used to do them; the milk shakes are thick and malted; and the fries are crispy, crinkled, and served with tooth picks for classy eating. David absolutely adores the '50s Americana kitsch value of driving up and eating in the sweltering heat of a late summer afternoon, blasting the radio and watching the high school-age waiters hit on the freshmen waitresses when they think no one's looking. It's strange that, with all the '50s nostalgia cafes reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, you actually can find the most authentic American '50s experience in a building built after the Second World War.A family establishment, Stewart's is open from mid-May until late September and closed every Sunday. Items are available for takeout. The best day to go is the first open day of the season, when locals compete for a spot in the parking lot to win the honor of First Person to Eat at Stewart's for the year, a title that includes a free meal.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on December 15, 2005
Stewart's Root Beer Drive-In Diner
584 South Delsea Drive
Edgewater Park, New Jersey 08360
Edgewater Park, New Jersey