The Kenilworth Diner: Four Brothers Upgrade and Expand a 40 Year Old Tradition
What do you get when you combine four brothers and a passion for cooking with a restaurant that has been in the community for over 40 years? A diner where tradition is being honored, upgraded, and expanded.
Well known in the community for generations, The Kenilworth Dinerhas long been the choice for those looking to get their fill of everything from breakfast, lunch, dinner to dessert. In 2014, the Benas Brothers took over the operation, giving the restaurant some more TLC as they kept with tradition to upgrading the existing menu and expanding with new menu items.
“When we decided to buy the restaurant, we knew that they had a dedicated and loyal customer base, one that we wanted to keep, but also expand to other towns including Westfield, Union, and Cranford,” said Tony Benas. “We knew that through word of mouth, quality food and service, we could elevate Kenilworth Diner.”
Since taking over the restaurant, partners and brothers, Tony, John, Bobby, and Demetri, have expanded the menu by a couple of pages, adding items like sloppy joe’s, paninis, wraps, breakfast sandwiches, seafood dishes, and additional desserts (more on that in a bit). There’s also a Greek Cornerfeaturing a traditional Horiatiki Salad and Gyros as well as their Homemade Spinach Pie (they are Greek boys of course) and an expansive bakery and catering menu. What makes this expansion even more satisfying is that everything is made fresh and in house… daily. (A large task in itself!)
“We took what we had and made it bigger and better!” said Tony who points out that many of their customers, whom he knows on a first name basis, come in at least three to four times a week and call ahead to reserve the daily specials(he says that for many restaurants, you reserve tables, at Kenilworth Diner, customers reserve daily specials!) These include items a rack of lamb, a prime rib dinner fit for a steakhouse, broiled lobsters stuffed with fresh crabmeat, and tender Yankee Pot Roast, all items that you would pay almost double for at fine dining restaurants, but can enjoy for a better price with the same quality at Kenilworth Diner.
Other popular dishes include sautés like Steak Murphy and a Chicken Teriyaki, pastas including scampi’s and rigatoni dishes, and an array of crispy and fresh salads. But by far, their number one item hails from the dessert menuthat includes items like apple, blueberry, and lemon meringue pie, cream puffs (that are made from scratch and by hand), and of course their cheesecakes.
With recognitionfrom the likes of The Star Ledger and more, the brothers took the former cheesecake recipe, tweaked it a bit, and then added toppings like strawberries, chocolate and raspberries, Oreos, and peanut butter Reece’s cups to the mix. The result has become somewhat of a national obsession.
A Family Passion for Cooking Evolves With The Kenilworth Diner
With all the success of the upgraded and expanded Kenilworth Diner over the past four years, it’s hard to believe that the Benas brothers came from all walks of life. Other than one brother who owns Oscars Deli Restaurant in Millburn along with their cousin, Tony left a career on west Wall Street and Bobby and Demetri left an accountant career to pursue the joy of cooking for others (something that their father, who had owned a number of previous restaurants, was very happy about).
It was after a chance meeting with the owners of Kenilworth Diner in Greece, when their parents learned that they were looking to sell – a proposition that they passed along to their sons, who then decided to seize the opportunity. Four years later, they’re still happy to have followed this path.
“Restaurants have always been in our family,” said Tony. “Now we’re continuing that tradition with Kenilworth Diner.”
Many things may have stayed the same – the warm atmosphere, open concept kitchen, and great food – but with these brothers, The Kenilworth Diner has been brought to the next level, making both old and new customers, along with their father, very happy.