The beloved Hazlet eatery, the Red Oak Diner, closed down last year. It reopened in the Airport Plaza shopping center soon after as the Red Oak Grill. The building had sat vacant on Route 35 until last month when it was finally demolished. While rumors have swirled for years about various businesses coming to Hazlet (first a Wal-Mart, then a Wegman’s), it now seems that they were wrong on both accounts and we will actually have a Lidl coming to town. They are a German grocery chain promising “high quality and low prices”. We’ll see about that, but a look at the “About” section on their website is pretty enticing.
I, for one, am not heartbroken to see the Red Oak bite the dust. Nothing against the business itself, but I just never had anything noteworthy there. I’ve lived in Hazlet for all but three years of my 26 on this earth. Must have eaten there six or seven times. Not once did I eat something that made me go, “Wow”. Yet people loved it. Swooned over it. It was a local legend. But you could tell things were winding down about two years ago. The parking lot was not as crowded and rumors swirled. It got so bad that their menus once contained a note taped to the front reading, “We are not closing!” New reviews of the Red Oak Grill have not exactly been sparkling, although Eating New Jersey’s own Hunter Dillon gave them 4 stars last spring.
With an Aldi and now a Lidl about a half-mile from each other, the Saker Shop Rite monopoly is going to have some competition. With prices through the roof (and even worse at Stop and Shop), you can expect Lidl to be a smash hit whenever it does indeed open. Aldi is always packed, day or night. The people have spoken, and niche stores are slowly but surely challenging the big guys.